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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Blueberry Crisp Bar > Test Report by Richard Lyon

BLUEBERRY CRISP CLIF BAR

Test Series by Richard Lyon

Initial Report: May 4, 2007
Field Report: July 2, 2007

Richard Lyon
Male, 60 years old
6' 4" (1.9 m) tall, 200 lb (91 kg)
Dallas, Texas, USA
rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com

Personal Information and Backpacking Background:  I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the Rockies 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 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too.  Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker, and I usually choose a bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.

INITIAL REPORT

May 4, 2007

PRODUCT DETAILS

Manufacturer: Clif Bar Inc.

Website: www.clifbar.com.  All quotations in this report, and the picture below, come from this website.

Size, as measured: Each packaged bar is 5.5 x 3 x 0.5 in / 14 x 7.6 x 1.3 cm; a bar without the packaging is 3.5 x 2.25 x 0.5 in / 8.9 x 5.7 x 1.3 cm.

Weight: Listed 2.4 oz/68 g; measured 2.5 oz/71 g (packaged weight).

MSRP: Not available.

Clib Bar. Photo from Cli's website.Ingredients: "Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro™ (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Blueberry Fruit Pieces (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Blueberry Puree Concentrate, Brown Rice Syrup, Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural Flavor), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Toasted Oats (Organic Oats, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice), ClifCrunch™ (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Blueberries (Blueberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Organic Date Paste, Almond Butter, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Citric Acid." 

"Nutrition Facts," listed: 5 g (0.18 oz) total fat, 0.5 g (0.2 oz) saturated fat.  Clif prominently notes "No Trans Fats" and claims that each flavor of Clif Bars has at least seventy per cent organic components. 

Two trademarked phrases describe Clif's marketing approach: a Clif is The Natural Energy Bar® that provides Nutrition for Sustained Energy®.  Clif Bars are available in fourteen regular flavors in addition to Blueberry Crisp.  Clif adds special or seasonal flavors from time to time, including two of my favorites, Gingerbread and Lemon Poppyseed.

I received twelve of the Blueberry Crisp Clif Bars by post, in a box (to use Clif's word, "caddy") like those used for displaying this product at retail locations.  The shipping box included two printed fliers, one dedicated to this new flavor and the other listing ingredients and nutritional information for each flavor of Clif Bar.  For readers not familiar with this product, a Clif Bar comes in a sealed foil packet that can be opened with occasional difficulty by means of a notch at the top left.  Each packet has Clif's logo, a dangling climber in a mountain setting, with a different color panel at the bottom of the packet (where the flavor is specified) for each flavor.  Not surprisingly Clif chose bright blue for the Blueberry Crisps.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS.  By happy coincidence the Blueberry Crisps arrived at my office on a morning on which I had begun my day at 5 a.m. and was just thinking about a mid-morning snack.  I opened a bar and sampled it with a cup of coffee.  The Bar when unwrapped looked much like other flavors of Clif Bars I have eaten: a flat, slightly oily surface, with bits of various ingredients (especially oats nuts, and blueberries) visible.  I was greeted by a pleasant, savory aroma, not unlike fresh pastry.  When I bit into it I encountered Clif's familiar chewy texture, similar to a soft toffee; unlike some other energy bars, Clifs aren't crunchy and don't crumble.  As with most other flavors, I couldn't distinguish individual pieces of fruit or grain, but the overall impact was distinctly blueberry plus oats, with a faint taste of apple, perhaps from the apple juice listed as an ingredient.  It tasted something like high octane blueberry granola, with a hefty dose of sugar.  The taste didn't linger long on my palate, a good thing, and I didn't feel stuffed or overfed.  I liked it.  

TEST PLAN.  Whenever I'm hiking my backpack, daypack, or trouser pockets usually contain one or more Clif Bars.  I like the energy kick and I much prefer them to any other energy bars or snack food I have sampled.  Organic or nutritional content are for me secondary considerations; I just think Clif Bars taste much better and pack easily.  Here's what I'll look for:

Taste.  For any snack food my principal testing standard is taste, and that goes for the Blueberry Crisp Clif Bars.  Taste is of course a very personal thing so I'll disclose some preferences.  I have what might be called an anti-sweet tooth and generally select snacks that aren't too sweet.  For this reason I generally don't buy Clif Bars with chocolate and prefer those with more grain-like flavors.  So sweetness to the taste – the less the better - will color my judgment.

How filling is a Bar? Will it give me a feeling of being overstuffed (as occasionally happens after a cookie or candy bar), or cause stomach queasiness or a gagging feeling in my throat if I undertake hard hiking immediately after lunch or my snack break? 

