PROBAR SWEET AND SAVORY PLUS SUPERFOOD
TEST SERIES BY CAROL CROOKER
INITIAL REPORT - April 05, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - July 07, 09
cmcrooker AT gmail DOT com
5' 10" (1.78 m)
165 lb (74.80 kg)
For the past 10 years, I've backpacked about 30 days each year, usually in Arizona and the western mountains on trips that last 3 to 6 days. Weather has varied from 107 F to a low of 0 F (42 to -18 C). My three-season base pack weight varies from about 8 to 12 pounds (4 - 5 kg) and my winter base pack weight is about 18 pounds (8 kg). I normally use a tarp for shelter. I also packraft (backpacking that includes travel by raft) and apply the same lightweight principles I use backpacking.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.theprobar.com/
MSRP: US$3.29 per bar, $35.48 per 12-pack
Listed Weight: 3 oz (85 g) per bar
Measured Weight: 3.0 - 3.3 oz (85 - 94 g)
Tested flavors (others are available):
Superfood Slam - acai berries, pure raspberries, dark chocolate, and live greens
Cocoa Pistachio - peanuts, roasted pistachios, and unsweetened dark chocolate
Cran-Lemon Twister - cranberries and lemon flavor
Nutrition facts are available on the manufacturer web site. As an example, here are the Nutrition Facts for Cran-Lemon Twister:
Serving Size 1 bar (85g)
Servings per container 1
Calories from Fat 150
Total Fat 17g
Saturated Fat 4g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 46g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Omega 3: 670mg per bar
Omega 6: 1320mg per bar
INGREDIENTS: oats (organic rolled oats, rolled oats), organic peanut butter, organic brown rice syrup, organic juice sweetened cranberries, organic dates, organic raw sunflower seeds, organic raw coconut, raw cashews, organic rolled rye, raw organic brown flax seed, raw organic brown sesame seed, raw almonds, organic evaporated cane juice, pineapple, papaya, organic soy oil, expeller pressed canola oil, natural lemon flavor, raw brazil nuts, raw pumpkin seed, organic brown crisp rice (organic brown rice flour, organic molasses, sea salt), corn flakes (milled corn, barley malt syrup), oat bran, organic oat solids, hemp seed, apples, epazote leaf, organic cardamom seed, organic fennel seed, organic fenugreek seed, organic nutmeg, natural orange oil, natural vitamin E.
The ProBars came in three flavors, with 12 bars per box. Each bar is wider and closer to a square shape than a typical energy bar. The packaging is a fairly thin, crinkly, paper-like material. The packaging could be about a third shorter and save weight and material.
Each bar packs a whopping 350 - 400 calories. The majority of the ingredients are the same in all three flavors, with the signature ingredients added to differentiate flavors. See the ingredient listing for the Cran-Lemon Twister to get an idea of the wide variety of nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, and spices in the bars.
The Cran-Lemon Twister flavor has been around a while, while the Superfood Slam (with live greens), and the Cocoa Pistachio (a "Sweet & Savory Flavor") are new.
Many of the ingredients are organic and/or raw. The ingredients are "whole food," meaning unprocessed.
TRYING IT OUT
I ate a Superfood Slam bar after a late night college class to stave off my hunger pangs. It tasted sweeter than I expected, and even had some dark chocolate chips. I liked the flavor but was a bit concerned about how sweet it tasted. Large doses of sugary foods can make me shaky at times, depending on my energy expenditure. One of the factors that attracted me to the bars is that brown rice syrup, which has a lower glycemic index (burns slower) than some other sweeteners, is the main sweetener. Testing will tell how my body reacts to the ProBars.
The Cocoa Pistachio Bar has a very pleasing peanut butter, pistachio flavor. I really like my first taste!
The Cran-Lemon Twister tastes a bit citrusy as I'd expect. Lemon is not typically my favorite flavor; it'll be interesting to see how my taste buds react on the trail.
Sitting at my desk, there is a definite difference in taste between the three bars. My favorite flavor by far right now is the Cocoa Pistachio. I like the Superfood Slam a bit better than the Cran-Lemon Twister.
The ProBars pack a lot of unprocessed calories which I hope my body (and taste buds) will react well to on the trail. My initial taste tests are positive. The packaging has more volume than it needs.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
April 4-5, West Fork Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, Arizona
|Superfood Slam on one of the famous Sedona red rocks.
Elevation 5300 - 5600 ft (1600 - 1700 m)
Clear days with some gusty breezes. Temperatures were from the low 70s to 28 F (22 to - 2 C)
This was an out and back hike along a creek which is a popular Sedona area tourist attraction. A long, chilly wade at the end of the day hiking trail got me away from the crowds and into territory where overnight camping is allowed.
May 1, June 13 Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, Arizona
Elevation 1150 ft (350 m)
Overcast and still in May, sunny and bright in June. Temperatures from 75 - 90 F (24 - 32 C)
Paddling on a reservoir to help with Special Olympic kayak races and for paddling practice.
May 24-27, Gallatin National Forest near Bozeman, Montana
Elevation 6400 - 8200 ft (1950 - 2500 m)
Mostly overcast with a few hours of rain here and there and a bit of hail. Temperatures were mostly in the 40s F (5 - 9 C) during the day with an overall range of 30 to 65 F (-1 to 18 C).
