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Outdoor Fuel: New Bars, Chews, and Bites

by Mackenzie Lobby
September 23, 2009

Some of the newest outdoor nutritional products were unveiled at this summer’s Outdoor Retailer trade show. We’ve rounded up the latest, up-and-coming energy bars, chews, gels, beans, and bites to help you fuel up on and off the trail. Below you’ll find new products, flavors, and packaging.

Energy Bars

Chews, Gels, and Beans

Protein Bites


Energy Bars

“Organic,” “wholesome,” and “nutritious” are the buzzwords of this bar scene. These up-and-coming energy bars emphasize nutritional value and hunger satisfaction. They contain less refined sugar and preservatives and more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than many of the original energy bars.

Bumble Bars

Bumble Bars are organic, gluten-free, and vegan, as well as ethically sourced. Elizabeth Ward, the creator of Bumble Bars, gained her inspiration for these healthy snacks while hiking. Noticing that people were out enjoying nature while simultaneously eating products that potentially harmed the planet seemed wrong. So she decided to make her own hiking snack.

Ward’s sesame seed-based bars come in 12 flavors, including Original, Chocolate Crisp, Chai with Almonds, and Awesome Apricot. Regardless of your feelings about sesame seeds, the bars are tasty. The seeds hold the ingredients together without being overly seedy and dry and each flavor is distinct, some of the favorites being Lushus Lemon and Cherry Chocolate.

Original Bumble Bar
Bar: 45g (1.6oz)
Calories: 230
Fat: 15g
Total Carbohydrate: 20g; Sugars: 11g
Other: 45% DV (Daily Value) of copper; 25% DV of calcium, magnesium; 20% DV of iron, phosphorous; 15% DV of E, zinc; 10% DV of B6, thiamin
MSRP: $26.25 (15 bars)


Forze GPS Bars

As part of its “first weight management tool designed specifically for athletes,” Forze GPS has introduced a new product line of bars and shakes to help active people with appetite control between meals. This seems timely with the recent media chatter about Americans using exercise as an excuse to overeat. Forze emphasizes that a leaner body performs better and that eating too many calories hinders this.

The GPS stands for gastric peptide stimulators, nutrients that affect appetite control. The blend of calcium, protein, and natural fats in these bars is said to “activate the body’s natural appetite control signal,” and thus leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer.

Regardless of any appetite controlling benefits, the Forze Bars, available in Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cranberry Nut, taste better than many of the other granola-inspired bars on the market. Coupled with one of their flavorsome shakes (which are more like drinks than shakes), you’ve got a satisfying snack that you can bring with you for a long day out and about.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Forze Bar
Bar: 40g
Calories: 160
Fat: 6g
Total Carbohydrate: 21g
Protein: 8g
Other: 40% DV of calcium, 10% DV of A, E, C, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin
MSRP: $19.90 (10 bars)

Hammer Bar

Hammer has one of the most wholesome bars on the market with organic ingredients and no refined sugars. They have even gone as far as gaining USDA organic, non-dairy kosher, and vegan (Almond Raisin flavor) certifications. Hammer Bars are available in Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip, Almond Raisin, and Chocolate Chip. The company’s extensive marketing literature is quite convincing in justifying why they use the ingredients they use. Everything has a purpose. The Hammer Bar is handy for before and after activity. It can also be eaten during lower intensity exercise.

Cashew Coconut Chocolate Chip Hammer Bar
Bar: 50g (1.76oz)
Calories: 230
Fat: 11g
Total Carbohydrate: 27g
Protein: 5g
MSRP: $2.49 (single bar); $27 (12 bars)



KIND has flown below the radar on the endurance and outdoor sports scene, but is recognizable to loyal Starbucks clientele. KIND makes the bars with all the fruit and nuts displayed by cash registers in coffee shops across the country. The company’s newest creations, KIND PLUS Bars, are packed with even more calcium and antioxidants than the original bars, making them a good option whether you are en route to the trail or in need of a pick-me-up mid-hike. These bars aren’t your typical energy bar mystery mash-up. Whole chunks of fruit and nuts make you feel like you are eating real food. Of six flavors, Mango Macadamia has received the greatest acclaim.

Cranberry & Almond KIND PLUS Bar
Bar: 40g
Calories: 190
Fat: 12g
Total Carbohydrate: 19g; Sugars: 13g
Protein: 4g
Other: 50% DV of A, C, E; 120mg of potassium
MSRP: $2.29

Odwalla Mocha-walla Bar

If you crave that coffee taste, but wouldn’t think of bringing it out on the trails with you, Odwalla’s new Mocha-walla Bar will do the trick. This bar is as tasty as a Starbucks’ Frappuccino and is just slightly drier than a Clif Bar. The main selling point, besides the flavor, are all the fruit, grains, and fiber packed in. This isn’t a bar that will leave you hungry twenty minutes later.

