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ProBar Core Protein

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ProBar Core 20g Protein Bar

ProBar Core 20g Protein Bar

Greetings Hikers,

Never been a big fan of talking about trail food, but two years ago I learned a hard lesson while on a long hike: a high calorie trail diet is a good thing, but if you ignore protein intake, it can have consequences. This put me on the quest to learn as much as I could about protein and how to acquire it while out on the trail in manners that did not add significant weight to my already heavy food bag, or result in me taking food that would spoil easily. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy nutrition, so learning about foods that contain high levels of protein and trying to find ways to integrate them into my normal day to day trail life became yet another microquest in the life of hiking.

During the early part of the 2012 hiking season I started using the ProBar Meal bars as a way to add some extra calories to my daily nutrition. Anytime I could afford to buy a few cases I would pick up a box of the Superfruit Slam, Wholeberry Blast, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate, and recently the Oatmeal Raisin. They are all in the 370 – 390 calorie range, and average between 8 and 10 grams of protein. They are soft, not sticky, and not crumbly – three keys to what I feel makes a great bar to eat while you are on the go.

The ProBar Meals are 90 grams (3.17 oz) each, including the packaging which are 2 grams, making each bar average out to 88 grams (3.10 oz) of food substance.

So you are getting an average of 380 calories and 9 grams of protein for 88 grams of weight.

PROBAR Core Protein:

Enter: the new “Core Protein” bar from PROBAR. Whoever it was at PROBAR that decided to take on the task of building a high protein bar should get a raise. This is something the long distance hiking community needs.

Looking at the specs alone, this new Core Protein bar has some positives and some disappointments. Each of you are going to have to make a decision for yourself if the positives outweigh the negatives, based upon your approach to overall approach to nutrition while out hiking – for me they positives win big-time.

I initially purchased one of the ‘Peanut Butter Chocolate’ and one of the ‘Cookie Dough’ to see how I liked them and see what they tasted like.

They are both 290 calories hit the scale without the packaging at 73 grams (2.54 oz) and are packed with 20 and 21 grams of protein! The packaging is less than one gram for all of the Core Protein bars that I have bought.

PROBAR Meal and PROBAR Core Protein

The one aspect of these new CORE Protein that I was not expecting was the chocolate coating.

This is a huge difference between the much beloved PROBAR Meals that are soft, chewing and non-coated. If you are a lover of traditional chocolate bars than you are going to love these! One really big issue that I have not yet tested is how badly the chocolate will melt when they are sitting in a backpack for four or five days between trail towns in 90-115 degree temperatures. Sitting here in my 59f degree room writing this article and handling the bars to shot the photos, my fingers have a coating of chocolate, and now my keyboard does too lol.

Double Layer Bar

Double Layer Bar

As you can see from the photograph above these new CORE Protein Bars are a double layer bar.

And I have got to say, the Peanut Butter Chocolate is downright amazing.

Lets just be realistic here, these are not inexpensive bars. With a MSRP of $2.99 and the bars weighing in at two and a half ounces, that makes for some expensive nutrition. Take into account the facts that the PROBAR Meals are 15 grams more food, and have a MSRP of $3.29, it kind of makes it hard to decide which is the better option.

The CORE Protein bars are 9.5541% less expensive than the Meals and are 18.6335% less food (hopefully I did my math right).

But what really matters here is, of course, the protein difference. The PROBAR Meal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar that I enjoy is 10 grams of protein and the second highest in protein (the straight peanut butter is 11g) within the Meal line of bars. Most of the other Meal Bars are 8 or 9 grams of protein.

So this means that the Meal bars are at least one-half the protein intake of the Core Protein bars.

This makes the Core Protein less expensive, double the protein, and almost 20% smaller in total food weight.

As I said above, only you can decide if these bars are going to be right for the style of hiking that you do when it comes to your overall nutritional trail diet.

Who Would They Be Good For?

I think we have to be realistic here and say that a day hiker, or weekend hiker, is simply never going to need these bars (sorry folks at PROBAR). The facts are simple… your body is likely never going to burn through so much protein, as a day/weekend hiker, that you need to specifically buy bars that are targeted at high protein levels.

However, for long distance hikers that might have long stretches between trail towns and not be able to get into a trail town that has a place to eat and hoard up buggers and stakes and all those other wonderful things meat eaters consume to make up for lost calories and protein while out on the trail, well, I think that this is where a high protein bar comes into place.

They are smaller in size so you can pack more of them, it is easy enough to make up the extra 100 calories between them and the Meal bars, and so long as you like chocolaty fingers, they are almost as soft and chewy as the Meal bars and they do not break apart each time you take a bite.

Will I Be Buying Some More?

Absolutely! To me, these bars are a viable and light weight method of obtaining additional protein while out on the trail. Will they be the only bar I carry? No. I simply am not willing to give up my love for the Meal bars. The texture, flavor, and size of the PROBAR Meals are something I simply cannot see myself letting go of.

Without a doubt though, a few of the CORE Protein will be making it into my food bags.

