Monday, May 27, 2024

Reviews: Skratch Labs’ Everyday, Hydration Recovery. Super High Carb Sport Drink Mixes, Energy Chews, and Energy Bars.

 By Jeff Valliere and John Tribbia

In the article, John and Jeff test and review Skratch Labs’ Everyday, Hydration Recovery. Super High Carb Drink Mixes, Energy Chews, and Energy Bars.

Skratch Labs Hydration Everyday: Tangerine + Orange ($27.95 for resealable bag - 30 servings) offers a clean and effective way to replenish electrolytes without the sugar overload. 

This unsweetened mix delivers a subtle citrus flavor, perfect for those seeking a refreshingly light hydration solution.

John: My first encounter with Skratch Labs Hydration Everyday came during a particularly warm April day when I needed to run in the afternoon instead of my normal morning routine. 

I pre-loaded with a scoop mixed in 16 oz of water about 30 minutes before starting. The subtle citrus flavor was pleasant and didn't feel heavy on my stomach. Throughout the run, I felt adequately hydrated and didn't experience any excessive thirst. After the run, I immediately refilled with another scoop of mix. The electrolytes seemed helpful in making me feel refreshed and quenched. I also used the mix throughout the day and it proved to be a good option for replenishing electrolytes without the over-sweetness of sugary drinks or juices.

While the effectiveness of electrolyte replenishment can be subjective, Skratch Labs Hydration Everyday performed well during and after both running and throughout the day. The light flavor, however, might be too subtle for some, and the price point is fairly steep compared to something comparable such as Nuun Daily.


John: For active people seeking a sugar-free electrolyte mix with a clean taste and customizable options, Skratch Labs Hydration Everyday is a solid choice. While the flavor may not satisfy everyone's sweet tooth, its effectiveness and versatility make it a worthy contender for the hydration needs of an active lifestyle.

Jeff V:  John sums up the Everyday Drink Mix well and I share many of the same thoughts.  I too have used the Everyday mix in my morning glass of water pre run or ride and then throughout the day when I feel like I need just a little more in the way of electrolytes than plain water and also just a bit of flavor (I do not drink high sugar drinks).  

As John says, the flavor is subtle and may not satisfy those looking for a sweet drink, but for many, not being overly sweet (or sweet at all) will be an asset.  I find that overall the Everyday Drink Mix is light, refreshing and provides a nice boost of electrolytes to set you up well for an activity, or to catch up after an activity.

Super High Carb Sport Drink Mix:  Raspberry + Lemon Lime ($41.95 for 3200 calorie resealable bag / 8 x 200 calorie packs for $26 / 1 x 200 calorie pack for $3.25

Jeff V:  The Skratch Labs Super High Carb Sport Drink Mix comes in both Raspberry and Lemon Lime and is intended to be used as a substitute for solid food, for those hardest, race day efforts where it is difficult or impossible to digest real food, yet you need to maintain a steady stream of calories to maintain strength and endurance.

Made from the finest ingredients (that are non GMO, gluten free, dairy free, kosher and vegan), the Super High Carb drink mix gives you up to 400 calories per recommended serving size powered by Skratch’s Cluster Dextrin formula that gives a steady burn of energy, reduces gastrointestinal distress, plus provides the necessary electrolytes to replenish what is lost due to sweat.

Founder, Dr. Allen Lim explains Cluster Dextrin best:

1. It’s bigger, providing more energy. A Cluster Dextrin molecule packs in more calories per molecule -- or more energy -- than other fueling options. A Cluster Dextrin molecule has 60 to 70 glucose (sugar) units linked together. By comparison, maltodextrin, the most common carbohydrate used in gels and performance drinks, contains 3 to 20 glucose units linked together. One serving of Super High-Carb Sport Drink Mix provides 400 calories, enough energy to power your hardest efforts.

2. It’s more complex, in a good way. Cluster Dextrin also has a unique structure. Its glucose units are linked together like tree branches wrapped into a wreath. Meanwhile, maltodextrin is a long, straight chain of linked units. When maltodextrin is digested, all of the glucose units break apart all at once. This can overwhelm the gut. When Cluster Dextrin is digested, its branches take time to unwrap and the glucose units break off gradually. With Super High-Carb, you get a steady release of energy without the risk of gastrointestinal distress. It’s like getting the energy of a meal without the heaviness or the runs!

3. It’s more soluble and drinkable. Because Cluster Dextrin is amazingly soluble, we can get a ton of calories into Super High-Carb without turning it into sludge. Super High-Carb dilutes easily in water for a great tasting beverage that you can sip. It’s great for when there’s no time to chew, or for when you just can’t stomach a thick, sticky gel.

Jeff V: : I was able to test the Super High Carb mix on several mountain runs lasting up to 4 hours, as well as similar length bike rides, where both the running and cycling involved thousands of vertical feet of climbing in the mix, in temperatures as high as 85 degrees.  

