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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Berry Shot Bloks > Test Report by Jennifer Estrella

Clif Shot Bloks
Electrolyte Chews

Mountain Berry Flavor

Test Series by Jennifer Estrella

March 2, 2009

Skip to my Initial Report- December 6, 2008
Skip to my Long Term Report- March 2, 2009


Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Estrella
Age:  34
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: Orange County, California, United States


Backpacking Background

After getting into the outdoors scene camping while 4-wheeling and day-hiking, I switched to backpacking in the early 2000's. I have backpacked extensively in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho along with California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. I have slowly been cutting my base weight to be able to go longer in duration and distance. I have done so mainly by using better gear and dumping heavy luxuries. (I also married a Sherpa to help.) I backpack year round in all weather, and usually take a free standing tent and a gas stove on all my trips. I love trying out new gear.

Author

The author in the Narrows at Zion National Park, Utah.


Initial Report

December 6, 2008

Product Information

Manufacturer: Clif Bar & Company
Product: Mountain Berry Shot Bloks
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer Website: www.clifbar.com
MSRP: $1.99 USD (indicated on the press release on the manufacturer's website)

Weight Listed on Package: 2.1 oz (60g)
Actual Weight (per package): 2.30 oz (64 g)
Flavor Tested: Mountain Berry
Flavors Available: Margarita with salt, Piña Colada, Cola (with Caffeine), Lemon-Lime, Strawberry, Black Cherry (with Caffeine), Orange (with Caffeine), and Cran-Razz.

Guarantee: The Shot Bloks are guaranteed until 12 months after they are packed. There is Best Buy date is indicated on the package and the guarantee is until that date.

Slim package

Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Pectin, Citric Acid, Colored With Purple Berry Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Coconut Oil, Carnauba Wax.

one Blok

One Shot Blok (not actual size)


Product Description

The Mountain Berry flavor is the newest addition to the Shot Blok line. They are so new that this flavor and packaging is not listed on the manufacturer's website nor are they for sale at my local retailer. Also this new flavor comes with new packaging indicated on the manufacturer's website as referenced as the FASTPAK. This packaging is tubular in shape and the Shot Bloks are stacked on top of one another. The package reminds me of the shape of a Rollo package. At the end where the word "CLIF" is printed there is a small hole, I am assuming to hang on a retail display. Also on this end, in the right corner, are the words "CUT HERE". According to the manufacturer's press release the Mountain Berry flavor and the redesigned packaging is due to appear in retail stores in November.

I was provided with two retail boxes for testing, that contain 18 packages each of Shot Bloks. The retail box has a diagram of how to remove the Bloks from the packaging. It is indicated that the packaging is easy access. The diagram states to cut the FASTPAK then push CLIF SHOT BLOKS up and out. The retail box also indicates that this new packaging is "Sleek and Portable" and intended for one-handed use. The FASTPAK is also claimed to easily fit in a bike jersey, running shorts, or in a backpack.

FASTPAK diagram

The package contains two servings of Shot Bloks with a total of six Bloks. A serving size (three Bloks) contains 100 calories and 0 calories from fat. There is also no cholesterol. The nutritional content is as follows: sodium 70 mg, potassium 20 mg, total carb. 24 g, dietary fiber 0 g, sugars 12 g, protein 0 g, vitamin A & C 0%, calcium 0%, and iron 0%. The Shot Bloks are 95% organic.

Each serving consists of three blocks that are approximately 1 in (2.54 cm) cubes. The Blocks are sticky to the touch and remind me of a gummy licorice candy. The semi-solid consistency of the Bloks are indicated to affect the blood sugar levels more slowly than a gel type of nutritional supplement.

The manufacturer states on their website "They're simple-to-handle, easy-to-chew, and provide similar nutrition to SHOT® gel, so they'll fit seamlessly into your training and racing nutrition program."

The primary ingredient in the Shot Bloks is brown rice syrup. The manufacturer states on their website that the rice syrup provides easily assimilated carbohydrates for working muscles. Brown Rice Syrup is very sweet and consists of approximately 50% soluble complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose and 3% glucose. The glucose in brown rice syrup is easily absorbed thus leaving lesser provision for fat accumulation. The maltose and complex carbohydrates components of this kind of syrup takes a longer time to digest thus maintaining the energy flow for a longer period.