Mocha-walla Bar
Bar: 56g (2oz)
Calories: 210
Fat: 4g
Caffeine: 22mg
Total Carbohydrate: 38g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 15g
Protein 4g
Other: 50% DV of E, folate; 25% DV of calcium; 10% DV of A, C, iron,
MSRP: $1.49

PROBAR fruition

These snack-sized bars are soft, chewy, and much stickier than many of the other bars on the market. These little vegan bars definitely live up to their flavor labels as they are intensely fruity-tasting, coming in blueberry, cran-raspberry, peach, and strawberry flavors. At 160 calories, fruition bars have less than half the calories of the heftier original PROBARs, which weigh in at 350 to 380 calories per 3-ounce bar.

The fruition ingredient list includes two servings of real fruit, organic rolled oats, and antioxidant-rich white and black chia seeds. That’s pretty good for a little 1.7-ounce bar.

PROBAR fruition
Bar: 48g (1.7oz)
Calories: 160
Fat: 2g
Total Carbohydrate: 34g; Fiber: 4g; Sugars: 22g
Protein: 3g
Fruit: 26g
MSRP: $2.49 (single bar), $27.48 (12 bars)



Chews, Gels, and Beans

The chews-gels-beans category is where you find the most convenient, bang-for-your-buck nutrition to be consumed out on the trails. While all claim optimal formulas and blends, it’s really about what you can stomach best. For many, a gel is simply the easiest and fastest way to get calories into your system. Others prefer a more tangible snack that can actually be eaten, like chews and beans. While many of these products contain electrolytes, on a hot day you may want the added benefit of a sports drink as well. Either way, be sure you have some kind of liquid to wash these nutritionals down in order to aid their distribution into your system.


carb BOOM Energy Chews

carb BOOM points to its lack of simple sugars as the secret behind preventing insulin spikes and stomach upset sometimes caused by competing products. While these energy chews will give you a boost anytime, they are especially appropriate to be consumed during exercise. The mixture of carbohydrates and electrolytes will replace calories burned as well as sodium lost through sweat.

The package suggests eating an entire pouch every 30 to 45 minutes during exercise. That seems a bit excessive; every 45 minutes to one hour is likely adequate, and taking in a few at a time is okay too. For those with dietary restrictions, carb BOOM Energy Chews are gluten-, wheat-, and dairy-free.

Wild Berries carb BOOM Energy Chews
Packet: 30g (1.05oz), 6 pieces
Calories: 90
Total Carbohydrate: 23g; Sugars: 11g
Sodium: 55mg
Potassium: 40mg
MSRP: $1.70 (single packet), $29.99 (24 packets)

CLIF SHOT Bloks FastPak

The CLIF engineers hit a home run by reducing the CLIF SHOT Bloks packaging by one third while maintaining the same number of chewable Bloks within (six). Like a potato chip bag sealed with more air than product, the old packaging wasn’t exactly convenient for endurance athletes on the run.

The new packaging offers a linear design with six Bloks stacked one on top of the other, making it easy to pop or squeeze one out at a time. A hole punched into one end of the package makes it simple to pin or tie the Bloks to shorts or a race belt. The Bloks come in eight flavors, three with caffeine (Black Cherry, Cola, Orange), one with three times the sodium (Margarita) for the cramp-prone, and one new flavor (Mountain Berry).

Mountain Berry CLIF SHOT Bloks
FastPak: contains two 30g servings (3 pieces per serving)
Calories per serving: 100
Sodium: 70mg
Potassium: 20mg
Total Carbohydrate: 24g; Sugars: 12g
MSRP: $1.99


GU Chomps

GU Chomps are a welcome addition to the energy chew market. The Chomps receive favorable taste ratings across the board. Like the PowerBar Gel Blasts below, the packaging doesn’t exactly travel lightly, though. More importantly, GU Energy Labs tout a new type of energy-enhancing blend of complex carbohydrates from maltodextrin and simple carbohydrates from tapioca syrup and vitamins C and E. Flavors include Blueberry Pomegranate, Orange, Cranberry Apple (with caffeine), and Strawberry (with caffeine).

Strawberry GU Chomps
Packet: 60g (contains two 30g servings of 4 pieces each)
Calories per serving: 90
Sodium: 50mg
Potassium: 40mg
Total Carbohydrate: 23g; Sugars: 11g
Caffeine: 20mg
Other: 100% DV of C, E
MSRP $2.20

GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel

First came regular energy gel, now comes super energy gel. Roctane is an amped-up version of the original GU. This super GU contains extra sodium and amino acids that help the body slow the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles and speed recovery. GU also has increased the levels of citrates in the Roctane mixture, which is claimed to speed the conversion of carbs into “energy molecules.” Whether it’s the added amino acids, or simply the power of suggestion, Roctane does give one the feeling of a boost superior to that of regular energy gel, making it deserving of the name on the label. Available in Blueberry Pomegranate and Vanilla Orange flavors.

