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Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > SPIRO Sports Food Spiro Bites > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

SPIRO SPORT FOODS SPIRO BITES

Initial Report - September 2007
Field Report - November 2007



Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  50
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’ and mainly hike and backpack in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have section hiked longer parts of the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) the past two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock, but occasionally use a tent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist, and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Initial Report - September 2007


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Spiro Sport Foods
Year of manufacture:  2007
 
Advertised net weight:  1.5 oz (42.5 g)
  Measured net weight:  varies by package
[from 1.5 to 1.7 oz (42.5 to 48.2 g)]
  Measured packaging weight: .2 oz (5.7 g)

  Package size:    4.5 x 6 in (11.4 x 15.2 cm)
Bite size:  approx. 1.25 x .75 in (3.2 cm x 1.9 cm)

  Website: www.spirosportfoods.com
MSRP:  not available
 
4 flavors of Spiro Sport Bites

Product Description:

The Spiro Sport Foods Bites are packaged bite size meat-based snacks, available in four flavors at the time of this report - Original Beef, Cranberry Beef, Glazed Turkey, and Smoked Turkey.  According to Spiro Sport Foods, the bites are minimally processed with no artificial ingredients.  This claim is consistent with the ingredients listed on the package of each variety, although I had to look up potassium lactate to find it was a natural food additive, an acid produced by bacteria in fermented foods (and also produced in the large intestine).  The ingredients of each variety are as follows:

Original Beef - beef, water, brown sugar, salt, sugar, spices, hydrolyzed soy protein, potassium lactate, garlic powder.

Cranberry Beef - beef, water, sugar, sweetened cranberries (cranberries, sugar glycerine), salt, potassium lactate, spices, garlic powder.

Glazed Turkey - turkey, sugar, water, salt, fructose, potassium lactate, black pepper, paprika, natural honey flavor, spices, natural smoke flavor.

Smoked Turkey - 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.

The Bites are packaged in a flexible, protective plastic packet with a small hole at the top, undoubtedly intended to hang the package from store displays.  The color of the package varies by flavor, but each uses earth-tones such as brown, orange, white, and gold or yellow.  Near the top of the package is a 'tear here' notch.  I opened one package of each flavor for a taste test, and found them easy to open by hand, tearing cleanly across the top with moderate pressure.  The name of the variety is printed near the bottom of the package in a white oblong, making it easy to tell them apart. 

The front of the package also gives information about the naturalness of the product.  The Beef Bites state "ALL-NATURAL* BEEF", *Minimally Processed-No Artificial Ingredients" and also "BEEF USED RAISED WITHOUT ADDED HORMONES OR ADDED ANTIBIOTICS - NO MSG ADDED - NO NITRITES.  The Turkey Bites sport similar language, "ALL-NATURAL*FREE RANGE TURKEY, *Minimally Processed-No Artificial Ingredients", and TURKEY USED RAISED WITHOUT ADDED **HORMONES OR ADDED ANTIBIOTICS - NO MSG ADDED - NO NITRITES."   The bottom of the packaging explains the double asterisks "Federal Regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry".

Back of packages

The back of the package gives nutritional information, an ingredients list, the company address, phone number, and web page, and has a small clear window on the bottom right side to  view the bites.  Printed on the window is a 'best by' date (July 5th or July 6th 2008 on the packages sent to me) and a lot number.  Above the bar code on the bottom left side of the package is an advisory to refrigerate the bites after opening and consume within 3 days.  I should have read this before I opened a couple of packages to weigh the contents and for taste testing - I repackaged the Original Beef Bite variety in a snack-sized Zip-lock bag and left them unrefrigerated.  In spite of the labeling to refrigerate after opening, they still tasted fresh and good after a week at room temperature.