The Bloks contain carbohydrates from the following sources: brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, and brown rice syrup solids. The pectin serves as a gelling agent or a thickening agent of the Bloks. This is how the Bloks keep their shape and texture. The citric acid ingredient serves as a natural preservative and can also used to add an acidic (sour) taste to foods. The manufacturer indicates on their website that the Bloks are composed of 50% complex carbohydrates and 50% simple carbohydrates.

The Bloks contain mineral salts known as electrolytes. The electrolytes allow for normal bodily function by allowing electrical impulses to travel properly throughout the body. Electrolytes are lost while sweating during physical activity. So these Shot Bloks should help me maintain my body's electrolyte balance or increase my electrolyte level as needed.

The packaging indicates to consume 3 to 6 Bloks every hour during activity. The packaging also indicates to follow consumption of the Bloks with water. There is no suggestion of how much water to consume.

The manufacturer's website is very informative listing all the products that are manufactured by Clif Bar & Company. There is nutritional information on the products along with frequently asked questions. The website classifies the Bloks as part of the Shot line. The manufacturer states the following: "CLIF SHOT is all about delivering great-tasting, scientifically-backed, and sustainably-produced products to performance athletes. In other words, energy food can taste great and be made from good-for-the-planet ingredients. It's that simple."


Long Term Report

March 2, 2009

Testing Locations

During the four month testing period I have consumed the Bloks on the trips outlined below. I have used them while day hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and on my fitness walks on the beach path.

Newport Beach, California: The temperature was recorded at 55 to 57 F (13 to 14 C) with heavy rain over a course of two days. During one of these these days I ate the Shot Bloks on a day hike in the Newport Beach area totaling 4 mi (6 km).

Mount San Jacinto State Park, California: This was a 6 mi (10 km) two day snowshoe/backpacking trip. We camped at an elevation of 9,100 ft (2,775 m) on 5 ft (1.5 m) of snow pack. The temps ran from 40 to 22 F (4 to -6 C).

Red Rocks, Nevada: This was a three day climbing/camping trip. At the locations where we were climbing that there was no sun and it was about 41 F (5 C) with a light wind. The highs were around 55 F (13 C). The lows at night were around 30 F (-1 C).

Crystal Cove State Park, California: This was a day hike for a total of 5 mi (8 km). The temperature was recorded at 53 F (12 C) with light rain in the early morning. The elevation here is just above sea level.

Cleveland National Forest, California (San Mateo Wilderness): This was a two day backpacking trip on the Tenaja Trail to Fisherman's Camp then to Tenaja Falls. From Tenaja Falls we went back to Fisherman's Camp to spend the night. We hiked 9 mi (14 km) on the first day and 3.5 mi (6 km) on the second day, all up-hill. It hit 75 F (24 C) for a high and got down to 28 F (-2 C) at night. The high elevation was 2,000 ft (610 m) with a total of 1,300 ft (396 m) of elevation gain and loss.

Crystal Cove State Park, California: The Shot Bloks were consumed on two day hikes at this location. The elevation was from sea level to 60 ft (18 m). The one day hike completed was on the beach mostly in wet sand as we followed the coast in and out of the tide pools. It was raining right before we left so it was a bit cool. The temperatures were between 50 F to 68 F (10 C to 20 C). Both trips were 5 mi (8 km) each. On one of the hikes in this location there was a light misty rain.

Huntington Beach, California: I consumed the Shot Bloks several times during my exercise walks on the beach path. Sometimes I consumed the Bloks just starting on the path as a snack after work. The elevation is at sea level and the temperatures ranged from 55 F to 81 F (13 C to 27 C). On my walks I average 5 mi (8 km).

I also used the Shot Bloks on Mountain Bike rides in Southern California in the Cleveland National Forest and at Crystal Cove State Park.

