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, August 1, 2017

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2017: Food and Nutrition

By Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl

There are zillions of energy bars and energy drinks on the market, and some of them have booths at Outdoor Retailer. We cover only the new ones to keep you informed about new products coming to the market.

Cusa Instant TeaThese organic teas are cold steeped for 8 hours then vacuum dehydrated. Each of the six flavors comes in a single serve pack that will make a 12 ounce cup of tea, hot or cold. The teas contain caffeine, but no additives or sugar. We tasted one of the teas and found the flavor authentic and remarkable, analogous to the Starbucks instant coffees. Cost is $1 per packet; a box of 10 packets costs $10.

Untapped Maple Syrup Athletic Fuels.  According to Untapped, maple syrup is naturally packed with electrolytes, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and carbohydrates. They have created waffle bars sweetened with maple syrup ($2.25 each) and maple syrup single serve packets ($2 each) for quick energy and nutrition on the trail. They claim that maple syrup is gentler on the stomach during ultra-runs than other gel products. We got to sample a new coffee maple syrup that will be coming out soon, and it is outstanding.

Dharma Bars.  This bar was created by a chef/endurance athlete who became frustrated with the lack of a great tasting organic vegan energy bar. Made of organic plant based ingredients, three types of Dharma bars are available: Endurance, Recover, and Balance. Each is formulated for its purpose. Cost is $2.59 to $2.99 per bar.

Ultima Replenisher.  Ultima is electrolytes, pure and simple, 6 of them plus support minerals. No sugar, carbs, artificial flavors, or calories. Available in six real fruit flavors with plant-based color, and sweetened with stevia leaf. Ten packets for $10, or a 90 serving box (16 oz) for $40.

Organic Valley Organic Fuel.  These bottled drinks and drink mixes are based on whey protein powder. We focused on their powdered single serve flavored whey protein drink mixes, vanilla or chocolate flavored, which contain 26 grams of protein, 140 calories, and 3 grams of sugar. Simply add to 8 ounces of water, shake, and drink. I like to add a teaspoon of instant coffee to get my morning joe as a mocha. One packet costs $2.99. It’s also available in 12 ounce cans.

Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel.  This is a complete energy drink mix containing sugars, minerals, and electrolytes. The sugars are dextrose and sucrose. Tailwind claims it is easy on the stomach and easily absorbed. One packet makes 24 ounces of go juice. I like to make it more diluted so it doesn’t taste so sweet. Caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions are available for $2.25/$2.35 per packet. Tailwind is the official energy drink of the Hardrock 100 endurance run, and it is well liked by the runners.

Natti Bar.  These bars are dried bananas alone or combined with chocolate or cacao nibs. Bananas are a natural source of electrolytes and carbs, and chocolate contains antioxidants. Each bar contains about one dried banana. They are chewy and taste like… bananas and chocolate. $1.49 to $1.99 each.

Good to Go Backpacking Meals.  These meals were created by chef Jennifer Scism, who was on a winning team who beat master chef Mario Batali on The Iron Chef. Simply put, they are gourmet meals for backpackers, made from natural ingredients. A range of breakfasts and dinners are available in single and double portion sizes. A single serving size is about $6.75 and a double serving is about $12.50. We tasted one of the dinners, served up by Jennifer herself, at the Jetboil booth, and it was indeed delicious!

Trailtopia Backpacking Meals. This is another new company making backpacking meals, from Minnesota no less. They have a full range of breakfasts, dinners, and desserts in short eat-in pouches that don’t require a long handled spoon. Their meals are color coded by the above categories, use high quality ingredients, and are claimed to have better flavor than the competition. We did not get to taste any of their meals, so we can’t comment on their flavor. Prices range from $2.29 to $10.99.

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