The Big Food Review: Food Bars and More!
First I wanted to start off by saying that I had no idea that eating and reviewing bars would be so much work. There were boxes of samples to eat and try. At first, it was so exciting and my stomach was pleased to take on the challenge. Sadly, I couldn’t eat all the flavors given to me. Trust me I tried, and my waistline can attest to this. Even considering my first world struggles, reviewing really helped me figure out some food logistics for the trail. I hope my thoughts on these products help you make a decision when you’re hungry mind is staring at a wall of bars at the grocery store.
I rated a few things about the bars. There was a taste rating, pro’s and con’s (I made sure I had a pro as well as a con for each item), and lastly, I did an overall rating. For the overall rating I took into consideration taste, price and company values.
Although I tried to be as unbiased as possible, these reviews are based off of my own opinions. Please feel free to share your opinions as well in the comments.
A Great Value For All It Offers
BumbleBar Organic Energy Bar
Classic Peanut, Amazing Almond, Classic Cashew, Awesome Apricot, Cherry Chocolate
Price: $18.88 per 12 pack or $1.99 per bar
Size: 1.4 oz
Pros: BumbleBar has a long list of nutritional and dietary benefits. It is vegan friendly, gluten free, all natural, organic and is packed with lots of vitamins and minerals. BumbleBar also participates in Ethical Sourcing to promote communities and social justice. Amazingly, considering all the company does for your body and the world, the bars are also a great deal, at $18.88 per 12 pack.
Cons: This bar is can get tough to eat in the cold weather so save it for the summer months. BumbleBar uses mainly sesame seed and although they have a good taste, from bar to bar they don’t have a strong flavor variety.
Thank you BumbleBar for sending me products from the Organic Energy Bar line to try.
Overall Score: 8/10
Personal Flavor Favorite
KIND bars—Strong & Kind
Thai Sweet Chili, Roasted Jalepeno, Honey Mustard
Price: $36 per 24 bars
Size: 1.6 oz
Pro: Strong & Kind bars come in savory flavors to contrast the sweet flavors in the KIND bar lines. They are certainly a welcome and yummy change for this hiker. The bars are made with less sugar than most, packed with lots of vitamins and minerals and boast 10g of protein. These bars also are gluten-free, non-GMO, soy, and whey free for those with dietary restrictions.
Cons: Strong and Kind bars can get tough to eat in the cold, so I would save them for the warmer months. The strong and spicy flavors of these bars are not for those with a weak palate for spice but great for those looking for some heat.
Thank you KIND Snacks for sending me products from the Strong and Kind line to try.
Overall Score: 9/10
Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Price: $25.45 per 16 Pack
Size: 1.6 oz
Pros: LÄRABAR is a charitable company, the wrappers are recyclable and they even offer 15 non-gmo bars in their line. LÄRABAR also includes a great guide on their website for choosing a product for your specific dietary need. The bars are also unsweetened, still taste great and are good for you nutritionally. As a national brand, they are easily found along the trail for your munching needs.
Cons: Although these bars are fairly soft, they still might be a little hard to eat if they’ve been out in the cold.
Thank you LÄRABAR for sending me products from the original LÄRABAR line to try. Please check out more from LÄRABAR on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and sign up for their eNewsletter.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Price: $39.00 per 12 Pack
Size: 2 oz
Pro: Omnibar uses balanced nutrition from grass-fed beef that offers nutrients other plant protein bars can’t offer. This bar boasts less processing and uses everyday foods such as sweet potatoes and almond butter. The company also participates in wildlife restoration projects.
Cons: Considering that this bar’s main ingredient is beef, it is dull on flavor. The Chipotle Barbecue flavor was rather bland leaving the bar tasting a little like a watered down Slim Jim. I also found the texture a little off-putting and gritty. Omnibar is also on the pricier side so it may not be good for those trying to do a frugal hike.
Overall Score: 5/10
PowerBar protein plus 20g/30g
Cookies N Cream, Salted Caramel
Price: $2.39/$2.99 per bar
Size: 2.15 oz/3.28 oz
Pros: The protein in even the 20g version of this bar, make it very filling for long periods of time. PowerBar also upped it flavor game on these and they taste better than their regular line and have a softer texture that won’t leave you struggling to eat it. As a national brand, these bars are going to be easily found in stores along the trail and at supermarkets.
Cons: If you consider natural ingredients important to you than this bar might not be for you.
Overall Score: 7/10
Rise Bar: Breakfast/Energy+/Protein+
Crunchy Perfect Pumpkin Breakfast Bar, Organic Coconut Acai, Crunchy Carob Chip
Price: $8.99-$27.99 per 12 Pack
Size: 1.4 oz – 2.1 oz
Pros: Rise Bars come free of gluten, GMO, preservative, vegan, dairy, soy and peanut free. They are also kosher for many varieties. There are only about 3-5 ingredients for most of the bars and considering how simple these bars are, they taste great and come a wide variety of yummy flavors.
