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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > SPIRO Sports Food Spiro Bites > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

SPIRO SPORT FOODS SPIRO BITES
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
FIELD REPORT
November 18, 2007

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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: TheMiddleSister@usaring.com
AGE: 56
LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

I started hiking in 1998 after an eye-opening climb up Hahn's Peak in Colorado. Hooked, I return to Colorado often. I've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in domestic and exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. At home, I plan for 2-3 hikes of 6-8 mi (10-13 km) weekly and one weekend hike monthly. Weekday hikes take place in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a mixture of heavily-wooded moderate hills and flat terrain. Weekend hike locations vary. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Spiro Sport Foods
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.spirosportfoods.com
MSRP: US$ N/A
Listed Weight: 1.5 oz (42.5 g)
Measured Weight: 1.75 oz (50 g)
Other Details: Four flavors - Cranberry Beef, Original Beef, Glazed Turkey and Smoked Turkey

Cranberry Beef Ingredients:
Beef, Water, Sugar, Sweetened Cranberries (cranberries, sugar glycerine), Salt, Potassium Lactate, Spices, Garlic Powder

Original Beef Ingredients:
Beef, Brown Sugar, Salt, Sugar, Spices, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Potassium Lactate, and Garlic Powder
Boxes of Spiro Bites
Two Boxes of Spiro Bites

Glazed Turkey Ingredients:
Turkey, Sugar, Water, Salt, Fructose, Potassium Lactate, Black Pepper, Paprika, Natural Honey Flavor, Spices, Natural Smoke Flavor.

Smoked Turkey Ingredients:
Turkey, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Potassium Lactate, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Soy Sauce Powder (soy sauce, wheat, soybeans, salt, maltodextrin), Paprika, Red Pepper, Spices, Natural Lemon Flavor (corn syrup, lemon juice solids, natural flavor), Natural Smoke Flavor


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Spiro Sport Foods does a nice job of building anticipation for their product on their website. Before seeing a single package of the Spiro Bites, I had a good idea of what the packaging would look like, what the nutritional facts for each of the four flavors were, the individual ingredients, etc. Thanks to the Spiro Sport Food website, I got a mini-refresher course on protein nutrition, found out my personal protein needs with their protein calculator and even was able to compare the Spiro Bites with some of my current hiking menu items.

The only glaring omission was any mention of where I could purchase the Spiro Bites and a MSRP.

I received 6 packages of each of the four flavors for a total of 24 packages. The individual packages are various combinations of yellow, orange and brown, depending on the flavor. The Spiro Bites packs are conveniently sized at 6" by 4.5" (15 cm by 11 cm). On the back of each package in addition to the "Nutritional Facts" table and the ingredients is a cool clear "window" in the lower right which allows me to see what the Bites look like. Through this "window" I can see that the Bites are about 1" (2.5 cm) long and the width of my index finger which is 2" (5 cm) in circumference. They are a typical reddish-brown dry sausage color.

The packaging is well-sealed with a notched "tear here". There is no hint of any food smell coming from the package.

TESTING STRATEGY

I am excited by the prospect of trying all four of the flavors. The cranberry flavor is especially appealing since I love cranberries and usually carry dried cranberries on the trail. And turkey is something I've never considered in this form, so that'll be fun to try!

Things I will be testing for will be: storage and packing issues, palatability, and appetite and energy satisfaction.

First, are there any storage conditions to satisfy as far as heat or cold? The packs are small enough, but does the product fill the packaging or will I be using my own containers (usually zipper plastic bags) to save on space in my pack? Does the packaging hold up to being crammed into corners of my pack or will it tear or burst? Does the packaging easily tear open on the trail or will I be using my teeth (or knife) to get the bag open? Does the packaging keep the Bites fresh? Will moisture penetrate the packaging? What about heat - will the Bites get gooey? Conversely, will the cold make the Bites hard and brittle?
Four varieties of Spiro Bites
Four Varieties of Spiro Bites

Since I carry the bare minimum on the trail (unless packing with my chef-son, Shawn) whatever food I carry must taste good and pack a good energy wallop! Smell precedes taste, so how good do the Bites smell? Can I recognize the various flavors of the Bites just by smelling them?

Are the Bites small enough to be comfortably chewed or will I feel like I'm a pitcher at the World Series games? Will the Bites rip holes in my cheeks because of sharp edges? Will my teeth ache after each Bite? Will I need to floss with juniper bark when done? Spiro advertises that the Bites are "tender, bite-sized nuggets". Does that mean the Bites are soft?

Can I tell the differences between the various flavors? Are the spices pleasing? Too pronounced? Too spicy? Too sweet? Or just right? Are the spices evenly distributed throughout the Bite or are they just "painted" on the surface of each Bite? Will I go first for the Bites when the pangs of hunger hit my on the trail? Are the Bites good tasting enough that I would consider eating them even if they weren't the only thing left in my pack?

Lastly, do the Spiro Bites satisfy my hunger and sustain me on the trail? I realize this is a very unscientific testing and I will do my best to determine whether or not the Bites reasonably fill me up between meals as a trail snack. Will I need to eat more than one pack at a sitting? Are the portions too much for a snack? Can I use the Bites as a substitute for some other dehydrated meat during an on-trail meal? Do I feel the Bites give me more sustained energy on the trail versus a more sugar-laden carbohydrate-based food bar?

SUMMARY

Well, I'm off to the local BLM trails this weekend to enjoy the glorious autumn weather. I will be sure to pack the Spiro Bites and test out their taste, texture, etc. It'll be a test of my willpower to not grab a package for a snack while at my desk before that. But first, I have to decide which flavor to try first. Hmmm. Eenie, meanie, ...

