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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > NUUN - Electrolyte Tablets > Test Report by Colleen Porter

nuun, Inc.

nuun electrolyte replacement tablets

Initial Report - May  28, 2007

Nuun tubes & tablet

Tester Information

Name: Colleen Porter
Age: 32
Gender: F
Height:
5' 8” (1.73 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)

Email: tarbubble at yahoo dot com
Location: coastal southern California

Biography:  I’ve been backpacking for about 11 years.  I used to pack HEAVY, but then I had kids.  So to bring them backpacking I reduced my pack weight drastically, and I’m now a quasi-ultralighter (roughly 11 lbs/5 kg solo base pack weight).  However, I still have to carry the kids' gear and food.  I sew some of my own gear (tarps, tents, down jacket).  I mostly backpack in the mountains & deserts of southern California, with occasional jaunts to adjacent states

Product Information

Manufacturer: nuun
URL: http://www.nuun.com
Year Manufactured: 2007
MSRP: $19.50 US for three tubes (12 tabs per tube)
Flavors: Tri-Berry, Lemon+Lime, Kona Cola, Citrus Fruit
Listed Weight: n/a
Tested Weights:  2.5 oz/71 g for one full tube

Product Description:  Electrolyte replacement tablets that are intended to be reconstituted in 16 oz/0.5 L of water.  The tablets are 1 in/2.5 cm across and 0.25 in/0.64 cm thick, but can be easily split in half.  They are packaged in allegedly waterproof tubes that have a very unusual apparatus attached to the underside of the lid - kind of like a plastic spring with a short cylinder in the middle.  The cylinder is filled with an unidentifiable paper-like substance. My guess (strictly a guess) is that this contains some kind of drying or moisture-absorbing agent. The ingredients that all flavors have in common are: citric acid, sorbitol, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate, sodium benzoate, polyethelene glycol, acesulfame potassium, ascorbic acid, calcium carbonate and riboflavin-5-phosphate.  Each contains "natural flavors," and the Berry, Citrus and Cola flavors include beet (I assume for coloring).  The Kona Cola also includes caffeine.

Anticipated Field Condtions:  Summer is hard upon us here in southern California.  I expect heat, and lots of it, with temperatures of over 100 F/38 C regularly.  Our summers tend to be dry, so no real humidity is anticipated.  I will be using nuun at the Pacific coast, in the local foothills, and in our local mountains as well.  Elevations could reach over 10,000 feet/3048 m.  Sadly, I expect no precipitation whatsoever for the length of this test.

Initial Report - May 29, 2007

The tablet idea is cool.  No packet to tear open, no chance of spilling powder or having it blow away in an unexpected gust of wind.  The tablets are even scored (like an oversized pill) so that they can be broken in half to make a single 8 oz/237 ml serving, or to fit the two halves through a narrow-necked bottle.  The tubes that nuun tablets come in are simple plastic tubes with a strange spring-like plastic apparatus underneath the lid.  I suspect this apparatus may hold some sort of moisture-absorbing agent, in order to keep the tablets dry until they are used.  The lid is initially sealed with a breakaway plastic ring that comes off easily.  The tube is supposed to be be water-resistant, which my kids confirmed by stealing one and playing with it in the bathtub.  I'm just glad they didn't open it.

I have tried each flavor once so far.  All of the flavors are mild, subtle tastes - no assertiveness here. Although I am a bit of a sugar junkie, I also like sour, tangy flavors.  So my favorites so far are Tri-Berry and Lemon+Lime.  Citrus Fruit is also good, but I'm not at all sure about Kona Cola.  It's possible that I'm far too conditioned to carbonated and heavily sweetened cola drinks. I thought that Kona Cola tasted kind of like a cola soda that had been left alone too long with ice melting into it.   There is a mildly sweet taste to the drinks, which I suspect is provided by sorbitol, a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol.  Nuun says sorbitol is a necessary ingredient "to help it work as a tablet but it's at really low levels."  Sorbitol is the second ingredient listed; however there are less than three calories per serving (remember one tab makes two servings) so it would seem the levels are low.

