Clif Shot Bloks Margarita w/salt
By Raymond Estrella
November 02, 2008
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Clif Bars Inc
Web site: www.clifbar.com
Product: Shot Bloks
Year manufactured: 2008.
Flavor: Margarita w/salt
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 (from packaging): Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Pectin, Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.
Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty
The Margarita Shot Bloks are an excellent way to replace lost electrolytes, and give a carbohydrate boost. While I really like the flavor they do get tiring after a while. Please read on for all the details.
The Clif Margarita w/salt Shot Bloks (hereafter referred to as the Shot Bloks) are roughly ¾ in (1.9 cm) cubes of gelatin-like electrolyte chews. The consistency is kind of like a Gummy Bear but softer. They come in a 4 x 4.5 in (10 x 11 cm) plastic bag that may be changing to a tube in the near future. (At the time of this writing I was still buying this packaging at our local retailers.) The front of the package differs from most of Clif's Shot Blok packages as it has a round black notice in the corner that says,"Cramp Buster w/3x Sodium".
This is because what sets this flavor apart from the others is the addition of three times the sodium for greater electrolyte delivery.
They are shiny, almost wet looking, but are only slightly oily feeling when touched. They are a bit sticky and leave a residual stickiness on my fingers, more so in cooler temps for some reason. Even though they have no honey in them, this flavor smells like honey to me with a hint of lime.
The taste even conveys honey to my taste buds as I first put one in my mouth. Then I notice the subtle lime flavor and sweetness that is countered by the bite of the salts.
Instead of honey though it is rice syrup that is the main ingredient of the Shot Bloks. This high carbohydrate sweetener is used by many endurance athletes in the form of gel packs because of its ability to provide both instant-use carbs (energy) and some longer lasting effects. The actual time that the rice syrup will provide carbohydrates to the body is two to three hours.
They also give an instant contribution of carbs from the organic evaporated cane juice that is the next highest volume ingredient. This is better known as Turbinado sugar, the tan colored large crystal sugar found in the light brown packages at Starbucks.
Six Shot Bloks are inside each package. According to the nutritional information on the package three Bloks constitute a single serving. As the serving size is 90 calories this means that each block is 30 calories, and the entire package will provide 180 calories. To give some comparison, a peppermint twist hard candy (carried by many hikers, me included) has 25 calories each. But as it all comes from refined sugar it will be used within minutes by the body.
Each package gives 48 grams of carbohydrates, and no protein or fat.
But the nutritional info line I like best is the sodium. Each serving delivers 210 mg of sodium, or 420 mg per package. The most well known name in electrolyte replacement drinks has 110 mg per serving, and 440 mg in an entire quart (liter) bottle.
The Shot Bloks also contribute 20 mg of potassium per serving. While good, this is not that high in my experience with other products. I really believe in the contributions of potassium and would like to see this higher if possible in future formulations.
As most of my food reviews bear out, I am very interested in natural products. Almost all the bars I use are raw and organic. So it was of interest to me to read this on Clif's web site.
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).
I know a lot of other people that share my desire for healthy nutritional choices and figure some of our readers would like to be made aware of it too.
I used the Margarita Shot Bloks on the following backpacking trips.
A tough two-day 11 mile (18 km) trip to the top of Mt San Jacinto by way of the Marion Mountain Trail. I spent the night in Little Round Valley. This rough hike gains over 4400 ft (1341 m) in 5.5 miles (9 km) in temps that topped 80 F (27 C). (Can you say sweaty?) I ate three packages on this trip.
Next was two days in Yosemite National Park for a very hot and hard 44 miles (71 km) in temps up to 84 F (29 C) with 7790 ft (2374 m) of gain carrying a 36 lb (16.3 kg) pack. Sweat City! I had four packages on this trip.
Last was a 79 mile (127 km) 3-1/2 day monster hike from Sonora Pass down through the Emigrant Wilderness to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. This hike saw 15200 (4633 m) of elevation gain with temperatures that ranged from 83 to 43 F (28 to 6 C). My starting pack weight with food and 3 qt/L water was exactly 37 lb (16.8 kg). I consumed nine and a half packages on this trip.
I have used them on other trips as well, but the review is based on those three.
When I go out for my favorite food, Mexican, I always order my margaritas with no salt. But these margaritas are better with salt. Let me explain why.
I sweat quite a bit when I hike due to both the temperatures I hike in and even more from the activity level that I maintain. I hike very hard and fast, for long periods of time. I almost always use a powdered electrolyte replacement drink in my water bottles and bladders. Sometimes I just use pre-bottled electrolyte replacement drink.
