Price: $39 for six 3 oz. pouches ($6.50/pouch)
Packaging: 3 fl. oz. resealable pouch
Flavors: Salted Maple, Coffee Maple, Elderberry Maple
Obtained by: Company sample
RBR advertiser: No
Staying Energized During Winter Rides
I’ve used maple syrup as a wintertime energy source for several years. What’s nice about maple syrup is that it has a low freeze point, add some sea salt, and it drops even more. But the one problem with many syrups and gels is you must consume the whole packet as there’s no way to reseal. Second, if there isn’t a trash can nearby, you must figure out what to do with a sticky, messy packet. And lastly, what about when you rip open the packet, and it doesn’t open all the way? There’s no way to get to your nutrition without cutting the top of the packet open.
Then in mid-December, I attended a Fatbike Gear & Adventure Day webinar hosted by The Nxrth, and Laura Hrubes from Embark was one of the panelists. After the event, I contacted Laura to ask more about Embark, its products, and its unique pouch design.
Located in Wisconsin, the owners of Embark are maple farmers (tapping about 2000 trees / year) and small business owners combining a business around their love of the outdoors. In addition, the company puts people and the planet before profits by being part of 1% for the Planet. Their maple syrups are certified organic by NICS and Climate Neutral certified.
Three Varieties to Choose From
Embark offers three flavors of their Embark Maple; Salted, Coffee, and Elderberry. Each pouch provides the energy and nutrition of three commercial energy gels. The company’s unique packaging is in resealable pouches. This is perfect for cycling when you want only a certain amount of nutrition. The resealable pouch lets you consume what you need, seal it up, and not worry about a sticky mess in your jersey pocket or frame bag.
When it comes to packaging, I wish more companies would partner with a recycling firm like TerraCycle to avoid wrappers and pouches ending up in landfills.
I tested the Salted Maple and Elderberry Maple flavors on recent fat bike trails and singletrack rides. My favorite was the Salted Maple. The sweet and salty combo was perfect. The Elderberry was ok, just not for my taste palate. As for the Coffe Maple, I handed that off to a friend, Jennifer, to try since I don’t care for coffee. Yes, I’m one of the few cyclists that don’t drink coffee.
Jennifer liked the coffee flavor very much and thought it wasn’t too intense, but she did notice a slight alcohol aftertaste. Be advised the Coffee Maple has an extra kick with 72 mg of caffeine in a 3 oz pouch. She, too, liked the packaging, being able to consume a specific size serving, screw on the cap, and put it back in her pocket for later. So her bottom line is she’d buy it.
I didn’t consume the pouch on one ride, which got me thinking. I reached out to Laura and asked about the product’s shelf life. Her response was, “We are actually working on this right now and don’t have official results yet. But I can share with you that “preliminary testing indicates at least a week unrefrigerated, pending microbial testing; however, drinking directly from the pouch reduces unrefrigerated shelf life. Refrigeration increases open shelf life to at least a month, again pending microbial testing.” The fact that your mouth touches the pouch opening introduces additional bacteria, affecting the product’s shelf life.
Multiple Ways to Consume Embark Maple
The company promotes a variety of ways to consume Embark Maple. First, directly from the pouch for athletic energy. Second, you can mix it in water as a hydration aid; they highly recommend the elderberry flavor for this option. Or use it when camping, mixing it in oatmeal, over pancakes, or even cocktails. The company has a variety of recipes here.
A Slightly Higher Price Point
Embark charges $39 for six 3 oz pouches of Maple Energy, which equates to $6.50 each or $2.17 per ounce. This equates to only a few cents higher than a well-known gel brand. The high quality, all natural, organic ingredients, plus supporting a small business, make the slightly higher price point worth it.
Embark Maple’s resealable pouch is a game changer when choosing a syrup or gel for on the bike nutrition. Goodbye, sticky hands and packs. I like the Salted Maple flavor the best, while my friend picked the Coffee version with caffeine. Embark’s line of products is worth a look, especially if you are into winter riding.
In addition to Maple Energy, Embark produces bourbon barrel-aged syrup. Unfortunately, they did not send a sample of that product. Maybe next time.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women’s cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri’s full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.