Date and refrigeration information

Each package contains one serving, varying from 106 to 122 calories, with the Smoked Turkey Bites being the lowest in calories and the Glazed Turkey Bites being the highest.  The Original Beef Bites have 110 calories and the Cranberry Beef Bites have 120.  They have from 15 to 17 grams of protein per package, and from 5 to 13 total grams of carbohydrate.  None of the Bites have any fiber (not surprising as they are mostly meat).  Sodium varies from 560 to 600 mg.  Surprisingly, none of the Bites have any saturated fat, and they vary in total fat from 1 to 2 grams.

Taste testing and preliminary impressions:

An Original Beef BiteMy taste test turned out well - all of the Bites are palatable.  So far, I'm not sure which is my favorite, but I know my least favorite - the Glazed Turkey Bites.  I found them a little sweet for my taste.  I should note here that I follow a controlled carbohydrate diet and rarely eat foods with significant amounts of sugar.  Interestingly, the Original Beef Bites have only a gram less sugar (8 vs. 9), and the Cranberry Beef Bites have more (11 g), but neither beef variety tasted as sweet as the Glazed Turkey, although the Cranberry Beef Bites tasted sweeter than the Original flavor to me.  Both the Original Beef Bites and the Smoked Turkey Bites have a slightly peppery, smoky taste and the Cranberry Beef Bites have a sweeter smoky taste.  The bites are brownish in color, with the Glazed Turkey Bites being slightly lighter in color than the other varieties, and having a slightly stickier feel.  The texture of all the Bites is chewy without being tough - somewhat like a dry version of summer sausage.

Since the packaging is fairly light and minimal (the plastic pouch with an oxygen absorber inside), I am likely to carry the bites in their original packages instead of repackaging them into small zippered bags as I often do with other foods.  Hm...  gram weenie that I am, I wonder if I can trim the package edges without breaking the seal of the package, for a tiny weight savings?

I found a single package was satisfying as a small snack one afternoon.  I also found that I could easily consume two packages as a late night snack without feeling overly full.  (Hey, I had to try all varieties for reporting purposes, right?  And they are supposed to be used within 3 days of opening so I couldn't keep them around too long.)

So far, I'm quite pleased with the Spiro Bites.  I always have a hard time finding commercial packaged snacks that I like which are low in carbohydrates, and I'm happy to find the Spiro Bites are also low in fat.  I'm also happy that they're tasty, and look forward to yummy trail snacks over the next couple of months.

Final Report - November 2007


Field Conditions:

In mid-September, I took 2 packages of the Spiro Sport Bites on a day hike of about 6 mi (10 km) to scout some trails in Watoga State Park in south eastern West Virginia, and another 2 packages on a short (approx. 4 mi/6km) overnight backpacking trip in part of the area we scouted.  Temperatures were in the 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C) range.  Trails were a combination of wide dirt forest roads with not much elevation change, and single width woods trails consisting of soil/mud, rocks, and tree roots with some steep up and down hill sections.  The campsite was a maintained grassy knoll, surrounded by mostly deciduous trees.

In early October I took 6 packages on a 30 mi (48 km) weekend backpacking trip in the Cranberry Backcountry in southeastern West Virginia.  Temperatures ranged from around 50 F to 80 F (10 to 27 C) and the weather was mainly dry with only a few sprinkles of rain one evening.  Trails varied widely from sections of old logging roads that had fairly smooth dirt surfaces, to rocky passages through rhododenron thickets with their accompanying roots across the trail, to a short section of graveled forest service road.  Elevation varied considerably from 2700 to 4000 ft (800 to 1200 m) with some tough climbs.

In late October and early November, I took 10 packages on a section hike of the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia and southern North Carolina.  We had originally planned to divide the trip into a 2-day segment followed by a night at a motel (and showers) and another 4-5 day segment, but due my friend developing severe blisters, and situations at a couple of shelters that made us uncomfortable, we ended up spending 3 nights in hotels and 2 nights on the trail.  Over a 6 day period, I hiked a total of 56.1 mi (90 km) at elevations ranging from 2660 to 5220 ft (810 to 1590 m).  The elevation range doesn't tell the whole story, since there are a lot of ups and downs in between the two extremes.  Suffice it to say we were normally either ascending or descending, often over 700 ft (200 m) within 1-1.5 miles (1.5-2.5 km).  Temperatures were in the 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C) range.

