OLYMPIC GRANOLA BARS
TEST SERIES BY PATRICK MCNEILLY
INITIAL REPORT - April 12, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 21, 2010
mcne4752 AT yahoo DOT com
Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
155 lb (70.30 kg)
18.5 in (47 cm)
34 in (86 cm)
I have been hiking for over 20 years but backpacking only since about 2002. Most of my backpacking is done as overnight trips and occasional weekend and weeklong trips. My typical packweight is approximately 18 to 20 lb (8 to 9 kg) before food or water. Most of my backpacking is the three season variety in the mountains of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In addition to backpacking, I also fish, hunt, and enjoy orienteering. As a result, some of my backpacking equipment gets used in a number of different venues.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Olympic Granola
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://olympicgranola.com/
MSRP: US$49.99 (box of 18 bars)
Listed Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
Measured Weight: 3 oz (85 g)
Flavors Available: Chocolate Peanut, Honey Almond, Almond Chocolate, Espresso Almond Chocolate,
Turtle Mocha, Lemon Chamomile, Mocha Mint, Green Tea Zest
Olympic Granola Bars are gourmet bars made from all natural ingredients. The bars are wheat, dairy, trans-fat, and GMO (genetically modified organism) free. The bars come in eight different flavors, including a number with coffee house flavors. The Olympic Granola website and accompanying literature indicate that the bars are good sources of fiber and protein and would be good as a meal replacement when a lunch break isn't possible.
The bars come wrapped in clear plastic with different color labels corresponding to each bar's particular flavor. Each package has the requisite ingredient list and nutrition facts. All the packages indicate that the bars may contain peanuts, soy and traces of tree nuts as potential allergens.
I received a variety pack of 18 bars which included the following assortment and appears to represent at least one of each of the flavors offered by Olympic Granola:
Chocolate Peanut (3)
Honey Almond (3)
Almond Chocolate (3)
Espresso Almond Chocolate (3)
Turtle Mocha (2)
Lemon Chamomile (2)
Mocha Mint (1)
Green Tea Zest (1)
The bars come as squares measuring roughly 3 x 3 x 0.75 in (8 x 8 x 2 cm). Each bar appears to be pressed together but not overly so. They are not tightly compacted, as are some other energy bars. One statement on the Olympic Granola website says, "Olympic Granola is made with truly natural ingredients you can actually recognize." I can see and identify each individual ingredient within the bar.
The bars have a slightly sticky feel and are quite soft. They actually seem to break apart quite easily. I can break them up into very small pieces and it looks like I could use them like any other type of granola.
So, what about the taste you say? I have tried two different bars thus far (Honey Almond and Lemon Chamomile). I found that I liked them very much. The flavors were a little subtle and not overpowering at all. The honey flavor definitely comes through and the lemon was nice, much to my surprise (lemon is not usually my first choice in flavors). I definitely noticed the crunch from the various seeds and nuts. I really was expecting something completely soft and chewy but the added crunch was a bonus.
The packaging appears to be standard plastic wrapping. This wrapper does not seem to be air tight, so I am a little concerned about whether they can be affected by moisture or allowing the product to become stale. I needed some help to find the expiration date on the package. It was hidden in one corner of the package.
|Courtesy of Olympic Granola
The bars are wheat and dairy free which is really not a problem for me. The package says that the bars contain no trans fat which is something I do watch. I did note that the recommended serving size is half a bar. That would mean that most of the bars would contain approximately 18 g (0.6 oz) of total fat and 6 g (0.2 oz) of saturated fat which seems a bit high to me, although they are gourmet granola bars. The nutritional information to the right is typical of most of the bars but individual flavors vary. The nutritional information can be found on the Olympic Granola website.
I plan on testing the Olympic Granola Bars on hikes and backpacks, as well as during trail and road runs. I will also see how well they and the packaging holds up after being stuffed in a pack or otherwise exposed to various conditions, such as heat or cold.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the testing period, I enjoyed the Olympic Granola Bars on day hikes primarily in Maryland near Washington, DC. I also did some hiking in northern New Jersey, as well as in the tidewater area of Virginia. These hikes ranged from 4 to 8 miles (6 to 13 km) and were all on maintained trails. The temperatures ranged from 45 to 95 F (7 to 35 C) with clear to overcast skies. The elevations on these hikes were approximately sea level in Virginia to 900 ft (274 m) in New Jersey.
