I noticed a person tweeting about Pocket Fuel and I was intrigued. I love the idea of whole food nutrition in a small pouch. Usually, I use Clif Shot gels for runs longer than an hour. I was excited to try something different from my traditional gel.
Pocket Fuel uses nut butters as a base with the addition of various fruits, seeds, and natural sugar. It doesn’t have the typical gel consistency. It’s thicker and the consistency is textured and sometimes grainy.
I bought three pouches from REI: Banana Blueberry and Chia Goji Honey (both almond butter based) and the hazelnut butter based Chocolate Haze.
The first one I tried was the Chocolate Haze. I’m a sucker for anything chocolate. I took it out on an easy 12 miler. I followed the website instruction to squish and squeeze vigorously to make the consistency gooey and easier to consume on the run. After about 5 minutes of kneading the mixture, I left for my run. I held the packet in one hand and after seven miles I opened the cap to eat some. When I squeezed the pouch I first got a taste of oil before the hazelnut butter. I needed to squish the contents some more to mix everything up. I did this and it came out mixed, but in globs. It was cold outside and I was probably better off taking something that would not freeze over so easily, but I was excited to try something new! I sucked as much of the mixture out of the pouch as I could and resealed the with the cap. There was a good bit of the mixture left inside that I couldn’t squeeze out, so I took the rest home.
After this experience, I figured Pocket Fuel would best be used as a pre/post run snack. The package being bulky, the mixture thick, and the work you have to do to consume the content doesn’t make Pocket Fuel an “on the move” food source.
What I did for the other flavors was to spread it over toast before and after my run. I ran the pouch under hot water while massaging the mixture for a couple of minutes to get it to a spreadable consistency. The flavors I tasted were very good and satisfying. I can probably eat more than two packets after a hard run!
You have to give the folks over at Pocket Fuel a lot of credit for coming up with something that is so unique. I don’t think there is any other product out there that has the hunger satisfying properties of a fuel bar in an easy-to-digest consistency. Bravo!
Some challenges Pocket Fuel will have to address are the packaging, the ingredients and how they react to temperature change, and easing the user experience.
The hard plastic cap Pocket Fuel uses makes stuffing the pouch in small areas hard and uncomfortable. Also, while trying to get as much of the content out of the pouch, theres is always some that remain because you can’t squeeze past the plastic tubing tip. Sucking, as the website suggest, doesn’t work (partly because the contents have to be in liquid form for this to work).
I kept the pouches of Pocket Fuel on my dining room table for a couple of days. My house is kept at a constant 68 degrees. At this temperature, the nut butter base remained separate from the liquids in the pouch and hard. With the air temperature at 34 degrees during the one run I took Pocket Fuel with me, the contents separated and the bottom where the hazelnut butter settled into felt like a piece of stone. It took some effort to get it to a consistency I could squeeze through the pouch.
Understandably, using whole food ingredients will present some problems. We all know about oils separating from natural nut butters, and clumping of some fruits and seeds when mixed in liquid, but when something is marketed as “ready when you are” I don’t want to do much work when I’m ready for some food.
I hope they’re working on some changes because it’s a great tasting product with some unique nutritional benefits that are not often found in other fuel “gels.”
Some minor things I want to address:
-I don’t think the whole reusable pouch thing adds any value to the product. It takes too much effort to get the contents out and clean it. After that, what are we suppose to use it for? Gel consumers buy fuel gels for convenience, ease of use, and the ability to just throw them away. Perhaps recyclable rather than reusable.
-Not sure if this is a common occurrence, but I noticed every package of Pocket Duel sold at the REI location I went to was oily. Being sealed with a twist off cap it was easy for contents to leak out.