I used to be a fan of PowerBars but have stopped eating them since my wife started baking me her trademark oatmeal-walnut-chocolate chip cookies. Most energy bars compare so closely to a sawdust sandwich that I’d just as soon avoid them altogether, though they are an alternative to having to actually cook something on a backpacking trip (many of us go to extravagant lengths to avoid mess duty, including sleeping on the ground in the middle of nowhere for days or weeks on end and eating stuff we can’t stand.)

I stopped by backpackgeartest.org to see what the reviews were saying. One guy was fond of the Clif bar shown here.

First and foremost, the Blueberry Crisps taste great. As noted in my Initial Report, it’s like a bar made of blueberry granola – pronounced flavors of blueberry, oats, and sugar, with a hint of apple. Thanks to their airtight packaging Clif Bars don’t dry out; they retain their chewy texture and their entire flavor. Once I ate half a Bar at lunch and returned the uneaten portion to the opened wrapper, rolled up the wrapper, and returned it to my pack. When I ate the remainder at the end of the day it was as tasty and chewy as ever. I ate half the frozen Bar for breakfast on a Monday and stored the other half in the refrigerator, without packaging, until Friday morning. Again the taste and texture remained the same. I waited about twenty minutes for the frozen bar to thaw, and when I ate half of it I detected no loss of flavor from a week’s freezing.

Wow, so these things might have some promise.

Men’s Vogue taste-tested — and assigned reprehensibility ratings — to a bunch of energy bars.

50% Reprehensible

Basically, this is one big granola cookie. So why not get a big granola cookie?

You could always make your own. Sarah at Freezerbag Cooking has a bunch of baked goodies, some of which could do energy-bar duty.

If you need more ideas, just google “homemade energy bars” — you’ll get gazillion hits.

And finally, here’s my wife’s recipe. Follow the instructions to the letter for best performance.

Melissa’s Magnificent Hiking Cookies

1-1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup Crisco Butter Flavor shortening (do not substitute butter or margarine)
1/3 cup milk (Must be whole milk or at least 2%. Do not use 1% or skim milk.)
1 large egg (Crack egg into 1/4 cup measuring cup. If egg does not equal a full 1/4 cup, add additional milk to to equal 1/4 cup.)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.

Cream brown sugar and shortening together. Beat in milk, egg and vanilla until well blended.

Combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to shortening mixture and mix just until blended. Do not over mix.
Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop dough by scant 1/4 cup (or extra large cookie scoop) onto prepared baking sheets, pressing dough down slightly.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are just set and lightly browned. Cook 2 minutes on baking sheet.
Remove cookies to a sheet of aluminum foil to cool completely.

Makes 18 large cookies.

*The secret to these cookies is is to mix the batter by hand. Also, the flour and oatmeal must be measured carefully by the scoop and level method.
Scoop the flour and/or oatmeal out of the bag or canister and level with a measuring cup level or table knife.

These are truly awesome cookies.