Forget those flavorless, tough, cardboard energy bars that haunt your memories. The new breed of travel- and trail-friendly snacks bring all-natural flavor to the fore, with edibles that reject processed sugar and lean heavily into high-quality ingredients for serious staying power. From surviving a long-haul flight to dodging the candy isles on your next road trip, here are seven snacks that deliver.
1. Patagonia Provisions, $10 and up; 2. Frontier Bites, $5; 3. Made in Nature, $7; 4. Kuju Coffee, $25 for a ten-pack; 5. Go Cubes, $13 for 6 4-Packs; 6. Chapul Bars, $36 per Box; 7. Probar, $42 for a 12-Pack.
Michael Bentley, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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As you'd expect from pro-environment Patagonia, their new Provisions line originates from a collection of "forward-thinking" farmers, ranchers, and fishermen dedicated to growing methods that regenerate and restore the earth's resources. The product line stretches from soups and chilis to fruit-and-almond bars, salmon, and even beer, which was made with Portland, OR-based Hopworks Urban Brewery using a perennial grain grown with regenerative agricultural practices. For a solid boost of flavorful energy, go with their Buffalo Jerky, made from 100 percent grass-fed free-range American bison.
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These bite-sized bits keep thing simple: eight natural ingredients, no refined sugars, and 110 calories per serving. Despite that, they deliver big flavors, with fruit-and-seed combos like Pumpkin Seed Apple Vanilla Bean and Cashew Cranberry Orange. The zip-top 3.5-ounce packs are trail-friendly, and one percent of all profits go to the National Outdoor Leadership School, which provides outdoor education scholarships to underprivileged youth.
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Made in Nature
What started out as one small pear farm outside of Mount Hood, Oregon, has grown into the number one organic dried fruit brand in the United States. But Made in Nature's roots are still firmly planted in the soil—the soil of California's San Joaquin Valley, more specifically. Every item in their exhaustive list of snacks are 100 percent certified organic and non-GMO verified, and devoid of refined sugar or sulfur. Choose from a variety of dried fruit and veggie snacks as well as ancient grain fusion products like Tuscan Garlic or Cuban Mojo "supersides," but don't miss the Tart Cherries mini-pack, which deliver a serious burst of flavor and energy.
Made in Nature
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Forget the free coffee in your hotel room. This travel-friendly pour-over kits makes a solid cup of joe within three to five minutes. All you need is hot water and a bit of patience. Just remove the filter from its pouch, flip out the "Steady-Safe" tabs that anchors the filter to your mug or water bottle, pour in some 200-degree water, and watch as the slow-drip process urns the cup into a bit of liquid poetry.
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The glorious of coffee rituals aside, sometimes you just want a big boost of energy, and the Go Cubes deliver precisely that, with 50 mg of caffeine—the equivalent of half a cup of coffee—in one bite-sized square. Down two and you'll be good to go for the next four to six hours. They're a great for a quick hit of energy before driving back from a day hike or biking excursion, and will help slough off jet lag better than the free airplane coffee.
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For folks like entomologist Marcel Dicke, the future of food lies in insects. And if Chapul Bars are any indication, that future is now. The bars are made from crickets, which consume only a fraction of water when compared to traditional livestock and boast twice the protein and half the fat of beef. Beyond all that, they taste good, with flavors that include Thai Coconut and Ginger with Lime, Aztec Dark Chocolate and Coffee, and Chaco Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter.
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Probar makes loads of non-GMO, plant-based snacks, with everything from nut butters to energy chews to 190-calorie dairy-, gluten-, and soy-free coconut-almond or mixed-berry bites. But travelers facing a tight itinerary should pack a few of their Meal bars, which deliver five to 11 grams of protein, and five to eight grams of fiber—enough sustenance from fruits, nuts, and seeds to make up for any meals your schedule forces you to miss.