Cons: Some of the bars, more specifically the Breakfast and Energy+ bars, are light on calories, fats and proteins. They are a great everyday snack but for big hikes and the thru-hiker appetite they don’t quite make the cut. The protein bar works well though for the long distance hiker with the 20 grams of protein and plenty of calories to sustain energy.
Thank you Rise Bar for sending me products from the Breakfast, Energy and Protein lines to try.
Overall Score: 7/10
Price: $29.99 per 12 Pack
Pros: This bar is organic, gluten free and even kosher. It’s well suited for those with special dietary needs. The “simple” and few ingredients ensure that it is hiker friendly nutrition. The Simple Squares bar is soft and easy to eat, so feel free to unwrap a bar when the temperature drops.
Cons: When it comes to flavor, although this bar tastes good, they could use a little boost. Simple Square is also a bit pricey for the small size so it may not be a sustainable purchase for an avid hiker looking for a go-to bar.
Overall Score: 5/10
Herbed Mushroom Risotto 3.4 oz/6.6 oz
Size: 3.4 oz/6.6 oz
Pros: This tastes incredible compared to other freeze dried hiker meals I’ve tried. Actually, it tasted incredible compared to other meals I’ve tried. Good To-Go meals are chef created and use simple real food with good nutrition for a hungry hiker. It is certainly worthwhile splurge item.
Cons: It is a little bit more expensive than other meals, so this one might just be a splurge. It also takes a bit longer to cook than a traditional freeze dried meal with a 20 minute wait, but it’s certainly worth the wait.
Thank you Good To-Go for sending me products to try.
Overall Score: 9/10
Greenbelly Bar—Meal Bar
Price: $12.99 per 3 Pack
Size: 5.64 oz
Pro: Greenbelly fights hunger by donating a meal for every meal bought. These bars are made with all natural ingredients and offer balanced nutrition. Greenbelly replaces a meal by offering you a third of your daily intake in one pouch with balanced protein, calories, carbohydrates, fats and sodium. It’s tastes great and certainly left this taster full and happy. These bars would work well for a good substitute when you don’t have the time or energy to cook. Greenbelly is also well priced, giving you 3 full meals for $12.99
Cons: Currently not easy to find along the trail, but are launching a Kickstarter to expand!
Overall Score: 8/10
My Overall Favorite
Almond Butter, Sunflower Butter
Price: $6.99 per 7oz
Calories: 180 per 2 Tablespoons
Size: 7 oz
Pros: Yumbutter loves to give back. Every purchase helps feed a child. They also have a company mission that they call Holistic Responsibility™ where they try to do the best for everyone in the Yumbutter food chain, from the growers to the customers. As a bonus, they are great guys to talk with, whom I could tell believe strongly in what they are doing. The product they create is also amazing and has a ton of great fats, proteins and vitamins. Yumbutter tastes so wonderful, that just writing about it is making my mouth water. Although some classier people might try to find a cracker to spread this on, I’ve been eating it right from the pouch and couldn’t be happier.
Cons: It’s more expensive than regular peanut butter and isn’t as easily found along the trail.
Thank you Yumbutter for sending me products to try.
Overall Score: 9/10
Price: $30 for the Daytripper/$50 for the Weekender
Inside a Typical Weekender:
- 1 x Backpacker’s Pantry Organic Apple Cinnamon Oats & Quinoa
- 1 x Backpacker’s Pantry Huevos Rancheros
- 1 x Backpacker’s Pantry Cold Pasta Salad
- 1 x Pack It Gourmet Ramen Rescue
- 1 x Pack It Gourmet Cowboy Pasta (Standard only)
- 1 x Kaimana Tuna Jerky (2.5 oz.) (Standard Only)
- 1 x Mary Jane’s Farm Bell Pepper Pasta (Vegetarian only)
- 1 x Just Veggies (4 oz.) (Vegetarian only)
- 2 x Clif Bar
- 2 x Starbucks Via instant coffee
Pros: The Hiker Meals guys are awesome. I got the opportunity to talk to one of them on a call and I enjoyed the enthusiasm and big ideas I heard from him. Right now there are two main options to choose from, one for day trips and one for full weekends. There is also an option for a vegetarian meal pack as well as a completely custom meal plan. The options are curated with yummy backpacking food alternatives that left me full and happy. The company is also trying to be as sustainable as possible and are always working on expanding on that cause. Hiker Meals is perfect for a section hiker learning what food to bring or a trail magic package to send to a loved one on their thru (<- big hint!).
Cons: Although you get more than what you pay for, the whole package is more expensive than do-it-yourself alternatives. I would definitely consider it a fun splurge.
Thank you Hiker Meals for sending me products to try.
Update February 22, 2015: Previously in the listing for Greenbelly it was stated that the company “donate(s) a bar for every bar bought.” This has been corrected to “a meal for every meal bought.” More information about their charitable contributions can be found on their webpage.
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