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Range Meal Bar Review

Range Meal Bar Review

Range Meals Bars are highly caloric and flavorful meal replacement bars for easy sustenance during calorie-intensive outdoor pursuits. Packing a walloping 700 calories (5.7 oz), these bars contain gluten-free and non-GMO ingredients, ideal for people who have dietary restrictions or want to watch what they eat. They’re also shelf-stable, which isn’t something you don’t see that often with cottage backpacking meals, which expire quite quickly and don’t keep well across hiking seasons.

Range Meals is a very small company based in Bozeman, Montana founded by Zach Hein, an engineering student who got started making his own meal bars for trips with his friends. After graduating, he taught himself how to run a food company with help from the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University and further education on food entrepreneurship, before securing space at a commercial kitchen where the bars are made and packaged.

Range Meal Bars are dense, but have surprisingly good “mouth feel.
Range Meal Bars are dense, but have a surprisingly good “mouth feel.”

Range Meals currently sells two bar flavors, Alpine Start, which includes coffee, peanut butter, and coffee, and Fresh Tracks, which includes ginger, molasses, and sea salt. Both of these bars are DENSE, which the norm with meal bars, and they’re best consumed with a liter of water. I’ve found the Alpine Start Bar to be a good trail breakfast when you want to get out of camp fast and you can really feel the caffeine when you eat one. The Fresh Tracks bar is good for later in the day, in between lunch and dinner, when you need some extra energy to crank out more miles.

Both bars have a dark and smoky flavor which you’d expect with their ingredient list. Most of the bars’ calories are from unsaturated fats and carbs with a significant amount of potassium in each bar. They also contain milk products and tree nuts, FYI. Here’s a video of Zach, explaining how the bars are made.

Meal bars are of course all the rage these days for people who don’t want to cook on backpacking trips, but I’d caution you against trying to live off them as your only calorie source because you’ll get bored of them pretty quickly. Variety is the key to keeping your tummy and body happy when hiking or backpacking.

I’d encourage you to buy these meal bars directly from Range Meal Bar to help them bootstrap their business. Zach offers flat range shipping and shipping is free for purchases over $50. They’re also available from Garage Grown Gear.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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  1. I decided meal bars will be my lunch of the future on section hikes. I made up lunches for my most recent hike but had to stop and fish something out of the bag for just about every bite. With meal bars, I can eat as I walk–just as long as I don’t try chewing gum at the same time! Meal bars will help keep an old slow Grandpa on schedule.

  2. While I still use these type of bars on hikes, my experimenting has relegated them to niche use in my trail food packing. About 20 years ago, I was on a 9 day hike and packed only Clif Bars for lunch, thinking it would be much easier, allowing me to just pop one out of my hip belt and continue hiking or sit without taking my pack off. What I found was that by day 5, I was sick of them and actually kind of forcing them down, to make sure I was eating something during the day. It took me several years after that to be even able to face a Clif bar again. I have found the same reaction with every other meal bar I have tried since. On top of that, at my age, hiking just 10-20 miles a day is enough. I have found that I enjoy getting off my feet for a short rest and getting my pack off too to eat lunch. The exception is if it is raining or below 20F.

    • I don’t pack 2 or more of anything in my food bags. Boredom kills appetite. I have the same problem you have with couscous to this day. The thought of eating it (FBC) makes me want to gag.

  3. Lots of expert advice gained from from experience… and the experts don’t want to repeat the experience! I will consider the lunch bars as more of an every-other-day thing. I met a thru-hiker on one of our section hikes who had stocked up on four Backpacker’s Pantry meals he got really cheap, enough for his and his buddy’s entire thru-hike. Before he exited Georgia, he was giving them away to any who would take them and is probably traumatized for life at the mere mention of Backpacker’s Pantry. What traumatized him even more was that his buddy bailed on him after 2 weeks, leaving him with a double supply of Backpacker’s Pantry to get rid of.

  4. Christine Benton

    I have tried a variety of bars and the only ones I like that actually taste like real food are ProBars. Banana Nut Bread with some dates makes a really good breakfast. However I have not heard of these Range Meal Bars and may give them a try. So thanks Phillip!

    • Probars are still the best, especially when they’re still fresh and chewy. I am also a big fan of pound cake and lots of hot tea for breakfast. Lovely to hear from you as always, Christine!

  5. robert d childs

    I have had a problem with anything sweet when i backpack. I need the salty stuff or fish I catch. Does anyone know about BUILT bars? Are they just another protein bar? Also what is a good energy source when backpacking? Do protein bars supply any energy?

  6. 88 Grams of carbohydrate in a bar make them unsuitable for keto or low carb eaters. I found KetoBricks to be good keto/low carb bars with 1,000 Cal and not too sweet. Delicious actually.

  7. Hammy Handwerker

    I’ve been racing triathlon for nearly 30 years, and backpacking for just a little bit longer. I have always found that nutritional consistency is important because your body knows how to react to what you feed it and when and how much you feed it. When you find the proper solution, don’t mess with it. With that being said, I’ve got my thru-hike plan that works for me. This past year, I tried out Range bars ( purchased through the awesome team at Garage Grown Gear) and they are a fantastic solution…for me!

    I encourage everyone out there to try these bars. And you don’t necessarily have to use it for a complete meal replacement. You can eat half the bar now and half the bar later, or nibble on it over a few hours. Figure out what works for you.

    I am now a repeat customer of Range bar and I’ve also shared them with a number of other backpackers and endurance athlete.

  8. I usually just eat bars and snacks until dinner so having a good variety is important. Probars and Kate’s are favorites. The new(er) Cliff nut butter bars are pretty good too. I tried both of the Probars on a 10d trip a couple of weeks ago. I thought the taste and texture of both were above average. These bars are pretty hefty in size (5.7 oz / 700 kcal!) and truly are a meal replacement. I don’t think I could eat one in a sitting but spread out over a couple of hours on trail they definitely fueled me up.

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