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Owner Review - Hillside Hot Cocoa - John Waters

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  • exec@bysky.com
    Dear Editor, I decided I really need to get some ORs done, so I figured I d start with a fun, easy one. My text is below, but without the pictures and tables,
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 3, 2009
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      Dear Editor,

      I decided I really need to get some ORs done, so I figured I'd start with a fun, easy one. My text is below, but without the pictures and tables, is difficult to read. HTML can be seen at:
      http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/OWNER%20REVIEWS/Owner%20Review%20-%20Hillside%20Rich%20Hot%20Chocolate%20-%20JRW/ or http://tinyurl.com/awwdjq

      I look forward to any edits.

      John Waters

      February 03, 2009


      NAME: John R. Waters
      EMAIL: exec@...
      AGE: 59
      LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
      GENDER: M
      HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
      WEIGHT: 178 lb (80.70 kg)

      My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, on glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts. I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, with other day-long hikes on various SE Michigan trails. I also hike in Colorado and am relocating there, which will increase my hiking time and trail variety tremendously.

      My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.


      Manufacturer: Ontech, Inc.
      Year of Manufacture: 2008
      Varieties Available: Rich Chocolate & Rich Chocolate with Marshmallows
      Variety Tested: Rich Chocolate
      Manufacturer's Website: http://www.ontech.com
      MSRP: N/A
      Listed Weight: 9.5 fl oz (2.81 mL)
      Measured Weight of full container: 18.5 oz (524 g)
      Measured Weight of empty container: 8 oz (227 g)
      Measured Height of container: 6.5 in (16.5 cm

      Other details:
      Self-Heating, powered by OnTech.

      *** Other drinks are available including Green and Chai Teas, Mocha Latte, Hazelnut Latte, French Vanilla Latte and Double Shot Latte. Two varieties of soups are also available: Chicken Soup and Tomato Vegetable Soup.

      Rich Chocolate Ingredients: Reduced Fat Milk, Water, Sugar, Cocoa Powder, processed with alkali, Natural Flavor, Salt, Pectin Carr

      Rich Chocolate Nutritional Values
      210 Calories
      Calories from Fat - 34
      Total Fat - 4 g
      Saturated Fat - 2 g
      Trans Fat - 0 g
      Cholesterol - 15 mg
      Sodium - 180 mg
      Total Carbohydrate - 40 g
      Dietary Fiber - 0 g
      Sugars - 40 g
      Protein - 6 g


      I discovered the Hillside Rich Chocolate (and Rich Chocolate with Marshmallows) last winter in my local grocery store in Canon City, Colorado. Never having seen such a product and being intrigued with the technology, despite the rather high price tag, I had to try them out. Basically, the hot chocolate is package in sealed cans covered with a thin Styrofoam sort of label and fitted out with a self-heating mechanism in the bottom of the can.

      Since then, my wife and I have used the Hillside products on many occasions - at least 10-15 times - while hiking in Colorado and in Michigan. All hikes were day hikes, varying in length from 5-8 hours. Many of those hikes were on snowshoes. The terrain ranged from snowy valleys to bare mountain tops. Since these were day hikes, we waited until the weather was mostly sunny, but cold. However, there was one trip in particular to Mt. Evans in Colorado that was down-right bitter cold, windy and blowing snow. Temperatures were as low as 1 F (-17

      The most recent snowshoe hike was in a valley bordering the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Westcliff, Colorado. We introduced our 7 year old granddaughter to snowshoeing this year and her "half-way-there" treat was Hillside's Rich Chocolate. She loved it, too!

      The size of the containers makes it easy to pack them into a standard water bottle carrying pouch on all of my backpacks. I found it best to balance the weight by putting one container on either side of the pack. Since they are not lightweight, when more than two are needed, I "delegate" extras to hiking partners. "Sloshing" can be heard while hiking.

      Once refreshment is needed, I find a resting spot and break out the containers. Then the fun begins...

      To follow the manufacturer's instructions I just:

      <TABLE WIDTH="98%"><TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Bottom of container">> <BR>Turn container upside down.<BR>Pull off metal, tamper-proof bottom.<BR>Place on flat surface.</TD><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Button to be pushed">> <BR>With thumb, firmly push button downward<BR>until green water drains. </TD></TR>
      <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Bottom of cocoa container">> <BR>After 10 seconds, turn container right side up.<BR>Place on heat-proof surface.</TD><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "It's hot!">> <BR>When hot, the spot changes color from<BR>PINK to WHITE.<BR> About 5-8 minutes at 65-75 F (18-25 C).</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Bottom of cocoa container">> <BR>After spot is white, twist lid to align opening.</TD><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Enjoying a hot cocoa">> <BR>Shake, Open and Enjoy!</TD></TR></TABLE>

      The Chocolate (and other self-heating beverages) take longer to heat up when the temperatures are colder than "room" temperature. I have found it takes on average a good 3-7 minutes longer than the stated 5-7 minutes when the thermometer dips below 50 F (10 C). I don't pay much attention to my watch, I just go by the changing color indicator on the container. When the pink turns completely to white, the Chocolate is ready.

      Hot Chocolate is great on a cold day, but not if I can't taste it because I've burnt my mouth on a first scalding sip. I don't know how they did it, but the Chocolate heats to just the right degree of warmth - not too hot and not too cold - just right. And it tastes great! There is no grit from not quite mixed powders, nor is there any inconsistency in the flavor. It's a rich chocolate flavor all the way through the container from the first sip to the last.

      Despite the size of the container, there isn't a lot of chocolate, but there is enough to warm me up on a brisk hike.


      1.) Great tasting.
      2.) Easy to use.
      3.) No mess to clean-up.


      1.) Heavy to carry.
      2.) Have to pack out the container.
      3.) Not inexpensive.


      It's a real treat to have a tasty hot drink when I'm out hiking or snowshoeing in the cold, snowy mountains of Colorado (or any other state). I've never been a fan of powdered cocoas and fussy with mixes on the trail can be a chore. With the Hillside beverages, I can enjoy a rich hot chocolate without any trouble at all, no measuring, lighting the stove or mixing required. Basically, I just push a button and wait. In minutes I can enjoy a hot chocolate.

      The weight of the containers will keep the Hillside Hot Chocolate from becoming a drink of choice on overnight backpacks. The containers are just too heavy and bulky and require I cart them back home, too. But for a day hike where I don't have a ton of other gear to tote, I will continue to carry these self-heating Chocolate as a treat at mid-day or the end of the trail. They are that good!

      John R. Waters

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jamie D.
      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 6, 2009
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        Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner
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