LTR - Honey Stinger Gels - Ray Estrella
- Here is the LTR for the Organic Energy Gels. The HTML may be found here:
I took the Organic Energy Gels on eight backpacking trips, all in Minnesota. Five were on the Red River either on my friend's property north of Halstad, or north of my own town, one was on the North Country Trail by the Anoway River in Chippewa National Forest, one in Smokey Hills State Forest, and the last on the North Country Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest. These trips were cold with lows averaging around 0 F (18 C). The trip on the Anoway River saw -22 F (-30 C). The picture below is from that trip. A Vanilla and Acai & Pomegranate are sitting inside the Grub Sack.
I also took them on a few day hikes, all in the western side of the state.
Well nothing about this test changed my mind about my feelings towards energy gels for backpacking. I still do not find them to be worthwhile. For me I do want carbs during the day, but I want them to be drawn out, not slammed. Getting all of the carbs in a gulp just does not make sense to me. Plus the overwhelming sweetness of them (any gel in my experience, not just the Honey Stinger) is a big turn-off.
I also don't like the sticky mess left behind. There is pretty much no way to keep vestiges of gel from leaking out of the used package. Normally I just place wrappers in my cargo pocket during the day and add it to my trash bag when I stop for the evening. The used Organic Energy Gel packs have to be placed in another container right away or I will have sticky pockets. I see racers (runners and cyclists) throw them on the ground once they slam them but as a Leave No Trace hiker I can't do that. ;-)
I also have to say that the honey, while only sharing the spotlight with the tapioca syrup, still overpowers on the taste. I "liked" the Acai & Pomegranate flavor best of the three.
OK, now some good points. The Organic Energy Gels work very well in cold weather. At first I tried to keep them warm, but after a test of letting one sit outside the tent on a night that was WAY below freezing I found that they do not get hard. Once I saw that I let them sit with all my other food and just put the next one planned to consume in my pocket to let it warm.
I also found an interesting way to use them. An old trick is to eat some quick burning calories before climbing in the sleeping bag in cold climes. I would eat one of the Organic Energy Gels right when I would go to bed to kick-start my furnace. I think it worked.
I really like Honey Stinger's Energy Chews (and they are my kids' favorite) and think I will stick with them in the future and pass on the Energy Gels. I do thank them for letting me and BackpackGearTest.org try them for hiking use. I will leave with a picture of the Fruit Smoothie flavor sitting at the top of my food bag waiting to become dessert.