Sunday, June 23, 2013

CaveLife: CaveSnacks for Your Backpack

For Christmas this year I bought CaveBoy an entry into the GORUCK Challenge  It's something he has wanted to do for about three years, ever since he stumbled upon their ruck in his search for the perfect backpack.  And PS, it is the perfect backpack. It has everything you need, nothing you don't, and comes in a few sizes and colors.

My GORUCK Echo. Notice: no external pockets,
pouches, or otherwise-useless-dangling-bits.

But back to CaveBoy. This GORUCK event posed a unique nutritional challenge. How do you CaveFuel during an all-night physical challenge that requires you to carry everything you need (and six bricks) in a single ruck?

The aftermath. You can't really tell, but everything is soaking-wet and mud-caked.
The overnight low was 40 degrees.

Three years ago, he would have  grabbed a couple flavors of Gu, made a quick pass through the protein bar aisle, filled up his camel back bladder, and called it a day.  No longer!  Trust me. Once you prime your body to expect real food, it gets pretty pissed-off when you shove it full of sugar and chemicals. That just wouldn't do.

So, with low expectations we made a stop at the running store's wall-of-Gu. During our periodic trips to buy new Nano 2.0s we had noticed they were diversifying their race-fuel and recovery selection, and thought they might have something that would work.  We were pleasantly surprised (actually pretty-damn exited) when we found these!

Real food in a handy package (on a dark and stormy night, apparently)!

Perfect right? We hoped! Turns out (and spoiler-alert if you're preparing for your own GORUCK) there's really no chance to eat anyway. But CaveBoy was thankful to have a ruck full of snacks for the wet-and-dirty ride home.

Since the GORUCK, we've been gearing-up for Summer and all the hikes, and sporting events, and airplane-rides-to-vacation-hot-spots that come with it. What that really means is we've been sampling new and delicious, portable, CaveFuel to bring along on our adventures outside the Cave (and thankfully also outside the cubicle).

Here are the results.

CaveBoy's Backpack-Snack Review

Pocket Fuel Naturals

Description: 1.8 oz pouches of nut butter and honey, flavored with fruit, coffee, or chocolate. Each pouch is about 150 calories, with 5 g of sugar and 5 g of protein.

Cost: $27.50 for a box of 10 in single flavor or variety packs. They also come in larger sizes.

CaveBoy's Comments: I like 'em. I like the chocolate and espresso ones the best. The honey was really good, too. The texture was like grainy almond butter, but that's what it's for. You hork 'em down and get good energy. You can't really eat 'em in the middle of working hard. You gotta eat 'em before you go (or take them along on more leisurely outings).

CaveBoy also recommends soaking the pouches in warm water as soon as you get them, to help the re-combination process. While on the shelf, the oil separates from the natural nut butter. You have to knead them to recombine the mixture, otherwise you end up with a mouth-full of almond oil on your first swig. You'll still have to knead the packets before eating, but pre-combining them at purchase-time will greatly shorten that process (which is important when you're hungry).

Find Pocket Fuel at your local running store and online.

Epic Bars
Description: Thick, seasoned jerky bars sweetened with fruit.

Cost: $34 for a box of 12 in a single flavor, or $8.50 for a 3 bar variety pack.

CaveBoys Comments: The bison and beef were damn good. I liked the beef one the best. The seasoning for the turkey was off; I liked it but it wasn't my favorite. The texture is good for a bar. I took some sips of water when I was eating them, but they weren't dry. 

Find Epic bars at a handful of locations and online.

Steve's PaleoGoods PaleoKrunch Bars
Description: Tastes like your favorite granola, only grain-free (read: better!) and compressed into a portable bar.

Cost: $14.50 for 5 Bars.

CaveBoy's Comments: The bacon bar had a very tasty bacon-y flavor. It was a little oily, but I enjoyed it. It was a tasty snack.

Find PaleoKrunch Bars online.

That's It Bars
Description: A thick, chunky fruit leather with only two ingredients, pictured right on the front of the wrapper.

Cost: $19.99 for 12 in a single flavor, or $21.18 for a 12 bar variety pack.

CaveBoy's Comments: They were tasty and kind-of tart. Pretty good. But there's not any protein in them, so it's not a good snack by itself. 

CaveBoy recommends pairing That's It bars with beef jerky or another protein source.

Find That's It bars at Whole Foods and online.

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