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.
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.
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.
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.