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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > AcliMate Mountain Sports Drink > Test Report by Richard Lyon

ACLI-MATE MOUNTAIN SPORTS DRINK
Test Report by Richard Lyon

Initial Report October 19, 2012
Long Term Report December 31, 2012


Acli-Mate
Personal Details and Backpacking Background


Richard Lyon
Male, 66 years old
Bozeman, Montana USA
6'4" [1.91 m], 200 lb [89 kg]
Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com

I've been backpacking regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500-3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. I've been actively reducing my pack weight, but still sleep in a floored tent and often include my favorite camp conveniences. Summer and autumn backcountry trips are often organized around fly-fishing opportunities; in winter, the focus is telemark skiing.

INITIAL REPORT - October 19, 2012

The Product

Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink is a powdered energy drink said by its manufacturer to provide "altitude aid, hydration, energy and performance, and recovery." It is sold in boxes of thirty individually packaged servings (one packet per ten-ounce [300 ml] of water), MSRP $27.99 US, and tubs containing thirty servings, MSRP $25.99 US.  The Mountain Sports Drink is available in three flavors: Endurance Orange, Mountain Grape, and Colorado Cran-Rasberry. For this test Acli-Mate provided what it sells as the Mountain Mix, with ten packets of each flavor.

supplement info Manufacturer: Acli-Mate Formulations, LLC, Crested Butte, Colorado USA
Website: http://www.acli-mate.com
Dimensions (individual packet), measured: 3.25 x 4 in (83 x 102 mm)
Weight (individual packet): listed, 0.46 oz (13 g), measured 0.6 oz (17 g) (I suspect the listed weight is contents only, no packaging.)
Ingredients: All Acli-Mate products include "B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium;" the Mountain Sports Drinks also have "Rhodiola root, Schizandra berry and Ginko leaf extracts," whatever they may be. A list of supplements, from Acli-Mate's website, is pictured below.
Drinks do NOT contain gluten, caffeine, soy, dairy, egg, yeast, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavorings, or preservatives.
Nutritional information: 35 calories and 8 grams [0.28 oz] of sugar per serving

First Impressions

These are not entirely first impressions, as I have sampled the Mountain Sports Drink at several Outdoor Retailer Shows, and later in the backcountry used samples kindly given by Acli-Mate.  Based upon my very limited experience, the Mountain Sports Drink, any flavor, is tasty hot or cold with no sugar aftertaste, is easy to pack on almost any day, overnight, or multiday backcountry adventure, and it works as advertised to provide energy and acclimatization assistance.

Earlier this week I did a day hike in the South Cottonwood Canyon here in Bozeman, elevation about 5500 feet (1700 m), with moderate ups and downs but more or less flat.  Conditions were overcast when we set out and deteriorated to rain, sleet, and hail during our eleven-mile (17 km) out-and-back hike.  Temperatures varied from 30-40 F (-1 to 4 C), with occasional very gusty winds, creating a misery level well below the actual temperature.  A generally gloomy day, as the photo below shows. At our rest breaks and lunch I was the envy of all my comrades, sipping heated Acli-Mate Endurance Orange (one of the samples I had accumulated) that I had prepared earlier that morning with boiling water in a small vacuum bottle. (I offered to share, but no one had brought a cup.) A gut-warming energy booster and attitude adjuster, I must say!
Cottonwood hike
This product is easy to use. Add a packet's contents to 10-12 ounces (300-350 ml) water, hot or cold, actual according to taste, and stir or shake. Simple as that. I have found that I prefer a more diluted drink cold, and so add a bit more water. I like it stronger when hot.
 
My happy task over the next few weeks, as I prepare for ski season, is to use these packets in my water when hiking to evaluate their taste, utility, and performance.  I shall do my best, strictly for science and your edification, to report on my experience. 

LONG TERM REPORT - December 31, 2012

That it's taken me less than three months to use up thirty individual servings of the Mountain Sports Drink says more for my enthusiasm for the product than for excessive outdoor activity.  I have used the Drink on every backpack and day hike I've taken, almost every ski day, and as a pick-me-up after long walks on wintry days. I've even - and this is rare for me - followed the manufacturer's directions. I prepared for one backcountry trip by taking the recommended dosage before starting out.