Field Use:

On the trip to Watoga State Park, I wasn't carrying a lot of food, so I left the Spiro Bites in their original packaging.  On the trip to Cranberry Backcountry, I removed the contents of 2 packages and placed them in small zipper lock bags (about 2 x 3 in/60 x 90 cm) that I purchase in the craft supply section of our local mega discount store.  I carried the other 4 in their original packaging.  On my Appalachian Trail trip, I repackaged 2 and carried 2 in original packages for the first 2-day segment; carried 2 in original packaging for the next segment, a 15.6 mi/7.4 km 'slackpack' ( a term often used on the Appalachian Trail to describe a distance hiker who does a segment as a day hike without carrying overnight equipment); and repackaged 4 for the next segment (which turned out to be a 2-day rather than a 3-day segment as planned).  One thing I've found about hiking the Appalachian Trail is that for one reason or another, a trip seldom goes exactly as planned.

Protruding fibrous bitsOn each trip, I found the Spiro Bites tasty, although I have to admit that I found myself growing a little tired of them after eating 10 packages in 5 days on the Appalachian Trail.  On my various trips, I found one package worked well to maintain energy for about an hour, but if I needed a little extra push for a steep uphill or didn't want to eat each hour, I needed to either eat two packages or eat an additional snack with a single package of the Spiro Bites.  Supplementing a pack of the Bites with an energy bar or a few nuts worked very well to sustain my energy longer, and gave me a little more variety.

One disturbing thing I noticed with several packages (primarily the two turkey flavors, but also with a couple of the Original Beef flavor) was that some of the bites had fibrous bits protruding.  See photo at right for an example.  Some even looked like tiny hairs.  I assume they were bits of tendon or other connective tissue, and pulled them out and ate the rest of the bite.  I have to admit that it was a little off-putting though.

I found the packaging to be a little bulky for the amount of calories the Bites provided (106 to 122 per pack), especially when I wanted to pack several for longer trips.   Each pack contained about 8 pieces, and had ample room for several more.  I'd like to either see the packaging made smaller or more pieces put in each pack.  If a dozen pieces were packaged together, that would make a snack in the range of 150 to 180 calories, which is in line with many energy bars I eat.

While Spiro Sport Foods instructs to refrigerate any leftovers once a package is opened, I did not observe any sort of deterioration from repackaging the Bites for a few days at a time.  I would not hesitate to repackage a weeks worth as long as temperatures are moderate, but would be more careful of this in the hot summer months.  My food would have been quite a bit bulkier had I not repackaged, especially on the last segment when I took 4 packages.

On the trail I found my favorite flavor was the Smoked Turkey, followed by the Cranberry Beef.  I found the Glazed Turkey a little sweeter and stickier than I liked, and the Original Beef had a bit more spice than I wanted.

Summary:

Overall I was very happy with the performance of the Spiro Sport Bites.  They were tasty and provided good energy that normally took about 15 minutes to kick in and lasted about an hour per package.  They were convenient to carry, even more so when I repackaged them.

It's always been difficult for me to find high protein snacks that I enjoy on the trail, especially those that will keep well without refrigeration, and the Spiro Sport Bites have fit that bill quite nicely.  Unlike some other high protein snacks such as nuts and cheese, it's nice to know that Spiro Sport Bites are low in fat. 

The only recommendations I have for change are to reduce the packaging and/or increase the portion size, and for some sort of process to eliminate the occasional fibrous bits from the Bites.

Outfitter stores are pretty limited in our area, but I'll be watching for these bites in the future, and would happily buy them for future hiking and backpacking trips.

Thanks to Spiro Sport Foods and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Spiro Bites.


Read more reviews of SPIRO Sports Food gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Food > Packaged Meals > SPIRO Sports Food Spiro Bites > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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