If you’re a normal traveler on vacation, some coffee in the morning and a good night’s sleep (or a siesta) are probably all you need to maintain a good energy level. You’re probably getting enough nutrients and sodium from what you eat. If you’re spending your days on some kind of adventure tour though or are getting from one place to the next by hiking or biking, you might need a little help.
There are plenty of companies out there whose entire business revolves around keeping you hydrated, energized, and recovered as you push your body beyond its normal limits. Here are some products I’ve tried out over the past year on my adventures or have at least sampled while walking for miles at the Outdoor Retailer show.
Energy and Electrolyte Drinks
This is one of the best-tasting powder mixes I’ve ever tried—despite the extra dosage of much-needed sodium—and I’m especially fond of the pineapple. I’ve used Skratch on hiking and biking trips, mixing it with water in my bottle to help with absorption and replenishment while sweating heavily. It’s made with “all natural ingredients you can actually pronounce,” like cane sugar, dextrose, sodium citrate, real fruit, citric acid, magnesium citrate, calcium citrate, potassium citrate, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). A single serving pack is a pricey three or four dollars at retail, but you can buy it by the pound or in 20-packs at Amazon for a lot less per serving. See more at www.ScratchLabs.com
Nuun Active Hydration Tablets
I reviewed these 4-1/2 years ago on the old Blogger version of this gear blog. I still like them a lot, especially because of the handy, easy-to-pack way that 12 tablets are in one 12-tablet tube. With each tablet fit for 16 ounces of water, that’s gallons of hydration. Each drink will have 360 mg Sodium, 100 mg Potassium, 25 mg Magnesium, and 13 mg Calcium. Only a few calories each. These are kind of pricey if you buy just one tube at retail, so the best bet it to go for the four-flavor four-pack, which is currently $18 at Amazon. See more at www.nuun.com.
FRS Energy Concentrate
Bring along a 16-ounce bottle of this FRS Concentrate and you’ve got 16 7-ounce servings of energy. You just mix an ounce of this with 6 ounces of water, juice, or seltzer. Or you can buy this in a one-short serving, like the famous many-hours energy drink, but with more than just a massive dose of caffeine. Billed as “sustained energy without the crash,” you get 100% of the RDA recommended amount for a bunch of vitamins, plus quercetin, a powerful all-natural antioxidant and energy booster found in foods such as blueberries, red apples and grapes. See more at www.frs.com.
Energy Snacks and Shots
Sharkies organic energy chews are aimed at high-performance athletes who are ripping, shredding, and racing their way to the ultimate point of exertion. Us mere mortals can benefit from them too though, without ingesting a lot of chemicals in the process. They’re made in the USA with USDA Certified Organic ingredients (even using natural colorings like beet juice), they’re vegetarian, kosher, and free of wheat, gluten, dairy, and gelatin. You can find a full ingredients list on the SharkiesInc.com website.
Honey is a natural energy boost, so Honey stinger uses that product as its base in creating yummy snacks that will give you a lift on the trail. Their waffle snacks and energy chews are especially yummy and the latter manage that while still being free of gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts. And hey, their protein bars are even kosher! If you need some vitamins as well, get the energy bars, which have 22 of them. See www.HoneyStinger.com, buy at retail, or get them in bulk at Amazon.
Bobos Oat Bars
We all know a bowl of oatmeal is good for you and an excellent pre-workout meal. You can get the equivalent on the go with Bobo’s Oat Bars, which come in 10 flavors and are delicious. They’re baked in Boulder, Colorado, so you’ll have an easier time finding them in the Rockies than elsewhere, but they’re working on that. They’re all natural, vegan, free of refined sugars, free of trans fats. See more at www.BobosOatBars.com
GU Chomps Energy Chews
I tried these out in the real world when I was on a week-long bicycle tour in Portugal. There were a few hilly days when I really needed a boost, especially after lunch. There was clearly more than a placebo effect at work as I found it much easier to power through steep sections after popping a few of these Chomps and I didn’t feel as fatigued. They tasted good too. They come in seven flavors.
Some of the flavors have caffeine, some don’t. Regardless you get complex carbs (maltodextrin), simple carbs (tapioca syrup and cane sugar), amino acids, vitamins C + E, and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). You can buy these in retail stores for about $3 a package, or get a 16-pack at Amazon for about $28 with free shipping. See more (and find a retail locator) at the GU Energy site.
Made by the beloved Jelly Belly folks, Sport Beans are tasty as regular jelly beans, but come loaded with ingredients that will give you energy or help you recover. There’s a regular version without caffeine, then an “extreme” (sigh…) version with it. I got jacked up on “extreme pomegranate” once just so I could say I did and I was going strong for hours. With both you get carbohydrates; electrolytes; vitamins B1, B2, & B3; and vitamin C. See more at www.SportBeans.com. You can find them at many retail and grocery stores, or order multi-packs at Amazon with free shipping.
Of course there are a zillion others on the market now, including gooey “shots” you squirt into your mouth from GU Energy and the Clif Bar people. If you want to do a sampling of your own, bike races and marathons are a good place to find these companies giving away some to try.