The food scene for outdoor athletes has never been better. From paleo-inspired snacks to rich desserts and gourmet freeze-dried dinners, this hot list of the season’s best new comestibles contains four major categories. The best part? With a return to natural ingredients, everything tastes better! Our list of meats, bars, on-the-fly and freeze-dried food is sure to make your belly happy and the impending summit that much easier to conquer and enjoy from the top. By Allison Woods
Wild Zora Meat and Veggie Bars are made with meat that’s been coarsely ground, mixed with organic vegetables and seasonings, extruded, then dried into small two-bite bars (each package contains three pieces). The result? A savory bite with chewiness. Taste testers loved the parmesan beef with tomato and basil. All five flavors are gluten, nut and soy free. 12 (10z.) pack $34
Fusion Jerky pairs the softer texture common to Asian-style jerkies with flavor combinations that Americans love. Their eight-flavor line features tastes like beef with chipotle and lime and chicken with basil and citrus. All jerky is gluten and nitrite free. 3oz. bag $7
Epic Hunt and Harvest Mix is split into a two-part package to prevent sogginess and contains beef jerky on one side and nuts and fruits on the other. Everything is finely chopped, making it easy to eat on the run, and ideal as an add-in to fancy up bland grocery store meals. Four gluten free flavor combinations are available. Eight (2.25oz.) packs, $40
Sweetwood Cattle Company launched an All Natural Beef Jerky line with cleaner ingredients, (like sea salt and evaporated cane sugar) adding to their award-winning original jerky packs. Nitrate free and available in two flavors, original and teriyaki. 2oz. pouch $8
Picky Bars Ah Fudge Nuts! date-based bar includes brown rice cereal for crunch while single-origin Peruvian cacao adds a chocolate, slightly tannic punch to this 200-calorie bar. Picky’s entire line is created to a set ratio of four-parts carbohydrates to one-part slow-burning protein for optimal performance. 10 bars $28
Nature’s Bakery Pumpkin Spice Fig Bar’s hearty whole wheat replaces the more-processed ingredients found in mainstream fig bars, while the sweet and spicy pumpkin spice filling adds depth and complexity to this soft yet toothsome cookie. High in carbs, low in protein, gluten, dairy and GMO free. 6-2oz. twin packs $6
Probar Base Coffee Crunch Bar is packed with 20-grams of plant-based protein and 55mg. of yerba mate derived caffeine (about 2/3 cup of coffee equivalent) for energy. Flax and chia seeds add texture, while the chocolate coating makes this bar just plain delicious. Vegan, gluten and GMO free. Also available in Chocolate Bliss. 12-2.5 oz. bars $34
Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites are loaded with heart-friendly, antioxidant-rich pistachios and cranberries. These two-bite, two-pack bars boast big flavor and texture. Higher in healthy fats and protein than most comparable bars, Chewy Bites are bound to be a hit with hikers and winter athletes. Vegan, kosher, gluten and dairy free. 6-1.42oz., 2-pack bags $6
Health Warrior Chia Protein Bar is a new, four-flavor line combining the distinctive crunch of chia seeds with nutrient-dense ingredients such as almonds and dark chocolate. These less sweet bars pack ten grams of plant-based protein and are high in fiber. Kosher, gluten, dairy, GMO and soy free. 12-1.76 oz. bars $25
GoMacro Thrive Bars are a runaway star in the flavor department with pairings such as ginger lemon and blueberry lavender. Key ingredients provide micronutrients that are said to improve cognitive function and digestion. Organic, vegan, kosher and GMO free.1.4 oz. bar $2
Kind Healthy Grains Popped Bars with toasted and popped sorghum add a popcorn-like texture to these salty and sweet bars. They’re packed with heart-healthy grains such as millet, quinoa and amaranth. With an 8:1 carb-to-protein ratio, the bars appeal to recreational snackers. Available in popped salted caramel and popped dark chocolate with sea salt. GMO and gluten free. 40-1.2oz. bars $28
Plus from Nuun has taken their game-changing fizzy-tablet-in-a-tube to the next level. Drop two Plus tabs in your drink bottle (advertised as flavorless, but it does impart a slight tang – try adding a traditional drink tab on top of Plus and the flavor disappears) and get an extra blast of electrolytes and sugar-based carbs. Vegan, GMO and gluten free. Six–serving tube $7
Skratch Labs Fruit Drops add a pair of fruit flavored chews (orange and raspberry) to their successful real sugar mix line. The clean fruit taste is balanced with a kiss of citric acid in the sugar coating. Two flavors – raspberry and orange – both gluten and dairy-free. 10-1.8oz. bags $25
NuttZo 2go’s distinctive nut butters’ upside-down jar packaging is joined by a single serving form factor that can be consumed on its own, or added to oatmeal or smoothies. All three nut blends are high in alpha-linoleic acid for improved cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation. Vegan, organic, GMO and vegan free. 10-5oz. packs $10
GU Big Apple Energy Gel offers a tart/sweet punch of a ripe Honeycrisp, 24 1.1oz. packets $15. Great news for runners and other gel-flask users: GU is also rolling out a new 15-serving bulk container, $35 for their salted caramel and strawberry banana gels, and blueberry pomegranate and sea salt chocolate Roctane formulation.
Honey Stinger Organic Grapefruit Chews are certified organic and gluten free and are the latest addition to Honey Stinger’s chew line. They’re fortified with immune-boosting Vitamin C, and packed with easy-to-digest carbs. 12-1.8oz. packs, $27
Clif Organic Energy Food delivers a four-product range of screw top pureed fruit and vegetable blends designed to recognize the common complaint of athletes: everything tastes the same. The single-serve pouches are high in carbs, sodium and potassium, and feature two savory blends. Organic, gluten-free, vegan and kosher. Sweet: 3.17oz. pouch $2; Savory: 4.23oz. pouch $3
For the lightest, easiest-to-prep trail meals, most hikers reach for freeze-dried. The two leading brands, Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry, use different manufacturing processes. Mountain House prepares meals fresh, then cooks and freeze-dries, while Backpacker’s Pantry assembles their meals from pre-dried ingredients. Consumers have two distinct options: Mountain House meals tend to have a casserole-like flavor and texture, while Backpacker’s Pantry meals resemble sautéed dishes. Try them both to see which is your favorite prep style.
Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Picatta with Tagliatelle Pasta is an Italian classic hikers can now enjoy in the backcountry. Tender egg noodles combined with rehydrated chicken added with the bright tartness of dried capers and brought together in a lemony sauce. Delizioso! 2-13oz. servings, $13
Backpacker’s Pantry Granola with Milk and Bananas is baked in small batches with generous amounts of almonds, coconut and butter to make a basic breakfast taste like an indulgent dessert. The creaminess of the banana evenly offsets the crunch of the granola blend. Cold-water prep makes for a quick meal on the go. 2-13oz. servings, $9
Mountain House Chicken and Dumplings is a creamy stew that has all of the classic components. A hearty white sauce chunks of chicken, peas and carrots, and cubed biscuits deliver carb deliciousness. A hint of spice makes for a well-balanced flavor profile. 2 1-cup servings, $7.50.
Mountain House Cheesecake Bites are easy-to-eat crouton-sized cubes with the tang of cream cheese and earthy undertones of graham cracker crust – strongly reminiscent of cheesecake… only crunchy! 1-1.94oz serving, $3.50.