At the Winter Outdoor Retailer show last month, we had the opportunity to nibble our way through a wide variety of trail snacks and outdoor edibles. With the wide array of foods, there are now more options than ever, making it easy to cater to every taste bud, food sensitivity, and preference.
Some samples made their way back to our office where we conducted a very official and highly scientific taste test. Below you'll find a list of our favorites, as well as runners up. (Note: we focused on trail and performance snacks, so you won't find any full meals in this list.)
OVERALL TEAM FAVORITE:
Honey Stinger Waffles have been a team favorite for years, so this didn't come as a surprise. What did please us was the addition of gluten-free options to their line. The waffles remind us of the Stroopwafel, a Dutch treat made from two thin layers of dough sandwiching a layer of caramel syrup. The Honey Stinger Waffles are individually packed, so they're trail-ready. These are best used for bursts of energy, as they rely on their sugar content for energy, and have no protein to speak of. (Insider tip: Squeeze a little Powerbar Performance Energy Blend gel onto the waffle for extra deliciousness.)
Despite their name, Perky Jerky does not actually contain caffeine. What it does have is a great line of amazingly moist jerkys. What's the difference? Perky Jerky is marinated overnight, instead of the quick pressurized heat marination process that other jerky manufacturers may use. The overnight process really lets those flavors melt into the meat, resulting in an amazingly tender and flavorful jerky. Our team favorite was the "Hot & Bothered" Turkey Jerky, but try any of their line of beef and turkey jerkys. Oh, and for you gluten-free folks out there, their entire line is gluten-free.
MEAT RUNNER UP:
Tanka has a fantastic range of buffalo jerky and bars, and we love their mission to support the return of the buffalo to the lands, lives, and economies of Native Americans.
Yes, most of the meats, and a few other foods we tried, are technically paleo, we saw a trend towards other paleo options, so thought it a good idea to try them too. We were blown away by the deliciousness of the Navitas Naturals line. Although not all of their products are paleo, our favorites were. Of particular note were the caramel coconut chips. One of our team even said, "I don't even like coconut and this is delicious!" We'd also bring along some of their Superfood+ Pepitas to help us out in the protein department.
PALEO RUNNER UP:
Wildway's granola is nut-based, but that doesn't mean it's dry. The moist granola is great on its own, but would be especially good with a little non-dairy milk of your choice.
We've already delved into why we love Honey Stinger Waffles so much, but we'll reiterate it here. They're simply the most delicious energy bite out there!
ENERGY BITE RUNNER UP:
Compete Bites were a crowd-pleaser when it came to taste and texture. They're caffeinated for a little extra boost, but didn't have that strange aftertaste that can accompany some caffeinated foods. The hard-to-open packaging was a bit of a downer, though.
We saw a definite movement towards providing many more gluten-free options. And they're not all the crumbly, dry foods we once thought of when hearing the words "gluten-free". Bounce Balls, for instance, mastered the texture by coating the bites with nuts and other crunchy bits, while leaving a soft, almost chewy interior. They've got 8 – 13 grams of protein per serving, making them ideal for a more substantial snack.
GLUTEN-FREE RUNNER UP:
Patagonia's branched out into the edibles market, creating a line called Patagonia Provisions. What caught our eye was their Fruit + Almond Bars, which taste like real food and reminded us of an amped up Lara Bar. They're a little small, though, so you might want to carry more than one.
Go Raw is unique in that it was the only raw snack option we saw at the show. They've got an extensive line of bars, snacks, bites, and cookies, but what really intrigued us was the sprouted watermelon seeds. These little guys pack a whopping 11 grams of protein per ounce, and have a great nutty flavor.
K'UL Chocolate doesn't fit the standard trail snack mold, but chocolate is a great option for outdoor adventuring (particularly when it's not hot enough to melt your snack). It's naturally caffeinated and packs a little punch of protein. K'UL stands out in its list of simple ingredients, so you can cut the garbage out of your diet. Bring their Artisan Bar along and enjoy a well-earned treat.