My (then fiancé) wife Jenn and brother-in-law Dave had tested Clif Shot Bloks in CranRazz flavor a while back which made me aware of them for the first time. I tried some and found them too sweet for my taste. I had read about the Margarita flavor containing three times the amount of sodium than the regular flavors, and was given a couple packs of them by Jenn who did not care for the flavor. I liked them a lot. The extra sodium negated much of the sweetness.
Soon thereafter I did a day hike with Dave that was only 20 miles (32 km) in length. I figured it would be an easy one, as we regularly do much longer hikes with more climbing. I did not bring any type of electrolyte replacement, just plain ol' water. The day ended up being much hotter than I expected. I sweated so much my shirt was soaked for most the day and even my shorts had the top half wet. Three-quarters of the way through I got a tremendous leg cramp, something that has not happened to me in years. It took about 5 minutes to get the cramp to subside. I could only attribute it to the fact that I was drinking and sweating so much that I was running low on electrolytes. Thinking about the Margarita Shot Bloks, and knowing I had a few hot-weather backpacking trips coming up I decided to purchase a bunch of the Margarita Shot Bloks and use them exclusively to track the results.
As it had been much hotter than normal in California, I could not have picked a better time to do this. Every trip saw temperatures in the 80s F (29 C) in the shade. But I was in the sun most of the time. I remember looking at my TraiLeader watch a few times and seeing it read near 100 F (38 C). This was wrong because of being on my wrist and in full sunlight, but it felt true!
On each trip I carried plain filtered water with no additives in it. On a couple occasions that the water had to come from tarns that had a bad taste, I put some sugar free Crystal Light to help mask the pond-water taste, but it adds no electrolytes or calories.
I tried to eat the Shot Bloks in batches of three so as to keep the electrolytes and carbs being delivered to me at a regular pace. I carried a package in the cargo pocket of my hiking shorts, and another couple of packages in the side pocket of my Osprey Aether pack. Sometimes I would eat them while I walked, but once in a while I ate them at rest, like I am doing here at the shores of Tanaya Lake in Yosemite National Park.
Even though the two big trips saw even more sweat-inducing distances and elevation gains than the day hike mentioned earlier, I never had any reoccurrence of the cramping incident. And I know I was pumping out my body salts as at the end of the day the collar of my shirt was stiff with salt that had crystallized there. I was drinking at least four L/qt of water per day, some days closer to six. Yet the Margarita Shot Bloks seemed to keep up with the replacement demands of my body.
The fast-acting carbohydrate addition from them was very welcome. I always lose my appetite while hiking and do not take in anywhere near what I am burning. I felt myself hitting the wall a couple times and would eat a few Shot Bloks, noticing a surge of energy about five minutes or so later.
On both of the Yosemite trips I had days extended because of lack of water sources. Lots of them were dried up by our long, hot, record-setting summer. To suddenly find that I have to go another four miles (6 km) when I thought I was stopping really takes it out of me. I opened another pack of Shot Bloks to help push me along.
The same thing happened to us at the end of our big hike. We got messed up and took a trail to the wrong trail head, ending up at the Visitor Center in Tuolumne Meadows instead of the Wilderness Center. We were so ready to be done and instead had two more miles (3 km) to go. I shared a pack of Shot Bloks with Dave as we trudged along the road to the truck. They helped energize me again, and Dave really liked them too.
Like I mentioned earlier, not one time during the three trips did I have a reoccurrence of cramping. Not while hiking or during the night. (While sleeping is the most usual time for me to get a leg cramp.) And since I have probably not had a more sweat inducing stretch of hiking since my Death Valley hike, I have to figure that the Margarita Shot Bloks did the job as advertised. The fact that the salt helps counter much of the sweetness makes these my favorite flavor of Shot Bloks. Since completing the trips above I have gone back to REI to buy more just to have available for spur-of-the-moment trips.
Using just the one flavor did get a bit tiring. I must admit that the last day I was not exactly eager to dig into my next pack of Shot Bloks, but that is the case with anything that I eat to the exclusion of all others. As they say, "Variety is the spice of life". I would love to see Clif make the extra sodium version in other of their citrus flavors. Maybe a grapefruit flavor w/3x salt. I would try it.
I have seen that Clif is adding new flavors and formulations all the time. (The types with caffeine are intriguing.) Since these have worked so well for me I may try some of the others in the future. If they are not too sweet for me I shall certainly share my findings here.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella