I’ve had mixed results with trying so-called energy food. They are not much better than glorified granola or candy bars but for many dollars.
I’ll eat bars, but more out of necessity than actually thinking they’re good for anything but quick energy that survives in my pack through heat, cold, and perhaps a meteor strike.
They are utilitarian. And I’d rather have a delicious dark chocolate bar with almonds versus an EXTREME ENERGY BAR.
So, when RecPak pitched Joan and me to try out their just-add-water energy shakes, we both had some skepticism, especially after our experience a few years back.
But then we looked at the nutrition and noticed the 700 calories in a just under 6 oz / 168 oz package and with a mix of roughly 89g carbs for quick energy, 18g of fats for sustained energy, and a whopping 43 grams of protein (that’s the same as 8 oz of chicken breast for comparison.) And fortified with many vitamins to boot.
We became intrigued and said yes, and RecPak sent us a three-pack to test out consisting of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla chai flavoring.
Based on the photos, the product is aimed at trail runners, wildland firefighters, first responders, and the military.
People who need a quick and palatable energy boost when performing strenuous activities.
As backpackers who carry our weight overnight or for many days, and where weight and bulk are a concern, I suspect we are an outlying demographic.
But, again, the makeup of the product intrigued us.
In the field
Easy enough to use, if somewhat bulky, packaging initially for backpacking. The package is about the size of a 16 oz / .5 liter water bladder with similar construction and shape.
We just added water, gave it a vigorous shake, and drank.
We found the vanilla chai the tastiest, with the coffee and chocolate tasting somewhat like Ensure. Not bad, mind you, but not as enticing as the vanilla chai. The coffee flavor includes 150mg of caffeine (a robust cuppa joe), and that’s a massive bonus for me!
As Joan noted, a liquid with this mix made it easier to consume vs. solid food on more vigorous stretches of backpacking or when it got hotter. An unexpected bonus I, at least, did not initially think about.
We both agreed on how filling the shakes seemed and how they fueled the body extensively. Much more so than “energy bars.” And RecPak advertised these shakes as supplements to an existing food, not replacements. They work well to “plug the gap” in the wild.
The weight-to-calorie ratio also works for backpackers’ needs at 700 calories and shy of 6oz/168g.
As mentioned, I did find the packaging bulky at first, but it does pack down small when done. An empty package weighs ~1 oz/28g per our scale.
You can purchase a twelve-pack for just under $11 each. Not inexpensive, but in line with many pre-packaged freeze-dried meals such as Backpacker’s Pantry or similar.
Of course, protein powder (or tuna), candy bars, a multivitamin, a coffee packet, and some cheese will give much of the same effect but for more bulk and weight. And perhaps not for much less money overall. And without necessarily being as easy to digest depending on my output or weather conditions.
I could see myself taking one or two of these daily, depending on my trip goals and how many hours or miles I cover. Joan feels similar.
What we did not like
As you can tell, despite our skepticism, we liked this product quite a bit. Joan appreciated the easy digestion with the sustained calories. I appreciated the large amount of protein (and the caffeine!).
All in all a good product.
But, well, not as convenient for backpackers versus other users in our option.
You have to pack in a somewhat bulky package and then pack out the shake bladder, and it’s not conducive to rinsing and reusing. Additionally, it seems wasteful when we already carry a wider-mouth sports drink bottle. As do many backpackers. The packets would save both weight and bulk vs. the shake bladders.
If this product came in a smaller packet form to add to our bottles, I think we’d use this product regularly.
We enjoyed our product and found much utility in it. But it’s not quite something that fits our needs as backpackers versus day hiking or similar. If RecPak came out with packets where you could add the mix to a water bottle, we’d purchase the product regularly. Perhaps in the future?
Disclosure – RecPak provided the product for our review.