This was a tromp through mostly deep snow with some occasional bare ground on the History Rock, Blackmore Lake, and Hyalite Canyon trails.
May 28-30, Madison River near Bozeman, Montana
Elevation 4600 - 4000 ft (1400 - 1200 m)
Weather variable from overcast with a storm rolling in, to bright and sunny, with temperatures from the low 40s to mid 80s F (5 - 30 C).
This was a 45 mile (72 km) packraft trip (4 mi/6 km hike, 41 mi/66 km float) from the head of Bear Trap Canyon to the confluence with the Missouri River.
June 22-24, Chevelon Creek on the Mogollon Rim in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Elevation 6100 ft (1860 m)
Weather hot and often overcast with a few hours of sprinkles and light rain, temperatures from 90 - 53 F (32 - 12 C).
This was a short backpack trip along Chevelon Creek following a trail or bushwhacking where there was none.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I went for a quick overnight hike along the West Fork of Oak Creek and took some ProBars along. I munched on a Superfood Slam on the hike in. It tasted good and I didn't feel a drop in energy from a too fast sugar burn.
The next morning the temperature was right at freezing as I ate breakfast. It had been a few degrees cooler overnight. I enjoyed a Cocoa Pistachio with breakfast. The ProBar was hard, but not too hard to eat. The bar and 420 calories of peanut porridge kept me going till I returned to my car at 11:30 am.
I can rip open the ProBar package down the middle with gloves on, which is nice. However, I often can't grip the sides and pull them apart so that the package opens cleanly along the top seam only - with, or without - gloves on. That eliminates a use I've put other energy bar packages to in the past, which is as a scoop for shallow water sources. It is also easier to eat a bar out of a package that is completely open along the top seam.
I have eaten a few bars late in the evening to sustain me during night classes. If I eat food that is too sweet, especially if I'm inactive, I can start to feel tired. This did not happen after eating the ProBars. One flavor I consumed was the Cran-Lemon Twister. This was my least favorite flavor at the start of the test, but I liked the taste when I ate it in this sedentary setting and later, on the trail in Montana, especially enjoyed the zing of the lemon flavor after a couple of days eating backpacking food.
I stowed a Cocoa Pistachio ProBar in a drybag during a hot day on the water helping Special Olympic athletes with kayak races. I grabbed a bar from the bag that had been sitting in the bottom of my kayak for about 3 hours. It was very soft and falling apart. I ate it in pieces. The same thing happed (broke into pieces) to a bar that had been riding in my day hiking fanny pack for a few weeks.
My four year old niece, who is a picky eater, surprised me by finishing nearly a whole Superfood Slam bar and later demonstrated that she liked the Cran-Lemon Twister flavor as well.
I did not eat a ProBar during a day of paddling on the Upper Salt River. Why? Because the square shape did not fit in the small pocket of my PFD (personal floatation device) easily. I also had a small camera in the pocket, and the more typical rectangular shape of another energy bar fit more easily, so that's what went into the PFD pocket.
I ate a ProBar every day while backpacking in Montana and appreciated the high calorie count per bar. During the packraft trip that followed, I spent a lot of time on the water and wanted to pack in the calories so I had a ProBar each day at midmorning, and another in the mid-afternoon. The bars sustained my energy level.
One morning, in order to test how my body would react, I began a 24-hour period planning to eat only ProBars. I ate a Cran-Lemon Twister at 6:30 a.m. while taking my dog for a half hour walk. At 7:30 a.m. I ate another Cran-Lemon Twister while driving to a paddling class. I spent the next two hours paddling on Tempe Town Lake with a light breeze and temperatures in the mid 80s F (28-31 C). During the class I felt a little shaky and weak. My experience is that I perform better if my morning meal consists of a large percentage of protein and if all meals or snacks don't contain a lot of sugary food unless it is balanced with fat or protein - this seems particularly pronounced in the mornings. I decided to terminate my 24-hour experiment. I did feel better a while after I'd eaten some protein rich food, although I felt tired much of the rest of the day.
In hind sight, it would have been better to eat a Sweet and Savory Cocoa Pistachio ProBar for "breakfast." The Cocoa Pistachio ProBars have 12 g of protein and 18 g of sugar, while the Cran-Lemon Twister has 8 g of protein and 22 g of sugar. For comparison, the Superfood Slam bar has 9 g of protein and 30 g of sugar. On the final day of my backpacking trip along Chevelon Creek I ate a Cocoa Pistachio bar for breakfast. I followed it on the trail an hour later with a Cran-Lemon Twister. I did not have that shaky feeling during the short hike back to my car.
The Superfood Slam has become my favorite flavor because of the small dark chocolate chunks. I've found I really enjoy the Cran-Lemon Twister for its refreshing lemon flavor, but would still have to rank the sweet and savory taste of the Cocoa Pistachio as my second favorite flavor. I do wish the Cocoa Pistachio bar held together better though.
What I like:
- High caloric content
- Does not give me a sugar rush (except as noted eating Cran-Lemon Twister bars for breakfast)
- High protein content of the Cocoa Pistachio bars
What I don't like:
- The package is hard to open cleanly along the top seam
- The Cocoa Pistachio bars tend to crumble
I plan to continue eating ProBars on the trail when backpacking and hiking as well as for snacks at home and school.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Carol Crooker