Tested: Hammer Gel
Hammer Gel looks like yet another energy gel, and while it does serve the same purpose as all the others, the formula is a bit different. This gel is formulated according to Hammer Nutrition’s philosophy, so it contains no added refined, simple sugars, and no artificial colors or sweeteners. Rather, Hammer’s gel is made with real fruit and wholesome ingredients.
Hammer also offers a great variety of tasty flavors. Along with your standard fruit and coffee flavors, Hammer offers some unique flavors, including Montana Huckleberry!
Hammer Gel Nutrition and Ingredients
Hammer is probably most known for their nutrition philosophy, which permeates through all their products as well the their information booklets and website. They are really big on sticking with natural ingredients, only complex carbs (no simple sugars,) etc.
They do this to create wholesome products which provide for a smooth, consistent energy release and easy digestion.
One interesting note is that Hammer gel is Gluten-Free, Vegan Friendly, and Kosher Certified, for those who have dietary restrictions.
Here are the ingredients* for the vanilla flavor:
Ingredients: Long Chained Maltodextrin, Filtered Water, Energy Smart® (Fruit Juice, Natural Grain Dextrins), Potassium Sorbate (as a preservative), Vanilla Extract, Citric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Amino Acids (L-Leucine, L-Valine, L-Alanine, L-Isoleucine).
I do like the ingredients list. It’s pretty simple and natural, but still contains everything necessary to an energy gel.
*Espresso and Tropical flavors contain caffeine.
I haven’t noticed a real difference in my health or performance when using Hammer Gel vs the others which contain simple sugars, but it’s a nice thought and makes Hammer a great option for health-conscious riders.
Hammer Gel Taste Test
Hammer gel comes in many flavors, most of which are very interesting. To me, when I think of Hammer gel, I think of the flavor selection!
Here are my thoughts on each flavor…
Apple-Cinnamon – A very strong apple cinnamon flavor, making this my favorite Hammer gel. It’s almost too strong during an intense race, but since I love apple cinnamon stuff, I really really like this one.
I could actually eat this for enjoyment. If I was buying a jug of Hammer gel, I’d get the Apple-Cinnamon, and I’d make every excuse to eat it often.
Banana – I think this tastes like a real banana. You could mistake this gel for a mashed banana in a blind taste test. Actually, it has even more banana flavor than some bananas do!
I don’t think I could eat this one all the time, but it’s a good flavor, and definitely good to have since GU no longer makes a banana flavor.
Chocolate – Starts out like a good chocolate syrup, e.g. pretty sweet and chocolaty. The flavor is neither overly sweet like Nesquik-type stuff, nor bitter like pure cocoa.
The aftertaste gets more authentic though. I wouldn’t say it’s bitter, but it’s verging on bitter, because you taste the real cocoa powder.
Espresso – Starts out tasting like a mocha gel. Maybe with a little coffee flavor in there, but it’s mainly chocolate on my taste buds.
Finally, the espresso flavor showed up in the aftertaste. I practically had the entire gel packet before getting any espresso flavor. The espresso flavor was a little bitter like it should be, but not as potent as I had hoped.
It wasn’t a bad gel, but somewhat disappointing. If you want a coffee gel, try something else (maybe Clif Shot.)
Orange – I’ve had orange gels I didn’t like, but the Orange flavor of Hammer gel is actually good. It tastes like a mix of the mandarin orange Heed and orange Kool-Aid (with an emphasis on the Kool-Aid.) It’s flavorful, but not too strong, and it’s not too sweet nor too sour.
If you like orange flavors but could never find a good orange energy gel, try this one.
Montana Huckleberry – N/A
Raspberry – This tastes very natural, almost exactly like red raspberries. It starts out very sweet, too (much sweeter than Orange.)
It’s almost too natural in a way. Since it contains real raspberry puree, it has a hint of sourness, much like you can get a bad raspberry when you pick a handful. And when it gets warm, it gets less appetizing.
It gets better after the first taste, though, so I actually do enjoy this flavor a little bit. It’s kind of like the raspberry Clif Shot – not great, but not bad if you get used to it. In cold weather, it’s actually really good.
[It's like chocolate in the way that it starts out quite sweet, but then you do notice some sourness later on.]
Tropical – I like to compare Tropical to the Apple Cinnamon flavor, because both are very good flavors that you don’t see too often. Tropical is a mix of tropical fruit flavors, such as pineapple and mango, although I couldn’t detect any one flavor from the bunch.
It was pretty sweet, but not overpowering, and had a good flavor. It wasn’t really like Hawaiian Punch, so I’m not sure how to describe it, but if you like tropical fruits, I bet you’d like this.
Vanilla – Tastes like any other vanilla gel. It has some vanilla flavor, but when riding, you just notice a mild sweetness and not much else.
If you don’t like strong or exotic flavors, the Vanilla is probably right for you.
Hammer Gel Texture and Consistency
I’d say the texture and consistency of Hammer gel is a little thinner than other gels. Hammer says the texture is like “syrup,” but I’m not sure what that means, because there are many types of syrup out there and they’re all different.
Perhaps it’s more like syrup than a gel (if you think of gel literally, like a toothpaste gel or even Jello.) The best information I can provide is that Hammer gel is thinner than GU gel.
The thinness makes it good for cold weather, because it remains a gel. (In extreme cold, GU will get real thick so you basically have to chew it, but Hammer Gel stays fairly thin.)
Hammer Gel’s Energy Boost
Unfortunately, as cool as Hammer gel seems, it never seemed to give me the energy boost that GU did. After a couple packets, I could sometimes feel a tiny boost, but not really.
Sure, the gel gives me calories that I can burn for energy, but when I take a GU gel, I just plain feel an energy boost that inspires me to ride harder. (And no, I never had the “crash and burn” from energy gels like GU, so that argument never swayed me.)
Nevertheless, I still use Hammer’s gel on occasion because of the sweet apple cinnamon flavor!
Hammer Gel Pricing and Packaging
While Hammer’s products are usually on the expensive side, the gel is fairly cheap if you buy the 26 serving jug for $18.95.
Even at $1.25 per packet, it’s no more than any other gel.
Speaking of the gel packs, Hammer has the most interesting packaging. The gel packet is shaped like a hammer! Unfortunately, while the hammer-shaped packaging is a novel idea, it’s kind of bulky, and I find the top tab a tiny bit harder to tear off than on competing gels.
Basically, it sucks to tuck these bulky packets into your shorts. It would be a much better idea to use a Hammer Gel flask. Luckily, that makes a good combo – buy the gel by the jug, and then carry it in the flask. This is cheaper, more eco-friendly, and less messy than dealing with the individual packets.
My final verdict is…
If you’re looking for a good gel, give this a shot. If it works for you, and you find the right flavor, great. If not, just keep looking around. (If Hammer doesn’t work for you, I recommend trying GU gel or Clif Shot.)
For me, I absolutely love the flavors, so I use Hammer gel for some training rides and things like XC skiing, but for my races, I stick with GU gel.
Official website: www.HammerNutrition.com
Company: Hammer Nutrition.
Obtained Product: Purchased at retailer.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.
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