High Gear: Fall in love with snack bars all over again
July 26, 2017
Being a part of the Honey Stinger Hive has some privileges. A few months ago I got an email from them about feedback on their new snack bars and I was stoked to test them out. I usually use the Honey Stinger gels, chews and waffles to great success, and I am always down to try something new, especially from a brand I trust.
Snack bars vs. the rest
The snack bars come in four flavors: Cran-Apple and Walnut; Nuts, Seeds and Roasted Serrano; Peanut Butter and Jelly; and Super Fruit and Ancient Grain. Ahhh flavor — how we long for it. Subsisting on gels alone makes one long even more for something real, while balancing out what you bring to eat on the trail can make for a brighter day. Packing a sandwich is one way, but I don't always stop long enough for a real lunch.
Snack bars make for a great on-the-go choice. If you've been doing this for a long time, you may have an aversion to bars after pulling one from your jacket pocket that's rock-sold and frozen on a winter day.
Well, these bars aren't like that. With honey and tapioca syrup as the binder, these bars hold together well and don't get hard like some, but they also aren't sticky when you're handling them. This keeps your hands from sticking to the inside of your gloves.
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Flavors for anyone
Cran-Apple and Walnut was my favorite (I think I went through the box in less than a week). Granted it was a busy week, but I just couldn't stop eating them. They were reminiscent of the cookies my grandma used to make around Christmastime. They made it into my pack on every trip and were a reward at the summits I hit. At 150 calories apiece, they brought my energy levels back up after all that exertion heading to the summit, but they also fueled the descents that brought me down from the top. Snack time was as easy as opening a pocket on my pack's waist belt.
The Nuts, Seeds and Roasted Serrano bars were interesting. My kids were afraid of the flavor because they thought it would be spicy. It wasn't spicy, as long as you were hydrated — when you eat one at the edge of physical comfort it has a bit of a kick at the back of your throat. Generally, though, this bar was a nice balance of sweet and savory, and made for a nice change of pace from the sweet snacks that fill my pack. Jerky also makes it into my nutrition plan for this reason.
Peanut Butter and Jelly is just that. As a kid, I used to love having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school. My kids are the same way and they have brought me back to that habit. Honey Stinger nailed the PBJ flavor, only this way you don't have to worry about crushing the bread and eating a mushy sandwich. The flavors are spot on, down to the oat bread that we use for our sandwiches at home. The peanut-butter flavor is natural, like the peanut butters one finds at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods), and the mouth feel is that of the crunchy style. The jelly tastes like what you get in the fancy jars. Every time I eat one, my mind wanders to those childhood snacks.
Super Fruit and Ancient Grain had the best fruit flavor of the batch. I think I finished off this box second. With a finer texture, this was reminiscent of eating a fig bar, but the flavor wasn't exactly that of fig. It had a higher level of acidity, which was refreshing when eating in the field (it must be the pomegranate). Amaranth is one of very few grains that provides all the essential amino acids we need.
Trails can feel a little monotonous, especially on exits when all you want to do is get back to your car. Why should your food be monotonous too? Spice up your palate with these great snacks. Their size and durable packaging make them easy to bring anywhere, summer or winter, and mixing up your nutritional offerings makes for a happier day in the hills. Your food should be as inspiring as the beauty that surrounds you.
Fritz Sperry is a skier, author, photographer and artist who has skied extensively in the Colorado backcountry. He's the author of: "Makingturns in the Tenmile-Mosquito Range," and "Makingturns in Colorado's Front Range, Vol. 1," both available from his company, Giterdun Publishing.