At the forefront of an outdoorsmans’ mind when selecting food, particularly on cold environment expeditions, is weight, calories and taste. If you can maximise the weight to calorie ratio whilst maintaining taste you’re on to a winner. We’re all aware that for sustained exercise of a moderate intensity or higher we need to replenish our limited carbohydrate stores. No doubt like me, you have tried a whole host of carbohydrate rich bars, balls and gels. I usually however revert back to the humble tried and tested chocolate bar. But after days or weeks ingesting hundreds and often thousands of calories per day via chocolate, it can become a little tiresome. Hence after catching some positive reviews on Twitter I decided to get my hands on some Oompf energy bars to sample. Here are my thoughts, but first some basic facts.

OompfBox
Nicely packaged

Basic Facts

  • Oompf energy bars are made via hand in Dorset and the raw ingredients are mixed and then cold pressed (presumably into a mould) – no baking in sight
  • The bars are made to order and are designed to be stored in the fridge where they can keep for up to four weeks, or up to three months in the freezer
  • The bars weigh in at 55g, which is comparable to a standard size mars bar at 51g (230kcal)
  • The bars are approximately 7.5cm long, 3.5cm wide and 2.5cm high
  • The total number of calories in each bar ranges from around 220kcal to a little over 300kcal
  • The bars are free from gluten, wheat, dairy, lactose and refined sugars
  • Oompf currently offer four bars (Awesome Acai, Cacao Charge, Oh So Pistachio and Very Berry)
  • Oompf also make energy balls, which look to weigh in a little heavier than the bars
OompfGrass
The full range of Oompf bars

My thoughts

I tried one of each of the four flavours. First impressions of the packaging are positive, the branding is visually appealing, and the grease lined foil wrapper looks like it has been applied with care and attention. Down the centre of the wrapper is a helpful fold which allows you to open the packaging in one fail swoop. From their website the bars are apparently folded in the same manner as nutritionists do in the pro cycling world to allow the riders to open with one hand and re-wrap easily. On an expedition I would remove the card outer to save weight, but would certainly keep the foil wrapper.

Given the small dimensions of the bars (see basic facts above), they feel a little bit like small dense gold bullions of energy. Upon unwrapping I was pleasantly surprised that this early promise was maintained by the look of the bar itself (see below). As I said in last weeks review of the Firepot meals, the initial look and smell is so important, particularly if you are out on your limit and need a psychological as well as physical boost. I would say that the bar’s, no doubt as they are handmade, look more appealing than analogous products such as the Nakd bars we now see in most supermarkets.

OompfPlate
Unwrapped ‘Oh So Pistachio’ bar

As I tucked into my first bar (Very Berry) I exclaimed out aloud ‘delicious’, which says all you need to know about this range. Having tried many similar mass produced ‘natural’ offerings I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. All four of the range taste great and have a characteristic moist and sticky texture, with the Pistachio bar almost reminding me of a soft gooey cake or brownie. The good thing however is they are not too sticky, sweet or heavy, and you don’t need a drink to wash them down. My favourite were by far and away the Pistachio and Berry. This was no doubt due to the use of robust and full flavoured nuts such as cashews and pistachios in the mix, and the addition of a little extra such as ground ginger or cacao nibs for a wee kick.

OompfBack Packet
Back of the packet nutritional information

Taste is important, but what of the ability to satiate? I’m quite easily satiated and can function on fumes very easily. My girlfriend however runs out of gas if we miss lunch, so it was to both of our surprise when we tucked into a bar each over breakfast and found ourselves walking into town in the early afternoon only to stop and hear her say ‘we didn’t have any lunch did we? and I don’t feel hungry’ – good job oompf!

Summary

In sum these are a great tasting high energy snack for the hillwalker and expedition goer (although I would want to test in sub-zero temperatures before recommending for polar travel), and I will likely be looking to use them in future. At £1.99 per bar (price drops as you buy in bulk) they are a little pricer than your average chocolate bar, but I do feel they are worth considering as a more wholesome and tastier alternative.

Next Review: I’ve tested a whole range of gear and food over the past two years and so I will be trying to publish more reviews in future. Next up will be Australian made Armaskin anti-blister socks which I tested out in Norway.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer sent me a free sample on my request and did not ask for a review.

About the Author Ash Routen

I’m a postdoctoral exercise scientist by day, and cold expedition adventurer (for want of a better term) and outdoors and health writer by night. I’m based in Leicester in the UK, but I also spend considerable time in Cambridge where my partner lives. To find out more about me, visit my about page or take a look at my published writing.

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