+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that the products mentioned within the content of this article were not supplied to me in exchange for services. All products mentioned within the content of this review are free of endorsements between myself and the manufacturers and meets all FTC 16 CFR.255 compliance requirements.

Written by John B. Abela - HikeLighter.Com

March 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm

13 Responses

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  1. Never seen these in Walmart or Kroger in the Midwest. We just get Clif, Powerbar (which does have protein bars), Luna, Lara, Uber and maybe a couple regional or generic brands. I don’t think any of them have as many calories (or weight) as the meal bars, and they certainly aren’t as expensive (typically $1.00 when on sale). I often just make my own trail mix for most of my “lunch”/snacks though it can’t be done quite as dense as one of these bars unless you chop everything. With the heat we’re going to experience this summer though, chocolate is out save for M&Ms. On last year’s road trip I tried keeping most of the chocolate-covered bars in a mini cooler that I kept restocking with ice but some were still were gooey by the time we used them on the trail. Not worth the hassle this time around since it will be much hotter and more remote.

    Michael

    March 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm

  2. Just today I saw these in the store, I’ll be buying one tomorrow for the initial taste test. ProBars are always in my food bag and have been for a couple of years. BTW there’s nothing wrong with licking melted chocolate off wrappers and fingers. :-)

    JERMM

    March 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm

  3. Hi John,

    Sorry to burst your bubble but if you’re buying this bar for the “protein” you are pretty much wasting your money. “If” the main reason you are buying these bars for protein intake you should ALWAYS get a protein bar made with 100% Hydrolized Whey Protein. Soy protein is bad for you and your body does not absorb it as well as Whey. Soy is by far waaaay cheaper than Whey and these LARGE bar manufacturers you see at the LARGE stores like Walmart/Costco/Target SUCK and utilize the worst protein! I know a lot about nutrition because I actually do a lot of packaging for nutraceuticals/supplements and I always talk to these people that actually make nutritional bars and energy products. The BEST way to substitute protein on the go is to carry it in a pouch and mix it with water and there you go!

    Also, I disagree that the weekend or day hiker does not need a high calorie/high protein bar. I’m a long distance weekend hiker and day hiker and ALWAYS carry protein with me to repair my muscles during and after a hike. When I train for long weekend backpacking trips and average 15 miles RT with elevation gains of 5,000 ft and over man I need that protein!!!

    One last thing, I’m under 5 pounds base weight and I don’t think there’s anything left for me to buy to make me lighter without losing comfort or learn different techniques and it’s like I’m at a halt. Do you feel the same? I think your recent articles reflect that. It’s almost like you have nothing more to add and why you wrote an article about “bars”. I think you have reached a point where you’ve done it all, have bought it all, reviewed it all and that’s all! ;)

    fabian

    March 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    • Hey fabian,

      I am not going to use my website to get into the whole issue of what food is good for you and what is bad for you. Lots of other people out there that are a lot more educated and passionate about their believes in all of that.

      I did not say that a day/weekender should not carry protein. I said that if you “need to specifically buy bars that are targeted at high protein levels” you should not buy these bars. The implication being that 20g of protein from one of these, as a day/weekend hiker, should be minuscule compared to the massive amount of protein that you could have from other, higher protein, better for you, and much better flavored food (such as eggs, bacon, sausage — all foods that most day/weekend hiker can safely carry).

      As for your third paragraph. So, what, are you saying that if every article I write is not about some $500 shelter, or some $300 jacket, or some sub one ounce cup, then I must be getting bored or not into SUL/XUL hiking anymore?

      Uhhh, its been winter. You might have the desire to go out hiking with sub 3 pound setups in winter conditions, but I sure do not. I do not even go SUL in winter conditions. Sorry if this burst your bubble of what you might think about me, but I do not like being cold or putting myself in unsafe conditions.

      I am not rich. Yes, I have bought well over $10,000 worth of gear over the last few years, but the vast majority of it has been resold. Just because I am not writing about the latest/greatest shelter (or whatever) does not mean I do not have “anything more to add or why I wrote an article about bars”. Again, it has been the winter season, I do not hike in the winter season. You should remember that as a long time follower of mine (thanks btw). I spend the winter season prepping for the summer/shoulder hiking season. I let these other hikers that love the snow to keep us all entertained and educated about winter hiking. I just have very little to write during the winter seasons. Thus, the mostly non-out-on-the-trail articles.

      Plus, I have spent this winter season investing a great deal of time into seeking out sponsors. Hiking is not cheap (well, it can be) and I am trying to build a whole new type of hiking sponsorship program that engages the companies and the hikers together in ways beyond “just getting free gear” – which has NEVER been the purpose of me seeking out sponsorship. Though I will say, getting some food sponsors would be nice, because food accounts for the vast majority of my expenses these days while hiking.

