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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar Panforte flavor > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

Owner Review by Richard Lyon

August 31, 2012


Male, 66 years old
; 6' 4" (1.91 m)
, 200 lb (91 kg)

Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, and regularly in the Rocky Mountains since 1986.  I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13,000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Recently I've been actively reducing my pack weight, but still sleep in a floored tent and often include my favorite camp conveniences.  Summer camping is often organized around flyfishing opportunities.


Gary's PanforteGary's Panforte is a flavor of Clif Bar introduced this spring to celebrate the company's twentieth anniversary.  It is named after founder Gary Eriksson, a cyclist who got the inspiration for his future business while cycling in Italy.  That's the marketing story, at any rate.

As with other flavors, this Clif Bar comes individually wrapped in a  2.4 ounce (68 g)  portion.

Manufacturer: Clif Bar & Company
Packaged dimensions, measured: 5.6 x 3.0 in (142 x 76 mm)
Bar dimensions, measured: 3.4 x 2.5 in (86 x 64 mm)
Weight, listed: 2.4 oz (68 g), verified accurate (bar only)
Calories, listed: 250/serving, 80 from fat
MSRP: $1.39 US for a single bar; $15.00 US for a box of twelve
Ingredients, listed (see note): Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rice Crisps (Organic White Rice Flour, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Barley Malt Extract, Salt), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Date Paste, Organic Figs (Organic Figs, Organic Oat Flour), Organic Almonds, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Organic Pears, Organic Zante Currant Raisins, Crystallized Ginger (Ginger, Dried Cane Syrup), Walnuts, Dried Citrus Peel Blend (Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Cane Syrup, Cane Sugar, Citric Acid), Organic Almond Butter, Organic Cocoa, Spices (Organic Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Coriander, White Pepper), Sea Salt, Natural Vitamin E (Antioxidant). [Note: Clif prides itself on use of organic ingredients, and notes on its website that recipes and ingredients are occasionally changed.  The diner can check the contents of his meal by reading the list of ingredients on his bar's package.]


I consider energy bars a major food group for outdoor activities, right up there with camp coffee and freshly caught trout.  Clif Bars have been a staple of my backpacking diet for as long as I can remember, probably almost all of Clif's two-decade history.  Often a Clif Bar is my trail lunch and more than occasionally at least one course of my backcountry breakfast.   I prefer energy bars that contain no chocolate. I love chocolate in most desserts, but as a standalone meal or snack it leaves a cloying aftertaste that lingers and lingers, and makes me thirsty besides.  One of my favorite Clif Bars is Iced Gingerbread; a gastronomic event on my calendar every December is a trip to a local supplier to stock up on this, one of Clif's seasonal flavors, which become available about then. 

Another December treat, though not for the backcountry, is panforte.  Translated literally from the Italian panforte means "strong bread." However the word has for centuries meant a Sienese holiday (usually Christmas) cake made with spices (hence the forte - "strong"), fruits, and nuts, and considerably less sugar than most American fruitcakes. I'm addicted.  So when I received Clif's press release on the anniversary bar, I had to try the new flavor.


Since buying my first box in May, I've usually had a Panforte or two in my pack or a pocket on a dozen or more day hikes here in Montana, and I packed several for a seven-day base camp backpacking service trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana, the first week of July. A bar or two have found their way into my fishing vest too.  Weather has ranged from about 30-90 F (-1 to 32 C).  It's been mostly sunny, but conditions change quickly in the Rockies. I've met with a few brief thunder and hail storms and nine inches (23 cm) of snow on Memorial Day (May 28). 

On day hikes I normally stash my snacks, including Clif Bars, in a hipbelt pocket, but if I'm wearing a sweater or rain jacket, sometimes I'll put a bar in one of its pockets.  On my backpack trip I had two in a hipbelt pocket on the hike in and hike out for immediate gratification, with the others stored in their packaging in a waterproof bag along with other food items for time in camp.


Put simply, Gary's Panforte is my favorite Clif Bar of all time. By a wide margin. Sorry, Black Cherry Almond and Carrot Cake, but Panforte is now the best.

I really like the taste.  While not the same texture as the Sienese original, something that I doubt can be duplicated in pocket food, the taste is close enough to remind me of Christmas in Italy.  And it suits my palette exactly for a trail snack - strong but not overwhelming spice, no chocolate, crunchy, and spiked with enough ginger (another personal favorite) to be truly tasty as well as giving me an energy kick.  And not too sweet; the sugar content is low enough that to my taste it's more like a snack than a dessert. 

The lack of sugar doesn't appear to diminish the Bar's energy jolt; I can detect no difference between the impact of a Panforte as against Peppermint Stick, a seasonal offering last winter that (though delicious) is the sugariest Clif Bar flavor I've encountered.  Every Clib Bar flavor I've tried is a  calorie-provider that boosts my energy as well as satisfies my palette. 

As with many different flavors over many years, Gary's Panforte stores well in my pocket or my pack. I've never had a Clif Bar crumble, melt, split in two, or stick to the packaging, no matter where it was stored or how hot the ambient temperature. It's easy to open by tearing off a corner, leaving almost all the packaging as a napkin to keep me from getting sticky fingers when eating a Bar.  If I'm careful (I sometimes am!) I can avoid a residue on my fingers that will attract insects and dirt.  Gary's Panforte, like other Clif Bars I've eaten, is slightly oily on the surface, and it will stick to a plastic bag if stored there unwrapped.


When I checked Clif's website just before posting this Review I was pleased to see that Gary's Panforte no longer carried a "Special Edition" or "Seasonal Flavor" designation at one spot on its website, though it is called a "Limited Edition" at another.  Oh please, Clif Bar, make it a permanent member of the team.  And keep 'em coming.  I hope I don't have to wait another two decades for the next great new flavor.

Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar Panforte flavor > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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