HONEY STINGER ENERGY BARS
TEST SERIES BY CHRISTOPHER NICOLAI
May 31, 2008
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thebootfitters at yahoo dot com
Seattle, Washington & Minneapolis, Minnesota
5' 11" (1.80 m)
172 lb (78.00 kg)
I have been backpacking for 10+ years in locales from Chile to Alaska. I have experienced temps from -30 F (-34 C) to 100 F (38 C), heavy precipitation in virtually all forms, and winds exceeding 75 mph (120 km/h) - in everything from desert to rainforest to glaciated peaks. Most of my trips are 1-4 nights climbing/backpacking
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Honey Stinger, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.honeystinger.com/
MSRP: US$1.69 each for the Energy Bars; $2.25 each for the Protein Bars
Energy Bars (all flavors) -- 1.75 oz (50 g)
Peanut Butta Pro -- 2.85 oz (81 g)
Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Pro -- 3.0 oz (86 g)
Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Pro -- 3.2 oz (90 g)
Actual Measured Weights:
Energy Bars -- 1.76 oz (50 g) to 1.90 oz (54 g); Average Weight -- 1.81 oz (51 g)
Peanut Butta Pro -- 2.75 oz (78 g) to 2.82 oz (80 g)
Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Pro -- 3.03 oz (86 g) to 3.10 oz (88 g)
Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Pro -- 3.07 oz (87 g) to 3.25 oz (92 g)
Energy Bars: Foil Packaging -- 5.5" x 1.75" x 0.5" (14.0 cm x 4.4 cm x 1.3 cm); the bar itself -- 4.0" x 1.5" x 0.5" (10.1 cm x 3.8 cm x 1.3 cm)
Protein Bars: Foil Packaging -- 5.75" x 2" x 0.75" (14.6 cm x 5.1 cm x 1.9 cm); the bar itself -- 4.0" x 1.75" x 0.75" (10.1 cm x 4.4 cm x 1.9 cm)
Arrival Date: Jan 5, 2008
The bars were sent with four pages of Honey Stinger fact sheets and a Honey Stinger "Race Cap" baseball style hat. The package contained at least two of each of the flavors and varieties offered on the website for a total of 15 bars as outlined below. Each bar is individually wrapped in a thin foil package printed with the nutrition information, ingredients, and logo.
|All the flavors|
3 - Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta Pro
|Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta Pro|
2 - Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Pro
|Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Pro|
2 - Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Pro
|Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond Pro|
2 - Peanut Butter 'n Honey
|Peanut Butter 'n Honey|
2 - Berry Banana Buzz
|Berry Banana Buzz|
2 - Apple Cinnamon
2 - Rocket Chocolate
The primary ingredient of most of their bars and gels is either honey or their proprietary "Honey Stinger" formula, which is a blend of pure honey, sea salt, and water. Some of their bars boast on the packaging that they are made with 25% (or more) organic ingredients.
Though I have not seen any specific claims of being "vegetarian" bars, I cannot find any non-vegetarian ingredients listed anywhere. All bars contain peanuts and other nuts. All Energy Bars contain seeds. All Protein Bars contain soy and milk.
A VISIT TO THE MANUFACTURER WEBSITE
I briefly visited the Honey Stinger website and found it to be fairly easy to navigate to find the information I was seeking. (Though it is a little "buzzzzzy.") It contains a lot of good information regarding the benefits of their products, nutritional information, background information on honey (including links to scientific studies), and even a recipe or two using their products.
The brief excerpt below is taken directly from the website:
Honey Stinger is a natural energy gel made from a combination of Pure Honey, Pure Water, Salt, Potassium Citrate and Vitamin B Complex (Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B1, B2, B6, B12).
Honey Stinger uses honey as the main source of carbohydrates, as opposed to man made carbohydrates commonly found in other energy gels. Studies show that honey is low on the glycemic index and therefore provides a long, steady source of energy instead of a spike and crash. Honey is also a natural source of antioxidants.
TRYING IT OUT
I had my first taste of the bars on a snowshoe day trip last weekend. I'll save the detailed description for the final report, but my initial impressions of taste, texture, and perceived energy boost were favorable.
I tried one of the Peanut Butter 'n Honey Energy Bars during the trip. It had a pleasant nutty/grainy texture and a slightly sweet but not overpowering honey taste. I had been starting to feel a little light-headed, as I hadn't eaten anything for awhile. The bar satisfied my hunger, and I felt better within minutes.
On the ride home, I tried a chocolate coated Peanut Butta Pro Protein Bar to satisfy my hunger. Wow! The first thought that came to mind was that it tasted like a chocolate covered peanut butter cup. The interior of the bar appeared similar to the filling of a peanut butter cup too. It was smooth and creamy and quite delicious. Though I enjoyed the flavor thoroughly, because of the large size of the Protein Bars, I felt that it was verging on too sweet by the end. (I still can't wait to try the next one, though!)