This concludes my Initial Report on the Spiro Sport Foods Spiro Bites. See the results of my field testing in the report below.

Kathy Waters


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During this field testing period, all of my backpacking took place in south central Colorado. All backpacking trips were weekend jaunts into the approximately 100,000 acres (40,468 hectares) of BLM land encompassing the Cooper Mountain range/Royal Gorge area near Canon City or the Wet Mountains south of the Arkansas River Valley.

The Cooper Mountain range is mostly pinon pine and juniper-covered high desert with rough primitive game and mining trails (for the most part) and is easily accessed just outside of my property fence line. So this was (and will be) most often chosen for my weekenders. My husband and I generally pack up, grab the GPS, pick a trail and go without any planned destination in mind.

The Wet Mountains rise up from the Arkansas River Valley and are dense ponderosa pine and sage forests. One of my favorite trails there is the Barlett Trail in the southern part of the Wet Mountains.

Elevations I tested in ranged from 5000' up to 14000' ( 1524 m to 4268 m) and temperatures over summer and fall varied from 50 F to 95 F (10 C to 35 C).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During field testing I was most interested in seeing how the Spiro Bites would handle the extremes of hot and cold temperatures. I found no problems with taste or consistency while backpacking in September and October when the temperatures were consistently summer-like. Even night time temperatures remained mild. The Spiro Bites never became hard from cooler temperature exposure and also never got too soft or sticky in the heat.

I tested an open package of the Spiro Bites in my refrigerator for a couple of days, and that package also was texturally pleasing. On the other end of extreme temperatures, I forgot and left a package of the Bites in my car after a backpacking trip. After two weeks of 80+ F (27 +C) OUTDOOR temperatures, I found the package when cleaning out the debris in the car. It was with some hesitation that I opened that package and popped one of the Bites in my mouth. To my surprise there was no degradation - the Bites were a bit warm, but tasted just fine.

The packaging of the Spiro Bites is probably larger than it needs to be. The small number of Bites in the package means extra space and subsequently, extra bulk that is unnecessary. Because of the lower air pressure of my higher altitude - about 6000 ' (1829 m) - the packaging "blows up" and cannot be folded or compressed. So, for my purposes, on the trail, I found it more convenient to remove the Bites from their original packaging and I used a zipper-closure plastic sandwich bag instead. That way, I could put more than one package of the Spiro Bites in one sandwich bag - I usually had "beggars" (hubby) wanting tastes - and saved on space and trash.

The original packaging of the Spiro Bites was very easy to open; no knife, scissors or other tool was needed. There is a notch on the side of the packaging which facilitates a quick rip across the top and easy access to the contents. On occasions where I did not repackage the Bites, the packaging never failed even when jammed into tight spaces in my pack.

Since the Spiro Bites were replacing some of my favorite on trail snacks, I wanted to make sure they were equally enjoyable. The appealing smell of the Bites promised good taste and the Bites delivered on that promise! I can't say that I was able to tell which flavor I grabbed by smell though. Oh, and just as smell was important to me, it was equally important that the smell did not precede me in the bear and mountain lion country I hike in. Fortunately, the original packaging of the Bites did not emit any tantalizing odors.

The Spiro Bites are truly bite-sized. The Bites resemble pretzel nuggets in size, ranging from 1.25" to 1.5" (3.17 to 3.81 cm) by 0.5" (1.27 cm). I had no difficulty chewing them and could do so somewhat discreetly without a wad of food in my mouth. Surprisingly, to me, I did not have a big problem with bits of the Bites getting lodged in my teeth; the Bites are very tender.

My favorite flavor was the Cranberry Beef Bites, followed in by the Original Beef Bites, the Smoked Turkey Bites and then the Glazed Turkey Bites. The Bites were nicely flavored evenly throughout.

The Cranberry Beef Bites were slightly sweet with an interesting flavor and seemed to be particularly tender. I also enjoyed the sharp peppery taste of the Original Beef Bites, but needed to be sure of plenty of liquids when eating them. The Smoked Turkey and the Glazed Turkey Bites were a bit bland for my tastes, but that didn't stop me from grabbing them with enthusiasm when my stomach started to growl.

Of course, the biggest questions I had before testing the Spiro Bites were concerned with how well the Bites would work for me as both a snack and possible, a meal substitute on the trail.

I realize variables such as difficulty of the trail, previous meals, weather conditions, etc. all affect my appetite, so the answers to my appetite satisfaction questions were very subjective. That said, I found the Spiro Bites very satisfying as a snack on the trail. They easily sustained me when used as an afternoon nosh usually accompanied with some liquid such as ice or hot tea or plain water. One package was just sufficient, unless I had to share, then I would begrudgingly open a second pack. I definitely felt my hunger pangs were eased and stayed away for longer than if I had consumed a more sugar-y energy bar. Maybe it is all in my head, but I enjoyed the perceived energy boost just the same.

As for using the Spiro Bites as a meal substitute, I tried it once with a dehydrated rice dish and I didn't really like it. Besides, after eating a pack in the afternoon, another later on just seemed boring.

THINGS I LIKE

1. Convenient, easy to eat, bite-size snack.
2. Good taste.
3. Very filling for an afternoon snack and nutritious, too!

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

1. Don't know how to get more!

SUMMARY

Since I have devoured all 24 packages of my Spiro Sport Foods Spiro Bites, this report concludes my field testing! These are great snacks - all four flavors - and I will definitely be including them on future backpacking trip menus (as well as for around the house noshing) if I can find them!

Thank you to BackpackGearTesting.org and Spiro Sport Foods for introducing me to the Bites and allowing me the opportunity to test them.

Kathleen Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of SPIRO Sports Food gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters

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