As we were building up for our group hammock hang last month down at the Harold Parker State Forest outside Boston, I approached several trail bar vendors and requested donations for a “trail bar sampling” to be conducted while everyone was hanging around. Lyndsay Hupp from HuppyBar, Elisabeth Hooks from Kate’s Real Food, and Carrie Forbes from Gutsy were all kind enough to send along contributions of all the flavors in their lineups.
Together with what they sent and what I scrounged on my own we had an awesome pile of bars to sample….
I wish I could say that the sampling was an equally awesome success. Unfortunately, it was a total disaster. We had loads of hungry-hungry people, but we had so much other food coming out of the smoker, off the grills and out of the cast iron that no one was interested in a snack.
Who would be when you can stuff yourself on ribs, six kinds of smoked sausages, venison roast, brisket and umpteen types of side salads.
We only got around to trying two or three bars in all. This left me with the daunting task of eating all the rest myself in order to form an opinion. You know how it goes….sometimes you just have to “take one for the team”.
As I explained to each of these three vendors when I solicited their contribution, I have no intention here of doing a “review”, or even a comparison. I simply wanted to get some opinions on what people liked in a trail bar. I am not out to pick a winner. Rather, this is a look at what’s there, what they are, and [as it turned out in this case] mostly what I thought of these individual offerings. I will end up with an overview of all the bars I sampled at some point, but for now I wanted to cover the donated ones.
I stumbled on the HuppyBars and those from Kate’s over on the GarageGrownGear site where they are being sold [in addition to the individual vendors own pages]. I don’t know where I first saw the Gutsey Bars.
All of these selections are intended as energy bars. They don’t pretend to be meal replacements, or protein bars. They just mean to give you that boost of energy along the way, however, they all also do a great job as a dessert or “reward” at the end of the trail.
In the words of her site, “the perfect bar: delicious, nutrient dense, and satisfying to the core.” Lyndsay [Huppy] Hupp started making these bars for her own use as a river guide in the Southwest. When everybody else on the trips started sneaking them out of her pack, she segued into commercial production. Check out her story on her site.
Huppys come in six flavors. All are indeed nutrient dense, being a various mix of nuts and seeds together with tapioca and spirulina… no soy, dairy, gluten, corn or cane sugar. No preservatives or GMOs. And, per Huppy herself, “Shelf life is 9 months. Best stored in a cool, dark place, but the ingredients are all shelf stable. They do well in the heat (field tested in summertime Grand Canyon many times), the chocolate flavors hold up and do not become gooey (like a snickers, etc). “
The first one of the Huppy Bars, and which we did get to try at the hang, was the Pecan Orange Spice. People were impressed enough to go “Wow!”. The general comment I remember was that it nailed the spice-thing without venturing off into the ubiquitous pumpkin spice trap. When I had first asked Lyndsay for a chance to try out her products, I mentioned that as an old guy my teeth were just not up to the super-crunchy or super-chewy kind of bars I had previously checked out. I like a more cookie kind of consistency. She assured me that she was sure “they will be the perfect median for you on the chewy factor” … they were. Firm and dense, a nice “chew” from all the nuts, etc, not too sweet. I was grabbed by the HuppyBars from that first bite.
After the hang though, I had to take on the other offerings by myself. The Chocolate Java has a fine espresso taste… a bit light on the chocolate flavor, but I think that just helped carry the java tone out longer on your tongue. Same good chewiness from all the seeds and nuts… these are bars to make last, and not just shove down your pie-hole.
The Apple Cinnamon Raisin carried off all three flavors really well, Big plump raisins, good apple flavor, and a firm dose of cinnamon without going to far off to the spice-thing.
Coconut Date Ginger again hit all the described flavors spot on. I like ginger, and in this one it gave a fine dose of snap to the bar. I also am fond of dates and they offered a great, sweet smoothness to the chew.
Chocolate Berry Love did bring home the chocolate that I missed in the Java bar. Blueberries and cranberries together with walnut in the nut/seed mix made this another good one to savor.
Finally… the “odd man out”… the HuppyBar AZT Wild Mesquite ~ The Official Energy Bar of the Arizona Trail [check out the link] This one gets its own photo.
Don’t let the mesquite thing scare you… this doesn’t taste at all like the mesquite BBQ flavor. It is unique, subtle, and really GUD!
I’m not even going to venture any other opinion on this bar, other that to say “You gotta try it !” Once you do you can easily see why this flavor spends a good bit of time showing, “Sold Out” on the HuppyBar site. So different that it is easily my fav.
The AZT photo is also a good representation of what the Huppys look like overall. All have a coordinated packaging theme with small changes of color on the turquoise background design for each bar. The bars themselves are just a couple of inches square, but they pack a lot of flavor and nourishment into that small package… good things DO come in small packages. Their density also means that they travel well… they aren’t gonna go all crumbly in your pack or pocket.
Huppy Bars sell for around $2.29 each [or $25.99 per dozen~ your choice] on the HuppyBar site.
However, right now, you Moosenut Falls readers can use the code FLASHBOGO to “buy one-get one”… AND until Aug 22rd, the shipping is free!
Gutsey’s lineup is only three flavors deep right now, all tied to the New England area [the company is based out of Portsmouth, NH], and like so many things in New England that useless “R” has been dropped from the pronunciation… these ah trail bahs, Ayuh.
Off their site, “Our bars contain only good fats and organic ingredients. No GMO’s, no grains, no gluten and no added sugars. The bar recipes are sinfully delicious, nutrient-dense and downright crave-able.” Gutsey Bars advertise as “2 Servings” and offer 200-240 calories per bar. The bars are about twice as large as the Huppys, and much denser [similar to the more widely available “LUNA” bars]. This means that they hold up really well to abuse in pack and pocket, and also don’t go mushy in the heat.
