The 11 energy bars that will allow you to hike 3 more hours
An army marches on its belly, and the same adage applies to hungry hikers. The average hiker burns between 3,000 and 5,000 calories per day, about double what a person of equivalent weight would burn on a sedentary day. When we push our body so much, it is important to eat well. The problem is to transport everything. I’d love to take my bowl of fruit and a bunch of fresh veggies with me into the backcountry, but that’s not practical.
This means that many hikers, myself included, rely on dehydrated meals and dry foods (instant noodles, couscous and porridge are my staples). Sometimes, if I’m hungry between meals, or hit the trail early, I don’t have time to make breakfast before heading out to watch the sunrise. That’s where energy bars come in, on-the-go, high-calorie nutrition bars that are a handy snack on the go, or even a meal replacement when you’re pressed for time.
Why should I choose an energy bar over other snacks?
One is space. Energy bars are small and easy to put in your pocket. A packet of crisps, for example, is bulkier and will crush in your backpack. They also last a long time. It can be tempting to hike with packets of string cheese and chocolate, but when your tent and backpack are sweating in the midday sun, they melt and taste funky pretty quickly, while a energy bar stays fresh. The other reason is nutritional value. An energy bar filled with fruits, seeds and nuts provides many more nutrients than a packet of candy.
What should I look for in an energy bar?
Fats, carbohydrates and proteins are all important to give you lots of energy and to keep a balanced diet while hiking. According to nutritionist Dr. Greg Potterwho works with Resilient nutritioncarbohydrates are especially important for high-intensity hikes.
“Generally, the higher the intensity of an activity, the more you should prioritize carbs over fat, because carbs can be burned for energy faster than fat,” Potter says. “The trade-off, however, is that since fat typically has more than twice as many calories per gram as carbs or protein, the more high-fat items you include, the less weight you need to carry, so you probably want a mix of high-fat, high-carb foods.”
What should I avoid?
It seems obvious, but avoid energy bars with too many artificial ingredients, such as processed sugar. Some granola bars have more sugar than a candy bar, which will give you a brief burst of energy when you have a sugar rush, but they won’t sustain you for hours. If they contain natural sugar, it’s not necessarily bad.
“Some energy bars contain a lot of sugar from dried fruit,” says Dr. Potter. “In these cases, the sugars come from ingredients rich in fibre, micronutrients and health-promoting polyphenols. However, not all energy bars and products are high in sugar. There are “keto” bars that contain virtually no sugar.
Energy bars usually come with a lot of packaging, so remember to be a responsible hiker and leave no trace. Take all your trash with you and recycle packaging if you can.
I’ve been busy tasting energy bars to analyze what’s best. Nutrition is important, of course, but let’s not forget that they must also be tasty. Believe it from a hungry hiker, these energy bars are delicious.
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Nakd Cocoa Delight the bars are some of the most expensive I’ve tried, and at only 130 calories per serving, they might not be the most convenient for my top pick, but they were so good I couldn’t help myself . It’s refreshing to be able to see the list of ingredients at a glance (there are only four: dates, raisins, cashews and cocoa). Amazingly, even with the low calorie count, one of these bars kept me full for hours.
the Clif Bar Crunchy Peanut Butter is one of the most filling bars I’ve tried and contains 260 calories. There’s 18% of your recommended protein, 15% of your recommended carbs, and 19% of your recommended fiber, and most of the ingredient list is organic.
All by Larabar energy bars sound like cake in your favorite cafe. The Pumpkin Pie flavor tastes truly autumnal, has only nine ingredients, and is suitable for multiple dietary needs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and soy-free). It’s pretty indulgent too, and it’s exactly the kind of sea bass I’d eat for dessert after my instant noodles while camping.
Personally, I prefer salty to sweet, which is why I like Keho’s tex-mex moment bars. They are fairly low in carbs, but still contain 210 calories and are high in fat. The flavors are fantastic: red peppers, sweet corn, avocado oil, mushrooms, etc. They look a bit like flat-packed birdseed, but if you can get around that (and I certainly can) the taste is great.
The thing I really like with Eat natural dark chocolate, cranberry and macadamia bars is the texture. They’re really crunchy and chewy, which keeps me from gobbling them down in a few bites when I’m hungry. It made me appreciate the combination of flavors: the sweet shredded coconut contrasted with the tangy, tart cranberries and the sweetness of dark chocolate.
You can really taste the goodness in the KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars. Each contains 230 calories and a full serving of cereal for slow-release energy. They’re chewy, satisfying, and gluten-free to boot. I’m happy with anything that has peanut butter in it, and these are very nutty.
I’ve always been a bit skeptical with protein bars because I found them too sweet, but I really enjoyed the Jimmy! Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar. The 18 grams of protein meant I felt really full instantly, and it works well as a meal replacement.
To me, a protein bar seems a little weird for breakfast, but the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Baked Breakfast Bars Fruity enough taste that I’m happy to eat them at first thing. They also help satisfy the craving if you haven’t been able to get your hands on fresh fruit for days. On the downside, the pasty consistency means they crush and crumble easily, especially when stuffed at the bottom of a backpack.
the Munk Pack Keto Honey Nut Granola Bars have a chewy texture and although they taste very sweet, the sugar content is extremely low. They are suitable for vegans and contain no grains, making them a good option for hikers with dietary needs or digestive issues. Although they are very tasty, they only contain 140 calories, so they work better as a snack than a meal replacement.
When I hike my caffeine intake drops drastically and I miss my three coffee breaks a day, but the QUANTUM Energy Squares are a great substitute for it. With 100 milligrams of caffeine, each square contains the caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee. The chocolate and sea salt combinations are a nice mix of sweet and salty, and provide much-needed salt boost when you’ve been sweating on the trail.
the Nature Valley Almond Blueberry Bars have the consistency of a flapjack. They’re dense, they’re delicious, and at 240 calories per serving, they’re a great option for a quick boost of energy. They are quite crumbly, so I recommend taking a break before heading home.