When you’re hiking on a trail, your body needs food and hydration even more so than a normal state. Having a nice meal before starting will keep you going for a couple of hours, but you’ll need to fuel-up at some point later. Energy bars are a convenient way to get energy and power up your body easily. You don’t even need to stop or rest, thus wasting little to no time.
Energy bars come with nutritional ingredients containing a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein, fats, sugars, and fibers. But how to know which one is good for your health and which one isn’t?
That’s why we have reviewed and analyzed the top quality energy bars currently on the market. Hopefully, our recommendations can be helpful and guide you to the best energy bars for hiking.
8 Best Energy Bars for Hiking and Camping – A Must Have Item
CLIF BAR Energy Bars
Famous for its affordable price and variety of flavors, the Clip Bar is the ultimate performance energy bar.
Each bar weighing 68g contains 240 calories, providing you with the right amount of energy boost needed. The Clif Bar is a well-balanced diet and an ideal mix of protein, fats, and carbohydrates to sustain your body before or during activities. It contains 10g of protein, 5g of fat, and 44g of carbs, among which 23g is from sugar.
If you’re into all-natural, organic food, then Clif Bar is a highly appealing choice. It’s made with 70% organic and plant-based ingredients like almonds, peanuts, and organic rolled oats. Even though it’s not gluten-free, it’s non-GMO and free of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. The soft and chewy texture adds more to the deliciousness.
There’s also been a huge variety of flavors available. From familiar flavors like Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Brownie, and Crunchy Peanut Butter, to more exotic flavors like White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Banana Nut Bread, and Carrot Cake, etc. – you can take your pick according to your taste.
- Highly Budget-Friendly Price
- 20 Different Flavors To Choose From
- Organic Ingredients With Good Caloric Density
- Chewy Moist Texture For More Taste
- Great As Travel Food
- A Little Too Sweet For Some People
Probar’s biggest strength has all-natural, unprocessed ingredients, and yet still being the best-tasting energy bar.
It’s crunchy and gooey nature will melt in your mouth but still have a biting texture. This meal replacement bar contains oats, flax, almond, and sunflower seeds. The organic and non-GMO ingredients provide a nutritional balance. Another great thing is that its gluten and dairy-free. So whether you’re a vegan or lactose intolerant (poor souls like me), you’re safe with choosing Probar.
Moreover, Probar offers one of the highest caloric densities among different energy bars. The whopping 390 calories are more than enough to give you a boost up in energy while in hikes. You’ll also get 10g of plant-based protein and 6g of fiber from chia and flax seeds with 49g of carbs. And having a variety of 12 different flavors to choose from, you’ll never run out of options to try.
- 70% – 90% Of Organic Ingredients
- High Ratio Of Calories To Weight
- Filling Texture And Tasty Flavors
- Perfect Meal Replacement Soy-Free Diet
- Great Balance Of Protein, Carbs, And Fat
- Lots Of Added Sugar
KIND Energy Bars
Kind Bars offer a perfect blend of taste and quality, along with extra energy for your body.
Only made with nutritionally-dense ingredients like whole nuts, fruits, and whole grains – health is Kind product’s top priority. You won’t find any secret ingredients, artificial flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners. Also, the energy bars are gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher. You won’t find too many kosher options out there, unlike Kind Bars.
Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt flavor has a nice combination of dark chocolate, mixed nuts, honey, glucose syrup, and more. The nutty snack gives off a satisfying crunchy texture. A balanced distribution of fats, carbohydrates, and protein contain 200 calories of energy. 0g Tran’s fat, 6g protein, and a good source of fiber will sustain your body’s health.
Kind Bar is a great option for people who like to snack but don’t like too sweet products.
- Low Glycemic Index And Low Sodium
- No Powdery Texture From Added Protein
- A Fast Snack Great While Hiking
- Suitable For Diabetic Patients
- Great Value For Money
- Less Amount Of Protein Compared To Others
RXBAR Protein Bars
If you are looking for a protein bar with all-natural, whole-food ingredients, then RXBAR is the one for you.
