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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > R W Knudsen Recharge Sports Drink > Test Report by Ray Estrella

R.W. Knudsen Recharge natural sports drink mix
Test Series by Raymond Estrella

INITIAL REPORT - September 08, 2011
FIELD REPORT - December 09, 2011


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 51
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 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 UL, 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: Knudsen & Sons
Web site:
Product: Recharge natural sports drink mix
Year manufactured: 2011
Flavors tested: Grape, Lemon, Orange, and Tropical
Individual package weight listed: 0.14 oz (4 g)
Actual weight (in package): 0.18 oz (5 g)
Use: each packet is meant to be used in a 16.9 oz (0.5 L) bottle of water
Packages per box: 8
Package size: 4.75 x 0.75 in (12 x 2 cm)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 8 fl oz (240 ml) each package makes 2 servings
Calories: 10
Total Fat 0 g
Sodium 30 mg (except for Orange which has 25 mg)
Potassium 50 mg
Total Carbohydrate1 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g

Juice concentrate, maltodextrin, natural flavors, gum acacia, citric acid, malic acid, tripotassium citrate monohydrate, sea salt, tricalcium phosphate, Rebiana*, absorbic acid (vitamin C), zinc picolinate, niacinamide (niacin), D-calcium pantothenate, (pantothenic acid), pyridoxine hydrochoride (vitamin B6), cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), chromium polynicotinate
*Sweetener extracted from the Stevia plant

Knudsen Recharge 8-pack boxes

Product Description

The R.W. Knudsen Recharge natural sports drink mix (hereafter called Recharge or the drink mix) is a powdered electrolyte replacement drink mix aimed at people that prefer a natural product without added sugar. This appeals to me for a lot of reasons.

If you have read many of my food reviews you know that I was raised in a pretty health-conscious home. I do not care for sugared drinks. I have not had sugar-sweetened drinks since 1975, preferring sugar-free. So when using most sport drinks I make them at half strength (or dilute them in the case of pre-mixed). Two months ago I decided to get away from the artificial sugar substitutes in the face of growing health concerns attributed to them. Now the only thing I use in my ice tea is liquid stevia extract.

This is excerpted from "Stevia is a South American herb that has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years. The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. The body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides from the stevia leaf or any of its processed forms - so there is no caloric intake. Stevia doesn't adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics."

So it was with great interest that I applied to test the Recharge as it is sweetened with Rebiana, a brand of stevia-derived low calorie sweetener.

Of course the main point of Recharge is replacing electrolytes. Electrolytes are important because they are what our cells use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses across themselves and to other cells. When we exercise heavily (like climbing a steep pass or Individual tubes of drink mixbackpacking in hot weather), we lose electrolytes in our sweat, particularly sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of our body fluids constant. So this is why sports drinks like Recharge have sodium chloride (sea salt) and potassium added to it.

One thing that jumps out at me is the amount of sodium per serving. At 30 mg per serving (and an even lower 25 mg for the Orange flavor) this is roughly 25% the amount found in the market leader sports drink, and all the other sport drink mixes I have. (See reviews)

The drink mix comes in narrow plastic tubes that have a tear-away notch at the top. Ripping the top off the tube exposes a little opening that allows the powdered mix to pour into a bottle or container of water. The picture to the right is of the tubes at actual size.

Well that is about all I can share about the Recharge at this time. Once I get them out on some backpacking trips and day-hikes I will share my thoughts on taste and ease of use. Please come back in a few months to see what I think of them. My thanks to Knudsen & Sons and BackpackGearTest for keeping me hydrated during this test.


Field Conditions

At Waboose Lake

These are some of the trips I used the Recharge drink mix on over the course of the test period.

I took the Recharge mix on a four-day backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail along Lake Superior's North Shore. This trip saw some rain, but mostly nice days with temps between 82 and 44 F (28 to 7 C). The trail varies in elevation from 600 to 1800 ft (180 to 550 m).

