Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Convenient fueling options for eating on-the-go have long been dominated by the cloyingly bright colors and flavors of gels and chews. The sweetness factor and gooey textures put them in a “love to hate” category for many. Sure, the quick calories and electrolytes were necessary, but not necessarily tasty. Many athletes began eating real food—think nuts, dried fruits, sandwiches and jerky—to fuel during their runs. And now the real food movement has embraced athletics with creative flavor combinations, ingredients chosen to pack a more healthy caloric punch and convenience in mind.
Bars chock full of ingredients like hemp, flax, chia seeds, nuts, dried fruits and even egg whites are among the most popular. But single-serving packets of honey and maple syrup, amped up nut butters in large serving packs (Bogg’s Trail Butter, $6 for 4.5oz) and gourmet jerky are all growing in popularity. As consumers become more aware of good nutrition, manufacturers are responding with products featuring organic ingredients and lower sugar levels. Even Patagonia, a company known for its gear and apparel, is now in the food game with their Patagonia Provisions line. It currently includes bars, buffalo jerky, dried salmon and soups. And for those who prefer gels and chews, you’re still in luck with even more flavor options, easier to digest sugars and less food coloring.
For those who still prefer to do it themselves, some brands like GU Energy make multiple serving size packages ($15 for 15 servings) and others like Humangear make reusable flasks (1.25oz GoToob, $7). If you want to keep it simple and make your own trail mix, all you need to do is go wild at the bulk bins in your grocery store! (Editor’s note—a personal favorite mix is roasted and salted cashews, freeze-dried pineapple, beef jerky and Haribo Gummy Bears)
With so many options, it can be challenging for stores to find the space to stock everything. Ask stores to get the product, sample (and buy) your favorites at race expos or order online. The choices are up to you! And remember to toss wrappers in the trash—Clif Bar even has a wrapper recycling program!
Products pictured above, left to right:
Santa Barbara Bar Dark Chocolate Almond
$24 for 12 bars, sbbar.co
Thrive by Gomacro Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip
$26 for 12 bars, gomacro.com
Patagonia Provisions Apricot+Almond Bar
$24 for 12 bars, patagoniaprovisions.com
Epic Berry Blossom Hunt & Harvest Mix
$45 for eight packages, epicbar.com
Bogg’s Trail Butter Mountaineer Maple