I started my tasting with the New Hampshire bar, Quinoa Cookie w/Chia & Cherry. The name is sadly lacking in the descriptive vein. The “bah” was pretty good, I just didn’t get any of those particular flavors jumping out at me. [I guess I had hoped for a bit of a cherry blast… most other bar offerings miss out on using that delicious flavor, and it seems such an obvious one. Cherries have not only the flavor, but are sticky enough when chunked or ground up to be a good binder.] Anyway, the only profile here was really just “cookie” in a kind of generic way… not a bad way, just a generic one. If I had named it I would have gone with something along the lines of Nut-Butter Cookie Dough… those were more the tastes that came through to me.
The Maine themed bah went the same way… the name, Coconut Cookie Dough w/ Cacao Nibs seemed disappointing as a description of the reality. Again nothing really wrong with the bar, just not a great description. What came through was that same nutty-butter flavor and a nice cookie dough/ chocolatey goodness from the cacao nibs, but almost nothing from the coconut.
However, despair not. Gutsey totally redeemed things with the Boston “Wickud Strong Bah”, their Double Chocolate Brownie.
As you may know, I am older than dirt. I grew up in the 1950s and 60s with 5¢ candy bars as the norm… and these were candy bahs 5 inches long, and with f.l.a.v.o.r.! High up on everyone’s favorites list was the Tootsie Roll. And not the MEH!-anemic glue stick they give you these days… the old-timey Tootsie Rolls had bites that lasted through minutes of chew, and actually tasted chocolatey. Gutsey’s Double Chocolate Brownie bar nails this perfectly. All that’s missing is the little lines that were cast into the old Tootsies to show the “bite-size”.
I was blown away. I made that DCB bah last for three days, so that I could go on enjoying it… just a bite here and there. All gone now, but the memory lingers on.
The GUTSEY Bars go for around $3.50 in the stores and $35.99 for the “New Englander Sample Box (4 of each flavor) [SOLD OUT right now]. The other flavors and smaller sample packs are available on their site linked above and HERE
Kate’s Real Food Bars
Kate’s Real Food Bars
From the Kate’s site: “At Kate’s, we don’t skimp. Our wholesome energy bars are small batch made from organic ingredients.” This means they are all non-GMO, all natural honey, and gluten free [in addition to the organic]. The secret ingredient here seems to be organic brown rice crisps… think healthy Rice Krispies. All these bars have them, and they add an incredible “c.r.u.n.c.h.” to every bite!
The other thing that sets them a dite aside from the others is that they are larger sized, and definitely more cookie-like in texture. These may not stand up as well in your pocket, but they sure can be enjoyed as a dessert treat. Represented as two servings per package, they give you a total calorie count of 240-280. Rich and tasty.
I started sampling with the Mango Coconut. “Great fruitiness” is the first line of my notes. I know the mango carried thru, but I don’t remember if there were other fruit flavors like orange as well. The rest was “great crunch/ good coconut/trace of “spice”… I do know that I liked it right off the bat.
Next was the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate bar. I later found out that this one is labeled “Staff Pick” on the GarageGrown site, and I can see why. It gives the nearly ubiquitous pairing an upgrade to what you always hope other bars will be. My notes just said, “++++”.
The Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bar was the same… just daaahk. Like the GGG gang, I think I would pick the milk over the dark here.
Peanut Butter Hemp & Flax carried the nut butter thing well, just without the chocolate. A good blend, and again with the great crunch.
I am holding out on the Dark Chocolate Cherry & Almond for this weekend’s trip out onto Flagstaff Lake. The Kate’s bars have delivered so well that I can’t help but feel this one’s worth taking for Saturday night dessert…. needless to say, I am hoping for that “cherry blast”.
Lastly we come to the Lemon Coconut. I like me a slice of Coconut Cake or one of Coconut Custard Pie occasionally, however I seldom use coconut for much in my own cooking and baking. And LEMON? …Ahhh, I’ve just never been a lemon fan. Maybe a little juice squooze out with some butter and pepper on a swordfish steak, but not much use for it otherwise.
So…? What’s that over there…? I STILL HAVE A ONE INCH SQUARE OF Kate’s Lemon Coconut that I am treasuring! [although it will get eaten tonight]. This bar is my favorite out of all the Kate’s offerings I sampled. The snappy lemon flavor is that of lemon-rind rather than juice, the coconut is complemented and supported by it, and that crisp rice crunch carries it over the goal-line.
The Kate’s Real Food Bars are priced at $2.99@ and $34.99 a dozen on their site.
I liked all these trail bars, and it was a fun project to munch my way thru them all. I asked for these samples because I was already fairly certain that these were quality products that I would enjoy, and that Moosenut Falls readers might enjoy hearing about. My thanks to the generous vendors for providing samples for my evaluation, and for the hang crowd to taste test, even it that failed to fulfill expectations.
BOILERPLATE Disclaimer: Any and all posts on Moosenut Falls are my own work. I choose to cover what I wish. My evaluations of various products are not meant as a recommendation, only as my opinions and experiences.
- I have NO business relationship with any vendors.
- I am not seeking to monetize Moosenut Falls, even to paying for internet charges, etc.
- I do not solicit products often, and when I do it is with the understanding that I do not do negative or comparative “reviews.
- I will simply choose to pass on posting about an item that I feel is “not up to snuff”. I see no reason to disparage products just because they do not appeal to me personally.
- Also, I lack the expertise in most things to feel my opinion is worthy of recommending one item over another.
- When I solicited these products for evaluation on the Moosenut Falls Blog, I made it clear that the posts would be my opinions ONLY… uninfluenced by whether an item was provided, and just as though I had bought it on my own.