Best Meal Bars for Backpacking

Best Meal Bars for Backpacking

Meal bars can be a really easy way to get some fast energy while backpacking. I like to get an early start on backpacking trips so its usually dark and cold when I get up and I don’t feel much like cooking.  Meal replacement bars are the perfect breakfast because you don’t have to wait for water to boil on those early mornings.  They are also very calorie dense and pack nicely in a bear canister.  I admit, meal bars are not the healthiest option and I don’t opt for these when I am at home but while backpacking convenience and weight are huge factors in food choices.  Before you can choose one of the best meal bars, you need to know what qualifies as a good quality meal bar.

Qualities of the Best Meal Bars

  1. At least 300 calories – 300 calories would be a very small backpacking meal.  It would probably work for breakfast or lunch if you have other snacks shortly before or after.  Otherwise you will need two bars.
  2. Minimally processed ingredients – Make sure you read the labels on your bars because there are some really processed bars out there that are just junk and don’t contain any ingredients resembling food.  Common ingredients to avoid are high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, soy protein isolate, natural flavors, and fractionated palm kernel oil.
  3. Low in sugar/no refined sugar – Look for bars that are sweetened with dates or honey.  The lower the sugar content the better.
  4. Taste – If you don’t like the taste of your bar, you are not going to eat it out on the trail.  I often lose my appetite while out backpacking and I get tired of the same foods so try to switch it up and take a few different kinds and flavors of bars.


4 of the Best Meal Bars for Backpacking


1. Kate’s Grizzly Bars

$34.09 (12 pack) on Amazon

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This company was started by self-proclaimed ski bum Kate Schade after years of being prodded to start a bar business by ski friends.  The bars come two bars per package with 380 calories total.  They are made in the US with minimally processed ingredients.  Advertised as pocket meals, Kate’s bars really did keep me feeling full for quite a while and they taste great while out on the trail.  The one drawback is that the meal bar only comes in the one flavor, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate.  Kate’s also offers some lower calorie snack bars that offer other flavors like Peanut Butter Hemp Flax, and Dark Chocolate Cherry.


2. Green Belly Meals

The Best Meal Bars Green Belly Meals

$59.99 (9 pack) on Green Belly Site

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Green Belly Meals were started by Chris Cage who is an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast.  Green Belly Meals are now a go to for me while backpacking.  They taste great and are a true meal replacement bar with 1/3 of your daily nutrition for calories, carbs, fats, fiber, sodium, and protein in one package.  With three unique flavors, including Peanut Apricot, Cranberry Almond, and Dark Chocolate Banana, these are a must try for any backpacker.



3. Organic Food Bar Active Greens

$24.99 (12 pack) on Amazon

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Organic Food Bar is based in Nevada and all of the bars are made in a solar powered facility which is gluten free and Kosher certified.  All of the ingredients are certified organic and the Active Greens bar is fully raw and vegan with no refined sugars.  These bars offer sustained energy and are great for a trail breakfast or lunch.  They are on the lower end calorie wise at 300 calories/bar so you might want to double up for those high mileage days.



4. ProBar Meal

$39.99 (12 pack) on Amazon

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ProBar started selling at a local health food store in Park City, Utah before growing into a nationally known brand.  The ingredients are minimally processed and about 70% organic.  These bars are probably my favorite tasting of the four I’ve listed and I love to enjoy one with a cup of hot coffee or tea while backpacking.  One bar contains about 380 calories so its enough to hold you over until a midmorning snack.  See my full review on ProBar Meal Bars here.


Best Meal Bars Nutritional Content

BarCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Protein (g)
Kate's Real Food Grizzly Bars (2 bars)380165010
Green Belly Meals (2 bars)6452210017
Organic Food Bar (1 bar)300104116
ProBar Meal (1 bar)380204311


Do you have any real food ingredient meal bars that I missed?  Which do you think are the best meal bars?  Please leave a comment or question below!


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2 thoughts on “Best Meal Bars for Backpacking”

  • Just Beautiful.

    Really enjoyed your site as I viewed the meal bars that you talked about.

    I got hungry just from that picture that highlighted the choices. Very nice.

    As an avid hiker I am always looking for varying the choices while enjoying the outdoors. The selection has grabbed my fancy and intend to give them a try.

    As someone who used to be a Governor said, “I’ll be back”!

    How long is that hiking passion of yours?

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