Outdoor Smarts Energy for the Trail

Thirst-quenching drinks and high-energy snacks will prevent dehydration and increase your stamina on the trail.

PowerBar offers whole-grain Harvest energy bars, PowerGel liquid, and new Energy Bites.

Summer is almost here. Scouts and leaders are poring over maps, checking gear, and planning high adventure trips that will forge memories for years to come.

The most important thing you can do to stay healthy outdoors is drink.

Staying hydrated helps you avoid such potentially serious conditions as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, altitude sickness, and even hypothermia—not to mention dehydration.

The second thing you can do is equally obvious: Eat.

Stopping often for snacks and drinks helps maintain your energy level. It also helps replace electrolytes lost to sweating—which in turn, helps your body absorb water more effectively.


CamelBak’s Rim Runner makes it easy to stay hydrated on the trail.

Have you ever noticed that an animal passing a water source will often stop to drink? For humans, however, drinking before you are thirsty is learned behavior.

One reason we’re reluctant to stop is that it can be a hassle. If you’ve got a traditional pack, your water is probably stashed somewhere in an inconveniently located side compartment. You’ve got to stop and take off your pack or maybe wrestle with zippers or knots.

CamelBak’s solution is to put water where you use it: right at lip level. The appropriately named company offers a wide selection of daypacks with built-in water bags. A tube running from the water bag is held in place near your mouth, so you can sip as you walk.

Check out CamelBak’s Rim Runner daypack, $85, or the $33 UnBottle, that can slip into any daypack or backpack.


Water alone may not be enough to keep you hydrated. That’s because when you sweat, you get rid of both water and electrolytes.

Accelerade contains proteins to energize muscles during exercise.

Suzanne Girard-Eberle, a sports nutritionist, endurance athlete, and author, says: “One of the oldest sports nutrition myths out there is that sports drinks are all hype—that they are no better than water.

“A sport drink performs triple duty—providing fluid, carbohydrates (sugar) to fuel your muscles and keep your brain working, and electrolytes (like sodium), which help ward off muscle cramps.

“Snacking is also important, especially if you’ll be exercising for an extended period of time. This prevents muscle cramps and dehydration and helps you feel more energetic throughout the day.”

Honey Stinger uses nature’s natural energy booster in bars and gel.

By far the most common drink product is Gatorade, available both in bottles and as a powder. Gookinaid and Powerade are two other popular sports nutrition drinks, available at outdoor retailers.

Another brand to try is Accelerade, which, in addition to carbs and electrolytes, contains proteins in order to help re-energize muscles after strenuous exercise.

Balance sells five varieties of bars, including the uncoated Outdoor bar that won’t melt.

Hikers, especially teens, often prefer the taste of powdered flavors, which encourages them to drink more.



Keeping a group’s spirits sunny is often simply a matter of stopping for snacks. Variety is key: Your snack bag should contain protein snacks, some instant-energy high-carb treats, and a few bulkier, fattier goodies like nuts (especially in cold weather, when you need the staying power).

Richmoor packages banana chips (BSA No. A01623) and pineapple chunks (No. A01621) in servings for one or two people.


Clif Bars come in 13 flavors and are 70 percent organic.

Clif Bar Inc. was one of the first companies to offer an

Odwalla’s Superfood Bar contains organic rolled oats, bananas, and mangos.

energy bar that you might want to eat just because it tastes good.

Clif’s newest offerings take some different turns. First, there’s the 70 percent organic Mojo bar, which abandons Clif’s traditional sweet flavors for crunchy, salty nuts and pretzels. And second is the Clif Shot, a carbohydrate-and-electrolyte packed “energy gel” that you squeeze into your mouth.

These and products from other companies such as Balance Bar, PowerBar, Odwalla, and Bear Valley MealPack are available at health food stores and outdoor retailers.


Sharkies are chewy bites with real fruit juice.

Imagine a snack that tastes like a Gummy Bear candy: a chewable burst of fruit-infused flavor. Sharkies are chewable fruit candies shaped like sharks, in citrus, mixed fruit, and berry flavors. The ingredients—all organic—include fruit juice, whole grains, and carbohydrates, and are designed to offer an instant energy boost and help replace electrolytes. Available at REI and EMS.


While beef jerky—dried marinated beef—has long been the standard for outdoor snacks, the new ProTeam Power Sports Bites have taken the concept of dried meat to a new level.

ProTeam Power Sports Bites are made from dried beef and turkey.

These chunky nuggets have a wonderful chewy texture. The ingredients, hormone-free free-range beef and turkey, contain only 50 percent of the sodium of traditional jerky snacks.

Bear Valley Pemmican is a concentrated food bar.

Beef flavors include Old School Original, Typhoon Teriyaki, and Cranberry Craze. The Sports Bites come in honey-glazed turkey, too.

New from PowerBar are Energy Bites. Available in three flavors—oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, and chocolate—each 50-gram bag contains 20 grams of complex carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein.


Some of the new scientifically blended, organically produced products are excellent, but they can be pricey. So if you’ve still got a little space in your food bag, make a trip to your local health food co-op or natural foods section of the supermarket.

GORP (“good old raisins and peanuts”) is the old-fashioned gold-standard hiking snack for good reason. Raisins contain sugars; nuts have salt and fat. Add in banana chips, pretzel bits, and other dried fruits, and you have a backpacking food that is perfect in its simplicity and price.

Karen Berger is the author of nine books on outdoor adventure, including More Everyday Wisdom (Mountaineers Books). Visit her at www.hikerwriter.com.

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