The Best Energy Bars To Fuel Hiking And Running | Top 16 - Outdoors Magic

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The Best Energy Bars To Fuel Hiking And Running | Top 16

A look at some of the most efficient (and tasty) options out there

What are your favourite snacks to eat while out hiking – jelly babies? A Snickers bar? Pickled onion Monster Munch? As tasty and morale-boosting as these treats may be to some of us, they aren’t the best way to fuel your body.

Instead, you might want to perhaps consider specialist energy and protein bars that are carefully formulated for the needs of hikers, runners, climbers and cyclists. Many are healthy, nutritious and delicious, and, if you choose the right ones for you, will power you to go faster, harder, longer and higher in your outdoorsy exploits.

For a detailed guide on snack nutrition and what kinds of things you should be looking for and why, I recommend taking a look at Outdoors Magic’s article: How To Choose Energy Snacks For Hiking. This should prove useful for those who want to take a simpler approach, using standard ingredients and foodstuffs instead of specialist snacks which can often be expensive.

Adventure Snacks on Test

Here are eight of my recommended brands and 16 of my favourite bars…

Chia Charge

The clue is in the name. Chia Charge makes flapjacks and energy bars using chia seeds, the superfood described as the ‘pound for pound champions of the nutritional world’. But what are chia – pronounced chee-ah – seeds? Well, they’re an unprocessed wholegrain food that provides the highest plant-based source of Omega-3, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants. The nutritional values are ‘simply fantastic’, as the Yorkshire-based company puts it, while the flavour is mild and nutty.

Chia Charge harnesses the power of chia seeds in a wide range of energy snacks including flapjacks and fruit and nut bars. It offers a tantalising array of flavours and the overarching promise that all of its products ‘contain only real ingredients that taste fantastic and are easy to eat on the move’.

The salted caramel flavour chia seed flapjack is a revelation. Somehow it manages to simultaneously taste healthy and wholesome, as well as indulgent and delicious. It is soft, gooey, with a distinct caramel flavour and a light texture complemented by the gentle crunch of the chia seeds. Serving up 378 kcal per 80g flapjack, it packs a whopping 44g of carbohydrate (the highest on test) per bar, providing a huge energy hit for outdoors adventures. The peanut butter flapjack is similarly tasty; crumbly with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Well done Chia Charge. Very well done.

“I was a chia seed virgin before tasting these bars. I’m now immediately a chia seed convert. The flapjacks are delicious, healthy, wholesome, and powered me up mountains like never before.”

Salted caramel flavour chia seed flapjack: £1.90 per 80g bar / 378kcal / 44g carbohydrate / 23g sugar / 5g protein / 11g fat.

Chia seed flapjack with peanut butter: £16.45 for 12 x 50g bars / 246kcal / 24g carbohydrate / 11g sugar / 6g protein / 11g fat.

The Full Range: The Chia Charge range includes chia seed flapjacks flavoured with cranberries, sea salt flakes, or banana; the Cashew Karma fruit and nut bar; and many more.


With a 92% excellent rating on Trust Pilot and a growing, engaged following, Tribe is clearly doing something right. It stands out from the crowd with its innovative flavours – often featuring exotic fruits and plants you’ve probably never heard of, such as maca and lucuma – and its promise that all of its bars are 100% natural, made from unrefined whole foods and free from chemicals, preservatives and emulsifiers.

Each bar’s packaging details useful nutritional information, including the type of energy provided – quick or slow release – and the optimised time to eat it (e.g. 45 minutes before exercise). Tribe offers a bespoke subscription option or you can buy individual packs of bars from its extensive range. From said range, the wild apricot and lucuma energy bar is a compacted fusion of dates and apricots that tastes like it has been engineered by boffin scientists for optimum quick release energy, while the goji berry and coconut bar – despite its strange orange colour – has a nutty flavour and texture that gives you a sense of healthy replenishment and recovery for the adventure-fatigued body.

“Tribe offer useful nutritional info, exciting flavours, and bars that taste like you’re consuming pure, natural goodness for your body.”

Full Specifications

Wild apricot and lucuma energy bar: £24 for 18 x 42g bars / 162kcal / 22g carbohydrate / 17g sugar / 4g protein / 6g fat.
Goji berry and coconut protein bar: £26 for 18 x 58g bars / 274kcal / 21g carbohydrate / 12g sugar / 10g protein / 16g fat.
Full Range: The Tribe range of energy and protein bars includes coconut, caramel, peanut and berry flavours, while the brand also supplies energy gels and drinks


Part of the Natural Balance Foods family, which also makes the Nakd brand of bars, Trek is a solid performer in the adventure snacks market: well-priced, tasty, compact, and formulated for, well, trekking (obviously) and all manner of other outdoor exploits.

