A Hammer Bar is not the only energy bar boasting natural ingredients, but as far as we know it’s the only one certified organic by the USDA. Both bar versions are also kosher-certified and the almond raisin is certified vegan.
Those credentials may be important if you’re a cyclist who wolfs down half-a-dozen energy bars on long rides. Why not get your calories from a pure, natural product if you have a choice? Now you do. This may be an attractive concept to riders that consume boxes of bars each season and wonder about the health consequences.
Hammer Bars come in two flavors that I found sweet but not cloyingly so. At least the sweetness comes from natural organic sources and not refined sugar, fructose or corn syrup as in some energy bars.
The consistency of a Hammer Bar is much softer than, say, a PowerBar, making it quick to chew, liquefy and swallow. During my testing, freezing temperatures didn’t make the bars hard and hot temps didn’t melt them. Unlike cookie-type bars (Clif and Peak, for example), Hammer Bars can’t crumble or break into inhale-able chunks.
The texture is a bit mealy and oily. Apparently the oiliness comes from the leading ingredient in both flavors, organic almond butter. It produces a slippery coating inside the wrapper and inside the mouth, but that helps each bite go down easily. No water chaser necessary. This oiliness may or may not be objectionable depending on your personal sensation, but it’s certainly unusual.
You can peel some energy bars from their wrappers and store them naked in a rear jersey pocket for easy access. That won’t work with Hammer Bars because of their softness and oiliness. The foil wrapper is not tough to open but it can tear in directions you don’t want. Combined with a bar’s limp and slippery qualities, opening and eating one on the roll is more difficult than with the average energy bar.
Hammer Bars come from Hammer Nutrition Ltd., a boutique outfit in Whitefish, Montana. The company markets a number of nutritional products aimed at improving performance in endurance sports. Once Hammer has your address, you’ll receive newsletters and other mailings promoting its goods. I’ve purchased a few items and found the customer service to be excellent.
The chocolate chip and almond raisin bars look the about same and have similar ingredients. The chocolate is mild with chips almost too small to notice. Both flavors are tasty enough that I had no trouble continuing to eat after several bars had already gone down.
At $2.49 for a 50-gram bar with 220 calories, Hammer Bars cost 1.13 cents per calorie. This compares to 0.7 cents per calorie for a 250-calorie, 77-gram Peak Bar ($1.75) and 0.5 cents per calorie for a 250-carlorie, 68-gram Clif Bar ($1.25). Hammer Bars, being smaller, aren’t particularly filling. I tended to feel hungry sooner on long rides when I ate them exclusively.
Don’t expect to save by finding Hammer Bars at a discount. Hammer Nutrition prohibits internet retailers from advertising them for less than the $2.49 suggested retail price ($29.88 for a box of 12), and they are not sold through discount catalogs.
If you like energy bars and want your on-bike nutrition (or off-bike snacking) to be more natural, Hammer Bars are certainly worth trying. They aren’t what you’re used to. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing only you can decide.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.