Nutrition – Fuel Comparison

Without proper fuel, a ski tour can turn into a day of unnecessary suffering. My previous post covered some basic concepts for fueling. This post compares some of the different options for fast energy on the skin track.

Nick fueling up during a break from skiing pillow lines on the Duffy Lake Road. Sarah chowing down on crackers during a tour at Lake Louise.

Energy Gels:



  • Size: 32 grams (g)
  • Cost: $1.95
  • Calories: 100
  • Total Carbs: 25g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 85mg
  • Caloric Density: 3.125 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.0195


  • Size: 32.9g
  • Cost: $1.66
  • Calories: 80
  • Total Carbs: 21g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 30mg
  • Caloric Density: 2.432 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.0207


  • Size: 34g
  • Cost: $1.20
  • Calories: 100
  • Total Carbs: 24g
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 145mg
  • Caloric Density: 2.941 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.012 


  • Size: 41 grams
  • Cost: $1.10
  • Calories: 110
  • Total Carbs: 27g
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 100mg
  • Caloric Density: 2.683 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.01


GU comes in with the most calories but also at the second highest cost. All the gels use maltodextrin (a complex carbohydrate) as their primary ingredient. GU and Hammer contain a variety of amino acids. All four contain electolytes in varying amounts and each uses some type of preservative (Potassium Sorbate in GU, Hammer, CarbBoom. Potassium Citrate in Cliff). Cliff Gel is also advertised as certified organic.


Pre-event fuel is just as important. I will cover this in another post. (Sarah fueling up for a big day of skiing.)

As far as taste goes, I am happy with GU, Hammer and CarbBoom. Cliff leaves a little something to be desired but still no complaints. I am a big fan of the leash on the Cliff Gels that prevent you from losing the top after you have ripped it off – I wish GU would incorporate this feature into their gels.


Bonking can be a disaster. (Adam out of gas approaching the North Ridge of Mt. Baker.)

Solid Energy Blocks:

GU Chomps:

  • Size: 60 grams
  • Cost: $2.90
  • Calories: 180
  • Total Carbs: 46g
  • Sugar: 22g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 180mg
  • Caloric Density: 3.0 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.02

Cliff Bloks:

  • Size: 60 grams
  • Cost: $2.10
  • Calories: 200
  • Total Carbs: 48g
  • Sugar: 24g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 180mg
  • Caloric Density: 3.33 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.01

Honey Stinger:

  • Size: 50 grams
  • Cost: $2.10
  • Calories: 160
  • Total Carbs: 39g
  • Sugar: 27g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 120mg
  • Caloric Density: 3.2 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.01


  • Size: 45 grams
  • Cost: $1.75
  • Calories: 140
  • Total Carbs: 36g
  • Sugar: 17g
  • Electrolytes (Sodium & Potassium): 140mg
  • Caloric Density: 3.13 kcal/g
  • Cost per kcal: $0.01

Here, things are a bit more equal. Cost is pretty much the same all around. Caloric density ranges but GU and Cliff contain the most calories per package which gives them a bit of an edge. Again, the ingredients are fairly similar. I think the Sharkies taste the most like candy. They also are the most chewy, something that I don’t like when working hard. The GU Chomps are my favorite flavors and a good consistency. I would like to see leashes on these as well.


It’s hard for gel to compete with summit Dunkaroos (Mt. Baker).

Final verdict: GU for the win in both categories but I think all the options are good fuel choices.

*Retail prices taken from except Hammer Gel: (

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