PROBAR is a company based in Salt Lake City that makes a phenomenal lineup of healthy food bars. My favorite product in their lineup is the Meal Bar. The Meal Bar is a certified organic meal replacement that contains 5-8g of fiber and 5-11g of protein per bar. I’ve been eating PROBARs for a while now, and can say without a doubt, that the Meal Bar is the best on the market when it comes to convenient food for hiking and backpacking. One of the best things about PROBAR and the Meal Bar, is that they have 12 different flavor options to choose from. Before this review, I had only tried two, as I tend to be a creature of habit when buying food for my adventures. Fortunately for me (and you), PROBAR provided me with a variety pack of all 12. Now, it’s pretty cool to receive a media sample of any product, but when it’s a product you’d spend your own money on anyway, even better! In this review, I’ll be covering the PROBAR Meal Bar and how it fueled my body during a number of outdoor activities.
“PROBAR® creates delicious, convenient, healthy, plant-based food products. We strive to become the leading provider of REAL FOOD choices, always maintaining our commitment to quality, sustainability and fantastic taste.” This is the PROBAR mission statement that can be found on their website and on the inside of the variety box I recieved. Having tried all 12 flavors of the Meal Bar, I can say that PROBAR holds very true to their mission statement. Every bar I consumed was delicious to eat, convenient to pack, and the healthy ingredients gave me the pure fuel I required to give my best on the trail.
So you might be asking yourself, “how is a PROBAR different from other bars?” It all starts with the quality ingredients. To start, all PROBAR Meal Bars are vegan, dairy free, certified organic, and use no GMOs. Using raw ingredients with fruits, nuts, and seeds, the Meal Bar is a no nonsense meal replacement that provides delicious and nutritious satisfaction. You’ll find oats, dates, sunflower seeds, cashews, raisins, strawberries, blueberries, flax seed, almonds, and many more real foods listed in the ingredients section of each bar.
The Meal Bars come in at right under 400 calories, which I find to be the perfect amount for lasting energy without the bloated feeling of being too full. Anytime I have smaller bars of 250 calories or below, I burn through them too quickly or have to eat a more than one in each sitting.
To give you an idea of the composition of a Meal Bar, I opened a Strawberry Bliss to get up close and personal. As a note, I had to go to REI and buy more bars for these photos. I ate all 12 in the variety pack faster than I had planned, but I guess that just shows that I truly am a fan.
The first thing you’ll notice when removing the Meal Bar is that it’s a square shape and about 3/4 of an inch thick. The bar weighs 3oz (85g), and packs down small into corners of my bag without crumbling or breaking apart.
You can see the ingredients in the photographs below. The oats, seeds, and fruit are all visible in their whole form. PROBAR blends the bars without baking, to help preserve the vital nutrients and flavors. I love the authentic sweetness and tanginess of the fruit flavored options. The whole pieces really stand out in every bite.
One of the biggest tests for me is how food products hold up in the heat. Here is Southern California, it can get really hot. I brought along a few Meal Bars for a waltz up the Skyline Trail this past weekend. The Skyline Trail gains more than 8000ft over 9 miles, starting in Palm Springs and heading up towards the summit of San Jacinto and the aerial tramway. Temperatures were expected to be near triple digits for the day, so it was a perfect test.
The bars held up incredibly well. I’ve had a lot of trouble with bars that rely heavily on chocolate, as they go to mush in their packaging and make a complete mess of my hands when I try to eat them. The PROBAR Meal Bars held up very well in these conditions, and although soft, didn’t fall apart or give me any trouble, despite the heat.
The second big test in the heat is palatability. Dehydration can play funny tricks with your mouth and mind, where things you love to eat at home just don’t seem desirable. This is something I find myself going through quite a bit during long brutal hikes under a baking sun. Even when the heat was at it’s worst, and my stomach felt overfilled on electrolyte water, I still desired the taste of my Meal Bars. I think the only other food item that holds up this well on the palatability test for me is beef jerky.
The third and final major test is digestion, starting in the mouth. Salivary amylase starts the digestion process for the body after you take your bite of food. For whatever reason, certain foods just don’t break down very easily. This can be a major issue in the heat when you’re starting to dehydrate a bit, or when the air is dry and your mouth is feeling the effects of it. Once again, the Meal Bar passed the test with ease with their perfect balance of protein and sodium, chewing easily and breaking down nicely. Once it passed the first process of digestion, it did equally well in my stomach. I had to stop using gels and gummies in the past due to the way they would turn my stomach over in knots. Since switching to solid foods, this has been much less of a problem for me. With PROBARs, I’ve never had an upset stomach.
Another test I wanted to put the Meal Bar through was high elevation with cold temperatures. Many of the problems I listed for hot weather above can present themselves in cold temperatures with high elevation as well. Some bars can turn into solid bricks in sub-freezing temperatures, which can be really hard on the teeth, and an even bigger challenge to chew. The PROBAR once again held up very well in these conditions. I think the natural whole ingredients plays a large role here, as they don’t break down or condense like heavily processed foods tend to.
The final test I put the PROBARs through was during my post hike eating. I usually forego food after my hike, in favor of a meal at home. For my last three hikes, I had a PROBAR in the car on the way home while rehydrating. The Meal Bar definitely helped with hunger on the longer drives, and kept me from overeating when I finally had time to eat a proper meal.
I love the PROBAR Meal Bars so much that I’ll be packing a bunch in each one of my John Muir Trail resupply bins this summer. I’m a huge fan, and would like to give you a chance to try a few PROBARS, too.
*Warning: Allergy sufferers need to be aware that PROBAR contains tree nuts and seeds and is packaged on equipment that processes legumes (peanuts)