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Backpacker Magazine – February/March 2013

Backpacker-Friendly Chocolate

Cocoa packs high energy and healthy antioxidants, and our testing revealed the best-tasting, most-meltproof varieties for the trail.

by: Kristy Holland

Best-tasting, most melt-proof chocolate varieties (Photo by Andrew Bydlon)
Photo by BP0313SKIL_BYDLON_Bars_bjk_445x260.jpg
Best-tasting, most melt-proof chocolate varieties (Photo by Andrew Bydlon)
Grape-Nut-size pieces of actual cocoa bean (Photo by Andrew Bydlon)
Photo by BP0313SKIL_BYDLON_Nips_bjk_445x260.jpg
Grape-Nut-size pieces of actual cocoa bean (Photo by Andrew Bydlon)
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Photo by BP0313SKIL_BYDLON_HotCoco_bjk_445x260.jpg
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix


Best for On-the-go snacking; cool weather 

Beta Darker bars with a higher proportion of cocoa solids are healthier and less likely to melt; in testing, some didn’t soften until temps hit the high 80s. Thicker bars (Cadbury’s Royal Dark was the heftiest at 1/3 of an inch) held up to pack abuse best.

Packing Keep bars above freezing and below 75°F. Store in plastic in your pack’s center. 

Buying tip Our testing revealed that gourmet brands showed less chalky-looking “bloom” after extreme temps—the fat and sugar residue looks bad, but is edible. 

Top pick We love Dagoba Organic’s New Moon Bar, with 74 percent cocoa ($3; 2 oz.;; available at Whole Foods). It’s the sturdiest bar we tried, and the least bitter for the high cocoa content.

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Star Star Star
Eric Nelson
Nov 23, 2013

I highly recommend the dark chocolate M & M's. They do not melt in your trail mix and the candy coating adds that extra something.

peeved healthy hiker
Nov 22, 2013

I posted earlier about this, but (for some reason) the post is no longer here, so I'll say it again: "powdered nondairy creamer" is not healthy! It should not be included in the homemade hot cocoa recipe.

Star Star Star
healthy hiker
Nov 22, 2013

Good tips on dark chocolate, Ms. Holland--but I can't believe that your homemade hot cocoa recipe (above) calls for "powdered nondairy creamer." Why, when the recipe already includes powdered milk? Do you know what's in that "nondairy creamer"? Nothing healthy: hydrogenated oils (i.e. trans fats), corn syrup solids (probably from GMO, high-fructose corn), and a whole bunch of (probably cancer-causing) artificial ingredients. Those who care can read more here ( or just Google "nondairy creamer ingredients." By the way, that Land O' Lakes hot cocoa also contains unhealthy ingredients. Please read the "fine print," Backpacker Magazine writers and editors. Your readers deserve better.


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