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Coffee
01-31-2015, 18:07
On most of my backpacking trips, I have relied pretty heavily on energy bars. My usual choice is Clif Bars, which I know some people hate but which seem palatable to me over long periods of time. I wasn't even sick of them after the Colorado Trail eating two or three each day.

The trouble with energy bars is that they do not have a great weight to calorie ratio (Clif Bars are barely 100 calories per ounce) probably partly due to excessive packaging. In addition, unless purchased in bulk somewhere like Wal Mart or Amazon, they can be ridiculously expensive especially in small trail towns. I have paid as much as $3 for a Clif Bar. Needless to say, this would get annoying fast on my upcoming PCT thru hike if I stick with my habit of eating 2-3 of these per day. I plan to buy as I hike as much as possible so I need things that are available in nearly any small grocery store.

So I'm looking for alternatives to energy bars. One easy choice that I'm evaluating is loose granola like the kind you buy in the cereal aisle. Usually 10-12 ounce packages can be purchased for $3-4 in most grocery stores. Here is a comparison between a Clif Bar and the loose granola:

Clif Bar
240 Calories
5 grams fat
43 grams carbs
5 grams fiber
10 grams protein
weighs 2.5 ounces
96 calories per ounce
cost: $0.99-$3.00 per bar

Nature Valley Oats & Honey Protein Granola
Serving size: 50 grams (1.76 ounces)
210 calories
4.5 grams fat
32 grams garbs
3 grams fiber
10 grams protein
119 calories per ounce
cost per serving: ~$0.60

If we ramp up the loose granola to be the same weight as the Clif Bar, the result is nearly 300 calories, 6.4 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbs, 4.2 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein.

So it seems to me that switching from Clif Bars to some type of loose granola is a no brainer. Perhaps I'll throw in some loose raisins into the mix as well.

I normally have two Clif Bars as snacks during the day so I could instead make a five ounce bag of granola and eat off that during the day. Additionally, I always have a nut based snack - either pecans, almonds and fancier nuts if reasonably priced, or peanuts if not. That snack has a ton of calories and protein and is very weight efficient.

I've also thought of switching to jars of peanut butter, something I haven't done much of in the past. That might offer the best price and weight performance of all.

Any thoughts to break the energy bar "addiction" would be welcome!

Connie
01-31-2015, 18:15
How about selecting a granola you like, maybe supplementing it with protein powder and freeze-dried raspberries or dried fruit like cherries or apricots, then, binding the entire mixture together with peanut butter and honey, or, dates and agave syrup, or, agave syrup alone, add selected nuts, then, since your digestion "likes" Clif Bars type food, you could wrap the individually shaped single servings in wax paper.

Coffee
01-31-2015, 18:21
Connie, that sounds great but I'm looking for something I can buy at a grocery and use without additional preparation since I'll be resupplying on trail. But your idea does sound good for trips where I'm preparing my food at home, like my upcoming hike. Thanks.

mattjv89
01-31-2015, 18:21
Yeah I hear you on the price, as a rule I don't buy them unless they can be had in the 6 pack at $.99 each. Same kind of thing with those Pro Bar meal bar's, the one I've had was delicious but 3.50something for one bar, come on. Haven't found these anywhere with a box discount either.

Anyways I eat a ton of trail mix which is kind of in the same line as the granola you mention. Around here it's usually a 2 pound bag that contains around 5,000 calories for $7 or 8. Most are 130-140 calories/oz. too so I see it as a good return on the weight. I just buy it in the pre-mixed bags, seems like without buying large bulk quantities of ingredients (more than I could go through in time) I can't touch the price by making it myself. It's my perfect fuel, just eat a few handfuls whenever I want. A mix of carbs, fat, and protein too, I really haven't found anything that propels me better.

Fairway
01-31-2015, 18:33
Most gas stations and fish camps sell the 2 for 1$ peanuts, nature valley bars, 6 pack PB/cheese sandwich crakers, and PayDay bars.

On my next long hike I might try making my own spin off of Anishe's "rocket fuel." I think she just emptied a jar of PB and a jar of jelly into a 1 gallon zip lock then cut the bottom corner off. When she got hungry she would just tilt her head back and squeeze some down the hatch.