After years of relying on gels or more recently, more liquid gel packets, it was an unusual experience relying on solely a liquid diet (I did have Skratch energy chews and bars along though, just to put my mind at ease, though I never needed them).  

The Raspberry variation that I tested has a subtle raspberry flavor that I find to be pleasing and palatable and appreciate the subtleness, as I can easily get “sweeted out” during long efforts relying on overly sweet drink mixes, gels or what not.  

At the recommended max solution (you can go lighter depending on preference), I do not find the mix to be too thick or goopy, as I have found with other similar products I have used (Hammer Perpetuem for example, which I have tried many years ago, but had a very milky thick consistency and the taste/overall experience that turned my stomach).  Not so with the Skratch Super High Carb mix though, it is just right!  

Like any liquid on a long effort, even water, I try to not guzzle and just take sips every 10 or so minutes (more or less based on temperature/desire), which I find to be the best way to manage my intake and keep a steady stomach.  I am 5’9” / 145lbs and found that at moderately hard intensities over several hours, 3.5 scoops/200 calories (mixed in a 16oz/500ml soft flask) is sufficient.  I might up that a little if working harder in warmer temps, or maybe even back off of that at lower intensities in cooler temps (though at lower intensities, I will likely be eating more solid food).

Recovery Sport Drink Mix: Strawberry, Chocolate, Vegan Chocolate, Horchata (12 serving bag $33.95/24 serving bag $56.95)

Jeff V: Designed to rapidly refuel and rehydrate, the Recovery Sport Drink Mix is a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, that’s designed to bring your blood sugar levels up fast.  From Skratch’s description:  “Technically, our Recovery Sport Drink Mix is a 4 to 1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein, that’s designed to bring your blood sugar up fast. This causes the hormone insulin to spike, which is key to getting the sugar, electrolytes, fat, and protein in our Recovery Sport Drink Mix back into muscle fast. Basically, our Recovery Mix is really sweet milk* – like chocolate milk, but without a tongue-twisting list of excess ingredients and with a more optimized macronutrient profile for restoring muscle glycogen (aka, refueling).”

It is recommended to use the Recovery mix 30-60 minutes after a workout.  With the resealable bag and a recipe that just requires water and mix, it is easy to have along anywhere you go to have handy in order to hit that optimum recovery window.  I will add the suggested two scoops in a water bottle, shake vigorously and the mix dissolves quickly and easily.

The Chocolate flavor that I am reviewing tastes good, perhaps not as tasty as chocolate milk, but is very palatable and easy to digest.  After a recent morning where I took a hard bike ride followed immediately by a hard mountain run, I arrived home quite depleted, but had a lot of work to catch up on and did not have time to make lunch right away.  This was the ideal test scenario for the recovery mix, where a single serving boosted my energy stores and improved the associated mental fatigue so that I could power through my work until I could grab some real food.  I also felt better for my workout the next morning than I might have otherwise.

Hydration Sport Drink Mix Lemon Lime, Strawberry Lemonade, Raspberry Limeade (50mg caffeine), Fruit Punch, Orange, Pineapple (single serving $1.95, 20 serving $21.95, single serving 20 pack $35.95, 60 serving bag $54.95)

Jeff V:  The Hydration Sport Drink Mix is made from whole foods for easier digestion and less chance for GI distress, formulated to match the loss of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium and provides fast energy through quick absorption.  I have tried all of the above flavors and they are all very tasty, and have a subtle taste that is not overly sweet or strong, which means I can drink as much as I need/please without getting sick of it or feeling overwhelmed by sugar.

From Skratch:  “The result is a sports drink with minimal sugar (4g per 100 ml) and a ratio of sugar (glucose + fructose) that is optimized for faster absorption, an electrolyte profile that actually matches what is lost in sweat (800 mg sodium, 80 mg potassium, 100 mg calcium, and 80 mg of magnesium per liter), and only real fruit for flavor for a light and refreshing taste that you can drink all day. That’s it - less sugar, the right electrolyte profile, and real fruit. So, if you’ve never met a sports drink you wanted to take home, your luck is about to change.”

Mixing is super simple, I just bring a few packets on a long run or ride and dump into my soft flasks/bike bottle as needed and shake, then drink as needed.  I find that the Sports Drink does a very good job at keeping me hydrated and electrolytes in balance so I can run further, faster and feel less depleted at the end of a run or ride.

Energy Chews Sport Fuel: Raspberry, Orange, Cherry, Lemon and Green Tea (Single Pouch 10 pack $23.95)

Jeff V:  I have long been a fan of energy chews, as they sort of straddle the line between solid food and gels, but certain chews can be really gummy and hard to chew under the best of circumstances and nearly impossible under the worst of circumstances (running hard, in the cold, etc….).  I even shared Shot Bloks with a friend on a winter 14er climb and it was so gummy it removed one of his crowns.  The Skratch Energy Chews however are very soft and easy to chew, such that they are more easily digestible and provide fast energy.

