Monday, August 3, 2015

Clif Organic Energy Food

It's been suggested to me by a few people that I start to review the things that I use while hiking.  Thus I welcome you to my first review! 
I had read about these during Scott Jurek's recent successful attempt at setting a new Appalachian Trail FKT.  The premise seems interesting- only whole and real foods go into these, and I thought they might make a welcome addition to my normal diet of various energy bars, trail mix, and homemade biscuits or PBJ sandwiches.
I hadn't seen them anywhere for sale, but spied them one day at Boulder Cycle Sport, and bought the Pizza Margherita and Sweet Potato with Sea Salt flavors, while they generously provided me the Banana Coconut Mango and Banana Beet Ginger as free samples.  The guys there had tried several of the flavors and it seemed like the two fruit based ones were the clear favorites, with opinion split on the palatability of the savory flavors.
I took all four with me when I ventured into the Never Summers, and tried them at various times during the day.  All are organic, vegan, gluten free, etc. 
The first down was the Banana Mango Coconut (Ingredients: Organic Banana Puree, Organic Mango Puree, Organic Coconut Cream, Organic Coconut, Sea Salt, Citric Acid.  MSRP $2.29).  I probably don't have to tell you this was the one I liked the best.  How can you go wrong with this flavor combination?  It was like drinking a smoothie in the middle of nowhere.  Some chunks of coconut added a pleasant texture.  The only bad part was that I wanted alot more!
I ate the Pizza Margherita (Organic Tomato Puree (Water, Organic Tomato Paste), Organic Carrot Puree, Water, Organic Quinoa, Organic Sunflower Seed Butter, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Olive Oil, Yeast Flakes, Sea Salt, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Oregano, Organic Basil, Citric Acid.  MSRP $3.00) while I took a break at Ruby Lake.  This was one that got mixed reviews from BCS.  It did taste remarkably like pizza sauce with a yeasty or nutty cheese like character likely from the sunflower seed butter.  I think the spices were a little bit strong, particularly garlic and oregano.  I didn't find it gross, but didn't feel it was great either.
Banana Beet Ginger (Organic Banana Puree, Organic Beet Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Organic Ginger.  MSRP $2.29) was next, somewhat later in the day.  It tasted mostly of banana with a slight earthy note from the beets and a little bit of a kick and some heat from the ginger.  I could eat it again.
That leaves the Sweet Potato and Sea Salt (Organic Sweet Potato Puree, Water, Organic Carrot Puree, Organic Sunflower Seed Butter, Organic Potato Powder, Organic Apple Juice Concentrate, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Quinoa, Sea Salt, Citric Acid.  MSRP $3.00).  If you like sweet potatoes, you will probably like it.  If not, you won't.  Again I found myself feeling somewhat indifferent.  I'd probably pick the pizza flavor over this one.
So I didn't find any to be unpalatable, and found the two fruit flavors to be nice, but all the same, I probably won't be buying again or all that frequently.  I also looked at the cost per calorie content, and they range from 100 calories for the Banana Mango Coconut to 200 for the Sweet Potato.  If they contained 3-400 calories per package, my thoughts might be different.  But alas, these are rather expensive for what you get.  Eating the recommended two per hour of activity (one fruit, one savory), it would cost me 63.48 not including tax for a 12 hour hike.  That's about my entire food bill for the week.  I like them, and I like Clif's products, but these will remain an occasional treat if even that.
I've also wondered about the likelihood of replicating these at home.  It could be as simple as a can of coconut milk, a few ripe bananas, some frozen mango chunks, sea salt, and a collapseable water or small energy gel bottle.  Or a can of Muir Glen pizza sauce, cooked quinoa, and sunflower seed butter.  You could make alot more volume for alot less money pretty easily and quickly it seems. 


  1. It seems like they are basically baby food, no? The pizza thing seems GROSS. I guess I should change my screen name on here to "actual lawyer".

    1. Pretty much. The savory flavors will definitely be polarizing. Don't sue me!