The tablets dissolve in roughly two minutes and ten seconds.  When I drank immediately after a tablet finished dissolving, there was still a slight amount of "fizz" to the water, but that dissipates fairly quickly.  If the tablets are dissolved inside a tightly sealed bottle, some pressure does build but here at almost sea level this is just enough to create a quick hiss of air when the bottle is opened.  The tablets impart a slight tint to water as well, with the Kona Cola being the most noticeable.

On to performance so far.  In the past few days, I have only been able to use nuun at the gym, not out on the trails.  However, it seems very promising based on my limited testing so far.  I enjoyed drinking it and did not miss the taste of my sweeter energy drinks at all.  I do believe that I felt less thirsty than I typically do, but I did experience some lags in energy.  However, I was not consciously controlling my diet in order to obtain consistent results - on one occasion, I had skimped a bit on breakfast, which could easily have accounted for the energy lapses.  This test will require me to pay more rigorous attention to my caloric and liquid intakes, which I will attempt to do.

Long Term Report - October 20, 2007

I have really enjoyed using nuun.  I've used it on multiple day hikes and overnighters in southern California and one five-day trip in the Sierra Nevada of California, at elevations ranging from sea level to over 10,000 feet (3048 meters).  Weather was mostly warm to hot and sadly clear (very dry year).  The single thing I did not like about nuun was the Kona Cola flavor.  I am a cola addict (my only real vice) and I could never shake the feeling that the Kona Cola was really just watered down soda.  All other flavors were great.

I never really calculated thirst + exertion + conditions+ consumption or anything scientific like that.  I just paid attention to myself.  When I used nuun, I never felt depleted or worn out or even really missed the sugar found in some electrolyte drink mixes.  When I needed fuel, I simply ate a snack - fruit leather is a good quick source of energy.  Nuun was so nice to drink in a bladder, and saved me from carrying a separate bottle for mixing up my traditional sugary electrolyte drink (um, crocodile-aid). 

I loved that I could just pop the tablets into my bladder and not have to worry about cleaning out sugary residue afterwards.  Another really cool bonus to using nuun tablets in a sealed water bladder is that the fizz actually lasts longer that way.  I suppose I could have let some of the fizz vent out before sealing up the bladder, but I loooove fizzy drinks so I was always a happy girl sipping my fizzy electrolytes.  When I doubled the dose (probably not recommended by nuun), it tasted even better and was almost like having a bagful of gently flavored soda.  yummers.  I sipped a strong batch of Lemon+Lime while going over Island Pass in the Sierra Nevada and it was just about the most perfect morning ever.

The tablets held up well and were not prone to cracking or getting gummy, although we had very little humidity this summer.  The storage tubes seem to seal up tight and protect the tablets from whatever the air conditions are like outside.  I can't think of a single thing not to like about them except for my dislike of the Kona Cola flavor, and that's just a personal quirk.  I am pretty much sold on the idea of abandoning sugared electrolyte drinks, as using the nuun tablets has shown me that I don't need them.  And the tablet form is really great - if I drop it on the ground, I can just pick it up and dust it off.  try that with spilled powder!

So I really like nuun.  It works well, 3 out of 4 flavors taste great, it's smaller and lighter than packets of sugared electrolyte mix, and the tablet form makes it much more convenient to use. The cost is roughly $1.08 US a quart, which is  $0.13 US more than buying a single-use quart-size bag of the typical sugary  "sport drink."  However, one entire tube of nuun will make 6 quarts and weighs 2.5 oz/71 grams, while a single quart packet of sugared "sport drink" weighs 2.1 oz/60 grams.  So for me, nuun is the obvious choice.  Sugar is heavy!

It's been fun testing nuun.  Everybody I've hiked with has said "What is that you're putting in the water?" and wanted to try it.  Thank you to nuun and to BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the nuun electrolyte tablets.


Read more reviews of nuun gear
Read more gear reviews by Colleen Porter

Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > NUUN - Electrolyte Tablets > Test Report by Colleen Porter



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