When the creator of Greenbelly Meals offered me samples of the “perfect” backpacking meal he invented, I did two things: 1) read the ingredients — real, with a noticeable lack of weird forms of highly processed protein powers  — and, 2) read some of the articles on Greenbelly’s website, which proved a trove of good REAL info. Since his products and content seemed to be low on the bull-shit meter, and something I thought I and Improvised Life readers might find useful, I agreed to sample the bars for overall balance of good things and enjoyability, with the proviso that I would report honestly.


Chris Cage says invented his meal bars after quitting his accounting job and spending two years backpacking, cycling, and hiking the world, when he found that he was constantly….hungry. Getting balanced nutrition was difficult, demanding too much preparation and meal planning; protein bars didn’t sustain him. So he set out to make his own portable meal: each 5.5 ounces Greenbelly bar claims a third of daily nutrition for calories, carbs, protein, sodium, fats and fiber.

Greenbelly Peanut Apricot Bar / photo, Sally Schneider

The Greenbelly Bars are surprising: pleasingly chunky, as though a mass of dried fruit and nuts were squashed together and adhered with just enough sweeteners like brown rice syrup and agave to hold together. The rough texture makes for good mouth feel and richer, more distinct flavors than the usual energy bar.

They have a higher than usual salt ratio, which give them some of the effect of a salted sweet (think salted caramel) which I like. They lacked the gluey manufactured quality of many energy bars, contained no highly-processed protein forms or cheap vitamins and were void of aggressive “natural flavorings” that put me off many bars including Clif Bars. They have a higher percentage of protein to sugars than many snack bars.

Greenbelly Peanut Apricot Bar / photo, Sally Schneider

Since Greenbelly bars are extremely calorie-dense, I cut them up and wrapped pieces to take with me as quick fuel while I walked around town. I really liked Greenbelly as a snack and sweet.

Greenbelly Dark Chocolate Banana Bar / photo, Sally Schneider

As for whether they work as a meal replacement, fuel is such a personal thing its hard to say if their makeup will work for everyone (reviews online are seriously good). For me, not so. My body is fueled by animal protein, vegetable matter, nuts and minimal sugars.

That said, I find myself craving the Peanut Apricot Bar as a sweet and quick energy boost. Dark Chocolate Banana has lots of chocolate and, thankfully, no fake banana flavor, but I am not crazy about slightly alkaline flavor of its abundance of cocoa. The Cranberry Almond is a solid ‘good’.

Greenbelly Cranberry Almond Bar/ photo, Sally Schneider

I sampled a variety of meal bars and found Greenbelly’s to be way more satisfying than all I tried.  One Greenbelly is roughly equivalant to three energy bars. Although they are a tad pricey, I found the bang for the buck better than most. I wish they were made with organic ingredients.

And if Chris Cage’s invention isn’t your cup of tea, here are some articles on Greenbelly’s website that make for both useful and compelling reading:

16 Best Edible Insects   Solid info. Years ago, I sampled three kinds of insect and cooked with four (I couldn’t face eating a waterbug). Long story.

The BEST stuff to use for Blister Prevention is just that. Leukotape, which I didn’t know about, is awesome, for hikers and us urban types honking around town.

6 Best Minimalist Sandals: Guide to Barefoot and Running Sandals.  Surprisingly stylish. His point about Zero Drop being an essential consideration is, for me, completely right, and somethign I don’t see many people write about.

32 Best Hiking Movies and Outdoor Documentaries   Good list. I’m going to bookmark it for when I need an escape but don’t have the gas to actually leave the house.

Naked Hiking  taught me about a form of hiking I’d never considered. There’s some beautiful instagrams in the article.


You can buy Greenbelly Bars at Amazon and at Greenbelly.co

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2 replies on “What to Eat When Hiking Naked and Other Essential Info

  1. This sounds good! And then there’s GORP…good ole raisins and peanuts…which can be enhanced and upgraded with other nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate bits etc. My guess is it would provide similar levels of nutrition at a fraction of the cost.

  2. Tapioca syrup, the crisp brown rice also contains brown rice syrup, plus honey, plus agave=sugar+sugar+sugar+sugar. Then add in all the dried fruit that, while fiberous also add sugar…..I can only imagine the sugar crash after this.

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