Why nut butter is the best energy snack for bikepacking

What we ate, alongside nut butter sachets, to get through the Pennine Rally 2022

Words & photography by Luke (OP co-founder) unless credited

A few weeks ago I had the absolute joy of carving out enough time to head to Edinburgh (albeit 12 hours late) and to ride the Pennine Rally 2022. It may be a coincidence, but I watched a lot of riders eating nut butter (in some wonderfully creative ways I should add) and I saw a lot of the same riders manage themselves over 5 pretty tough days to a triumphant finish in Manchester. Now surely there's a connection?

Yes, the connection might be that OP are an event partner, but hear me out. The Pennine Rally uses our Second City Divide (SCD) route concept, with a few tweaks and Rapha have since developed the Rally into a brilliant bikepacking event, best summised with the #itsarallynotarace tag.

It was on the original running of the SCD in 2018 that Outdoor Provisions was born, with prototype nut butter sachets first tested on the Badger Divide in 2020. Nut butter has long been used as an energy food for various pursuits, but in this highly portable format, it could be tailor made for for bikepacking, trail running and multi day hikes.

Slow is steady, steady is smooth, smooth is fast.

This a mantra Louis (Rally Director) recounted to me on the 4th morning after I’d been feeling good the night before and ridden into the night, keeping my pace and effort steady, way beyond where I'd expected to tire. The mantra important to remember for multi-day bikepacking trips where riding too intensly will likely lead to you blowing up, or not being in a state to manage any issues you have.

It's also, I realised, a great mantra for why nut butter is so good for this kind of effort. The good fats from nuts are an unmatched natural slow releasing energy source. No spikes or dips here. No tummy troubles. Fat contributes more as the intensity slows so becomes more important as a source of energy in long distance pursuits when your glycogen stores are depleted.

*is actual and Navy Seal saying. I bet they used nut butter sachets.

Easy to digest, highly portable and calorie dense

A real food ingredient list is very reassuring when you're living off the bike too - it's not the time you want an upset stomach, even if you've packed your trusty trowel. It's also a very weight and space efficient way to carry nearly 200cals, which again is great when you're already carrying a load of gear.

Bikepacking can be a bad one for using a lot of single use plastic packaging. So stashing your empty OP wrappers away for home composting once you get home is ethically much better. And lastly, in the spirit of the rally and the kind of adventures we're drawn to, a nut butter sachet provides excellent opportunity to innovate. Eaten on it's own lying in the sun, on a banana, on porridge or even on chips. Just keep to slow release energy coming in and you'll finish faster than you think.

The best energy food for bike packing

So nut butter is a brilliant food for bikepacking, or any lower itensity efforts where you're looking to keep your taste buds interested and your tummy happy.

But don’t get me wrong, the joy of running or riding long distances through wonderful places is as much about stopping at the pub, locals cafes and grubby 24 hours garages too. The head-sized Yorkshire puds at the Tan Hill in for instance were a thing of beauty. A shandy or two for rehydration is highly recommended (just remember to fill your water bottles when you leave!) and there is always room for the Haribo I tend deeper into these rides. It just needs to be balanced with the dependable stuff we make.

We’ve got some other products in the pipeline we think will be excellent bikepacking / trail running / multi hiking sustenance, so watch this space...


If you've got a story that features Outdoor Provisions and you'd like to tell it, get it touch...