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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel > Test Report by Ray Estrella

Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels
Test Series by Raymond Estrella

INITIAL REPORT - January 08, 2013
LONG TERM REPORT - June 18, 2013


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 52
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.


The Product

Manufacturer: Honey Stinger
Web site:
Product: Organic Energy Gels
Year manufactured: 2012
MSRP: (box of 24): US $32.40
Rough size: 2 x 4.8 x 0.5 in (5 x 12 x 1.3 cm)
Weight listed: 1 oz (32 g)
Actual weight w/package: 1.2 oz (34 g)
Flavors: Acai & Pomegranate,
Fruit Smoothie, Vanilla

Product Description


I suppose some explanation as to what gels are is in order as it is not really an item that is used by many backpackers in my experience (including myself). Energy gels are mainly used by runners and cyclists as a way to provide large amounts of carbohydrates in a short period of time. A quick slurp of the package contents delivers a high concentration of calories in the form of carbohydrates in just seconds. As an example most energy bars have about the same amount of carbohydrates, but also have fats and protein too, and they take a while to eat.

The main difference between these new Organic Gels and Honey Stinger's Classic line is that the majority of the carbohydrates comes from organic tapioca syrup. I have tried many gels in the past, including the Honey Stinger Classic and did not care for them. This test was part of another test (Honey Stinger Blueberry Buzz Energy Bars) so I had to take the gels too. The only reason I did was because I was intrigued by the tapioca syrup.

As may be seen by my other food related reviews I am interested in nutrition and in healthy choices on the trail. So I did some reading up on tapioca syrup. Much of the info came from a 2000 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report. The gist of it is that tapioca syrup is a mixture of simple sugars and more complex carbohydrates. The fact that it contains complex carbs too is a biggie to me.

During endurance sports, (I used to be a distance runner) the body typically processes the simple sugars first for immediate energy and then slowly processes the more complex carbohydrates, giving intermediate and long-term energy. Gels that I have used in the past are way overboard on the simple carbs as that is what most sugars are. They result in what is called a sugar crash, or bonking, unless yet more carbs are ingested. Complex carbs do not have as quick or steep of a crash. OK, I will give it a go.

The nutritional information and ingredients are exactly the same for all the flavors. Here is what it looks like.


As it is deep into winter here I will be looking at how the Organic Energy Gels work in extreme cold. The only way I can keep them warm will be in my pocket so it will be interesting to see how pliable they remain.

Please come back in a couple months or so to see how they worked in the field.


Field Data

I took the Organic Energy Gels on eight backpacking trips, all in Minnesota. Five were on the Red River either on my friend's property north of Halstad, or north of my own town, one was on the North Country Trail by the Anoway River in Chippewa National Forest, one in Smokey Hills State Forest, and the last on the North Country Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest. These trips were cold with lows averaging around 0 F (18 C). The trip on the Anoway River saw -22 F (-30 C). The picture below is from that trip. A Vanilla and Acai & Pomegranate are sitting inside the Grub Sack.

Winter trip

I also took them on a few day hikes, all in the western side of the state.


Well nothing about this test changed my mind about my feelings towards energy gels for backpacking. I still do not find them to be worthwhile. For me I do want carbs during the day, but I want them to be drawn out, not slammed. Getting all of the carbs in a gulp just does not make sense to me. Plus the overwhelming sweetness of them (any gel in my experience, not just the Honey Stinger) is a big turn-off.

I also don't like the sticky mess left behind. There is pretty much no way to keep vestiges of gel from leaking out of the used package. Normally I just place wrappers in my hiking pant's cargo pocket during the day and add it to my trash bag when I stop for the evening. The used Organic Energy Gel packs have to be placed in another container right away or I will have sticky pockets. I see racers (runners and cyclists) throw them on the ground once they slam them but as a Leave No Trace hiker I can't do that. ;-)

I also have to say that the honey, while only sharing the spotlight with the tapioca syrup, still overpowers on the taste. I "liked" the Acai & Pomegranate flavor best of the three.

OK, now some good points. The Organic Energy Gels work very well in cold weather. At first I tried to keep them warm, but after a test of letting one sit outside the tent on a night that was WAY below freezing I found that they do not get hard. Once I saw that I let them sit with all my other food and just put the next one planned to consume in my pocket to let it warm.

I also found an interesting way to use them. An old trick is to eat some quick burning calories before climbing in the sleeping bag in cold climes. I would eat one of the Organic Energy Gels right when I would go to bed to kick-start my furnace. I think it worked.

I really like Honey Stinger's Energy Chews (and they are my kids' favorite) and think I will stick with them in the future and pass on the Energy Gels. I do thank them for letting me and try them for hiking use. I will leave with a picture of the Fruit Smoothie flavor sitting at the top of my food bag waiting to become dessert.

Fall trip

Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel > Test Report by Ray Estrella

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