I dislike the vast majority of protein bars. Most taste like flavored dirt, have an awful gritty texture, and are in no way satisfying to eat. The only thing they’ve got going for them is their high protein and calorie count, but since there’re plenty of other high calorie bars that offer the same nutritional benefit without tasting like glorified cardboard, there’s no need to resort to such desperate measures.
I’ve put together a list of my favorite high-calorie bars for backpacking and hiking, all of which taste delicious and will provide you with the nutritional goodies you’ll need during a trek. I hope it’ll be useful, and will save you from having to force yourself to consume a gross protein bar.
1. CLIF Nut Butter Bars
I don’t want anyone to have to force themselves to eat something that’s unappetizing. You should want to eat the things you eat, that’s what makes it a fun experience. And boy oh boy, are you in for a fun experience.
CLIF’s Nut Butter Bars are ridiculously good, like nectar of the Gods good. They are my all-time favorite protein bar, and I find myself coming back to them time and time again. They are so good that even when I’m not planning a trip, I’ll stock up on them at the store just so I can eat them as a treat.
There are a few different flavors, which include chocolate peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut butter, coconut almond butter, cherry cashew butter, maple almond butter, and peanut butter. My favorite of the bunch is chocolate peanut butter, but cherry cashew butter is a close runner-up.
It contains 11 grams of fat (2.5 saturated), 7 grams of plant-based protein, 3 grams of fiber, and a surprisingly low 9 grams of sugar. It provides various vitamins and minerals, including a quarter of the daily requirement for vitamin E, and the total 50g bar is 230 calories. This might not seem like that many calories, but if you compare calorie per gram instead of calorie per bar, you’ll see that these CLIF bars are smaller than normal protein bars, and pack a much bigger caloric punch.
2. CLIF Espresso Bars
If you love coffee, these are the bars I’d recommend for you. Much like CLIF’s Nut Butter Bars, their Espresso Bars provide the nutritional goodies you’ll need on a hike while being delicious. And if you’re anything like my sister, who at one point was consuming so much caffeine that she would get headaches and withdrawal symptoms if she went too long without it, these will come in handy. They’re an easy and enjoyable way to get your daily caffeine fix without having to bring along a coffee pot or supplements.
Each bar contains one shot of espresso (65mg), and there are few different flavors including cappuccino, caramel macchiato, dark chocolate mocha, espresso, and vanilla almond latte. My favorite flavor, dark chocolate mocha, contains 250 calories per 68g bar, 5 grams of fat (1.5 saturated), 9 grams of plant-based protein, and a few different vitamins and minerals, particularly iron.
Although I love these, I will say this – if you don’t love the taste of coffee, these aren’t for you. They’re quite strong and contain actual ground up coffee beans, so if you aren’t a huge fan of the taste or smell of coffee, maybe choose a different bar.
3. Zoneperfect Classic Protein Bars
I like these bars by Zoneperfect because of their high vitamin and mineral content. They’re basically the tasty protein bar form of a daily vitamin supplement. They contain 35% of daily vitamin C, 50% of daily niacin, 80% of daily vitamin B12, 50% of daily pantothenic acid, 40% of daily folic acid, 100% of daily chromium, and a ton of others.
The bar comes in eight different flavors, and fudge Graham – my favorite – has 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein per 50g bar.
4. Quest Nutrition Protein Bar
If the key thing you’re looking for is a bar loaded with protein, this is the one I’d recommend you get. It’s got the most protein out of any bar on this list, doesn’t taste like pure whey protein masked in cheap flavoring, is keto friendly, and is generally much healthier than most high-protein bars.
One of the most popular flavors – and for good reason, it’s delicious – is s’mores. I didn’t think I’d like this flavor because I didn’t think it’d actually taste like s’mores, but I was happily surprised. It’s got all the components of one (chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows) and although it’ll never be the same as a freshly made campfire s’more, it comes close.
A single bar (60g) is 190 calories and contains 21 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber, 4g net carbs, and the lowest sugar count of this entire list – 1 gram. To be honest, that’s my favorite part about it. Sugar tastes good, but it isn’t good for you. I enjoy sweets far too much, so whenever I find a yummy snack that’s easy on the sugar, I buy it often.
These bars are unlike any other bar I’ve tried because of how simple they are. RXBAR, the company who creates them, chooses to use minimal ingredients and preservatives. That’s what draws in a lot of their customers, and it’s what drew me in. Simplicity in our food, when the large majority of the pre-manufactured snacks we eat contain a hefty amount of preservatives and fillers, can be comforting.
There are 21 flavors and counting, and each one contains roughly 6-7 ingredients. My favorite flavor is chocolate hazelnut, and its ingredients are 3 egg whites, 8 hazelnuts, 2 cashews, 2 dates, chocolate, cocoa, and natural flavors.
6. GoMacro Protein Bars
If you are vegan or gluten intolerant, this is the bar I’d recommend for you. Taste wise, they’re probably top three for me on this list, and they are one of the few bars that I’ve ever found that were vegan/gluten-free and delicious.
Cashew Caramel is the flavor I usually get, and it tastes exactly like it sounds – amazing. A 60g bar contains 270 calories, 11 grams of plant-based protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 12 grams of fat.
Also, as someone who tries to live sustainably, I really like the company itself. GoMacro is a mother/daughter business that is environmentally conscious, and I love it.
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Hi, I'm Ash!
I’m a travel blogger who loves experiencing new things and deeply connecting with people. My missions are to help others around the world realize their travel dreams, and to spread the word about sustainable travel. Feel free to send me a message here.