Based in Steamboat Springs, CO, Honey Stinger opened its doors in 2002 with a small range of honey-based gels. I was one of the lucky people to try those “dinosaur” products, and I immediately recognized a great product, despite some of the shortcomings; I found the honey to be a bit too strong in the summer, but an awesome winter training fuel. Not surprisingly, I was ecstatic when they released their first energy bars. While those early bars tasted great, they lacked the chewy texture the current bars have. How fortunate I’ve been to watch this product evolve into one of the best bars on the market. In the first of a series of reviews, I am going to highlight probably my favorite overall food choice during training racing.
Obviously, my food choice for races depends on the type of race and duration. In general, the longer the race, the more solid food I need to eat to avoid GI distress. So for an XTerra Championship event (2 1/2- 3 hrs) I opt for at least one energy bar. While I love the Waffle, at 190 kcal, the bars are more balanced in protein and fat (about 5 g each, and bring about 28 g of carbs; incidentally, I often use the bars as my go to pre-race meal for those early morning races. I also find the bars are more durable and easy to unpackaged than the Waffles. But how do they taste?
Everyone’s tastes are different. In my experience, I’ve tried nearly every bar on the market from the old FinHalsa and Power Bars, to Clif’s range of products, and many one off products. Hands down, Honey Stinger are still my favorite because they are appetizing, full-filling, and a digestible caloric density. I would rate my flavor preference in order as:
- Rocket Chocolate: A lighter semi-sweet dark cocoa flavor.
- Peanut Butter Honey: I love peanut butter, but this bar has a chocolate coating that adds to its honey roasted flavor profile.
- Berry Banana Buzz: A light berry flavor with sweet yogurt coating. A good choice on hot summer days.
- Blueberry Buzz: Last but really not by far, Blueberry Buzz brings an authentic, light blueberry flavor.
The next question is what is the eating experience like? 10 years ago, I would admit that it needed help. However, over more than 20 years of racing, I’ve never seen a food product refined like Honey Stinger bars have been. These are the best bars because they listen to what the athlete has to say and they tweak them. They are durable in the pocket, but easy to eat with a nice chewy texture even in cold weather. On the downside, like all coated products, they can be a bit messy in hot weather, but I’ll take it. Overall, I continue to rate these products high and I never miss the opportunity to convert folks looking for a change.
OVERALL RATING: A