Chris Weiss's Blog

Outdoor Grub: A Culinary Interpretation Of The Outdoor Retailer Show

Writing from the comforts of home has empowered me to blossom into the lazy, feet-dragging procrastinator that I always knew I could be. While I've fine-tuned my careful  schedule of sleeping in and staying up late for the average day, when I actually have to get up, shower, put on clean underwear and see people out in the great, wide world, I tend to be a couple steps behind.

When I go to the Outdoor Retailer show each summer and winter, for instance, I typically throw some coffee down my gullet and rush out to the show without eating breakfast or lunch. In spite of my best attempts at rushing, I tend to get there at the bright, early hour of 12 or 1 p.m., which only gives me a few hours to cover a huge floor. So I skip eating and drinking and get to it.

Of course, being behind schedule doesn't mean I'm not hungry. So I nab two birds with one net by grabbing samples on the show floor. The following is a look at some of the best and worst food and drink that I've had the past couple shows.

Krave Jerky: Big Win

created at: 2012/01/27

To be fair, you could stuff just about any jerky in my face when I'm hungry and I'd love it. But Krave gets extra props for having a great selection of interesting flavors - and for having samples of every single one. And yes, I tried every single one. "Chili Lime" and "Basil Citrus" were my favorites. Krave uses beef, pork and chicken depending on flavor, and all its jerkies were super soft and easy to swallow.

CocoHydro: Loss 

created at: 2012/02/02

Between my love of coconut and hearing about all its hydration advantages, I had some real hope for coconut water. When I put a small cup of rehydrated CocoHydro coconut water to my mouth, I got a bland, watery and somewhat salty mouthful that landed somewhere between Kaopectate and Robitussin on the yum-yum scale. That instead of the sweet coco-nectar I was expecting. I tried two flavors - traditional and pomegranate-raspberry - and neither was really any better than the other. If you need to hydrate, sure, but you'd be much better off with a cup of regular water from a taste standpoint.

Chef Tomass Spices: Big Win

Coming up on a big corner display full of jerky was great, but emerging up the stairs to a faceful of freshly cooked pork in all different flavors was my crowning culinary achievement at OR. Chef Tomass has all kinds of creative seasonings for all kinds of meats. Flavors include "Bloody Mary BBQ Rub," "Bacon and Garlic Rub," "Tequila Lime" and "Mojito." Check out the full list at

Mr. Beer: Win 

created at: 2012/01/27

I wouldn't mistake the sample of Mr. Beer pale ale that I had for an award-winning Bavarian brew. But considering it came from a home-brew bucket that looks like it belongs next to the Easy Bake Oven and tea table in a child's (a child with a very irresponsible parent) kitchen, it was pretty good. I guess the fact that I was drinking beer at 1:15 p.m. helped it out, but if you're looking for an easy, all-inclusive home-brewing kit, you could certainly do worse. Pale ale is one of the basics, but the company has all kinds of different recipe packets available.

Honey Stinger Organic Waffle: Loss

created at: 2012/01/27

I used to live in Steamboat Springs, where Honey Stinger is located, and I have fond memories of eating delicious, sugary waffles from small ski-slope stands in Vermont. So I really wanted to like the Honey Stinger Organic Waffle. Problem is, I expected it to have some crunch, but instead it was just kind of mushy and bland. It wasn't awful, but I could think of a lot of other energy food I'd rather eat.

Pro Bar: Win

created at: 2012/01/27

When I discovered them at the Outdoor Retailer Show a few years back, Pro Bars officially replaced Clif Bars as my favorite energy food. Unlike some jaw-breaking bars I've eaten in the past, these bars are super soft and go down easy even without a drink. I especially like the Cherry Pretzel and Old School PB&J flavors. Word to the wise, though, if you're going to be out for a long time and don't want to be forced into an uncomfortable nature-squat, watch your intake. Pro Bars seem to average like 7 or 8 grams of fiber a piece.

Journey Bar: Big Loss (but kudos for trying)

created at: 2011/08/19

I did a full review of the Journey Bar, a salty energy bar, back in the summer. But this list would be incomplete without it. It gave me a new appreciation for why nearly every energy bar and granola bar is sweet.



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