      Anyway, sorry if you feel I have abandoned some mission to write about nothing but the latest and greatest and lightest piece of gear out there. I approached a good percentage of this article about the PROBARS from a “weight perspective”. Perhaps you got too hung up on some hatred towards soy to stop and read the rest of the article in the manner it was intended :)

      John B. Abela

      March 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      • Hey John,

        Well you’re right, I have been a long term follower of you and ALWAYS checking in your site and it seriously sucks when I don’t see articles. But one thing I meant is that I really think you have pretty much covered it all in regards to gear. I know I have done that and I think you’ve done it as well, there’s not much more we can do!!! Shoot, we already have the best gear zpacks/blackrockgear/bigagnes/montbell/thermarest, there’s really not much more. Anyways, I have TONS of GOOD energy drinks/proteins/bars, can definitely send you some stuff. I can probably ask some of my customers to sponsor you, here are a few of my customers and let me know what you think!

        http://www.greenfoods.com
        http://www.mattsmunchies.com

        (abela: removed a few of your links – thanks for sharing passing them along to me)

        fabian

        March 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

        • I think there comes a point when you are happy with your setup. For me, I am pretty dang close to being happy with every piece of gear that I carry/use.

          But, as a writer I still have to write, even if its not always about gear that I love. Just because I do not love a specific piece of gear does not mean the next SUL/XUL hiker will not love something, and thus I continue to share products that I feel are worthy of sharing.

          Not saying I do not like these new PROBARS, I do. I really really love the PROBAR Meal bars though. I am just not a fan of chocolate covered bars, nor bars that are not soft – softer bars means the body has to expend less energy for the body to process and digest it, eh!

          Regarding covering all the gear that is worthy of covering… nah, there are a number of pieces of gear I would love to acquire and test. But, I only carry one shelter, or one bag, or such, at a time… and I am pretty dang happy with my current shelter, sleeping bag, clothing, safety gear, ditty bag crap, cook kit when I take one, and so forth.

          I am really looking forward to whatever GossamerGear has in store for a next version of their trekking poles. I have fallen in love with the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork, so GG is going to have to really blow me away to get me to make the switch, regardless of how heavier these BD poles are.

          I am also looking forward to whatever it is that Six Moon Designs has in store for the next evolution of backpacks. Whatever it is that Ron Moak and Brian Frankle is working on should be impressive. I have fallen in love with front panel loader from ZPacks, but if those two guys come up with something it may very well get me to buy one and give it a go. And yesterday SMD announced: “We’re also looking at doing the Gatewood Cape in Cuben” so if they are able to pull that off, I will absolutely be buying one of those!!

          It is looking like most of this years hikes I will be at 7.5 pounds range. http://yogiing.com/4b9e Having sponsors means I have to start taking things like a camera/phone to take photos of gear out on the trail, send emails updating status, and so forth. That adds 184 grams (6.4oz) to my overall weight. And of course because I am out hiking to gather GPS data for the 400 mile trail I am building, I will have a slightly heavier GPS (the GPSMAP 62S) than what one would typically need, to have better reception/antenna.

          But, still, 7.5 pounds is not all that bad. I will be at about 7.5 pounds of food at the start of each section, so TSO will be around 18.7 pounds.

          I could lighten this up a bit by going with a lighter sleeping bag, going with a tarp rather than a fully enclosed shelter, and going with lighter hiking poles. But I am heading into some of the most deadly hiking areas in California, so the extra 2-3 pounds of higher protective gear is worth it to me this season.

          John B. Abela

          March 22, 2013 at 6:05 pm

  4. love these bars!

    john jensen

    March 22, 2013 at 1:42 am

  5. I been wanting to try the meals. Do you have any reference or can direct me to link about sugar content? are they more on the chewy side or hard? Thx!

    clairetwalters

    March 22, 2013 at 10:50 am

    • The links within the article should take you to pages that will list the contents.

      The “Meal” bars are chewy, the “Core Protein” bars are hard.

      John B. Abela

      March 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      • I looked a few times on their site for sugar content. duh- Thank you for pointing that out – link helped :)

        ClaireWalters

        March 30, 2013 at 7:45 am

  6. Would you outline your food strategy (what do you take? How many meals? When do you work the bars in?)

    I have noticed that on my trips (AT sections and Montana wilderness – 4.5 to 6 days per trip) that my appetite drops way off and I end up just not being hungry. I end up not being able to finish what I have packed and bring some food home (about .5 per day last time out). When I get back to town everything goes back to normal.

    Nathan

    March 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    • My food strategy… Everybody is different. Some hikers eat three meals a day and a few snacks in between. Others consume smaller portions of food throughout the day. I have never saw any wisdom in hikers going into detail on how they approach the issue of hiking. What I do probably will not work for the next guy coming up the trail.

      A lot of hikers encounter the “I am not hungry for the first ~5 days of being on-trail” issue you describe. Regardless, its your job to take care of your body and stay at peak performance. Force yourself to consume food to keep your body doing what it is suppose to do. Especially dinner so your body can have the energy to restore while sleeping.

      John B. Abela

      March 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

  7. […] little over a month ago I wrote about my thoughts regarding the PROBAR Core Protein bars and while I found them to be good, they just did not really match up to the awesomeness of the […]


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