CLIF SHOT BLOKS
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BRADISH
May 24, 2007
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Huntington Beach California USA
6' 2" (1.88 m)
170 lb (77.10 kg)
I started hiking in my teens in Arizona and New Mexico, primarily focusing on winter hiking. Since 1991 I have hiked a lot with my brother-in-law Ray mostly in California's Sierra Nevada range, and the southern mountains. In winter I bring as much gear as necessary to be safe and comfortable. For 3-season hiking I try to follow the principles of ultra light.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Clif Bars Inc
Web site: www.clifbar.com
Product: Shot Bloks
Year manufactured: 2007.
Weight listed: 2.1 oz/60 g
Actual weight with packaging: 2.3 oz/65 g
Weight of each Shot Blok: 0.4 oz/11.3 g
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.
|picture from Clif's website|
The Clif Cran-Razz Shot Bloks are square cubes of gelatin looking stuff. This flavor is very dark red. The consistency of them is like the Jell-o brand geletin squares that Bill Cosby used to push on television. "Watch them wiggle, see them jiggle". But with a higher sodium content.
They feel somewhat oily to the touch and do not leave too much of sticky feeling afterwards. I feel this may come from the Coconut oil and Carnauba Wax, a vegetable wax that is often used as a beeswax replacement in recipes that stay away from "animal" derived products.
The main ingredient of the Shot Bloks is rice syrup. This is considered to be a "natural" sweetener as it is not refined as white sugar is. It is only 20% as sweet as refined sugar. Rice syrup contains 55 calories per tablespoon, and best of all contains 15.5 carbohydrates. The carbs in it are roughly 50% soluble complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. It is a "time-release" energy source. The glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately, the maltose digests over one and a half hours, and the complex carbohydrates burn over two to three hours. I like the fact that this is the base of the Bloks.
|picture from Clif's website|
The second highest ingredient is the Organic Evaporated Cane Juice. This is funny, as that is sugar. It is just not refined or made from sugar beets. The simple carbs provided by this will be used right away.
Each package contains six Bloks that provide a total of 200 calories and 48 g of carbs. As they have no protein or fats the Bloks should be digested quite easily. It will be interesting to see if they will give me a full feeling after eating a package.
They contain a total of 140 mg of sodium too. The company claims that it will replace electrolytes lost from sweating while hiking. This is important to me as we do some very long fastpacking trips that see me sweating most of the day.
To the interest of people like me that eat a natural, organic diet the Shot Bloks are certified organic. This is what they say about it.
"CLIF SHOT BLOKS chews are the first product in the SHOT line to be USDA certified organic, which means that each flavor contains a minimum of 95% Organic ingredients. We strive to use the most sustainable ingredients possible in our products. The environmental benefits of buying organic ingredients for our products have a direct positive impact on the air and water quality on this planet. CLIF SHOT BLOKS chews are USDA certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI)."
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have used the Shot Bloks in the San Jacinto Mountains and the San Bernardino Mountains and in the San Gabriel Mountains on a total of four hikes. The temperatures have been from freezing to 92 F/33 C. The elevations have ranged from 4000'/1220 m to 11500'/3500 m. The weather has been very sunny to cloud covered to cold and windy.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
First I will comment on the taste and texture of the Shot Bloks. The texture is kind of like eating a big gummy bear. They are soft yet have enough density to make me have to chew them. That is good as that is what helps trigger the acid production in saliva to make digestion work best. I did not want to slurp them down like an oyster.
The flavor is heavy on the sweet raspberry and just a hint of the tart cranberry. It is definitely not as sweet as some of the other flavors of theirs or similar products I have tried. But I do wish that it emphasized the cranberry more. To me a more tart Blok would taste better on a hot dusty trail.
I did notice that if I eat a lot of them in one day my teeth get coated. Twice I was wishing for a toothbrush.
As these are supposed to be used for electrolyte and carbohydrate replacement, I first looked at what I had been using to see where to substitute the Shot Bloks. When I go on a fastpack, hikes emphasizing low weight and speed to cover very long distances, I normally take Gatorade in the bottle or Cytomax powder to mix with my own water. These give electrolytes and carbs. To eat on the trail I bring organic bars or a raw organic gorp of my own making.
