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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > SPIRO Sports Food Spiro Bites > Test Report by Anson Moxness
Spiro Sport Foods Jerky Bites
Test Series by Anson Moxness
Initial Report: September 23rd, 2007
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lbs (66 kg)
E-mail: anson dot Moxness at gmail dot com
Location: Anchorage, Alaska / Hanover, New Hampshire USA
Backpacking Background: |
I have been a backpacker for my entire walking life. Most of my experience backpacking has been in the Chugach Mountains outside of Anchorage. I am experimenting in a more lightweight approach to backpacking and hopefully I will end up with around a 15 lb (6.8 kg) pack for shorter (2-4 day) trips. I try to seek out the most rugged terrain possible; in the Chugach I prefer steeper rocky terrain with some snowfield and glacier crossing. I mostly hike in the summer months but I do have experience in cold weather conditions.
|Original Beef||110||2 g||12 mg||600 mg||8 g||8 g||15 g||9%|
|Cranberry Beef||130||2 g||15 mg||540 mg||13 g||13 g||15 g||8%|
|Glazed Turkey||122||2 g||5 mg||600 mg||9 g||9 g||17 g||9%|
|Smoked Turkey||106||2 g||5 mg||600 mg||5 g||5 g||17 g||9%|
My box of 24 packets of Spiro Sport Food Jerky Bites (6 of each flavor) arrived on September 17th. In the cardboard shipping box there are two smaller boxes that look to be the retail store display boxes with 12 packets in each. Each packet is approximately 4.5 in by 6 inches by 0.5 inches (11.5 cm x 15.25 cm x 1.25 cm). The packets are color coded for each flavor: orange = Original Beef, dark red = Cranberry Beef, black = Smoked Turkey, and yellow = Glazed Turkey. Spiro Sports does a very good job of replicating the packaging on their website, along with all the ingredients and nutritional information. Each packet has a small cut on the top of both sides of the packaging to make opening easier. One thing the website does not include is where to buy the Bites.
Each package of Jerky Bites contain eight individual bites that are about 1.25 inches long and 0.5 inches in diameter (3 cm x 1.25 cm), which I can see through a small clear window on the back of the packaging. There is also a small oxygen-absorbing square in each package. The individual bites are a dark red/brown color of sausage with the Original Beef Bites being a bit darker brown and the Glazed Turkey are a bit lighter red.
After looking at the ingredient lists for each of the four packages, a few things caught my eye. Sugar and/or brown sugar are high on the ingredient lists of all four, which makes me ask: are the bites sweet from the sugar? Too sweet? In each of the four Spiro Sport added Potassium Lactate, which I determined (much to my relief) after research is a natural preservative from the fermentation of starch and sugar, which is not at all dangerous or processed harmfully.
Each of the four flavors of Jerky Bites looks quite good, but I am most looking forward to the Smoked Turkey flavor, only because I like normal smoked turkey. I am a bit curious about the Cranberry Beef flavor because I have never seen cranberries added to meat like that. In my testing I will test a few different areas: taste and overall eating experience, amount in each package, and how much packaging is there to pack out after the bites are long gone.
First I will look at how they taste - are they too salty or not salty enough? How about sweetness? There was a bit of sugar added in each, how will that come out in the taste? Do they have a good consistency - too hard, too soft, just right? How about an aftertaste?
Along with taste I'll look at how they smell because that is part of eating as well. Also, how much are in each package? Enough to satisfy my hunger pangs or will I be yearning for another package between meals?
The final part of my test will be about a non-taste part of the Jerky Bites. There seems to be a lot of packaging involved for the amount of meat included, is there too much? Will it become a hassle to pack out all the remains out?
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.Org and Spiro Sport Foods for the opportunity to test this snack.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report or whenever the 24 packets have been eaten. Please check back then for further information.
Most of my outdoor activities during the two month test period were along the Appalachian Trail, which runs through my college in New Hampshire. These included several backpacking excursions, mostly to pre-built shelters along the AT. I had many, five or six I believe, day trips along the AT. On each trip I took from 2 to 5 packages of varying flavors, around 2 for each day. I experienced temperatures ranging from around 70 F (21 C) to around freezing - 32 F (0 C). The elevations I traversed were from 500 feet to about 4000 feet (150 m - 1200 m), spending most of my nights at around 1000 feet (300 m) high.
I also took the bites as snacks for my nordic ski training workouts. These workouts were either running or rollerskiing for up to 3 hours at a pretty fast pace. In these cases, obviously not backpacking, I used the jerky bites as a recovery snack after the workout was done.
Use in the Field
As I moved through my box of Spiro Jerky Bites I noticed a few things that I really liked about the bites, and quite a few that I didn't. The first thing I liked was the portion size. For the flavors that I enjoyed the most (more on that later) there seemed enough to delay hunger pangs until I was able to eat something a bit more substantial, for those I didn't enjoy, the amount given seemed a bit much. I found that on many of my hiking adventures along the Appalachian Trail I was able to put a few bags of the bites into the outside of my backpack and not even have to stop to grab a bit of nourishment.
One downside of the smaller portion size per package was the amount of packaging per portion. I consider myself an environmentally friendly person and it concerned me by the amount of packaging for the amount of meat provided. I would have much preferred a larger, but re-sealable bag, much like many brands of beef jerky come in. In that case I would be able to get exactly how much I need and use my own bags, therefore leaving less for the landfills. The packages didn't take up a lot of room because they could compress but there still was a lot of packaging to have to throw away. For longer trips where I was taking half a dozen packages I would repackage them, but I still didn't like having to throw away all that packaging. The one thing I liked about the packaging was that they were relatively easy to open.
While I originally thought that there would not be a whole lot of difference between the four flavors, I found out that I definitely like some much more than others. Specifically, I loved the Cranberry Beef. The consistency was right: not too tough, not too soft; and the flavor was great - just a bit of cranberry tang in the beef. I would actually snack on them between classes or before workouts. The problem was I ran out of them too fast.
The Original Beef flavor and the Smoked Turkey flavor, for me, both fell into the same category: not bad, but not great. They both were good solutions to hunger and a small energy boost, but I wouldn't reach for them if I just needed a small snack. I found the texture to be a tad fatty and greasy for my taste, but they would suffice in a pinch. There was some spice used in the Original Beef that made them quite a bit better than had it not been included.
The final flavor was Glazed Turkey. Honestly, I found this flavor somewhat unappetizing. They were a bit too greasy and tough for my taste. In addition, they seemed a tad too sweet. I also had a distaste for the flavor. In this case I found that the portion given, which was the same as the Cranberry Beef, was too large. While I was able to finish the entire supply of the other flavors in two months, I still had some of the Glazed Turkey Bites left.
I didn't find any of the bites particularly good looking and I got plenty of comments to that effect, but as I have found from some of these bites, and other outdoor food: bad looks don't necessarily correlate to bad taste. My testing range, unfortunately, didn't cover much time below freezing, so to simulate that I put the bites into the freezer for a day. After that stress, the Bites were a bit harder, but didn't change in taste and were still edible.
While hiking, I definitely noticed a jump in energy after eating the bites, with a delay similar to most energy bars: 10-20 minutes. They seemed to last a bit shorter than the energy bars I normally use. This may have been because energy bars contain around 175 calories, while the Spiro Bites averaged around 120 calories.
Things I liked:
If I can find some of the Cranberry Beef bites in a store, I'll probably end up getting some, but I won't go out of my way to look for the other Bites. I will probably end up reverting to my past trail foods, because they are easy to find, have less packaging, and I simply didn't find Spiro Sport Bites anything super special.
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