You could make your own no bake energy bars (http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/energy-bites-recipes/) and/or Joe's Ultra light Moose Goo (http://www.ultralightbackpacker.com/moosegoo.html#MooseGoo). No cook bars wouldn't be hard to make in town if you're resourceful. You could carry it as one big glob, then cut enough off for each day and put that in your hip belt.

garlic08
01-31-2015, 19:51
Maybe we've talked about this before, but I make a simple muesli as I hike. The stuff I make is a mixture of rolled oats, walnuts and raisins, available in all grocery stores. Rolled oats are already cooked, parboiled during processing, and can be eaten without further cooking. I try to find powdered milk, but that's not always possible and I've developed a taste for it with just cold water. At home, I add cinnamon but don't bother on the trail. I mix the ingredients in a gallon ziplock (or two if I can only get a large box of oats) and carry a plastic cup and spoon. I have one cup every two hours or so when I take a break. Many days I don't need much more than that, maybe some PB or cheese in a tortilla for more fat.

I haven't done a cost analysis of homemade muesli, but you'll probably find it far less expensive than packaged granola. Far less simple sugar and HFCS, too, so a low glycemic index, which prevents me from crashing during the day. Total cost (and fat content) depends highly on the quantity of nuts you use.

Malto
01-31-2015, 19:54
Most gas stations and fish camps sell the 2 for 1$ peanuts, nature valley bars, 6 pack PB/cheese sandwich crakers, and PayDay bars.

On my next long hike I might try making my own spin off of Anishe's "rocket fuel." I think she just emptied a jar of PB and a jar of jelly into a 1 gallon zip lock then cut the bottom corner off. When she got hungry she would just tilt her head back and squeeze some down the hatch.

You could make your own no bake energy bars (http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/energy-bites-recipes/) and/or Joe's Ultra light Moose Goo (http://www.ultralightbackpacker.com/moosegoo.html#MooseGoo). No cook bars wouldn't be hard to make in town if you're resourceful. You could carry it as one big glob, then cut enough off for each day and put that in your hip belt.

I did a variation of Anish's rocket fuel, eating half a jar of PNB and Jelly going into Sierra City. My tummy didn't feel good afterwards.

here is my take on hiking food. There's nutrition and there's fuel. Generally they go together but I don't believe they do as much on a thru hike. SOME of your food needs to have the nutritional content required to be healthy. But not all. You will likely be eating 6k calories and I believe half of it can be pure fuel, fats and carbs with nutritional value being secondary. That opens up your options well beyond energy bars. Candy Bars are energy bars along with Ms Debbie and The entire hostess portfolio. Frankly there probably isn't much nutritional difference between some candy bars and energy bars.

Connie
01-31-2015, 20:20
Malto, Are you saying once you have your essential nutrition the remainder of the 6,000 calories, for example, are nutritional value optional? I had never thought of it that way. Fuel the muscles, "fuel" morale, fuel energy levels with whatever, just get those 6,000 calories. Is that it?

Slo-go'en
01-31-2015, 21:37
On my next long hike I might try making my own spin off of Anishe's "rocket fuel." I think she just emptied a jar of PB and a jar of jelly into a 1 gallon zip lock then cut the bottom corner off. When she got hungry she would just tilt her head back and squeeze some down the hatch.

I've found mixing jelly and PB results in growing mold before long in warm/hot weather. That's one sugar rich mixture to grow science projects on! Even the premixed stuff you can buy doesn't seem to last more then a few days before green and blue mold starts to grow on it.

Dogwood
01-31-2015, 21:45
I'm an energy bar eating fanatic on trail although terms like "bar" are often highly misleading as folks have so many individual different "bar" definitions.

You're bringing many factors into the energy bar equation making it more and more difficult to hit all these factors with a high degree of success. I'm in a different situation as you as I will mail out some resupply boxes from home containing bars not usually available in all trail towns. I don't eat the same kind or amts of trail bars on every carry. I buy these specialty bars throughout the yr almost never paying retail so I usually have 400-500 on hand. I've made my own too which can add an infinite variety of tastes, nutrition. and MUCH lower costs. With all the bars I buy I stick to a 120cals+/oz standard with some 160+ cal/oz.

