Alpine Aire Snacks, Dips, and Smoothies

Final Update: 7/6/17

A multi-day trip into the Nantahala Wilderness in Western North Carolina allowed me to test out most all of the snacks while on the trail. I will rate each of the items by two criteria:

  1. Taste
  2. Backcountry ease-of-use (BEU)*

*This metric my own creation and simply refers a products utility outdoors and  how easy the product is to use in the backcountry (eg. backpacking, hiking, etc)

For more information about each item, see initial review below. 

Banana Berry

Taste: B+

BEU: B+

If you’re like me, when you buy breakfast cereal with freeze dried strawberries, you take careful time in pouring as many strawberries into your bowl as possible. That’s essentially what the Banana Berry snack is – freeze dried strawberries and bananas, packaged together.  I enjoyed the strawberries’ and bananas’ taste – sweet but with a little tart and tang. There is a lot of “dust” in the bag which get’s SUPER sticky and messy, so be careful. That’s the only reason that I didn’t rate the Backcountry Ease-of-Use (BEU) higher.

Conclusion: I would easily take these on a trip again. It can be eaten by itself (like I did) or put on some instant oatmeal for breakfast.

Cinnacrisp Slices:

Taste: C+

BEU: A

Light and crunchy (think astronaut ice-cream), the texture wasn’t a turn off. These had a little more tang to them than I thought they would. Two of three on the trip enjoyed them, while the third thought they tasted funny. They were easy to eat, not messy, but the taste was a little interesting after the third or fourth slice.

Conclusion: I would consider taking these along with me again. The sweet and tangy flavor profile was a welcome treat after the salty and bland trail food we had for dinner.

Spicy Southwest Hummus:

Taste: B

BEU: C-

The jalepeno spiciness was there as advertised, but it needed a little bit of salt to take away some of the blandness. I poured it out into a bowl and added water which was pretty easy. It could be possible to mix in the bag, but it may not mix evenly and could be difficult to scoop out as you eat. Make sure you add water slowly. The last thing you would want with this is runny, watery hummus.

Conclusion: I think I would pass on taking this on a backpacking trip. Prep and cleaning makes this more of a snack where you aren’t concerned about weight or additional clean up.

Grape Escape

Taste: D

BEU: B

The first couple of bites weren’t too bad. The more we ate, the less we enjoyed them and ended up tossing at least half of the bag. Hard to put a finger on what they tasted like, but it wasn’t much like grapes, and definitely nothing like raisins. They are easy to eat, but can be a little sticky if they come into contact with any moisture.

Conclusion: I’ll pass on these in the future. Really, it comes down to their strange  taste. The more we ate, the less we liked them.

Chocolate Cranberry Crunch

Taste: A+

BEU: A

More please! This tasted like a million bucks. Lots of flavors and big chunks of chocolate meant this was our favorite snack of the bunch and was quickly gone. I would buy this just to snack on any and every day. Lots of calories and a great morale booster because of the taste.

Conclusion: This stuff is fantastic. I would definitely pack with me again. The only reason the backcountry ease-of-use (BEU) is that the packing that the mix comes in, is a little big for the volume of actual product (think potato chip bag).

Berry Blast Smoothie

Taste: C

BEU: F

I think I was most excited about this than any of the other snacks. It was the one snack we were talking about how we couldn’t wait to try once we made camp. The suggested use was to take along a sealable bottle, insert the powder, add water and shake. We were low on water and I didn’t want to get one of the water bottles sticky without enough water to wash it out. So, in what I thought was a compromise to the directions, I poured the smoothie powder into a mug and added water, with intentions of stirring the mixture into its proper consistency. It was a disaster. The power would not mix and instead turned into small hydrophobic lumps which then stuck to the mug and utensil that I used to stir. The powder clung to everything as if it was super glue. In the end, I gulped down the “mixture” and threw away the other half that I was going to share with a buddy to spare him the same poor experience.

Conclusion: I think I will pass on this snack. If I was going to give this another try, I would bring along a disposable water bottle (just make sure to pack it out).

Spicy Cheddar Bean Dip

Bean dip on pita chip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taste: A

BEU: C

This one was a surprise to me as the bean dip was very good! The “Spicy” in Spicy Cheddar Bean Dip definitely lives up to its name. If you aren’s a fan of spicy foods, then stay away, because this dip has a kick. The taste was great, to the point where I wouldn’t be disappointed if someone served it at a restaurant. I made my with a cup of cold water and let it sit for 25 minutes and I was happy with the results. You can also use hot water which will melt the cheese and give you a different texture. The directions recommend preparing in a different container (which I did), but if you’re on the trail, I would attempt to prepare in the bag that it comes in.  I like easy cleanup, so using a separate container means packing more stuff in and more cleanup. That’s the reason I gave it a “C” for Backcountry ease-of-use (BEU).

