Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Make Your Own Energy Bars

By Will Rietveld

While snowshoeing with my friend Rich Butler this winter, Rich offered me a sample of his homemade energy bar. I was impressed with how good it tastes, and how much it resembles a Pro Bar, which I consider the king of the energy bars. Pro Bars are vegan and premium quality, but cost around $3.50.

I asked Rich for his recipe, and present it here with his permission. So, for those inclined to make your own energy bars, here is a recipe for some good ones. Janet and I tested the recipe and the bars turned out yummy.

Butler’s Mountain Bars (Gluten/Nut/Soy Free)
Preheat oven to 325 and lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Dry Ingredients
2 cups rice cereal (I use Perky’s Crunchy Rice found in natural foods stores)
½ to 2/3 cup flax meal
2/3 cup sesame seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ to 2/3 cup shredded coconut
¼ cup whey powder (optional)
2 tsp dried ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt (sea salt)
2 cups dried fruit, finely chopped (cherries, blueberries, figs, dates, cranberries or whatever combination of dried fruit you prefer)
1 cup chocolate chips (add more if you like more chocolate)

Wet Ingredients
½ cup honey
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup jam (marmalade, black cherry jam, or other jam)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a separate large bowl until well blended and the brown sugar is dissolved. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.  The mixture should be moist and sticky. Spoon and press into a large lightly greased (or foil lined) baking pan (9x13 at least) so that the mixture is about ¾ of an inch thick. 

The recipe is very flexible to accommodate individual tastes for things like chocolate, nuts, kinds of fruit, kinds of jam, and extra ingredients like protein powder. The important things to remember are to maintain the proportions in the recipe and adjust the moisture after combining the wet and dry ingredients. If it seems too dry add a bit more oil or jam; if too wet add a bit more cereal.

 Bake in a 300 to 325 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into squares, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze until use.

Nuts: If you can eat nuts add ¾ cup of chopped almonds or other nuts
Chicory extract: 2 tbsp can be added for flavor

Bon app├ętit’!


  1. Thanks, Will! I've been wanting to emulate the Pro Bars myself, after GVP's given me a couple at the ADZPCTKO. You and Rich have made it easy for me to start instead of messing around with experimentation. Thanks!

    - Ceanothus

  2. Nice blog comment Chicory extract I like chicory extract this is hallty is the valuable herb which for a long time has won popularity in national medicine.chicory extract was also often prescribed by herbalists of recent centuries to cure a whole host of ailments; the herbalist of the middle ages often recommended herbal remedies made from the chicory extract as tonics, as laxatives, and as diuretics.