We can slice and dice ad nauseam in a myriad of ways but just in regards to costs I aim for a set caloric daily load. So, even though some bars may cost as much as $2.20 each and we can add in postage, blah, blah, blah,........ for me, it works out because I'm willing to trade off $ for the benefits of a lower food wt carried, getting variety, and nutrition that I'm sure of when I send myself resupply boxes containing some specialty bars/foods.



I'm in a diffrent sitaution

Coffee
01-31-2015, 22:05
Some good ideas here. Thanks.

I have done resupply boxes many times before and they do work, but frankly the idea of doing this for the PCT (or any long trail) is overwhelming. So I'm only preparing one from home to ship to Kennedy Meadows since I need to be really aware of not only calories but also volume since that will be my longest food carry of the trip with the added limitation of a bear canister. I am going to do other mail drops from larger towns to smaller towns as well but I'll be assembling those on the trail trying to keep them simple so I can do other things in town. It's not so much the money as the convenience of being able to buy what I want to eat along the way. I can afford to buy expensive energy bars of I want to but it annoys me to spend $3 on a Clif bar. It just irritates me. Maybe that's not so logical.

Anyway, I do like some of the ideas here and will try some out over the next couple of months. I actually think that getting away from Clif bars will improve my calories per ounce metric which is an added benefit.

Connie
01-31-2015, 22:49
I am not "happy" to spend $3 on a trail bar, especially not for 100 calories.

Dogwood, Quote: "120cals+/oz standard with some 160+ cal/oz."

What trail bars meet that criteria?

I think the local grocery store doesn't have those.

Coffee
01-31-2015, 22:57
Some of the Larabars are around 130 calories per ounce. I like Cashew cookie. They are $1.29 at Trader Joes. I rarely see them elsewhere. If I was going to stay with bars I'd be tempted to swap the Larabars for Clif Bars except I think that I can do better with some of the other ideas.

http://www.larabar.com/products/cashew-cookie#nutritional

Coffee
02-01-2015, 09:03
Maybe we've talked about this before, but I make a simple muesli as I hike. The stuff I make is a mixture of rolled oats, walnuts and raisins, available in all grocery stores. Rolled oats are already cooked, parboiled during processing, and can be eaten without further cooking. I try to find powdered milk, but that's not always possible and I've developed a taste for it with just cold water. At home, I add cinnamon but don't bother on the trail. I mix the ingredients in a gallon ziplock (or two if I can only get a large box of oats) and carry a plastic cup and spoon. I have one cup every two hours or so when I take a break. Many days I don't need much more than that, maybe some PB or cheese in a tortilla for more fat.

I haven't done a cost analysis of homemade muesli, but you'll probably find it far less expensive than packaged granola. Far less simple sugar and HFCS, too, so a low glycemic index, which prevents me from crashing during the day. Total cost (and fat content) depends highly on the quantity of nuts you use.

Do you use just regular "old fashioned oats" like the Quaker or generic varieties? I make oatmeal at home nearly every day using the Wal Mart generic old fashioned oats. I cook for five minutes based on the label instructions so never thought to eat directly without cooking.

colorado_rob
02-01-2015, 09:45
I keep a spreadsheet of trail food and associated calories/ounce and try to stay 125 or so and above, including packaging on average. I don't care much for cliff bars personally, they are generally too "hard", especially in cold weather. Lara bars are awesome though. We buy in bulk at Costco, generally much cheaper than grocery stores.

Some highlights:

Ritz bits come in at 140 cal/oz
Chili Cheese fritos (and other types of chips) 160/oz (yes, they get pulverized in a pack, but so what)
PB pretzels 140/oz
Cashew nut mix, 160/oz
GORP (Kroger brand) 140/oz
M&M's 160/oz (I think, don't have that number handy but it's close to this)
Spicy Oriental mix 190/oz

Various granola mixes are great for mornings, I mix it with high-fat whole milk powder (Nido) for breakfasts, comes in at 142 cal/oz.

Of course lots of these food are fat/protein dominated, good for eating in the evenings during recovery, we need more plain sugars while actually hiking (I like good old jelly beans and spice drops), those are all close to 100/oz, combined with above types of snacks/foods comes in at 120-130 average.

