MOUNTAIN BERRY CLIF SHOT BLOKS
TEST SERIES BY CAROL CROOKER
March 08, 2009
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cmcrooker AT gmail DOT com
5' 10" (1.78 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
For the past 9 years, I've backpacked about 30 days each year. My trips were from 2 to 28 days, with my usual trip being 3 to 6 days long. Most of my trips have been in Arizona and the western mountains with Pennsylvania and New York thrown in for variety. Weather has varied from 107 F to a low of 0 F (42 to -18 C). Most of my backpacking trips are solo. My three-season base pack weight varies from 10 to 5 pounds (5 - 2 kg), depending on the weather and trip length. My winter base pack weight is about 16 pounds (7 kg). I normally use a tarp for shelter all year round. I've recently taken up packrafting (which is backpacking that includes some travel by raft) and apply the same lightweight principles I use backpacking.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Clif Bar and Company
|Clif Shot Bloks in Fastpak (TM).|
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.clifbar.com/
MSRP: US$35.75 for a box of 18, unknown for single pack
Listed Weight: Net weight listed on package is 2.1 oz (60 g)
Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g) for one Fastpak (TM) containing six chews
Other details: Mountain Blackberry is a new flavor with new packaging called Fastpak (TM).
Ingredients: Organic brown rice syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice syrup solids, pectin, citric acid, colored with purple berry concentrate, natural flavor, organic sunflower oil, carnuba wax.
I've eaten Clif Shot Bloks before. My major complaint was that the packaging was hard to get into. Once open there was no way to reseal the package and any uneaten Shot Bloks hardened slightly over time and were exposed to dust.
Clif put these new flavor Mountain Berry Bloks into a Fastpak (TM). The new package stacks six Shot Bloks on top of each other inside a tube of plastic wrapping.
Eighteen tubes of Bloks are packed inside a box labeled with ingredients and instructions.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Instructions on the side of the box claim that the Fastpak "Allows one-handed use and easily fits in a bike jersey, running shorts, or backpack." The instructions continue that the user is to cut the Fastpak then push the Bloks up and out.
The instructions are easy to understand.
TRYING IT OUT
I opened the Fastpak without reading the instructions the first time. Each end of the package has a serrated edge. I ripped open the top between serrations. The package ripped open jaggedly, but I was able to get out a Shot Blok. I could push the next Bloks up with one hand, but it still takes two hands to open the package. Cutting open the package as the instructions detail also takes two hands.
The Mountain Berry Bloks have a nice flavor. Sitting at my computer, I don't enjoy them as much as the salty Margarita flavor, but that may change when I have worked up a sweat on the trail.
My impression of the new Shot Blok packaging is that some problems of the old packaging may have been solved, but not all. It still takes two hands to open the package, but I can push up the next Bloks with one hand - in the benign conditions of my home. These are my initial impressions and I will share my observations after testing the Bloks while hiking and backpacking in my next report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
December 11 - 12, Flat Iron, Superstition Mountains
Elevation 2000 - 4800 ft (600 - 1460 m)
The trip up the Siphon Draw Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park to the Flat Iron is only 2.4 miles (4 km) long, but the elevation gain is nearly 2800 ft (850 m) and over 1700 ft (520 m) of the total gain is in the last 0.8 mile (1.3 km). There are plenty of spots where hands are required as well as feet to make upward progress.
Weather for the hike up was bright with temperatures into the high 70s F (26 C), while the hike down was cooler. The night was slightly overcast with low temperatures only down to the low 50s F (12 C).
January 6 - 7, Kachina Trail in San Francisco Peaks, northern Arizona
Elevation 9800 - 8900 ft (3000 - 2700 m)
An overnight snowshoe trek with clear days and temperature up to 50 F (10 C) and a windy night with a low of 28 F (-2 C).
February 20, Lower Salt River near Phoenix
Elevation about 1200 ft (370 m)
A day paddle on a beautiful, clear day with temperatures in the low 70s F (22 C).
December through March, My neighborhood near Phoenix, Arizona
Sidewalk and pavement were my "trail"
Elevation 1200 ft (370 m)
Usually sunny but often overcast with temperatures as low as 46 and up to 80F (8 - 27 C).
December through March, South Mountain Park near Phoenix, Arizona
Rocky desert trails
Elevation 1200 ft (370 m)
Usually sunny with temperatures from about 45 to 80F (8 - 26 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
|Torn, but not open.|
The directions say to cut open the package, but I don't normally carry scissors on the trail. A knife does work to open the package but there are plenty of times when I don't want to have to stop and extract a tool from my pack in order to pop a Blok into my mouth. So I looked for alternative solutions.
One package or even several can be cut open before leaving on a hike or trip. I left an opened package in my fanny pack for a month ad then tried the top Blok. The top side had thickened slightly, but it tasted fine. I also left a Blok sitting outside of the package in my house for two weeks. The edges hardened slightly, but again, the Blok was still chewable, although it stuck to my teeth more than a "fresh" Blok.
The package rips open straight across the cut line. Unfortunately, part or all of the pack is still sealed just below the cut line so it needs more work (see photo). The edges then need to be separated with fingers. Another option is to rip straight down from the serrated edge (perpendicular to the cut line). The pack opens but it can be hard to push out Bloks since they can get caught on the package.
I tried forcing a Blok out so the package pops open, but that was not successful.
I've tried Shot Bloks before, and my main complaint was the packaging. This new tube package is totally different. It stores uneaten Bloks better - once it is open. Now Clif just needs to improve how the tube is opened. The tube rips cleanly along the cut line which is a plus. All that is left is for Clif to get the edges to separate completely (and reliably) along the cut line.
I've been popping two to three Bloks after tough, sweaty hikes at South Mountain Park, on my backpacks, on a day paddle trip, and after half hour weight work outs. I like the taste.
I enjoyed a couple of Shot Bloks after lunch on a snowshoe trip as a kind of desert. I put the half consumed pack in my pocket for a middle-of-the-night snack. The next Blok wasn't stale. I've made a habit of extracting the top Blok with my teeth as soon as it starts to emerge from the pack. That leaves a short section of tube above the next Blok and lets it ride in my pack or pocket without getting stuff on it or sticking to something.
I left a pack of Shot Bloks out overnight in below freezing weather. The Bloks were harder in the morning but still chewable.
My favorite use of the Bloks is as a middle of the night snack. On cooler nights, I'll often start to get cold and eating a Blok or two can re-ignite my furnace. A tube of Bloks (already opened) fits easily into a pocket and I don't have to worry about the Bloks melting from my body heat (as has happened with some coated energy bars).
WHAT I LIKE:
- Don't melt in heat
- Don't get too hard in cold
- An open package keeps Bloks easily available and keeps stuff from sticking to them
WHAT I DONT' LIKE:
- Package doesn't open cleanly with a single rip
I plan to continue to keep a pack of Shot Bloks in my fanny pack for day hikes and throw a few in my pack for backpack trips. I plan to eat them when I need some quick energy on the trail, in the middle of the night, and when I am craving something sweet.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Carol Crooker