With some exciting new additions to the line up, the Manchester-based bikepacking duo behind Outdoor Provisions sent ADVNTR contributor Michael Drummond some of their snacks to test.
It can be all to easy when browsing shelves with empty bellies and ravenous tendencies to glance over the provenance of the delightful, crunchy creamy fuel that will get you home before the dreaded bonk, or see you fly along on the extra 60 kilometres before checking in at the delightful hedgerow or underpass that will be home for the night. But even when in sleep deprived states and listening to the gut, we may still ask all sorts of lines of questioning surrounding ingredients, allergies, nutritional benefits and packaging of the inhabitants of each shelf of that petrol station eleventy miles from no-place.
Well, I’m here to tell you, someone else has gone that extra mile so you don’t have to.. .
Its a simple thing but it can really save you time, and undue stress, if like me you are a prescription spectacled, two wheel toting, semi fussy snack hoover that rarely turns down any opportunity to grab a few more of this or pack a little extra of that into the many pockets that adorn our bikes and attire.
Step up – Outdoor Provisions
Taking the leap in July 2019, moving away from full time employment; Christian of Outdoor Provisions set himself the task of solving one of the age old problems around those trusty snacks we stuff in our bags, pockets, nooks and crannies with such reckless abandon.
Those ever important snacks, which will bring a smile to your face, a spring in your step and that extra buzz to get you moving..
The ones that see you wrestling with that ‘easy’ open end only to eventually dive in with tired mind and cold hands as you watch all the tasty insides detonate in a beautiful slow motion crumbly confetti.
Knowing this pain and frustration all too well, this quest resulted in the ever popular and rather tasty and well conceived line of cold pressed bars. Tirelessly committed to “tip it back the way in favour of the environment” not only are the bars never going to crumble into a Dip-Dab, the cocoon in which they are contained is both easily opened and compostable! And thats not to say you have to research and locate a specific location with the appropriate composting facilities, I mean it can literally be snipped up and placed in your home compost and sure enough it will decompose before your eyes… (If you have nothing else to do, don’t sleep, refuse to blink and setup an elaborate lighting rig around your compost heap).
All this attention to detail hasn’t only been applied to the packaging and flavours either; the ingredients and combinations of them have all been scrutinised to make the lil’ blighters mega tasty and packed full of calories to keep you ticking.
Through countless iterations – approximately 47 – they solved the aforementioned problems and delivered flavours to cater to all sorts of persuasions, be that a cheeky Cherry Bakewell, or perhaps delightful choc-mint blend in the form of Choc Kendal Mint Cake. Fast forward to late 2020 and the Outdoor Provisions founders Christian and Luke nailed their four tasty cold formed bars, adding Bara Brith and Parkin to the previous two; it was time to throw a different hat into the ring.
Riding fuel made by riders
Fully at home in the saddle or tucked up in a bivvy, both Luke and Christian have a long history of bikepacking and creating incredible events such as the Second City Divide. This pair are no strangers to making use of the great outdoors, and racked up miles upon miles testing their products out on the trails. Like many of us, packing the right supplies comes before tyre pressures and navigation!
One such spectrum of supplies that seems to crop up in a great many kit grids and packing lists the world over is the faithful nut butter. Wether that be almond, peanut, cashew (fancypantz) salted, roast, smooth, crunchy, or some sort of Heston inspired hybridisation, love it or hate it. Whichever form you choose though, it’s often favoured because nut butters are delicious, nutritious, rich in calories and one of the few trailside delights you can just throw a spork in and shovel a load into ya gob.
However, its not very practical to be stopping, un-mounting the jar, unscrewing the lid and un-holstering your preferred utensil if time is of the essence and you got places to be. Not to mention the weight of a hefty glass jar… Et voilà: enter the sachet, the nut-butter sachet. Wallop! A pocket friendly, mile mustering, palette pal and I use none of these phrases lightly.
Now that I’ve finally cut to the chase and started to offer my opinions on the product under test, I’ll tell ya straight up I consume an awfully large amount of nut butter. Perhaps its a problem, I don’t know, I rinse through litres of it, chomp my way through tubs of it, bake with it, spread it, spoon it, dollop it and my God I blend it, and to throw the straw on the camels back it even gets chucked in the odd unexpected curry if the mood passes. Yet here’s the thing: I’ve only rarely played snacks n’ supplies Tetris with a pot of that nutty claggy treat, usually in the form of the odd happy shopper crunchy when I’ve been carelessly grazing with those ravenous tendencies I spoke of earlier. So to be offered the chance of trialling out a transportable pocket friendly range of nut butter cocktails I couldn’t reply fast enough with ye olde faithful thumbs up emoji.
Taking delivery offered the first wave of wholesome goosebumps, no plastic bag, no excessive tape and no 4 foot by 3 foot cardboard 1 bed flat. It was simple – a brown paper bag; recycled brown paper at that, which will continue on its recycling journey far beyond this single voyage to my letter box. ‘Unbagging’ was swift, almost as swift as my wardrobe change to slip into something more comfortable. SHORTS! In February, those unseasonably warm days were perfect to cruise out in style, and having mounted the Rock Lobster I set off for my favourite corner of the woods near home. Let the taste test begin! Although not before having a good read of the finer details, i.e. flavour, ingredients, and any other nuggets of info hidden between folds and my grabby digits acting out my hungry belly’s subconscious whims.