Field Conditions

On a dozen day hikes, which here includes a couple of lessons/excursions on cross-country skis, I have taken a twelve-ounce (355 ml) vacuum bottle of hot Sports Drink in my pack.  I've done the same on six days at Bridger Bowl, my local ski area, as my vacuum bottle fits nicely into the top of the small pack I wear on in-bounds-only days (see photo below). Temperatures have ranged from -5 to 45 F (-21 to 7 C) Ski pack with flaskand conditions from clear blue skies to overcast to intermittent rain to snow flurries. On the day hikes I've also packed a container of water; when skiing the Sports Drink has been my only beverage, though I have drunk water at warming huts. The ski area's base is at 6100 feet (1860 m), rising to 8100 feet (2470 m) at the top of its highest lift. This season I haven't yet hiked the additional 600 feet (180 m) to the top of The Ridge, Bridger's boundary. Day hike elevation has been at comparable altitudes, with a maximum elevation gain of perhaps 2000 feet (600 m).

In early November and again in early December I took overnight trips in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming. The first was desperately cold, -3 F (-20 C) at the trailhead dropping to -12 F (-24 C) at our campsite, on Yellowstone's Blacktail Plateau, elevation about 6200 feet (1900 m) along a relatively flat ski trail. December was warmer, about 15 F (-10 C) on the trail and down to 0 F (-18 C) at night. Elevation was slightly higher and the hike (also on skis) included a steep start, gaining 500 vertical feet (150 m) over the first three-quarters of a mile (1200 m). While I started these trips with a vacuum bottle of hot Sports Drink, refills were made with cold water or melted snow and drunk cold.

Observations

Let's start with my main criterion for any food or drink - taste. I mentioned in my Initial Report that I like this product's taste, and that view applies to all three flavors though not equally. Cran-Raspberry remains my clear favorite, partly from personal preference and partly because I find it the least sugary-tasting of the lot. I am not a fan of sweet beverages of any sort; I never add sugar to my coffee and greatly dislike most soft drinks for this reason. The Sports Drink's taste is commendably free of the cloying taste and aftertaste of sugar. Once or twice I've experienced a mild aftertaste with the Orange, but even that flavor is more fruity than sweet. I haven't consumed my quota of Orange only from duty. All flavors taste good enough to replace hot tea or cocoa after a day's skiing or a long walk with my dog on a cold winter's night.

The size of my containers has dictated portion size.  Hot drinks were made with twelve ounces (355 ml) of water and one packet of Sports Drink, cold with one liter (33.8 fl oz) and two packets, except on the overnight trips when I refilled the smaller vacuum bottle with cold water. This product suits my taste better when a bit more than the manufacturer-recommended amount of water (10-12 oz/296-355 ml) is used.

The Mountain Sports Drink fizzes furiously for a moment when near-boiling water is added to the powder in the vacuum. I've prevented overflow by adding the water very gradually. This phenomenon occurs, though less dramatically, with cold water. Hot or cold the effervescence subsides quickly and isn't noticeable when I open the flask to drink a hour or so later.

While it bothers me not at all, I should point out that each flavor loses almost all of its color by the time I'm ready for a drink. This is particularly visible with the Grape and Cran-Raspberry flavors, each is more a pale grey than a bright color. I have not detected any loss of flavor from this.

The Sports Drink excels at re-hydration, it's a tasty way of replacing lost water on the trail. I've made a habit of draining what contents remain in my container upon returning to the trailhead or the ski area parking lot. At no time on any hike or ski day have I experienced any signs of dehydration. I like this product's taste enough that I intend to use it next summer for this purpose.

I'm not the best tester to report on how well the Sports Drink acclimates one to altitude. My home sits at about 5800 feet (1770 m), so since moving here I've had natural assistance in altitude adjustment. I can report that in preparation for the second overnighter I followed Acli-Mate's suggestion of drinking a liter or two of the Sports Drink on each of the three days preceding the journey and had no difficulty with the stiff climb at the trip's start. That trail is one I've hiked many times and I'm usually huffing and puffing before I reach the plateau, but not this time despite carrying a winter pack. I'm happy to give Acli-Mate most of the credit.

Summary

Acli-Mate Mountain Sports Drink has become my water supplement of choice and will likely be in my water container for the foreseeable future. It's easy to use, easy to pack, tastes great, and it works. I'll either keep buying packets or use small vials should I purchase the slightly less expensive tub. The only improvement I'd like to see would be to offer Acli-Mate in tablet form, if that could be done without impairing effectiveness or adding a big price premium. The individual packets can be messy to open and pour in wind, and I'm left with trash that I must pack out.

Acknowledgment


My thanks to Acli-Mate Formulations, LLC and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.  Acli-Mate, you've found a regular customer.








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