The drinks give an average of 44 g of carbs per bottle. I try to average one quart/liter bottle every five miles/8 km. I guess the electrolytes are the sodium listed in the ingredients. Both of the drinks average a little higher in sodium than the Bloks. Therefore I decided to take only water on my hikes and use one serving of the Shot Blocks every 2.5 miles/4 km which at our average pace means about every hour. The package suggests eating 3 to 6 Blocks per hour of activity so this fits with their recommendations.
The first test of this was on a long climbing dayhike in San Jacinto State Park and vicinity. I ate some breakfast at 4:30 am before leaving to drive to the trailhead, and a banana before hitting the trail at 6:55. The trail climbs immediately a steep 5000'/1524 m in 7.6 miles/12.2 km to the peak of San Jacinto so I was sweating hard within 30 minutes. I waited until the first feelings of hunger at 8:45 to have my first serving. It may be just my mind as I have been thinking so much about fast assimilation of carbohydrates but I swear that I could feel them taking effect within 10 minutes of eating them. I stuck with my plan and had the rest of the package an hour later. Followed by the next two servings in consecutive hours.
The wind came up and it got very cold. Because of this I stopped drinking as much as I would have. I ate a third pack over the course of the next few hours to match my water intake. Each time I ate a serving I could feel the effects of the calorie and carb boost within 10 minutes. I only drank three liters/quarts of water that day even though I walked 22 miles/35 km and climbed over 6000'/1830 m. I did not experience any cramping so I guess the electrolyte levels were good. I never had anything else to eat as the Shot Blocks supplied 600 calories. I was very hungry on the way home though.
The next trip was a better test of my theory, and a bit of a lesson. We went on a 36 mile/58 km hike in some desert conditions. It was very hot and I sweated just about continuously. I brought 6 packs of Shot Bloks and started the first serving at 8:00 am as we started the hike at 6:00. In the course of the almost 12 hours of hiking I drank almost 6 liters/quarts of water. I made it through pack number four but was still feeling hungry. On pack number five I started getting sick of the taste and feel of the Shot Bloks. I never made it to number six.
On this trip I did not have any cramping. My legs were very sore but that is to be expected with the distance and terrain I was covering. I think that it is too much to expect to use these as food because I was feeling very hungry even after I ate them and it wiped out my stomach. I got a little sick feeling at the end. I think that I needed to add in some protein during the day too. But using enough of the Shot Bloks to equal my electrolyte needs and trying to eat other stuff too may be an awful lot.
I figured out that the best course of action to take with the Shot Bloks may be to use them as a supplement. I will take my normal drinks and my gorp on the next extreme hike. I will add a package of Shot blocks between starting and lunch. Then do it again in the late afternoon. This should give me the fast carb benefit of them and add the electrolytes to what I am getting from the drinks.
I put this to the test a week later. We played hooky from work and climbed Mt. San Gorgonio by way of a short steep route called Vivian Creek Trail that gains over 5400'/1646 m in the 9 miles/15 km to the peak. It was in the 40s F/7 C when we started at 7:00 but warmed up quickly. We made our best time ever on this trip so I was sweating pretty good. I ate one package of Bloks during the 4 hour climb to the summit and another pack at the top. Again I could feel the energy rush in minutes. I drank almost three quarts/liters of liquid over the whole day. A chipmunk was very interested in the Shot Bloks too.
I used the last two packs on another climb of San Gorgonio, this one a 26.2 mile/41 km route that gains just over 5000'/1525 m. I took the two packs of Shot Bloks two bananas and some gorp. I brought only water to drink. The Shot bloks did a fine job of giving the electrolytes needed today as it was not as hot and I did not sweat as much as the prior trips. I have gotten very used to the flavor of them by now. I read that they make a couple of flavors that have three times the sodium of the CranRazz and am going to find some of them now that I am out of these.
I found that the Shot Bloks can be a carb and electrolyte replacement in small doses for shorter duration trips. For long trips I would need more variety and some protein added. I wish that they had more of the cranberry flavoring. I did enjoy them and as mentioned earlier will be using them again in the future.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
This concludes my test of the CranRazz Shot Bloks. Thank you to Backpackgeartest.org and Clif Bars for letting me test them.
Read more gear reviews by David Bradish