One of my favourite parts, when I was a small child, of being dragged up fells by my mountain-guide Grandfather, was the energy burst from the Mars Bar sandwiches when we got to the summit. (Take one Mars Bar, cut finely. Place between two slices of low-quality buttered white bread. Smoosh together and wrap impossibly tight in clingfilm in an inside pocket where it can warm nicely). I can still remember the sugar rush kicking in mid-way down the slopes and wondering why we didn’t eat these wonderful, magical concoctions before climbing!
So the benefit of giving your body something to easily turn into hiking energy was abundantly clear even to a precocious 8 year old. And that’s where Crew Fuel comes in.
Originally designed for sailors (hence the name), Crew Fuel offer a range of sachets containing powdered energy. They sent me three types to try out, all of which you pour into 250ml of water and shake around in their amply sized shaker/flask.
Hi Energy Meal
This is the one I left until last to try out because it scared me a little bit. The term ‘meal’ and ‘powder’ don’t make for great combinations in my mind, and I wanted to have it instead of a meal and before a long hike to see how it fared. It lists as its ingredients Oatmeal, milk proteins, whey, malt, bran, sugars, coconut and almonds, as well as a multi-vitamin, so it is basically a powdered hearty breakfast porridge. After adding to water and giving it a vigorous shake to mix it in I gave it a sniff and it’s reminiscent of a sort of yoghurt drink.
I summoned up my courage, expecting a mouthful of something medicinal and barely palatable, but was in for a very pleasant surprise. It was like a coconut smoothy with a slightly grainy texture (which I suppose might freak some people out). I downed the lot for breakfast and then went on a 6 mile hike across the hills.
I have to say that I didn’t get hungry, and I had plenty of energy the whole way. There was no ‘rush’ but for having ingested such a small amount of breakfast I was impressed at how far it went.
Instant Carbs – Caffeine and Electrolytes
This came in three flavours – Orange, Tropical and Blackcurrant – and again you add it to 250ml of water and shake it up. What you get is a fairly pleasant, if somewhat grainy drink, a bit like something medicinal rather than an energy drink. The ingredients say that they pack 166 calories and 41g of carbohydrates per 45g of powder – so basically the pack is different types of sugars which are easy to break down into energy. And to top that off you get vitamin C and 90mg of caffeine which is as much as 2.5 cans of coke, or one cup of instant coffee.
I had a sachet of the orange version for breakfast one day and within minutes felt a buzz and took the dog for a run round the field. I don’t know how much of that was psychological, but it really kick-started my day.
Better Sleep & Recovery
This is a bit like hot chocolate, or a malty night-time drink. It contains whey, milk protein and maltodextrin, which your body uses to restore energy overnight, and they claim will help you sleep better. There’s not much I can say to actually review this, since it involves me being asleep to test it. So, you’ll have to take Crew Fuel’s word for it.
Overall, Crew Fuel’s offerings for the outdoors are fairly good. The Hi-Energy Meal in particular I liked, but it isn’t the easiest thing to shake and mix without using CF’s own large mixer. I’d imagine that putting it into a narrow-necked water bottle might result in a nightmare cleaning operation.
So, to price, which is £8.50 for 5 sachets. (£1.70 each). For the instant carbs that’s quite a lot when you consider the alternative is a can of Red Bull and multi-vitamin pills. The Hi-Energy Meal though represents better value for what you get.
SUMMARY: Crew Fuel sachets of powdered nutrition are quite expensive on the face of it, but they pack a lot in. None of the sachets represent daily meal substitutes (meaning that I’d want to eat something during the day instead of have 3 drinks), but they are light weight, easy to store and carry and are packed with enough nutrition to keep you going until you get to food, or if you’re constantly on the move and can’t cook. They’d also be a good supplement for more strenuous activity.
Price: £8.50 for 5 sachets
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