An active body needs energy before, during, and after a hike. I see too many people on the trails who forget or choose not to eat, only to feel faint 2 hours into a 6 hour hike. Today's blog post will talk about my favorite hiking go-to's when I need a boost of energy.
Not all bars are created equal. When you go into your local supermarket, the assortment of energy bars can often be confusing and overwhelming. With so many options out there, how do you know what's best? My advice is to look at the nutrition labels and pick a few flavors that you enjoy.
I look for bars with high-grade carbohydrates, good protein, and enough fat. Carbs provide a quick burst of energy and is often times what you need most during a hike. Protein and fat take longer to break down, so they are your "long term" energy sources. As a supplement, I usually bring apples, gorp (trail mix), bagels, and Justin's peanut butter.
KIND Bars are my go-to energy source. They are smaller than average bars and contain anywhere from 120 to 200 calories, so it's good to continuously snack on them or to combine them with something like an apple. The Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan is a favorite, and it contains 16g of fat, 16g of carbohydrates (5g of sugar and 7g of fiber), and 5g of protein. They recently have been pushing their Healthy Grains subbrand. The Peanut Butter Dark chocolate is Non-GMO, Gluten Free, contains 5g of fat, 23g of carbohydrates (7g of sugar and 2.5g of fiber), and 3g of protein. What this bar lacks in protein and fat, it makes up with carbs. KIND bars are a little on the expensive side, so I would suggest trying a few flavors you like and then buying them in bulk. As an aside, this bar is also a good, healthy option if you're looking for a quick snack in the non-hiking world.
I feel like the Clif Bar is the generic staple go-to. It's the first bar I picked up when I knew almost nothing about hiking. It's usually packed right in the middle of the shelves at eye level. They used to include a nice story about how Clif Bar is named after the then CEO's father, Clifford. The bars I buy now have since been replaced with a #MeetTheMoment social media and non-profit campaign.
A normal Clif bar is really dense and therefore good for longer, strenuous hikes. The Crunchy PB flavor has 6g of fat, 41g of carbohydrates (21g of sugar (WOW) and 4g of fiber), and 11g of protein. 21g sugar may seem like a lot, because it is.
But during long hikes, you need sugar and protein to sustain energy and boost your body. I wouldn't recommend this bar if you are on a 4 hour or less and 1000 ft elevation or less hike. There are healthier options out there that will give you the same amount of energy. But for most hikes in the Whites, go for it!
The market is super saturated now, and you can find anything from energy blocks to non-Gatorade energy drinks. The above are just 2 of my favorites of what's out there.
What does everyone else use for hiking fuel?