From waffles to chews to gels, Steamboat Springs, Colo.-based Honey Stinger has been making skier-friendly snacks for over 20 years. Because the brand uses True Source-certified honey, there’s less processed sugar in their recipes while still offering the same energy kick—and even better flavor—than most comparable products.
Now Honey Stinger is getting into the sports-drink business with its new Rapid Hydration Mix. With three different formulas designed to be consumed before, during, and after exercise, the brand is bringing similar flavors and energy as its gelatinous products to powders designed to be mixed into water.
“Our Rapid Hydration Mix is the first of its kind. Since we believe honey is one of the best energy sources for athletes, we worked to develop a hydration solution that’s based in science, is convenient to use, and tastes great,” says Honey Stinger CEO Mike Keown in a press release. “The complete system will keep athletes well hydrated all day and ready to achieve whatever goals they’re setting for themselves.”
The Rapid Hydration Mix comes in individual packets. Each packet is ready to be mixed with about 16 ounces of water. The three different formulas—prepare, perform, and recover—each contain honey, sodium, and different combinations of electrolytes and amino acids. The mango melon flavor, one of the perform flavors, features caffeine derived from guayusa, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and the recover flavors also feature zinc and elderberry.
Every flavor is all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Perhaps most noticeably, none of the mixtures contain protein powder, a common ingredient for other sports drinks designed for recovery. Also, none of the mixes become carbonated when mixed in water.
Testing the Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix
I’m currently following a coached training program in hopes of climbing and skiing some mountains in the Tetons in May. The three-month block of work involves weighted ski tours at Colo.’s Eldora Mountain Resort, structured high-intensity strength training at the Alpine Training Center in Boulder, and running during the week. On the weekends, I get out for at least one long day of ski touring or ski mountaineering.
Before Honey Stinger sent a box of its new Rapid Hydration Mix a month ago, my usual go-to liquids for “prepare, perform, and recover” were coffee, water, and beer. I would sometimes sneak in a Miraflora CBD sparkling beverage, but, after a number of hydration mix tests throughout the winter with products that were undrinkable due to flavor issues or hard on my stomach due to protein powder issues, I had been avoiding any type of energy drink during this particular training block.
But, since I’ve had good luck with Honey Stinger products in the past while training for SkiMo races and ultra runs—and there is no protein in these hydration mixes—I decided to give the Rapid Hydration Mix a try.
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While driving up to Eldora, I have been drinking the especially tasty Strawberry Lemonade “prepare” flavor before weighted ski tours. Even though it’s a bit odd to be drinking something strawberry lemonade-flavored in the wee hours of the morning driving to a ski area, I noticed I felt especially chipper during the first few laps.
After about an hour, however, the spunky effects would wear off. While ski touring, I would then start on the black cherry “perform” flavor, which kept me going and seemed less invasive in both my mouth and on my gut than a gel or chew would be. The flavor and effect of the “perform” mix is on par with other sports drinks, however, the Honey Stinger Rapid Hydration Mix is never overly sweet or strong, making it a welcome taste sensation during exertion.
After any training session for the last month, I find myself chugging the tangerine defense “recover” flavor, perhaps my favorite of the lineup. The marketing makes this mix appear to be a perfectly flavored sports drink combined with Emergen-C, which sounds especially great considering we’re still in a pandemic.
Yes, after ski touring, I still am known to have a beer, but adding this mix in just before cracking open a cold one definitely got me to drink more water, which is always a great thing to do after a long day in the mountains.
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I do feel both my performance and recovery have improved using these mixes during long days of training, and I’ve had no cramping or bloating at all. I’m still a little bummed every time I throw one of the wrappers into the trash, however, and I’d love to see Honey Stinger release a bulk version of the powder to help reduce waste.
At the same time, if I were in a long SkiMo race or lengthy summer skiing mission with a water filter to save weight, I know I’d appreciate having a single-use packet as an extra booster when water starts to taste bland. In other words, I’m looking forward to using the Rapid Hydration Mix more.
MSRP: $33 for 24 single-serving packets, or $15 for all six flavors in a sample pack. Learn more on Honey Stinger’s Website.