I also tried one of the Berry Banana Buzz Energy Bars during a late night of work to give me a little extra boost to keep going. This bar again had a pleasant nutty/grainy texture, and such a good taste that I ate the bar too quickly. However, it gave me just the energy I needed to continue for a couple more hours of work.
The unwrapped energy bars have a rough, grainy texture, much like a granola bar. The consistency of the bar is the same throughout, both inside and outside. The Peanut Butter 'n Honey bar had a thin coating of chocolate on the bottom. They did not feel sticky to the touch, though I anticipate the chocolate could melt if the conditions allowed.
Though I'm not certain I'll encounter warmer temperatures, I'm curious how the chocolate coating and the soft interior will fare when they are very warm. On the other end of the spectrum, I expect to have an opportunity to test some of the bars in very cold temperatures, so I can determine whether they turn rock hard.
THE SHORT STORY
I found the Honey Stinger Energy Bars and Protein Bars to be enjoyable to my palate -- even without a qualifying "for an energy bar" statement. The bars were filling and provided sufficient fuel for my hiking engine on several outings. I enjoyed the bars so much that I have already purchased several, and I now often include them in my standard snack pack for outdoor trips.
Furthermore, while this is admittedly a very qualitative statement that could be skewed by my personal perception, I felt a little something extra after consuming one of these bars that I don't typically experience after eating energy bars. I can't put my finger on exactly what is different about these bars, but I just felt a little more fulfilled... a little more boost in energy to keep hiking. This feeling also seemed to last a bit longer than I was expecting from previous experience with energy bars. Maybe it was the honey.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I consumed at least one Honey Stinger Energy Bar or Protein Bar during each of the following outings:
* Skiing in-bounds at Crystal Mountain and White Pass Ski Resort in Washington State, USA, and Alyeska Ski Resort in Alaska, USA. I consumed Honey Stinger bars on a total of three such outings, typically while carrying a light pack with food, insulation, & water. Temperatures ranged between 12 & 36 F (-11 & +2 C). Elevations ranged from 4,400 to 6,500 ft (1,340 to 1,980 m) in Washington and 250 to 2,750 ft (76 to 838 m) in Alaska. Weather conditions ranged from sunny and "warm" to overcast, windy, and snowing heavily.
* Backcountry skiing near Hogback Mountain in the Cascade Mountain Range south of Mount Rainier in Washington State, USA. I skinned (climbed) up and skiied down, traveling between 5 & 7 mi (8 & 11 km), carrying a light pack with food, insulation, & water. I consumed bars on one single-day outing and one overnight outing. Temperatures ranged between 10 & 32 F (-12 & 0 C). Elevations ranged from 4,400 to 6,800 ft (1,340 to 2,073 m). Weather conditions ranged from mostly sunny and "warm" to overcast, windy, and snowing lightly.
* Snowshoeing in the Central Cascade Mountains near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, USA. I consumed bars on one single-day outing, while traveling approximately four miles (6.4 km), carrying a light pack with food, insulation, & water. Temperature was approximately 25 F (-4 C). Elevations ranged from 2,500 to 3,500 ft (762 to 1,067 m). Weather conditions were mostly cloudy with some light snow and winds up to 15 mph (24 km/h).
* Winter trekking -- primarily while using snowshoes -- and camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area of Northern Minnesota, USA. I consumed multiple bars on a four day, three night trip, carrying a large pack weighing approximately 45 lbs (20 kg). I traveled approximately 20 mi (32 km) total. Temperatures ranged between 6 & 24 F (-14 to -4 C). Elevations ranged from 1,500 to 1,900 ft (460 to 580 m). Weather conditions were generally mostly cloudy to overcast, with light snow on occasion.
* Sleeping under the stars in northern Wisconsin, USA. I consumed a bar prior to falling asleep on one overnight outing. Overnight low temperatures dropped to -24 F (-31 C). Weather conditions were mostly clear skies. Elevation was near 1,000 ft (305 m). I slept on a thick 3/4 length down sleeping pad with a blue foam pad under my feet. I used a thick down sleeping bag.
* Ice climbing in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. I consumed a bar on one single-day trip, while climbing for approximately 8 hours, including a roundtrip approach hike of approximately one mile (1.6 km), carrying a 25 lb (11 kg) pack with climbing gear. Temperatures ranged between 10 & 26 F (-12 & -3 C). Weather conditions were mostly cloudy throughout the day. Elevation was near 800 ft (244 m).
* Disc golfing in the twin cities area of Minnesota, USA. I consumed half of one bar prior to the activity and the other half after the activity. The half-eaten bar remained in my car during the 1.5 hour activity. Temperature was approximately 75 F (24 C). Weather conditions were mostly sunny with a slight breeze. Elevation was near 800 ft (244 m).
PERFORMANCE & OBSERVATIONS FROM THE FIELD
Consumption Testing Methods
While these bars were not the only food I consumed during my described outings, I typically made a deliberate attempt to not consume any other solid food within approximately at least one hour prior and one hour after consuming one of the bars. Granted, many variables affect the perception of hunger, satisfaction, taste and energy; but I felt that this timed method would help minimize other potentially conflicting variables.
