I think most of us can say that some sort of energy or protein bar is in our pack whenever we head out, whether for a weekend trip or a thru-hike. It’s a durable, versatile snack that you can eat as a one-off meal replacement, or pull out of your hip pocket to munch on the move. Energy bars are a staple of most hikers' diets and sometimes can be one of the healthiest things a thru-hiker will eat in a day (depending on your choice of foods).
Lucky for us, hikers can be a pretty vocal demographic about their likes and dislikes. Energy bars have become more and more tasty and tailored to different diets to meet demand. I’m sure a few brands come to mind instantly and you have all likely already developed a preference for a specific flavor … I’m looking at you Blueberry Crisp Clif Bars.
That was, until I got my hands on a variety pack of Kate’s Real Food Bars. Sporting a variety of tasty flavors, I got a good first impression. But I had to put them to the test and find out a few things. So, I took them on a few weekend trips and used them to fuel marathon training. Here’s what I found.
Lemon Coconut Bar
Total Fat: 20g
Sat. Fat: 12g
Total Carbs: 30g
Sugar: 14g (12g added)
Weight: 62g (2.2 oz)
The nutritional values vary slightly flavor to flavor but for this portion I’ll use the Lemon Coconut bar as an example.
So, a few things to note here, first the calories. Kate’s bars contain similar amounts of calories to many leading brands, maybe just a bit more. However, at 2.2 oz (62g) they are significantly more calorically dense than similar brands. For example, a Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar comes in at 250cal/ 68g. The calorie/ gram ratios are KRF: 4.83 cal/ g and Clif: 3.67 cal/ g. While some of you may laugh at the importance of caloric density, others are well aware of how significant a factor this can be … and packing olive oil as we speak.
With 30g of carbs in one LC bar, it can be a perfect way to start your day or replenish yourself when the needle is tipping into red. The Lemon Coconut has more sugar added than some of the other flavors available, but personally I love the sweet taste.
If you’re looking for a little extra energy, try the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond bar boasting 40g of carbs!
Overall, I was very satisfied with the nutritional value of a KRF bar. Like a lot of my favorite fuel in the woods, you feel satiated and energized after eating one, and you don’t have to compromise flavor to get that.
Taste & Texture
So I think everyone can agree this is probably the most important factor in bar selection. A bar can be packed with great fuel but, if you can’t stomach the taste, eventually you will find an alternative … especially if you plan on eating said bar week in and week out on a long trail. Luckily, I think this is where Kate’s bars shine the brightest.
The first thing I noticed when I bit into my first bar was the texture. It felt like oats pressed together vs. blended/ processed together. It’s hard to define, but for being so calorically dense the bar was still fluffy. What does this mean? Kate’s bars are soft, flavorful and light. They don’t require sips of water with every bite to swallow; actually, the opposite, they make my mouth water.
I think another great part of Kate’s Real Food Bars, which a lot of my favorite bars have, is that they incorporate whole fruit, and not just shreds of it. This may be a bit nitpicky but I like that the cranberries are whole in their Oatmeal Cranberry and Almond bar. It means you get a little bit of something different with every bite.
Long story short, these bars rock as far as flavor is concerned.
When I got my hands on my first KRF variety pack, I didn’t know what to expect. But they have done nothing but impress me so far. Light, fluffy, flavorful. Also, since they’re not a crunchy-style bar, they can survive being tossed around in a backpack for days at a time.
The Kate’s Real Food line as a whole also offers a great selection, from nutty to savory to fruity. If you find yourself on trail looking to get some new energy bars in your rotation, KRF packs all the right punches. I would highly suggest the Lemon Coconut or the Oatmeal Cranberry Almond bars. Give them a try and let me know what you guys think!
I'm Connor Chapdelaine but my closest friends call me Jackrabbit. I'm a biologist who loves running, backpacking, and anything that keeps me out in the sun all day. I hiked the AT NOBO last year and summited in Katahdin in August. I'll be heading NOBO on the PCT this year starting this spring. Backpacking will always provide you with amazing views but even more valuable to me are the amazing people. Keep up with the good times with me on the PCT through my blog at thetrek.co/author/connor-