Taste Test: Best of the Bars

What to grab when you need a boost
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What to grab when you need a boost

Detour Runner

Best for muscle recovery

Taste

A nutty core generously dipped in chocolate overpowers saliva-sucking whey protein.

Energy

A top pick for replenishing late-day endurance, the Runner includes a protein-based dietary supplement called MicroLactin to help muscles and joints recover.

$1.25 (per bar), weight 50g

Calories 210 Fat 7g

Carbs 25g Protein 12g

detourbar.com

Bobo's Oat Bar Cinnamon Raisin

Best breakfast replacement

Taste

Moist and chewy, this bar was a favorite on mornings when we didn't want to fuss with dishes. It also worked well as a 10 a.m. snack on alpine-start days.

Energy

"Recharged" is how one tester described feeling after eating this dense bar. To extend its energy boost (and aid digestion), many hikers ate this bar by tearing off small hunks over time.

$1.65, weight 84g

Calories 180 Fat 6g

Carbs 29g Protein 3g

bobosoatbars.com

Larabar Jocalat Chocolate Mint

Best for chocolate lovers

Taste

Layers of chocolate over a minty core had testers digging into their packs to find this dessert-like bar­–or stealing someone else's. Plus: The chocolate is fair trade and the ingredients are organic.

Energy

Jocalats aren't powerhouses, but their mood-lifting cocoa and stomach-settling peppermint gave testers a mental and physical boost. Plus, a strong dose of antioxidants sweeps up free radicals spawned by exertion.

$1.69, weight 48g

Calories 190 Fat 9g

Carbs 25g Protein 5g

larabar.com

ProBar Apple Cinnamon Crunch

Best jack-of-all-trades

Taste

Dried apple, pineapple, and papaya give this bar a fruity flavor. And despite a hefty caloric load, its all-natural goodness helps it go down easier. "One of the few bars I could eat day after day," said one tester. Plus: Whole-grain ingredients provide a quarter of your recommended daily fiber.

Energy

These goliaths deliver almost twice the calories (and hence, twice the energy) of the other bars here. A favorite peak bar, testers munched half when they reached a summit and downed the rest just before starting the descent.

$3.29, weight 85g

Calories 370 Fat 19g

Carbs 47g Protein 9g

theprobar.com

Balance Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Best for energy and nutrition

Taste

"How can something so good for you be so enticing?" asked one tester, referring to this bar's mix of salty flavor and serious nutrition. Making it work is a Payday-like layer of nuts and oats piled atop a gooey, sweet base. Plus, it packs as many vitamins and minerals as Total-brand breakfast cereal.

Energy

In case you forgot to pack liver or kale, this bar has you covered. It contains 100 percent of your daily vitamins C and E, as well as hefty doses of protein and other important nutrients. Why care? Because converting carbs and fat into energy requires sufficient levels of riboflavin and iron (which many trail foods lack). Plus, vitamin C and zinc boost your immune system.

$1.10, weight 50g

Calories 210 Fat 9g

Carbs 22g Protein 13g

balance.com