Conclusion: I really enjoyed the bean dip. I’d take it backpacking again, but would try to prep in the bag it comes with (and don’t forget chips to eat with it!)


Initial Report – May 21, 2017

Few things can change how a trip in the backcountry is remembered more than food. Insufficient quantity or poor quality can dull the thrill of bagging a summit or ruin the satisfaction of a hard earned day on the trail.

I received a variety of snacks, dips, and smoothies from Alpine Aire Foods. Alpine Aire has been around since 1979 and was recently acquired by the Katadyn Group in 2012. They specialize in “all-natural freeze-dried and dehydrated, instant meal, side dishes, breakfasts, soups and desserts.”

As I haven’t tested any of these in the field yet, this initial review will give you my initial thoughts and some general facts and key points about each of the Alpine Aire Products. I will be testing the following products from Alpine Air:

Cinnacrisp Slices

Cinnacrisp Slices

  • Gluten Free
  • 2 servings
  • 60 cal per serving
  • Ready to eat, no prep necessary
  • All natural
  • Non-GMO

Best for: snacks, breakfast, dessert

(very) Initial Thoughts: these freeze dried apple crisps will serve as an addendum to something else that I am eating (added to oatmeal at breakfast, trail mix as a snack, etc).


Spicy Southwest Hummus

Spicy Southwest Hummus

A spicy hummus mix with taco seasoning and jalapeños.

  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • 2 servings
  • 360 calories per serving
  • 14 g of protein per serving
  • No MSG
  • Prep Required

Best for: snacking

(very) Initial Thoughts: This will probably be a good mid day snack while on the trail. I assume that I will need to pack in some other kind of food in with me to eat the hummus with (pita bread/chips/etc).


Chocolate Cranberry Crunch

Chocolate Cranberry Crunch

“The perfect blend of sweet chocolate, savory fruit and just the right amount of nutty crunch.”

  • Gluten Free
  • 3 servings
  • 300 calories per serving
  • Non-GMO
  • contains: roasted almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins,  cranberries, dark chocolate chips, vanilla chips,

Best for: snacking and dessert

(very) Initial Thoughts: I’ve had to keep myself from opening this one up at home. Can’t wait to dig into this one on the trail. Could be a good dessert or even breakfast.


Grape Escape

Grape Escape

“Nature’s Candy. These seedless grapes are freeze dried for a sweet crunch that is sure to delight.”

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • 2 servings
  • 130 calories per serving

Best for: Snacking, dessert, breakfast

(very) Initial Thoughts: These are intriguing to me. They don’t appear to be raisins, but rather freeze dried grapes. Could be added to oatmeal or just snacked on.


Banana Berry

Banana Berry

“A delicious blend of sweet and tart with these beautiful bananas and strawberries.”

  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Non-GMO
  • 2 servings
  • 60 calories per serving

Best for: snacking, dessert, breakfast

(very) Initial Thoughts: I’ve been guilty of eating all of the freeze-dried strawberries out of cereal for years, so I am pretty stoked about this one. Low in calories so I see this one as more of an emotional food pick-me-up rather than nutrition to refuel.


Spicy Cheddar Bean Dip

Spicy Cheddar Bean Dip

“This spicy little instant dip is a great mix of beans, cheese, sour cream and spices.”

  • Gluten Free
  • 2 servings
  • 310 calories per servings

Best for: snacking

(very) Initial Thoughts: Sounds great in theory, but I am a little nervous about the execution on this one. I’ll probably use it as a snack.


Berry Blast Smoothie

Berry Blast Smoothie

“This protein-packed smoothie is flavored with just the right amount of strawberry and banana; it’s great for breakfast or a quick healthy snack.”

  • Gluten free
  • 1 serving
  • 220 calories per serving

Best for: snacking and breakfast

(very) Initial Thoughts: I’ve used a couple of military MRE smoothies and have enjoyed them. They, however, incorporated the packaging as a container to drink out of. This isn’t the case for this smoothie. I’ll need to make sure to have a container available to make the smoothie in.

I have a multi-day trip in June that I plan on testing all of these snacks, smoothie, and dips out on. I’ll report back on everything you’ve seen above. Thanks again to Alpine Aire and 4AllOutdoors for the opportunity to test these products out!

Kaleb