Clif Bar has been catering more and more to athletes of all sorts. Some of their new Athletes Series can be found in my local bike shop, which was definitely not the case when they only made their famous bars. I’ve been able to test the full suite of Clif Athlete Series products in venues from the local MTB trail system to the Disappointment Cleaver of Rainier, and it’s time to share what I’ve been figuratively (and literally) chewing on.
Clif Athlete Series:
Nutrition for every need
As the above lineup shows, Clif has reached into every corner of the athlete’s life. They have food for endurance activities, energy gels and blocks, and a line of protein and electrolyte beverage mixes to keep your body running well during and after activity. We’ve already covered the Organic Energy Food (it was covered alongside Clif’s other organic products), so we’ll jump right in with the Energy Gels.
It’s a crowded market for anyone hoping to offer up another competing gel product, but Clif has carved out a good niche for their product. We’ll start with the packaging. It comes in a pretty standard rip-top aluminum pouch, but Clif included something called a ‘litter leash’ which I absolutely love. It’s just a little strap of packaging that holds the portion that you’ll rip off, keeping it from fluttering away. Awesome. In terms of flavors, Clif has eight different varieties including five that have an extra boost of caffeine. I was also pleased to note, too, that many of the flavors have a high percentage of organic ingredients. I really enjoyed the shots that I took – they’re not quite as thick and syrupy as other gels I’ve used, making it easy to slurp them down without needing to drink half of my waterbottle just to lubricate things.
The Clif Shot Bloks are far and away my favorite energy product on the market. For one thing, they provide a crucial dose of electrolytes (the Margarita flavor has three times more than the rest of the flavors!) that have saved my butt on numerous occasions. I’ve used the Bloks while mountaineering, a time when hydration is especially crucial. The Bloks are great because it’s easy to open the package, snap down a block and then fold the package over itself and store it away. It’s a no-mess, convenient solution. Plus, the taste is absolutely great – not too heavy (though the Margarita one is a bit much for me) with, usually, a nice fruity balance. They’re also great on the bike, too, since they won’t leave your jersey pockets as potentially messy as a gel will.
A recovery drink is a must-have after training, especially if you’re pushing your body day after day. I’m always down for anything even vaguely resembling chocolate milk, and I really enjoyed the chocolate flavor. I was a bit skeptical of a fruity protein drink like orange mango, but Clif pulled off the combination well. There’s some of the characteristic grittiness of all protein drinks, of course, but the handy thing about the Clif offerings is that it’s easy to buy just one packet to see what you think.
Clif’s electrolyte drink mixes check off all the right boxes. They don’t rely on sugars as much as their competitors, so they won’t gum up your bottles or encourage bacterial growth. Clif has included roughly half as many carbohydrates in their electrolyte drink mixes as the competition, the idea being to reduce the ‘sloshing’ feeling that you can get in your stomach. I cant’ verify that claim, but I personally didn’t have any trouble adjusting to Clif’s unique recipe.
The Bottom Line: Clif Athlete Series
Regardless of the worth of the rest of the line, I’d be sold on the Athlete Series just for the Shot Bloks alone. They taste so good, and they’ve really helped me to stay hydrated in crucial moments. This summer, during an attempt of Mt. Rainier, a climbing partner became very ill due largely to dehydration. The Shot Bloks helped me to keep hydrated thanks to a good electrolyte intake, despite the fact that I had stretched my limited water supply over a considerably longer descent than I had originally planned. Being hydrated on the mountain contributes directly to safe decision making, and thus a safe climb. Bring Shot Bloks, they’ll help you climb better.
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