Made with dates, almonds, egg whites, and cashews, the RXBAR contains 200-220 calories in each bar. It has an impressive 12g of protein that comes from the egg whites, and the 12g of sugar comes from dates, no added sugar. The 5g fiber comes from the nuts, and it’s gluten-free as well.
The texture is highly chewy, with a tough consistency. Eating too many bars in a row can be tiring in that sense. The best use would be to eat after your activities while your body recovers from the strain.
Another plus point is the number of flavors it offers. There’s a whole range of diverse flavors to sample and pick the one you like most. If you are the type to try new flavors, then you’ll certainly like the RXBAR.
- High-Quality Real Food Ingredients
- Superb Taste With 20+ Flavors
- High Nutrition
- Compatible With Paleo And Whole30 Diet
- Great Grab And Go Snack Option
- Texture Can Be Tough For Some People
LARABAR Energy Bars
People having a sweet tooth won’t be satisfied with just an energy bar. In that, the Larabar is the simple solution case for them.
Larabars have that delicious sweetness without any added sugar, achieved only from the organic ingredients. Also, they have the fewest amounts of basic ingredients than any brands, and it’s no more than nine. You shouldn’t worry about your health as the ingredients are sustainably farmed and minimally processed.
The energy bars provide 210 calories and 10g of fats. With 6g, the protein intake is on the lower side, but the 26g of carbs add to the high sugar content. Another benefit is that there’s hardly any allergen in it. As Larabars are gluten-free, soy, and dairy-free plus no-GMO, you will be safe from contracting allergies.
The taste of Larabar is more to the savory side and seems like a dessert or sweet treat. The texture is chewy and not too firm.
- Ethically Produced And Vegan-Friendly Ingredients
- Free Of Allergic Contents
- No Melting Or Crumbling Texture
- Small Size Easy To Take On Travel
- Fair Trade Certified
- Sugar Content Too High For Some People
GoMacro MacroBar Organic Vegan Protein Bars
GoMacro MacroBar is another protein bar to try if you’re into organic vegan products.
They are different from other protein bars as they contain 100% organic and macrobiotic ingredients that are responsibly and ethically sourced. The macrobiotic diet focuses on unrefined, whole, and natural foods, so that means no refined sugars, white flours, or preservatives in the MacroBar.
The bars have plant-based and clean protein sources like brown rice and pea. Being vegan, they come with gluten-free, dairy, and soy-free content, no eggs even. Offering 290 calories, one bar provides 11g of fats, 14g of sugar, and 11g of protein. The texture is soft and chewy but dense. Because of this, the bars don’t crumble down even after being smashed inside a bag on the move.
On a personal note, perhaps the GoMacro MarcoBars have the most beautiful packaging among all the energy bars reviewed here. The aesthetically pleasing design on the wrapper is bound to draw your attention and make you interested in the product.
- 100% Organic Ingredients
- Variety Of Multiple Different Flavors
- High Nutrition And Caloric Density
- R.A.W. And C.L.E.A.N. Certified
- Healthy On The Go Snack
- Flavors Are A Bit Bland
For those who prefer natural taste for energy bars, the Nakd Bars is an optimal option.
From their tagline, “just fruit & nuts smooshed together” – you can already guess what you’re getting as ingredients. So no wonder the Nakd Bars use 100% natural raw fruits and nuts as their primary ingredients. Despite being wheat, dairy, and gluten-free, the energy bars still manage to be sweet and delicious.
Nakd Bars’ calorie intake per bar varies between 120-150 calories depending on the flavor. With having approximately 13g of sugar per bar, the majority of Nakd bars are classified as having a low to medium glycemic index. Excluding extra syrups, GMOs, and added sugar, the bars still contain a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, fiber, fats, and protein to give you that little extra boost of energy.
The soft and chewy texture also has a bit of crunch in it. The small, pre-workout snacks are great for cycling, swimming, running, hiking, or any other outdoor activity.
