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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Clif Shot Hot Electrolyte Drink > Test Report by Ernie Elkins

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Clif Shot
Hot Apple Cider
Electrolyte Replacement Drink

Test Series by Ernie Elkins

Initial Report: January 24, 2008
Long Term Report: May 17, 2008

Personal Information
Name: Ernie Elkins
Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 5'9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
E-Mail Address:
Location: Denver, North Carolina, USA
I've been an avid hiker and backpacker since the late 80s. In a typical month, I spend two to three days in the field, and I usually travel 10-20 miles (16-32 km) per day. I prefer to travel light: my base pack weight (excluding consumables) averages about 8 lb (3.6 kg) in summer and 12 lb (5.4 kg) in winter.

Initial Report
January 24, 2008

Product Specifications

Manufacturer: Clif Bar & Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: Not Provided
Listed Weight: 1.5 oz (40 g)
Measured Weight (Packaged): 1.5 oz (40 g)
Product Description

The Clif Shot Apple Cider Electrolyte Replacement Drink is one of a new line of instant, hot beverages from Clif Bar & Co. that, in their words, “combine performance-enhancing nutrition with classic hot drink flavors.” Here’s what they say about the Hot Apple Cider on the Clif Bar website: “Performance declines with as little as 1-2% dehydration, so an athlete's #1 priority should be staying hydrated. With sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, CLIF SHOT Electrolyte counteracts both electroyte and fluid loss helping prevent a race day meltdown.”

The Apple Cider drink mix is packaged in a single-serve foil pouch. There’s a notch for opening near the top, left corner. The product itself is a fine powder that, according to the usage instructions, should be mixed with 16 oz. of hot water (not boiling). For best results, they recommend that the user drink 16 oz. every 2-3 hours to counteract dehydration and electrolyte depletion. It’s also worth noting that it contains 97% organic ingredients.

Ingredients: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Whey Protein Isolate (Contains Soy Lecithin), Natural Flavors, L-Glutamine, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Arginine, Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Valine, Isoleucine, Guar/Xanthan Gum, Green Tea Extract (Decaffeinated), D-Alpha Tocopheryl Succinate (Vit. E), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6).

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts courtesy of Clif Bar & Co. website at

Initial Impressions
Although I won't be able to evaluate the performance aspect of the Hot Apple Cider until I hit the trail, I thought a trial run would be in order. The packet was easy to open thanks to the notch on the side. I then added the powder to a 16 oz. (0.5 l) of hot water (not boiling) as instructed. It dissolved completely after about 10-15 seconds of vigorous stirring. The resulting beverage has the rich, amber color that I associate with apple cider, and spicy, pleasant aroma. It’s not nearly as sweet as the instant cider drinks that I’ve tried in the past, and there’s a mild tartness, but its most distinctive characteristic is its very prominent salty flavor. It’s not a sharp saltiness and not anything like drinking saltwater, but there’s no overlooking its presence. I was parched just five minutes after drinking it, so it definitely encourages further drinking. I also noticed that my tongue felt slightly “burned” (for lack of a better word), similar to how it feels after I’ve rinsed with saltwater.
Test Plan

In the coming months, I'll be testing the Hot Apple Cider while hiking and backpacking in a variety of state parks and national forests in the Carolinas. Here are some of the questions that I’ll attempt to answer:

  • Especially on long days, when I’m trying to cover as many miles as possible, will the Hot Apple Cider provide a noticeable performance boost?
  • The fact that it encourages further drinking is a good thing, but what’s the cut off? Will the parched feeling continue for hours on end and, hence, become annoying, or will it dissipate in reasonable period of time?
  • Will I continue to enjoy the flavor and tolerate the saltiness?
  • Will the packaging be as easy to open in the field as it was initially, especially when my hands are cold and I’m wearing gloves?
  • Will I continue to have good results when mixing the powder with liquids?
Despite its distinctly salty flavor, my initial taste test of the Hot Apple Cider was favorable, and I look forward to hot beverage breaks on the trail in the coming months. I’ll post my conclusions in late April, so please check back then for my final report on this very intriguing product.

Long Term Report
May 17, 2008

Test Locations & Conditions

Over the last several months, I’ve consumed Clif Bar’s Hot Apple Cider on two day hikes and three backpacking trips for a total of nine days in the field. My destinations were all in North Carolina and included two state parks (Lake Norman and Crowder’s Mountain), the Black Mountains, and the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. The terrain varied from gentle in the state parks to steep and rugged in the Blacks and Linville Gorge, and I traveled about 10 miles (16 km) per day while backpacking and 13.5 miles (22 km) per day while day hiking. Daytime temperatures ranged from the 30’s to the 70’s F (0 to 24 C).


Over the last several months, I’ve become a big fan of Clif Bar’s Hot Apple Cider. An experience on my most recent backpacking trip to the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area illustrates why. I’d spent the morning trying to follow an obscure trail on a very steep descent from the gorge’s western rim to the Linville River. The trail disappeared less than a third of the way down, which left me to fight my way downward through a dusty, burned out tangle of fallen trees that were left behind after a forest fire last fall. I reached the river south of my planned connection with the Linville Gorge trail, and spent about two hours fighting fatigue and mild case of panic as I tried to work my way through rough terrain and Rhododendron thickets. It didn’t help that I nearly stepped on the same Copperhead snake on two separate occasions.

During this time, I neglected to eat and drink enough, so by the time I found the trail I was dehydrated, exhausted, and had no interest in food. That seemed to be the perfect time for a cup of Hot Apple Cider. Its mellow, fruity flavor made it light and easy to drink, and the fact that I had to drink it slowly gave me an opportunity to relax and calm down. Nonetheless, it also served as nice pick-me-up for the miles ahead. Soon after finishing it, its thirst-priming properties went to work and encouraged me to drink even more.

Although the Hot Apple Cider was a real boon on this particularly extreme occasion, it was equally pleasant to drink throughout the testing process. In general, I had a hot, energy-boosting cup (two, actually, since my 8 fl oz mug would only accommodate half of a package at a time) during the early afternoon hours. The packages were always easy to open, the powder dissolved quickly and thoroughly, and I really enjoyed the Hot Apple Cider flavor. I didn’t find its distinctly salty flavor to be a problem (in fact, I rather liked it), and, although it definitely encouraged further drinking, it prompted me with a gently dissipating thirst rather than a prolonged, parched feeling. While it’s best in cooler weather, I had no problem consuming it in temperatures as warm as the mid 70’s F.


I’ve thoroughly enjoyed testing Clif Bar’s Hot Apple Cider drink. It offers a great combination of benefits – the relaxation of sipping a hot beverage, the energy-boosting properties of a sports drink, and the subtle encouragement to keep drinking so that I stay properly hydrated. It has definitely earned a place in my pack for cold to mild weather hiking and backpacking.

Read more gear reviews by Ernie Elkins

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Clif Bar > Clif Shot Hot Electrolyte Drink > Test Report by Ernie Elkins

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