SteelCut
02-01-2015, 09:46
Do you use just regular "old fashioned oats" like the Quaker or generic varieties? I make oatmeal at home nearly every day using the Wal Mart generic old fashioned oats. I cook for five minutes based on the label instructions so never thought to eat directly without cooking.

I do this. I will eat the instant oatmeal by just adding powered milk or Nito and cold water. The oatmeal is already pre-cooked so no need for hot water or cooking. I will add raisins other dried fruit for taste or more calories.

msumax1985
02-01-2015, 15:28
Coffee, I love your granola cereal idea! I hate overspending for marketing hype. These should be readily available at any Dollar General or small resupply place. I can repackage them into zip locks. I like to eat on the go and keep bars in my hip belt pockets. These bags of granola should be just as versatile for my use.

Thanks again. I think you hit on a winner with this one. At least for me.

sympathetic joy
02-01-2015, 15:45
I do this. I will eat the instant oatmeal by just adding powered milk or Nito and cold water. The oatmeal is already pre-cooked so no need for hot water or cooking. I will add raisins other dried fruit for taste or more calories.

In addition to powdered milk, you can add protein powder to instant oatmeal. Just add hot water and enjoy the calories.

garlic08
02-01-2015, 17:10
Do you use just regular "old fashioned oats" like the Quaker or generic varieties? I make oatmeal at home nearly every day using the Wal Mart generic old fashioned oats. I cook for five minutes based on the label instructions so never thought to eat directly without cooking.

Yes, I prefer old fashioned oats. Some like quick oats which is just a finer grind of the same thing. In my opinion, rolled oats taste horrible when boiled into mush. They have a good nutty flavor when eaten out of the box.

Don't try this with steel cut oats. They need to be cooked.

Coffee
02-02-2015, 10:04
I tried eating a handful of old fashioned oats as I made my oatmeal this morning. Not bad! Probably would be much better with raisins or other dried fruit, maybe mixed in with some granola and nuts.

garlic08
02-02-2015, 12:17
I tried eating a handful of old fashioned oats as I made my oatmeal this morning. Not bad! Probably would be much better with raisins or other dried fruit, maybe mixed in with some granola and nuts.

I met someone who adds Grape Nuts to her oats/muesli mix. It's easy enough to find in most stores and not too expensive.

Farr Away
02-02-2015, 12:46
You could also mix in some peanut butter, and maybe some chocolate?

-FA

Halloween
02-02-2015, 14:25
Snickers. The new peanut butter ones are good.

Coffee
02-02-2015, 18:04
So I made up ten snacks to replace energy bars for my upcoming hike made up of the following:

(1) 60 grams of Bear Naked Mapleicious Pecan granola
(2) 40 grams of Craisins

Total Calories: 390
Fat: 8 grams
Carbs: 77 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 6 grams

Cost per bag: $0.96
Packaged weight: 3.55 ounces
Calories/ounce: 110

So for roughly the same cost as the cheapest cost for Clif Bars, I'm getting an additional 150 calories per snack at a cost of only one additional ounce and I'm improving the calories per ounce statistic from 96 to 110.

Although I purchased these ingredients at Wal-Mart and the cost of these ingredients will be higher at small town groceries, I don't think they will ever be 3x the cost as is sometimes the case for energy bars.

I'll have to try out some of the other suggestions as well. The idea of using old fashioned oats would be much cheaper than what I've come up with but I have to admit that the taste of the Bear Naked granola blows away the sample mixture of oats and craisins that I tested out (although the oatmeal could very well be healthier).

lonehiker
02-09-2015, 17:14
Scoop a bit of peanut butter out of your jar, add honey to taste and stir. Apply to tortilla and enjoy. Available about anywhere.

smoothsailin
02-09-2015, 17:22
Peanut Butter & Nutella , raisins, oatmeal...what more do you need.

sympathetic joy
02-09-2015, 18:04
This is what I used this weekend on a day hike.

4 dry oz of peanuts. 650 calories.
3 dry oz of raisins. 250 calories.
1 dry oz of quick oats. 100 calories.

8 oz total. 1000 calories total. Calories per oz 125.

The raisins provide quick energy. The peanuts long term energy. The oats provides some amino acids that the peanuts lack. Together they make a complete protein. Delicious combination and very cheap to make.

garlic08
02-10-2015, 09:40
This is what I used this weekend on a day hike.