- Whole-Food Simple Ingredients
- Bite-Sized Portable Snack
- No Added Sugars Or Syrups
- Gluten, Wheat, And Dairy Free
- Value For Money
- Little Low Caloric Density
A true meal replacement bar, unlike any other – the Greenbelly Meals is exclusive and unique to the energy bars market.
The meals are made for long-distance backpacking through a tried and tested method comprising of 2000 mile long hike and six months. Each pack comes with 2 bars containing an enormous total of 650 calories. They provide a balanced nutritional profile covering the six core nutrients – calories, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, fat, and fiber. With a 100g of total carbs, 16g of protein, and 25g of fat were included in the meals.
The Greenbelly Meals have all-natural, fresh ingredients, and they’re handmade. It’s another unique factor of this meal because most energy bars come factory processed. You can actually replace your mid-day lunch with a bar as it’ll give you the energy boost and nutrition you need for the day. You’re getting a whole meal without the hassle of cooking or cleaning.
The bars have a light and fluffy, crispy texture with big chunks of fruits and nuts included. Despite being dense, it doesn’t taste too heavy. So you can continue with your hiking at ease.
- 3x Nutrition Of Normal Energy Bars
- All-Natural Gluten-Free Ingredients
- Ultralight And High Calorie-To-Oz Ratio
- Easy-Open Re-sealable Packaging
- Best Backpacking Meal
- Expensive Compared To Other Energy Bars
Types of Energy Bars
Protein bars are designed to help you recover and grow muscles after a workout. These bars try to pack as much protein as possible in your body for recovery from exhausting workouts or hiking trips with high-mile days. It’s recommended to choose the bars with protein weight closer to 10 grams, so you don’t eat excessive protein. Pure Protein bars, RX bars are some of the most well-known examples in this category.
Meal Replacement Bars
As you can guess from their name, these are supposed to be a substitution for a regular meal. Also, known as weight-loss bars, meal replacements bars focus more on dieting and weight-loss. Probars is a good example of this type of bar. Usually, these bars contain 200-300 calories, a set of vitamins and minerals, and a balanced nutrition profile
The endurance bars focus on prolonging energy over a long period. They provide a higher proportion of carbohydrates and electrolytes that are digested over many hours. Clif Bar is a fitting example in this category and perfect for all-day activities like backpacking and hiking.
Organic Bars are a recent addition to the trend of eating organic foods. These bars focus on providing energy in the most natural method as possible. They also reject artificial sweeteners such as isomaltol, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. and inserted protein. Larabar is particularly popular for its gluten-free, organic bars.
Nutritional Content of Different Ingredients
These contain a higher amount of protein and fat but a lower amount of carbs. You won’t find nut-based bars too sugary or sweet. According to Kind, their Nuts & Spices bars have 5g of sugar or less, which half amount of sugar found in average energy bars.
Because of having whole grains, these bars tend to have higher amounts of carbs compared to others. They are usually low in fat content. But the sugar and protein content widely varies depending on the flavor and ingredients. For instance, Clif Energy bars contain soy protein extract and thus have a higher amount of protein.
These bars also have a high level of carbs, but mainly from the fructose that comes from the dates. Their sugar, protein, and fat content vary depending on the flavor and brand as well. For example, Rxbars have higher protein content and considered as protein bars, whereas Larabars have less protein content and marketed as organic bars.
How to Choose the Best Energy Bars for Hiking
The best energy bars contain all-natural ingredients. Processed sugar is bad for health, so products made with natural, healthy ingredients are definitely more preferable. Because of containing fruits, energy bars can’t be completely sugarless. But rather than refined white sugar or high-glycemic syrups, energy bars should have natural sugars like honey, fruits, or low glycemic syrups.
To make sure you’re getting natural ingredients, you need to read the label carefully and examine the ingredients list. Usually, the more ingredients are there, the less natural the bar probably is. If stuff like high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, sorbitol, etc. is listed there, chances are it’s not as natural as it claims to be.