Both the protein flapjacks tested serve up well over 200kcal, with a high protein content (9g per bar), as well as a healthy dose of over 20g of carbohydrates. But the main selling point of these bars is the flavour. Unlike other brands, which are overly compacted and condensed and thus don’t taste like real food, these flapjacks have a lovely crunchy texture, a good consistency, and a pleasing oaty taste complemented by the layer of dark chocolate and the filling of raisins or coconut. The only downside? The chocolate melts easily in sunshine, resulting inevitably in a rather messy wrapper-licking episode on a mountainside. Good fun though.

“Trek’s flapjacks are genuinely delicious – and also provide an excellent dose of protein and carbohydrates.”

Full Specifications

Protein flapjack cocoa raisin: £14.99 for 16 x 50g bars / 222kcal / 22g carbohydrate / 15g sugar / 9g protein / 11g fat.
Protein flapjack cocoa coconut: £14.99 for 16 x 50g bars / 234kcal / 20g carbohydrate / 14g sugar / 9g protein / 13g fat.
The Full Range: The Trek range includes protein flapjacks in banana bread, morning berry and oat raisin flavours; protein energy bars in peanut power, berry burst and banana blast flavours; and protein energy chunks in cranberry kick, peanut peak and toffee triumph flavours.


Set up by ultra-runners Fred and Luke, Prime aims to provide an alternative to the ‘frustrating’ market of adventure snacks that are ‘processed, high in sugar and contain artificial ingredients’. Instead, the old friends wanted ‘functional food made of real ingredients’. With Luke’s family involved in the butchery business for generations, the Prime bar was born.

Made of grass-fed beef from organic farms, Prime bars are billed as ‘savoury and delicious’ and come in two flavours: chilli and red pepper and apricot and carrot. Both provide a high protein content (approx 13g per bar), amongst the highest on test, and similarly have one of the lowest sugar contents on test.

Unlike biltong or jerky, the Prime bars are not overly chewy. They have a soft, easy-to-chew texture, a rich flavour, and, best of all, they taste great – a wholesome meaty hit to power your adventures. Although I did find them more appealing as a dinner time bolt-on than as a mid-morning snack. The chilli bar has a pleasant spicy flavour, while the sweetness of the apricots and carrots complements the beef nicely. If you are fed up of oats and fruit bars, this is the adventure snack for you.

“In a market where so many of the bars taste very similar, prime does things utterly different. These grass-fed beef bars are a meaty alternative – tasty, natural, and high in protein.”

Full Specifications

Beef bar chilli & red pepper: £29.99 per 12 x 50g bars / 188kcal / 7g carbohydrate / 6g sugar / 12g protein / 13g fat.
Beef bar apricot & carrot: £29.99 per 12 x 50g bars / 159kcal / 6g carbohydrate / 5g sugar / 13g protein / 10g fat.
The Full Range: Chilli and red pepper, apricot and carrot.

Clif Bar

American firm Clif Bar, which uses the strapline ‘Feed Your Adventure’ and striking packaging featuring a climber powering up a tricky overhang, is a big name in adventure snacks across the pond. Its cookie and biscuit-like energy bars provide a huge hit of carbohydrates (over 40g per bar), as well as a decent protein content (approx 10g per bar). But they do have amongst the highest sugar content on test.

The crunchy peanut butter energy bar is a thick, dense bar packed full of nutty goodness and with a sticky exterior, while the white chocolate macadamia nut has a similar texture but with an enjoyable white chocolate flavour. Both bars tasted decent but I wasn’t overly enamoured with the Clif bars. I much preferred other brands.

“The high carbs content of the Clif bars provided an excellent mid-morning energy source that helped me hike faster and stronger and locked up my hunger until lunch…”

Full Specifications

White chocolate macadamia nut: £1.39 per 68g bar / 279kcal / 42g carbohydrate / 21g sugar / 9g protein / 7g fat.
Crunchy peanut butter: £1.39 per 68g / 280kcal / 40g carbohydrate / 19g sugar / 11g protein / 7g fat.
The Full Range: The Clif Bar range includes other flavours including alpine muesli mix, blueberry crisp, chocolate chip, coconut chocolate chip and cool mint chocolate, as well as a selection of energy gels and chews.

SiS (Science in Sport)

Perhaps better known for its energy gels and powders, Science in Sport is a giant in the sports nutrition market, catering for elite athletes as well as serious amateurs. According to its website, it ‘pushes the boundaries of science and nutrition, so you can push the boundaries of performance’. Sadly, it range of protein and energy bars haven’t really pushed the boundaries of taste.

