We’re no strangers to on-the-go fueling and the laundry list of products that fall into that category. In our office is an ever-rotating roster of bars, gels, chews, and powders that we’ve been asked to try and, at any given point, hold very strong opinions about.
But last year’s launch of Clif’s Nut Butter bar—a traditional energy bar wrapped around creamy nut butters—especially stood out. These bars, made entirely from organic ingredients, clock in at less than 230 calories with an average of ten grams of sugar and seven grams of protein in every package. The addition of nut butters brings healthy fat and natural proteins to the line so you get a more prolonged release of energy—perfect for longer-distance, lower-intensity adventures—whereas the original Clif bars contain more sugar for a quicker burst of energy during high-intensity efforts.
Since the launch, the staff debate has raged about which flavor reigns supreme or if these bars really are the magic solution to fueling that we wanted them to be. To decide once and for all, we put all seven flavors (including some that just hit stands this month) through a rigorous taste test. Here are our picks, ranked from bottom to top.
#7. Caramel Chocolate Peanut Butter
Launching this summer, this variation caters to those looking for a dessert-like treat. If you don’t like your fuel to be sweet, try one of the more balanced flavors.
What to Get Excited About: “Swoon. That is all.” —Scott Rosenfield, digital editorial director
What to Watch For: “I went through three or four love-it-then-hate-it arcs while chewing. There’s something very delicious and indulgent about it, but it’s also probably a little too much.” —Wes Judd, assistant editor
#6. Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter
This was one of the more polarizing in the bunch, often coming down more to staffers’ bigger-picture thoughts on banana flavors in anything besides the fruit than to the bar itself.
What to Get Excited About: “No one is more surprised than I am—I thought I would hate this. But I love it! The chocolate cuts the banana flavor. I’d happily eat this for breakfast.” —Erin Ladd, marketing manager
What to Watch For: “This was a little too much banana for me, and the texture came off a little mushy. But I’m always down for chocolate.” —Mitch Breton, video production curator
#5. Peanut Butter
It’s the old standby you know and love. So did we, for the most part.
What to Get Excited About: “This is classic. It doesn’t try to do too much, but it delivers in taste and texture.” —Luke Whelan, assistant editor
What to Watch Out For: “This is super tasty, but do not eat it without water! And maybe some floss.” —Jenny Earnest, assistant social media editor
#4. Chocolate Peanut Butter
Despite being a flavor combo that most people love, this bar actually sparked some heated discussion.
What to Get Excited About: “The difference in textures between the shell and filling is really nice, especially when we’re talking about chocolate and peanut butter. Definitely a favorite.” —Ben Fox, assistant gear editor
What to Watch For: “Very good taste, but bordering on too much peanut butter. It sticks to the top of your mouth so it’d be hard to eat during a ride or run.” —Petra Zeiler, deputy art director
#3. Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
You won’t find any peanut butter in the top three flavors. Instead, staffers’ tastes skewed in favor of alternative nut butters. In the case of the hazelnut variety, it was like eating healthier Nutella.
What to Get Excited About: “This tastes more like dessert than a protein bar, which I like. My go-to for all hiking and skiing” —Madeline Kelty, assistant photography editor
What to Watch For: “I could smell it before I could taste it. So I think most of the hazelnut flavor actually came from my nose. That said, I’d totally continue to eat these.” —Olivia Harlow, editorial producer
#2. Coconut Almond Butter
Coconut and almond butter—two darlings of the performance-food world—come together to create a pretty awesome snack. Our only real complaint? We wanted bigger bars.
What to Get Excited About: “Hot damn! Makes me feel like I’m sitting on a beach somewhere and sipping a tropical drink. I love this.” —Erin Berger, associate editor
What to Watch For: “I want more coconut!” —Aleta Burchyski, copy editor
#1. Blueberry Almond Butter
Our favorite flavor—the one that we’d use for mid-hike fueling, campsite snacking, or just to crush afternoon hunger—hasn’t even hit shelves yet. We recommend stocking up as soon as you can.
What to Get Excited About: “Freaking delicious. And those succulent blueberries!” —Axie Navas, executive editor
What to Watch For: “This is basically a softer, chewier version of the original blueberry flavor. But I dig that one. So, yes, this is really good.”—Chris Thompson, visual producer