In addition to hiking, I consumed some of the granola bars while orienteering or trail running. These activities took place either in central Maryland or northern Virginia. Typical lengths of these runs were from 3 to 6 miles (4.8 to 9.7 km) and sometimes completely off trail. Weather conditions would have been very similar to listed above.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
First things first, the taste. I have to say that these granola bars taste really good. I can say that I disliked only one of the flavors. There are some that I liked better than others but overall they appear to be high quality, good tasting bars. My favorite flavor was the Almond Chocolate. The one that I disliked - Mocha Mint.
Some of the bars had flavors that were a bit subtle, even though I had expected bolder tastes. That was particularly true for the Almond Espresso Chocolate and the Turtle Mocha. I really expected stronger flavors for these two but they were a bit too mild. Not that they tasted bad. I just was expecting a little more. The Honey Almond, Lemon Chamomile, and Green Tea Zest had subtle flavors but that is what I expected of those bars.
I didn't like the Mocha Mint very much. This flavor was just something that I didn't feel went well with granola. The flavor was out of place. It is one of those flavors (particularly the mint component) that I don't expect in a granola bar and, for me, it didn't work.
I noticed that when I was eating the Almond Chocolate and the Chocolate Peanut bars that there seemed to be a line of chocolate running through the center of the bar. This gave me chocolate in every bite of the bar. That was really a treat. I didn't have to hope for a chocolate chip in any particular bite.
Aside from taste, I did explore a few other things about the Olympic Granola Bars. These bars are quite filling and I found that I would not want to eat an entire bar, particularly if I was hiking. I would typically eat half a bar and pack away the rest for the next break. I did feel that these bars gave me a little extra energy but I can say that the onset was slow. When looking for quick energy (e.g., on a trail run) these did not produce the little burst of energy that I get from something like an energy gel.
One thing that I found somewhat problematic with the bars is that they tend to fall apart pretty easily. If I wasn't careful opening the package, I could find a good portion of the granola bar on the ground. This was a problem during a 6 mi (10 km) orienteering race I was in where I tried to open a bar while running through the woods and lost a good third of the bar.
Since the bars do break apart easily, I wondered how they would do in the morning, broken up and eaten with milk. When eaten like traditional granola, the bars tasted just fine but I felt that there wasn't the crunch that I was expecting. The nuts did provide some crunch but the other ingredients seemed to soak up the milk and were a bit soggy. Not a bad taste and I would do this again as an alternative on a morning in camp. I also sprinkled part of one bar over some yogurt and felt that worked out fine.
I wanted to see how the bars tasted when exposed to heat and cold. First, I put a Honey Almond bar in my home refrigerator at 40 F (4 C) overnight. In the morning, the granola bar was firm and didn't fall apart as easily as it did at room temperature but it was not hard. I could easily bite into it and not feel like I was going to break my teeth on it.
My next experiment involved placing a Lemon Chamomile granola bar on the dashboard of my truck and letting it sit there while I went about my business. I kept it there for about two weeks. At that point, I could still detect the lemon scent through the packaging and the bar appeared to be soft, as it was when I placed it in the truck. I didn't taste the bar but decided to let the test go on for another couple weeks. Maybe I should have. After about one month (total) on the dashboard, the bar was as hard as a rock. I decided that I would have to give it a taste since I am testing these things. Well, the cardboard box the bars were shipped in probably tasted better than that bar. I even tried to revive it by breaking it up and soaking it in some milk. That didn't help very much but I was able to detect some lemon flavor (lemon cardboard - yum). I would have to say that I did that to myself and it should not be a reflection on the bars. I guess I would have to expect that most any product might turn out the same under those conditions.
Olympic Granola Bars are gourmet bars made from all natural ingredients which are wheat, dairy, and trans-fat free. The bars come in a variety of flavors with a soft but crunchy texture. The bars break apart easily and can sprinkled on other foods like typical granola but this can be a problem on the trail where dropping pieces can occur.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
What I like:
1. The variety of flavors (most taste great).
2. Nuts provide nice crunch.
What I don't like:
1. Bars break apart too easily.
This concludes my testing of the Olympic Granola Bars. I would like to thank both Olympic Granola and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these bars.
Read more gear reviews by Patrick McNeilly