Blueberry Pomegranate GU Roctane
Packet: 32g (1.1oz)
Calories: 100
Total Carbohydrate: 25g; Sugars: 5g
Sodium: 125mg
Potassium: 55mg
Caffeine: 35mg
MSRP: $2.50

PowerBar Gel Blasts

While PowerBar hasn’t caught on to the need for better packaging the way CLIF has, their new Gel Blasts taste just as good, if not better. The Blasts are a hybrid between a chew and a gel, chewy on the outside with gel inside. The gel isn’t messy, just flavorful. Ingredients include a 2:1 blend of glucose to fructose, which has been shown to be the most effective in delivering energy to the muscles. For an extra boost, try the Strawberry Banana (25mg caffeine) or Cola (50mg caffeine).

Strawberry-Banana PowerBar Gel Blasts
Packet: 2.12oz (contains about 1.5 servings, 6 pieces each)
Calories per serving: 130
Sodium: 40mg
Potassium: 20mg
Total Carbohydrate: 30g; Sugars: 24g
Protein: 2g
Caffeine: 25mg
MSRP $1.59


Sport Beans

Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans are not new to the endurance nutritional scene. What is new is the way the beans are packaged. Formerly housed in an inconvenient plastic bag, the newest Sport Bean varieties are held in resealable pouches. Since you generally won’t eat them all at once, this keeps the beans fresh and more easily transportable.

As far as taste goes, Sport Beans are tastier than ever. You wouldn’t know the added carbohydrates, electrolytes, and vitamins existed, as they taste just like regular jellybeans. Try the Extreme Sport Beans for an added shot of 50mg of caffeine.

Extreme Watermelon Sport Beans
Packet: 28g
Calories: 100
Sodium: 80mg
Potassium: 40mg
Total Carbohydrate: 25g; Sugars: 21g
Caffeine: 50mg
MSRP: $1.99


Protein Bites

Pop-able protein is the latest craze on the nutritional scene. They have the convenience of chews, beans, and gels, and the nutrition of bars. They are becoming especially popular with folks out hiking and backpacking because they offer considerable nutrition and protein while giving you the option to snack on just a few at a time. This allows you to regulate your hunger better as well as more easily share with your comrades. Several new products fall into this hybrid category.


Dubbed the first “pop-and-go” protein bites, CLIF SHOT ROKS are a simple way for active individuals to get their daily protein. While it’s no steak dinner, the ROKS are tasty, grape-sized bites that are reminiscent of malted milk balls. They come in Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Chocolate. The hard candy shell keeps them from getting smashed in your pack and you don’t need to worry about them melting all over during a hot day on the trails. With two grams of protein per Rok, they can offer a substantial pick-me-up.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough CLIF SHOT ROKS
Packet: 70g (2.5oz), 10 Roks
Calories: 270
Fat 4.5g
Sodium: 210mg
Potassium: 75mg
Total Carbohydrate: 37g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 28g
Protein: 20g
MSPR $2.49






PowerBar ProteinPlus Bites and Energy Bites

Not to be outdone, PowerBar has come up with its own portable protein bites. The ProteinPlus Bites contain 20 grams of protein in a packet, comparable to the CLIF SHOT ROKS. For those who are looking for less of a protein punch, PowerBar just introduced Energy Bites, which contain 10 grams of protein per package. The company touts a 2:1 blend of glucose to fructose in the Energy Bites, which has been shown in several studies to deliver more energy to the muscles than glucose alone. PowerBar’s protein bites are softer and chewier than the CLIF SHOT ROKS. Both versions are conveniently contained in resealable pouches that can be zipped shut and saved for later.

Chocolate Peanut Butter PowerBar ProteinPlus Bites
Packet: 74g (8 bites)
Calories: 300
Fat: 10g
Sodium: 270mg
Total Carbohydrate: 34g; Fiber: 6g; Sugars: 16g
Protein: 20g
MSRP: $3.49

Oatmeal Raisin PowerBar Energy Bites
Packet: 85.5g (8 bites)
Calories: 300
Fat: 5g
Sodium: 220mg
Total Carbohydrate: 52g; Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 32g
Protein: 10g
MSRP: $3.49


Simbree Energy Bites

Cashew Coconut is the newest addition to Simbree’s wholesome line of Energy Bites. If you like the taste of sesame seeds and don’t have much of a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy this new flavor, otherwise go for the sweeter Oat Almond Pistash.

Overall, Simbree is probably the most ingredient-conscious of the category. With almost entirely organic ingredients, such as rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and brown sugar, Simbree makes an effort to provide a less-processed snack. While the Energy Bites have less protein than the ROKS or the PowerBar Bites, they are packed with potassium and have zero sodium and cholesterol. Portability wise, these bites come as little nuggets in either 6-ounce or 15-ounce resealable bags. This makes them easy to share on a long hike or backpacking trip.

Cashew Coconut Simbree Energy Bites
Serving size: 42g (7 bites), 6-oz bag contains 4 servings
Calories per serving: 190
Fat: 10g
Total Carbohydrate: 22g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 7g
Protein: 7g
Potassium: 5% DV
MSRP: $4.99