Sustained energy is a must when it comes to any activity, but especially for outdoor adventures that require more from your body than normal activity.
That energy comes from food.
While you might not have the space to pack a full-blown picnic, or the time to pop a squat and relax for an hour, you can always stash a few small bars in your pack or pockets.
Look for bars with plenty of protein, good fats found in nuts and seeds, complex carbs or whole grains to keep your energy up longer, and fiber to keep you feeling full.
Try these first:
Just like the name says, KIND bars are kind to your body by providing all of the nutrients and energy you need. The bars come in seven varieties: omega-3, protein, gluten-free, high fiber, flax, low sugar and antioxidant.
Most bars include nuts, dried fruit, and some sort of grain such as quinoa, millet or oats. All of the flavors contain about 200 calories each.
Flavors to try:
Clif Bar started as a small, family business that’s since grown into a huge company, but one that still stays true to the family-run vibe with a simple mission of providing healthy energy.
You'll find a variety of bars, like the original energy bar (CLIF Bar), a kid's version (ZBar), a women's version (Luna), and a sweet and salty line (MoJo).
The CLIF Bars use whole, organic ingredients aimed at providing athletes with sustained energy. Some flavors taste better than others, but a popular choice is the White Chocolate Macadamia (260 calories with 9 grams of protein). It’s so good you'll have to resist eating it just for a tasty treat.
The line also carries seasonal flavors, such as Iced Gingerbread and Spiced Pumpkin Pie.
Other flavors to try:
Justin's Nut Butter
This isn't technically a bar, but it still packs away easily, is super tasty, and provides instant energy. Grab a few of the individual packets, which are perfect on an apple or to slurp down all by itself.
The nut butters are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, organic—and the Chocolate Hazelnut flavor (5 grams of protein and 14 grams of the good-for-you fat) basically tastes like Nutella, but is much better for your body.
Flavors to try:
Vega offers "clean, plant-based diet, and nutrition" in shakes, bars, smoothies and supplements. Their Vega One Bars contain 15 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of Omega-3.
You'll also get a full serving of greens, plenty of antioxidants and 1 billion probiotics per bar. Sound amazing? That's because it is. The bars are also gluten free with no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. Flavors include Chocolate Cherry, Double Chocolate and Chocolate Almond.
Not only is this organic bar dense in weight (3 ounces), but it’s also nutrient dense, too, packed with nuts, seeds and fruit. Each bar rounds out near 400 calories, so you really are getting a meal out of a simple bar.
Flavors to try:
Honey Stinger Waffles and Bars
This Colorado-based company incorporates honey into all of their products, which include energy bars, protein bars, gels, waffles, chews and kid treats.
For sustained energy, opt for the protein bars or energy bars, or for a quick, lower-calorie energy boost, grab one of their waffles—two thin waffle wafers with honey in between.
The energy bars contain 30 percent honey, 5 grams of protein, 23 vitamins and minerals, and whole grains. Energy bar flavors include Peanut Butter'n Honey, Berry Banana Buzz, Blueberry Buzz, and Rocket Chocolate, and each come in at about 200 calories.
The Honey Stinger Protein Bars are gluten free with no trans fats, and have 10 grams of whey protein. Flavors include dark chocolate varieties and even a bar with caffeine.
Larabar totes their products as "gluten-free energy bars made from minimal ingredients." They live up to their minimal tagline—each bar has no more than nine ingredients! The bars are made up of fruit, nuts and spices, and include flavors such as Carrot Cake, Snickerdoodle (yes, please!), Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Blueberry Muffin. Bars are around 200 calories with 30 grams of carbs.
The internet is filled with plenty of at-home energy bars. Most include a variety of seeds and nuts, some sort of whole grains (such as cereal or oats), as well as chocolate chips, coconut, or dried fruit for sweetness.
The basics of each recipes include mixing the dry ingredients, then mixing the liquid ingredients (honey or some sort of syrup, vanilla, maybe some nut butter), and baking. You can take any recipe that you find online and easily tailor it with the ingredients that you enjoy the most.
Also, check out Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury, which has knock-off recipes for your favorite brand-name energy bars.
Mattie Schuler is a journalist who writes, edits and reports for magazines and websites, including ReserveAmerica.com. She focuses on topics that include the outdoor industry, outdoor recreation and gear, adventure sports, health and fitness, yoga, parenting and travel. In her free time, Mattie enjoys snowboarding, hiking and backpacking, yoga, cooking, and reading lots of books and magazines.