The mint chocolate protein bar serves up a whopping 20g of protein per bar (the joint highest on test), but I found the nougat-like texture and After Eight-esque flavour is somewhat forgettable. The chocolate fudge energy bar is very cheap at only £0.99, but it is a small portion size at 40g serving up only 139kcal – and the mash-up of chocolate, oats and raisins is not unpleasant but doesn’t serve up a taste to write home about.

“There is no doubting Science in Sport’s expertise in sports nutrition – and its bars are a good addition to its already extensive range of energy products…”

Full Specifications

Go energy bar chocolate fudge: £0.99 per 40g bar / 138kcal / 26g carbohydrate / 11g sugar / 5g protein / 2g fat.

Protein bar mint chocolate: £1.79 per 55g bar / 219kcal / 20g carbohydrate / 17g sugar / 20g protein / 7g fat.
The Full Range: The SiS range of energy and protein bars includes blueberry, banana fudge, red berry, chocolate & orange, and apple & blackcurrant, while the brand also supplies a comprehensive selection of energy gels, powders and tablets.There is no doubting science in sport’s expertise in sports nutrition – and its bars are a good addition to its already extensive range of energy products

Battle Oats

Established by two best friends, Battle Oats was founded to ‘create a tasty wholesome low-sugar high-protein snack range where all products not only stood tall nutritionally but tasted awesome too’. Well, they certainly do specialise in low-sugar and high-protein. The Battles Bites protein pieces chocolate caramel, for example, provides the highest protein content on test (20g per bar) and simultaneously the lowest sugar content on test (3g per bar). Great stats for achieving its aim of ‘sustaining energy levels and providing sufficient protein for efficient recovery…whether you’re blazing a new trail, taking on an intimidating rock face, or ascending from base camp’. But do they taste ‘awesome’, as claimed. Well, I’d say good was more realistic. The cookies and cream flapjack is a large bar topped with crunchy, chocolately puffs and white chocolate chunks. But the flavour could have been stronger while the flapjack is a little dry. The chocolate caramel bites, however, are more indulgent, with a nougat-like middle, pudding-like caramel flavour, and tasty fudge crumb topping.

“The numbers don’t lie – these bars provide a huge protein content with a minimal sugar content. If you need protein, battle oats are a great option.”

Full Specifications

Protein flapjack cookies & cream: £1.80 per 70g bar / 270kcal / 28g carbohydrate / 6g sugar / 15g protein / 10g fat.

Battle Bites protein pieces chocolate caramel: £2.25 per 62g bar / 227kcal / 16g carbohydrate / 3g sugar / 20g protein / 9g fat.
The Full Range: The Battle Oats range includes protein flapjacks in cherry bakewell, white chocolate coconut, and berry fusion flavours; Battle Bites protein pieces in cookies & cream and chocolate coconut flavours; and protein cookies in lemon drizzle, double chocolate, and mocha chocolate chip flavours.


High5’s energy bars are solid performers in several ways: they are well-priced at just £1.30 per 55g bar, very high in carbohydrates with 39g in the berry yoghurt bar and 36g in the banana bar, and very low in fats with only 2g (easily the lowest on test) in the banana bar. To cram in all that carbohydrate, the bars are very low in protein (2-3g), however  that doesn’t matter as you’ll only be using them as an energy source. Designed to be eaten before or during exercise, High5 describes the bars as a ‘natural mix of real fruits and grains designed to provide a great-tasting balance of simple and complex carbohydrates’, adding they are ‘one of your 5-a-day’. There is no doubting the bars’ energy-giving stats, but are the claims of a great taste justified? The berry yoghurt has a very fruity flavour, with hints of blueberry and cranberry, and is sweet, light, easy to chew and complemented nicely by the yoghurt coating. The banana bar again is very sweet, with a reasonably dense texture and a fruity flavour. Imagine mashing up a banana, mixing it with oats, and compressing into a solidified bar – and that’s about the sum of it. The High5 bars weren’t the tastiest on test, for sure, but I did enjoy them. And with such a high carb content I felt like they powered me to keep on adventuring for longer.

“HIGH5’s fusion of fruits and oats results in bars that are not only tasty but also provide a big hit of carbohydrate-fuelled energy release. They were solid performers.”

Full Specifications

Berry yoghurt energy bar: £1.30 per 55g bar / 216kcal, 39g carbohydrate / 19g sugar / 3g protein / 5g fat.

Banana energy bar: £1.30 per 55g bar / 180kcal / 36g carbohydrate / 19g sugar / 2g protein / 2g fat.
The Full Range: The High5 range of energy bars includes coconut, caramel, peanut and berry flavours, while the brand also supplies energy gels and drinks.

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