Performance in the Field

The Mountain Berry Shot Bloks have a pleasant taste. They have a berry flavor that is not overpowering, not overly sweet, and they are not tart. They have a gummy and chewy consistency. The Bloks do not stick to my teeth and they fit perfectly in my mouth when I consume them one at a time. I find them to be a satisfying supplement. On all my hikes, mountain bike rides, snowshoe, backpacking trips, and daily walks I consumed 1 to 4 packs of Shot Bloks per day.

The Bloks do not leave a coating on my teeth until I consume three packages or more in one day. At that point I also begin to get bored of the taste of having just one flavor. The manufacturer recommends on the packaging to consume the Bloks followed by water. I feel thirsty after I eat the Bloks. But, I am satisfied if I drink water right away. There are times that I forgot to drink water right after eating the Bloks. As soon as I became thirsty I drank some water and I felt fine. Sometimes I drank Clif Shot powder mixed with water after eating the Bloks. I have a few flavors of Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink and I found this combination to be overly sweet when I had the lemonade flavor. The Cran-Razz Electrolyte Drink complemented the taste of the Mountain Berry Shot Bloks.

Even though these Bloks do not have caffeine in them I noticed a spike in energy after I consumed them in about 10 minutes. This energy lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour depending how intense my activity is. My muscles became tired when I only ate the Bloks during intense activity without some added protein in my diet for the day. I like to consume the Bloks before I have to tackle long uphill climbs while hiking and backpacking. They seem to give me more energy to help me push myself.

I like the tubular shape of the new packaging. The package fits nicely in the side pockets of my hiking pants or in the side pockets of my pack without added bulk. They also fit better in my cycling jersey rear pockets allowing me to carry more packages with this new sleek design.

On the Mountain Berry retail box I was provided with there was an illustration to push the Bloks from the bottom as a stack for consumption. That is a good idea if I was consuming the entire pack. This method leaves the Bloks at the top of the package and there is no way to store them effectively without having to push them pack down the tubular package. If I only wanted a few Bloks I found a better approach. I ripped open the top and slid each Blok out one at a time at the base of the Blok so that I had some extra wrapping to fold over to store the Bloks for later use. When stored overnight using this method they tasted fine, but not as fresh as a newly opened package.

Bloks at top

Bloks near the opening of the package. This does not make for effective storage.

Better storage

My storage approach

I wish there were some perforations or a notch at the opening of the package where it says "Cut Here". This may make the package easier to open, especially when I am riding my bike. Sometimes I end up opening the packaging with my teeth or I make a cut in it with my teeth. I have difficulty sometimes opening the packaging with my fingers as they slide off the plastic and there is no notch to assist in tearing the packaging more easily.

Cut Here

Lack of perforations or notch at package opening.

After being exposed to high and low temperatures the consistency did not change drastically. They became hard and difficult to chew at an outside temperature of approximately 22 F (-6 C). On one of my backpacking trips I stored them overnight in my sleeping bag and they were much easier to chew. While being exposed to a high temperature of 81 F (27 C) they became softer in consistency and more sticky in nature. However, the Bloks showed no signs of melting. In warmer temperatures I noticed that my fingers feel sticky after handling the Bloks.

It seems like I am always hungry on the trail. The Shot Bloks provide me with an adequate amount of nutrition as a supplement between meals, as a light lunch snack or as a breakfast item. I could eat them on an empty stomach with no queasiness. If I eat them for breakfast or lunch with no other food I find myself hungry in about an hour.

Things That Rock:

  • Package design
  • Yummy flavor
  • Energy boost

Things That Are So-So:

  • Taste after about three packages
  • No perforation or notch to easily open the package

Summary

I enjoy the taste of the Mountain Berry Shot Bloks. They are not overly sweet or tart. I found that they provide me with an adequate amount of nutrition as a supplement between meals while hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. They give me an extra spurt of energy needed for long hikes or uphill climbs.

I like the tubular design of the new packaging. The only change I would make to the packaging is adding a notch or some type of perforation at the top so it can be more easily opened.

Remarks

This concludes my reporting on the Clif Mountain Berry Shot Bloks. Thank you Clif Bar & Company and backpackgeartest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test the Mountain Berry Shot Bloks.

 



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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Berry Shot Bloks > Test Report by Jennifer Estrella



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