It should be noted that I generally have a very high metabolism. I may burn over 1,000 calories per hour during an intense uphill hike with a heavy pack. I tend to eat a lot during outings to replace those calories -- primarily after heavy exertion, usually with only light snacks during exertion.
During outings in which I consumed multiple bars, I tried consuming the smaller "Energy" bars during exertion for a snack and the larger "Protein" bars after exertion to replace burned calories. This seemed to work well, as the lighter energy bars did not sit heavily in my stomach.
My overall impressions of the taste of these bars was favorable. The Protein Bars in particular tasted comparable to candy bars. In fact, the Peanut Butta Pro bar reminded me a lot of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Pro and Coconut Almond Pro reminded me of a Three Musketeers bar or perhaps even a Milky Way bar -- without the caramel, but with their own unique flavors instead. While they flirted with the line of being too sweet, I don't feel that they ever fully crossed it.
The Energy Bars all shared a slightly less sweet flavor and a very grainy texture. I enjoyed the contrast between the two types of bars. When I wasn't in the mood for sweetness, I could select the Energy Bars for an alternative. The grainy texture and nutty flavor of the Energy Bars was much drier than the Protein Bars, and I felt I needed to consume more fluids with the Energy Bars. While I still enjoyed eating them (i.e. I would still describe them as "good"), I perceived the flavor of both the Apple Cinnamon bar and the Rocket Chocolate bar to be a bit "artificial."
Effects of Being Packed and Experiencing Temperature Changes
Both kinds of bars are fairly dense, though the Energy Bars are the denser of the two. Thus, they showed less deformation after being tightly stuffed into a food bag than did the Protein Bars. Fortunately, both types of bars still taste just as good after being flattened or bent out of shape.
Unfortunately, I did not experience a convenient opportunity to consume one of the bars after several hours of exposure to temperatures below 0 F (-18 C). (Note that the one night I slept outside in colder temperatures, the bar had just come from a room temperature environment immediately before I consumed it.) In temperatures between 0 F (-18 C) and the freezing point, I found that neither type of bar became rock hard to a point that inhibited taking a bite. In fact, while they both became more firm in these temperatures, they were still very easy to bite and to chew.
I did have an unpleasant experience when I left half a bar in my enclosed vehicle for an hour and a half on a warm, sunny day. The chocolate on the bar had melted thoroughly and stuck to the inside of the foil wrapper as I tried to unwrap it to eat it. I ended up licking the inside of the wrapper -- simply because the taste was so good and I didn't want it to go to waste. At this time, the ambient air temperature was only 75 F (24 C), but the fact that it was inside a locked car with no open windows likely exacerbated the melting.
Observations During Use
In addition to enjoying a near-candy-bar taste experience, I definitely experienced an increase in perceived energy from consuming the bars. Because I deliberately fasted for at least an hour prior to consuming a bar, I usually was starting to feel slightly light-headed and low on blood sugar immediately prior to eating one. This feeling subsided within minutes of eating a bar. With the smaller Energy Bars, I usually felt satisfied for at least an hour or two afterward while continuing to hike.
Except for a few small bites, I only consumed the Protein Bars after my primary exertion for the day was past. The Protein Bars were extremely satisfying after arriving at camp on my multi-day snowshoe trip. They gave me a sufficient boost in energy and motivation to set up camp and start cooking. Though they are bigger and contain more calories than the Energy Bars, the Protein Bars generally only satisfied me for about an hour or two afterward while on trail. I definitely felt satisfied longer when I consumed the bars during a less strenuous activity -- such as playing disc golf.
There were two distinct times that I probably waited too long before replenishing my fuel by eating a bar. This happened once while backcountry skiing and once on the multi-day snowshoe trip. Both of these times, a single Energy Bar was not enough to satisfy me. I had to supplement the Energy Bar with a few bites of Protein Bar, as well as some other food and drink that I had brought with me.
I typically consumed at least 4-8 oz (0.1-0.2 L) of water in conjunction with the bars to help facilitate the digestion and absorption of the bars. At least anecdotally, this seemed to be effective.
|Enjoying a bar in sub-freezing temps!|
SUMMARY AND PLANS FOR CONTINUED USE
Overall, I have found this to be a very enjoyable product to consume during the testing process. The only potential downsides I experienced were that the taste may verge on too sweet at times, a couple of the Energy Bars had a slightly "artificial" taste to them, and the coating around the bars may melt easily in warm temperatures. However, these downsides are not substantial enough to prevent me from continuing to purchase more bars and use them as a regular part of my food for my outdoor trips.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
My overall favorite bar has to be the Peanut Butta Pro!
Thanks again to Honey Stinger and BGT for the opportunity to test this product!
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Read more gear reviews by Christopher Nicolai