They come in 4 different flavors and I like them all, with my favorites being raspberry, orange and cherry.  They are sweet as you would expect, like candy and super yummy.  When I bring them on a run or ride, they are the item I am most looking forward to.  

Combined with any of the other Skratch products, or on their own, they are the best of any chews or sports snack in my opinion.

Description from Skratch’s site:  “Energy Chews Sport Fuel can essentially be described as a candy gumdrop made of sugar and pectin. Or even a version of cooled down fruit pie filling that you forgot to put in a pie. The caveat though is that our Energy chews are made for when you’re working out, not just for when you’re hungry for pie filling, which for us is most of the time.

We created these chews as an energy supplement for when you’re going hard and the best thing to keep you going is a steady source of carbohydrate that won’t destroy your stomach or gut. And hopefully, you get that when we say energy, we mean fuel or calories. You know, like the first law of thermodynamics where energy is neither created nor destroyed. Not like the kind of “energy” you get after washing a handful of caffeine pills down with your sixth cup of coffee.

But, let’s get back to chews. The unique thing about a chew is that they’ve got a physical form factor that allows them to be loaded and held up in the stomach. As they’re digested, they provide fast energy. They’re a great alternative if you’ve ever gotten sick from really sweet and gooey gels, because gooey things tend to empty from the stomach faster than the gut can absorb. And when that happens, there’s nowhere for that gooey stuff to go except to where the light does not shine. So with energy chews, you get what seems like a paradox – quick energy that won’t rot your gut. It’s similar to how gravity bends both space and time, but that’s more than you need to know.

So, what makes our Energy Chews different than all the others? Well, first the taste. Put them in your mouth and if you don’t agree that they’re awesome, we’ll give you your money back and send you a piece of humble pie. Second, is that we’ve weeded out all the excess ingredients that you don’t need like carnauba wax, coloring agents, and mystery flavors that get to be called natural. Instead, we use real fruit and a light dusting of granulated sugar and sour powder for function and taste. They work. They’re delicious. 

Things to remember:

The usage of two types of carbs (glucose and fructose) speeds the absorption of energy in your body.

Zero preservatives, coloring, or waxes.

Gluten free, dairy free, and vegan.

Energy Bars - Raspberry Lemon, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Cherry and Pistachio ($2.65 single serving, $29.95 

Jeff V:  I am starting to sound like a broken record, but Skratch energy bars are among, if not the best out there, as they are soft, easily chewed and easily digested, not to mention very tasty.  I save bars for before or after a workout, or on a long easy run or ride, hike, ski, etc…  

I find that they really pack a punch and provide a lot of slow burning sustained energy in a relatively small package.  They are made from the finest ingredients and while they are tasty enough to look forward to, they are not overly sweet or sticky like some others.  

Paired with any of the other Skratch products, or on their own, they round out the product line quite nicely.

“For years professional athletes who rely heavily on energy bars to fuel themselves in training and racing have complained that the bars they ate were too dry, too hard to chew, sat in their bellies and guts like bricks, and just didn’t taste good. We took that feedback and challenged ourselves to make something better, and to help athletes be better. The outcome? Our Energy Bar Sport Fuel.

KEEPS YOU FUELED AND FULL: Skratch Labs Energy Bar Sport Fuel was designed as a fuel source for when you need it most. We kept the bar as simple as possible, using the fewest number of whole food ingredients without sacrificing taste. Made with half as much sugar as the leading energy bar*.

FOR ANYTIME YOU NEED A BOOST: This nutritional profile makes this bar suitable for use anytime one is hungry and needs a mixed macronutrient profile. 

BAR VARIETY PACK: Plant-based ingredients for easy digestion with a base of a nut and seed butter blend, quinoa, sorghum flakes, brown rice crisps, oats and coconut nectar. The variety 12-pack includes a mix of flavors: peanut butter + chocolate, cherry + pistachio, and raspberry + lemon.



Jeff V:  While not the least expensive fuels on the market, the prices are not out of line either and you can rest assured that with all Skratch products, you are getting the finest ingredients, very well thought out, formulated and tested (by real athletes) recipes to help you hydrate, fuel and recover to the maximum, no matter the activity or intensity.  

The flavors are very tasty where they need to be (bars and chews), yet subtle and not overly sweet for prolonged activities and utilizing over long periods of time.  I personally can’t see getting sick of any of the flavors, they are all so good and not overly strong, so you can keep refreshing your supply and maintaining optimal performance.

Skratch Labs products available at Skratch HERE

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Tester Profiles

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state, many 13ers and other peaks in Colorado and beyond, plus, he has summited his local Green Mountain over 2,100 times in the past 20 years.   He can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his twin daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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