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Trail Chef: Bear Naked Grain-ola Bar Taste Test

Our official tastebud guinea pigs give you the skinny on the latest trail foods.

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Tell me, fellow hikers—is there a more staple backpacking food than the good ole’ trail bar? It’s the first thing I stock up on when I’m planning a trip, and the last thing I want to run out of. I even sometimes have them for lunch right here in my cubicle (close your eyes, take a bite, and bingo, you’re on the flanks of Mount Olympus). That means I’m always on the lookout for another delectable bar to mix things up on a hike. Can Bear Naked’s newest entry to the market, the Pure & Natural Grain-ola Bar, stand up to tried-and-true favorites? We sampled three flavors to find out.Fruit and Nut

“Whole-grain oats with luscious raisins, cranberries, and hearty pecans and almonds.”

Chocolaty Cherry

“Rich chocolate with cherries, pecans, and almonds for the perfect sweet-tooth fix.”

Tropical Fruit

“Exotic fruits including mango, papaya, pineapple, and coconut.”

The verdict:

I eat a lot of bars and get tired of them pretty quickly. It doesn’t take long before “chocolate cookie crunch” tastes like a mudpie, you know? So Bear Naked’s simply named Fruit and Nut bar was a refreshing change of pace. What’s remarkable about it, though, is that gave me the energy of an “energy bar” while still tasting like a wholesome, full-of-good-stuff granola bar. The light honey and fruit flavor was D-lish.

Hmm. Chocolaty Cherry is pretty good, but definitely not the perfect sweet-tooth fix. The yummy cherry chunks are awesome, but far too few: I think I found two in the entire bar. Without more of the fruity flavor blasts to satisfy me, I was left wanting more. Tropical Fruit does it better with a more liberal sprinkling of the good stuff throughout the bar,

It’s no secret that the trail-bar market is a glutted one, so any bar that’s going to steal mouth share will have to be pretty incredible. Bear Naked’s bars fall just shy of the mark. Taste is slightly above average: The chocolate and cherry flavor is punchy and rich, but could use more cherries, while the Tropical Fruit bar rectifies this with plentiful chunks of apricots. My biggest problem is the bars still retain the gut-bomb heaviness of most middle-of-the-road trail bars.

Plus, one bonus review:

Bear Naked’s granola, however, is another story: In between meals, my team practically survived on Bear Naked granola-and-yogurt parfaits at the Teva Mountain Games, and I think they gave us the boost we needed to crush the competition. (We nearly beat Bear Naked’s own pro team—I’m guessing they shaved those three minutes off of their time because they had access to a Bear Naked granola IV drip.) When mixed with yogurt and blueberries, all the flavors—fruit and nut, banana nut, heavenly chocolate—were positively addictive.

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

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