Do they taste good enough to be a no-cooking backcountry breakfast, and if so how many are needed per person?

Suitability for Backpacking. Will a Bar melt on a hot day when stored in pocket or pack? Will it disfigure or come apart even when scrunched into a carelessly packed or overloaded pack? Is there any noticeable odor at warm temperatures, in a package or when stored half-eaten? Will overnight storage in my pack at temperatures near freezing (common in the Rockies in spring) affect taste or texture?

This concludes my Initial Report.  Check back in a month or so for results of field testing.

FIELD REPORT

July 2, 2007

It's been a pleasure working my way through my box of Clif Bars.

FIELD CONDITIONS.  Most of my testing has been on day hikes in Dallas and the Hill Country, Texas, in May, and in Big Timber, Montana in June.  Despite a near-record rainfall here in Texas all my hikes have been on sunny days, with no precipitation, at temperatures between 75 and 95 F (24-35 C).  On these hikes I carried one or two Bars in the top pocket of my Mystery Ranch Mountain Monkey day pack or in a front pocket of my shorts.  Temperatures and conditions were similar in Montana, but there I carried a backpack that I am breaking in.  On one hike I placed a single Bar in a zippered hip belt pocket, along with a Zip-Lock bag containing bug dope and sunscreen; on the other it was stuffed inside the main pack compartment with my own gear and that of two children accompanying me on the hike.

Another test Bar was stored in my day pack on a car camping overnight in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, in early June.  Daytime temperatures were similar to Texas, and the overnight low was about 60 F (16 C).

As I had no opportunity to subject a Bar to freezing temperatures in the field, I placed one in the freezer compartment of my refrigerator for a week, and ate it at home as part of two breakfasts.

PERFORMANCE.  The Blueberry Crisp Clif Bars sustained the high opinion I hold of all Clif products I have eaten or drunk, including many other flavors of Clif Bars.

First and foremost, the Blueberry Crisps taste great.  As noted in my Initial Report, it's like a bar made of blueberry granola – pronounced flavors of blueberry, oats, and sugar, with a hint of apple.  Thanks to their airtight packaging Clif Bars don't dry out; they retain their chewy texture and their entire flavor.  Once I ate half a Bar at lunch and returned the uneaten portion to the opened wrapper, rolled up the wrapper, and returned it to my pack.  When I ate the remainder at the end of the day it was as tasty and chewy as ever.  I ate half the frozen Bar for breakfast on a Monday and stored the other half in the refrigerator, without packaging, until Friday morning.  Again the taste and texture remained the same.  I waited about twenty minutes for the frozen bar to thaw, and when I ate half of it I detected no loss of flavor from a week's freezing. 

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.

The packaging serves another purpose, serving as a napkin to keep me from getting sticky fingers when eating a Bar.  The oiliness that makes these chewy can leave a residue on my fingers that in the field will attract insects and dirt, and an unwrapped Bar will stick to a Zip-Lock bag in warmer weather.

As a matter of taste I'd prefer a bit less sugar, but the sugar contributes to the energy boost that is the Bars' principal purpose.  Clif Bars do give a kick to my energy level, actual or perceived, and that's one reason I eat them.  And if it's a flavor I like– and Blueberry Crisp is now high on that list – it's tasty enough to serve as all or most of a meal.  Even when hiking I usually eat only two full meals a day, plus snacks.  One Bar is often my lunch, and one of the Blueberry Crisps was my breakfast on the Oklahoma overnight.  Tasty, filling, and a welcome energy jolt each time.  Every one of my alternative products, for energy on the trail or a quick one-item meal, has an artificial element to it.  Not always bad taste, but still something eaten more for the calories and protein than for the flavor.  The Blueberry Crip Clif Bar tastes more like something prepared in a bakery than any other pre-packaged energy product I've eaten.  With the Blueberry Crisp, Clif has added another luscious flavor to its year-round roster.

There's little I'd change in a Clif Bar.  I've mentioned above the only shortcoming I've encountered – they can be sticky, and if not packaged they can stick to whatever is next to them in my pocket or pack.  That's very easy to manage.  A full Bar can be a bit too filling when I have serious hiking or other hard work immediately after eating, so for snacks I'd like the choice of a smaller size.  I've never seen any other size listed on Clif's website as available at retail though I've received a few as promotional items from time to time.

This concludes my Test Report for the new flavor Clif Bar for 2007. Thanks to Clif and BackpackGearTest.org for the testing opportunity.



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