Alex Roddie tests some seriously tasty and nutritious performance hill food
When considering hill snacks, there are two main approaches nowadays: fill your pockets with whatever food happens to come to hand, or apply a bit more thought and go for one of the many options designed for optimum nutrition and performance. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former approach – let’s face it, peanut-butter sandwiches never get old – sometimes we could all benefit from fuelling up with something specifically designed for the job at hand.
The Primal Pantry sent me four samples from their protein bar range. While you’re probably familiar with energy bars, the idea behind protein bars is a little different. Most other protein bars on the market are designed for use after exercise and aren’t optimised for consumption on the go. But the Primal Pantry cite research indicating that a carbohydrate/protein mix can lessen the sense of exertion, increase endurance and aid muscle recovery in longer-distance running or cycling. There are potential benefits for walkers and backpackers too.
The protein bars come in four flavours: Cocoa Orange, Mixed Berry, Cocoa Brownie and Double Espresso (which contains 146mg of caffeine in the form of raw ground coffee). The brand’s research claims that consuming caffeine with carbohydrate can have a ‘dramatic effect on long-distance performance’.
Looking at the Double Espresso bar as an example, the ingredients contain dates, coffee beans, almonds, hemp, and absolutely no artificial additives. You’re looking at about 196 calories per bar, 24g of carbohydrate (21g sugars) and 15g plant protein.
While a reviewer can’t scientifically test all of the brand’s claims, I’m happy to report that these protein bars definitely hit the spot when it comes to nutritious hill food.
All of the four flavours I sampled were excellent but my clear favourites were Cocoa Orange and Double Espresso, which has a great coffee kick. The texture is also very satisfying – more soft than chewy, but with enough texture to feel like you’re eating real food. They have good structural integrity too, holding together well without being crumbly or oily.
Importantly for walkers, the packaging is easy to open and faff free.
On my day out hiking, I ate nothing but the four Primary Pantry protein bars. I had no issues with fatigue or hunger, no sugar crash, and energy levels felt stable throughout the day. These protein bars did everything I need from a good hill snack: they kept me fuelled, they tasted good, and they weren’t messy.
You can pick up a 4-bar taster box from £6.99. They may be a bit more expensive than a Mars bar, but they’re a lot more nutritious (and, in this reviewer’s opinion, a lot tastier too). I think I’ll be taking a selection along with me on my next long-distance trail.