Taste being subjective, it varies from person to person. But one thing is certain, if you do not like the taste of your energy bar, you won’t be having it a second time. It doesn’t matter how good it’s for your body; if you hate the taste, it’s instantly out.
Energy bars have a bad rep of tasting chalky or paste-y, overall less appealing than real food. However, recent innovations changed the game for energy bars. Nowadays, brands offer a dizzying variety of flavors ranging from raspberry to pumpkin to granola to dark chocolate, matcha, banana, tropical fruits, coffee, and whatnot. Imagine any flavor, and there’s a high chance you’d find an energy bar in it.
The texture is also another factor that’s subjective as some prefer their bars to be crunchy, some chewy, or some prefer a bit crumbly. The texture depends more on the ingredients the bar contains. Fruits and nuts give more of a crunchy texture, whereas peanut butter, margarine, and corn syrup are responsible for a more chewy texture.
Energy bars contain fats, protein, and complex carbs, which give you an energy boost upon consuming.
Make sure to choose an energy bar with balanced ratios to provide you with the necessary energy and healthy ingredients. The best energy bars have a ratio of 60% carbohydrates, 20% fats, and 20% protein. You don’t need to follow the exact ratios, but it’s a nifty trick while choosing an energy bar.
When you’re going for a short hike, it’s better to take a carb-loaded bar, as carbs give you instant easily digestible energy. And for longer hikes, bars with a higher content of fat pack much more energy.
A calorie is a unit of energy, so the number of calories listed on the packaging wrapper indicates how much energy you’re going to get from it. During hiking trips, you want more calories packed into a smaller and lighter amount of food. The higher the number, the better and faster you can replenish your energy.
Besides, try to choose nutrient-dense food with high caloric-density. Ingredients such as oats and almonds have high caloric density, so energy bars containing these are better options. While 1 gram of fat provides nine calories, 1 gram of carbs provides only four calories. Because of that, bars with more fat and fewer carbs are preferable for hiking or backpacking.
But remember, you shouldn’t try to replace your meals with energy bars. These aren’t substitutions for a nutritional, well-balanced diet. Eating too many energy bars in a short period of time can make you gain weight.
Are energy bars different from protein bars?
Nowadays, there isn’t much difference between the two, but classic energy bars and classic protein bars used to have drastic changes. Energy bars are more focused on delivering calories and carbs before or during activities. But protein bars are consumed to recover and repair your body after a long day of activities. Current energy bars offer a combination of fats, carbs, protein, and sugar, whereas protein bars provide more protein content.
What is the best time to eat energy bars?
As discussed above, energy bars should be eaten before workout or activities, so your body can sustain you while exercising. They are meant to fuel and boost up your energy while you’re toiling, not after. You should eat an hour or two before you’re putting your body through work. It’s best if you eat before going hungry. That way, there’s less chance of overeating later. Also, eating high-calorie energy bars after activities can inadvertently lead to weight gain.
Can energy bars cause allergies?
Unfortunately yes. Most energy bars contain nuts, especially peanuts, and common allergens like wheat, dairy, and soy. Some flavors also contain caffeine, so pregnant women should avoid those. However, all energy bars come with listed ingredients and allergy warnings on their packaging. You just need to check the label thoroughly, so you don’t accidentally eat something you’re going to regret later. Also, most energy bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan friendly nowadays.
There are tons of different energy bar options currently on the market, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at first. The best approach is to eat your way through the lot. Consider different brand options and try them. Whether you like it or not, you’d know it in an instant. Taste is the most important factor in choosing food. The best energy bars for hiking may not be the most nutritional or healthy option out there, rather for you, it’s the bar you like best.
But no worries, our recommended energy bars all have high nutritional value plus great taste. Therefore you can easily choose anything from our list. You can always pack different types of bars on your trip. Then you can eat different flavors when the mood strikes. And there’s still the homemade option. You can always make your DIY energy bars if no other options work for you.