Here are the hard facts before I get into the tasting notes and pairings. Weighing in at 32g a piece each, the nut butter sachets pack a weighty 183/188 calories. Their diminutive size certainly doesn’t see them holding back on fuelling you well the right stuff. Dimensions-wise you’re looking at a squishy debit card, but with a bit more around the middle.
So as you can imagine, incredibly convenient to stash in any pocket that has room to spare, and seeing as how they are made of tough stuff too, you needn’t worry about an accidental opening and the ensuing sticky pockets. One thing I would be careful of is stuffing them in mesh pockets, as much like any other packaged item, corners can get pointy and while this didn’t happen to me with these, I’ve succumbed to it in the past, and am always conscious around tearing mesh, be that on cargo bibs or jersey pockets.
So the first taste, it was hard to decide between the two flavours, and which to take tear open first, and also how. ‘Knead well before you scoff’, the instructions read, so knead I did and moments after making the sachet dance its dance, my gut spoke to me and said… ’Well, go on then’.
My heart fluttered as I ripped into the corner with my teeth, and went full toothpaste roll. The tear was effortless, no faffing around or finding the right bit to open, and then the orchestra of flavour went fortissimo, the salt, the sweet, the earthiness. It was all there along with the texture which was bang on point, like a slow motion glug of water.
Some may say ya need a drink after but others relish that texture and for me its one the simple pleasures of nut butters. First impressions were genuinely wow, and the only reason I felt it necessary to offer such a descriptive passage to describe it. You can tell the flavour balance has been worked and worked on, a great salty punch while not overpowering the almond notes which take up 80% of the sachet, the fine blend of dates giving it some extra sweetness and viscosity round it out nicely too. Which is what makes this evermore impressive: this a beautifully simple gluten free, vegan, high calorie injection without any refined sugars or faff to get to.
My second taste test came swiftly after and this time I chose to don a pair of pretty clumsy Gripgrab winter gloves just to see if i would fumble around trying to get that second fix. No fumbling would occur, and I was straight in. Second hit, another 183cal this time offering notes of cashews with their unique flavour offset the the umami notes of the almonds that again make up the bulk of the other sachet, however this time further earthiness and pleasant bitterness comes in the form of coffee, beans roasted by neighbouring Blossom coffee in Manchester and vanilla powder.
How do you eat yours?
A completely different experience but equally as enjoyable, an important thing to outline here as well is the use of coconut oil to make for a slightly easier ‘pour’ – wether that be into your gob or better yet drizzled onto…
Well, that deserves a whole other paragraph, and the options are limited to your own imagination and you can go to town with whatever comes to mind I guess. An excellent topping on fruit, stirred into your morning porridge, slapped into a cheeky bread roll or even slathered on some Soreen should you be that way inclined.
Then again why not double on the Outdoor Provisions hit and drizzle their nut butter on say a Parkin bar because, why not? All these options are great, but the real win is the solo scoff, having been able to get out and do a handful of rides loading my pockets up with only sachets to hand I can genuinely vouch for their Oomph and flavour. I wont get bored of them and cannot wait to place a repeat prescription/subscription for a box of each.
My personal fave and one that I will certainly be repeating now that the world is opening up is the classic banana boat, perfectly charred in campfire. My medley included the coffee, almond and cashew butter, vegan chocolate chunks and a peppering of an Outdoor Provisions Cherry Bakewell bar. Ten to fifteen minutes on a hot fire and you have a dessert fit for Lords and Ladies.
In the past I have spent hours in the kitchen and on food nutrition calculators to devise my own snack bars and fuel for endurance challenges, but these sachets are such a simple, elegant and downright delicious solution to what can be a rather mind-numbing conundrum. This was perfectly surmised by Christian in my talk with him to understand a little more of the product, he said, “Its really hard for us not to be authentic”. I couldn’t agree more, to the core of what they do, make, say think they are authentic and what they have made is a triumph. And as if that wasn’t enough, they are also a 1% for the Planet company, meaning that at least 1 percent of sales go to an environmental initiative, in this case the RSPB’s Raptor Investigations Team, which is a direct way of giving back to our planet and protecting it with intent.
Looking for delicious, pocketable and versatile snacks that are totally natural, responsibly made and won’t leave a scar on the planet? Why not try a mixed box of nut butters for £15 or bars 8-pack for £13.50 direct from Outdoor Provisions. You can get a lovely 20% off your first order, and if you’re just as satisfied as I was, sign up for an Outdoor Provisions subscription at a discounted rate, so you can know you’ve got a steady monthly supply of your favourite snacks to keep you riding.
Last modified: 14th April 2021
Had one of the butters this morning on bran flakes and oat milk, the bars are also nom.
Oooh that sounds like a good combo! Looking forward to trying some bikepacking on porridge too…