Next was a trip in the Paul Bunyan State Forest on the North Country Trail. It too rained on this trip and temps were about 68 F (20 C) for a high. The picture above is a shot of the Orange flavor sitting while I am waiting for my dinner water to heat on the shore of Waboose Lake.

The following week saw me driving and day-hiking all over Chippewa National and Paul Bunyan State Forests as I pre-scouted locations for this winter's snow-packing trips. I stayed on Hungry Man Lake.

I took the mix to Washington and Oregon for three days of hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. This trip saw temps at 40 F (4 C) with rain on two days, and even sleet on one cold windy ridge.

Another pre-scouting trip was up and down the Red River of the North verifying that canoeist's primitive river camp sites would work for sled-packing trips this winter. I camped at Buffalo River State Park. Temps got down to only 45 F (7 C), much higher than normal this time of year.

I took them on a three-day 34 mi (55 km) backpacking trip on the North Country Trail south of Leech Lake in Chippewa National forest.


Well I think I found out why the sodium level is so low in the Recharge drink mix. There is just not enough flavor to cover any more than it has in it already.

Note: let me take a moment to explain how I look at taste. I am a Certified Beer Judge and was trained to look at many parts of taste. The smell (aroma) is a big part. Next is the initial taste as it hits the mouth and then the lasting flavor after swallowing. While that is very simplified compared to actually judging a competition it will explain the way I looked at the Recharge.

The lemon flavor actually smells tart and lemony. The Initial flavor is muted but good, but it disappears immediately after swallowing. Of all the flavors the lemon was by far the best at consistent flavor, lasting a little bit after swallowing. It also mixed better than all the other flavors. Another thing I really liked to see was that the lemon did not use artificial yellow coloring to make it look "lemony" (yellow). Kudos to Knudsen & Sons for that. I wish nobody would use fake coloring in their drinks.

The grape flavor smells awesome, but it is bubble gum to me, not grape. The taste is very muted grape which fades immediately. And the color is red, not the purple of traditional "grape" flavored products. As they use only fruit and vegetable concentrate for color that is totally fine with me. Here is a picture of a half liter of the grape inside my tent at Hungry Man Lake.

Out of the rain

While I normally like orange drinks this was my least liked flavor of the batch. The smell was faintly orange and the initial taste was just as faint, completely washing out the second I swallowed.

The tropical flavor actually looks just like red grapefruit juice in appearance, kind of a red tinted dark orange. It smells perfectly like fruit punch and has an initial explosion of great tropical fruit punch flavor that dissipates extremely fast. This was my second favorite flavor. Here is some tropical on the Superior Hiking Trail.

Superior Hiking Trail

The tubes that the Recharge comes in had about a 40% failure to tear rate for me. Often when pulling at the tear point it will tear just to the seam at the back of the tube and then just tear downward instead of across. This leads to a mess if I tore it too far. I learned to just pull my knife and cut the tube at the top if this happened. When pre-mixing at home in preparation of the first days hiking I just used my kitchen shears on the tube and didn't even bother with tearing it.

Another problem I ran into was getting the mix to, well, mix. Only the lemon dissolved well every time. The tropical was OK, the grape worse and the orange was ridiculous. Here is a shot of the orange flavor after shaking it vigorously off and on for three minutes. I had a major froth in the bottle but still had lots of un-dissolved chunks of powder.


When hiking with my brother-in-law Dave I will sometimes bring rum or vodka to add to my drink mix for trail cocktails at the end of the day. The Recharge does not work well at all for this use. There is not enough flavor to cover the alcohol and the result is very harsh. I only tried that on one trip.

As far as the electrolyte replacement goes I have to assume that it did fine there as I never experienced any cramping in my muscles at night while on the trail. (Cramps are a good sign that potassium is lacking.) But much of my trips were in cooler or rainy weather so I was not sweating as much as I would have been in southern California.

I really like the idea of the Recharge sport drinks and hope that R.W. Knudsen continues to tweak the taste and performance of it. Should I hear that they have reformulated it I will surely try it again. I would like to thank both them and for letting me participate in the testing of it.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
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