4 dry oz of peanuts. 650 calories.
3 dry oz of raisins. 250 calories.
1 dry oz of quick oats. 100 calories.

8 oz total. 1000 calories total. Calories per oz 125.

The raisins provide quick energy. The peanuts long term energy. The oats provides some amino acids that the peanuts lack. Together they make a complete protein. Delicious combination and very cheap to make.

Exactly my experience. I tried carrying nothing but this on a 200-mile portion of the PCT in the Sierra Nevada. It was the first time I tried stoveless travel, as well. The result was good energy, an extremely easy and cost-effective resupply, and I maintained body weight in a tough section of trail. But I craved a little more fat and a few more flavors. Over the ensuing years I found a combination that satisfies, but the oat mixture remains my staple and I know I can travel on nothing but that if needed.

Farr Away
02-10-2015, 14:53
This is what I used this weekend on a day hike.

4 dry oz of peanuts. 650 calories.
3 dry oz of raisins. 250 calories.
1 dry oz of quick oats. 100 calories.

8 oz total. 1000 calories total. Calories per oz 125.

The raisins provide quick energy. The peanuts long term energy. The oats provides some amino acids that the peanuts lack. Together they make a complete protein. Delicious combination and very cheap to make.

I wonder if you swapped out an ounce of the peanuts for an ounce of sunflower seeds, if the nutritional profile would be better?

Calorie-wise, they're just about the same, but I know the combination of peanuts and sunflower seeds makes a complete protein.

-FA

Venchka
02-10-2015, 15:16
Boone Barrs. You'll throw rock at Clif Bars. Better yet, throw Clif Bars at rocks. I am not a fan of Clif Bars.
http://happymountainfoods.com/default.aspx
http://happymountainfoods.com/products.aspx

More calories per ounce than butter. Taste great!
My backup: Lara Bars. Real ingredients who can recognize. Vegan (most). Gluten free. Kosher even.
Nature Valley products definitely win on the Bang For Buck scale.

Wayne

sympathetic joy
02-10-2015, 15:35
I wonder if you swapped out an ounce of the peanuts for an ounce of sunflower seeds, if the nutritional profile would be better?

Calorie-wise, they're just about the same, but I know the combination of peanuts and sunflower seeds makes a complete protein.

-FA

I think you're right. It appears that sunflower seeds are a better source of methionine which is the amino acid that peanuts lack.

So maybe something like:

3 oz peanuts
3 oz raisins
1 oz sunflower seeds

plus I'd still throw in the oats just because :D

SteelCut
02-10-2015, 15:59
Great info. I'm going to have to give that mix a try.

RockDoc
02-10-2015, 16:29
Oats aren't much more nutritious than the cardboard box they are sold in. Going mainly carbs won't get you where you want to go.

I would second the Larabar suggestion, along with judiciously planned nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and jerky. Buy in bulk (or make your own), assemble at home, and mail to your pick up locations. Think quality. All you will ever find in gas stations and dollar stores is crap.

garlic08
02-10-2015, 17:28
Oats aren't much more nutritious than the cardboard box they are sold in. Going mainly carbs won't get you where you want to go....

My wife would totally agree with you, but I don't. I think that may depend on the person.

Oats have been my mainstay grain for more decades than I care to admit and I thrive on them.

Good point, though. A diet high in grain may not be for everyone. And I have heard the fiber in oats can cause urgent problems for some people.

saltysack
02-10-2015, 18:11
Cascading granola add dark chocolate chips or peanut m&m, vanilla protein powder, powder milk...add water it's good wet or dry...


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saltysack
02-10-2015, 18:12
Cascadian farms brand


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Farr Away
02-10-2015, 18:58
I think you're right. It appears that sunflower seeds are a better source of methionine which is the amino acid that peanuts lack.

So maybe something like:

3 oz peanuts
3 oz raisins
1 oz sunflower seeds

plus I'd still throw in the oats just because :D

Or even better: keep the oats, and throw in some dry milk to complete their protein. :)

Cotton Terry
02-10-2015, 19:09
I have a rolled oats with a table spoon of peanut butter, some chopped walnuts and craisins. Love it!