Ultrarunning Edge Blog
Energy Gel Packets—A Pocket Full of Goo? Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Thursday, 29 July 2010 14:56

Today I experienced my fourth leaking energy gel packet in as many months. I've had it!!! Three different manufacturers: PowerBar, GU, and Hammer Nutrition. In every case the gel packet was not punctured; instead it was leaking from a seam in the packet or a crease where the packet was folded.

For years energy gels have been substantially overpriced—somewhere between eight and ten times the cost of the gel ingredients. Manufacturers have mostly justified these high prices on the basis of the packaging. That was fine as long as the packaging worked. I've been using gels for over seven years, and my handling of gel packets hasn't changed. If anything my usage of gel packets has declined over time. So why all of a sudden are so many gel packets leaking?

Starting today, I refuse to put up with it anymore. We now have lots of options when it comes to getting carbohydrates and electrolytes for endurance running, cycling, etc. Gel manufacturers can either start producing bullet-proof gel packages, offer a money-back guarantee, or deal with lots of very negative publicity and loss of business.

Leave a comment about your experiences with gels.

Comments (10) Comments are closed
Fouled my pack
1 Friday, 30 July 2010 10:34
Yeah...I too am fed up with the lack of quality control on gel packets. I had one pop in my back-pack while I did a Rim-River-Rim hike at the Grand Canyon last Spring. What a mess!

I also agree that this is a recent phenomenon. I may stop buying them and make my own gel recipe or use Shot-blocs. The convenience of these gels has been negated by the clean-up required when they burst.
go packets
2 Saturday, 11 September 2010 18:16
try hammer gel in the bottle and use a flask. it's cleaner and more cost effective.
Re: go packets
3 Sunday, 12 September 2010 07:12
Hammer Gel IS a great product, although I won't use it under conditions where I anticipate experiencing neuroglycopenia (the brain component of hypoglycemia) because Hammer Gel completely lacks simple sugar. I've also used gel flasks for years. But gel flasks don't solve the gel packaging problem if I'm out for a 2 hour run and only need a single gel. Gel flasks also don't eliminate the gel packaging problem on long runs/races if I am using primarily non-caffeinated fuel (in a flask) but want a single serving of caffeinated gel before a long climb.
Switched to other stuff
4 Friday, 17 September 2010 08:03
Funny, since I just bought some of my first gel packs ever for a race, and two of them leaked...

Mainly, I find them too expensive for training anyway. However, what I've found to work for me is to carry powder (in my case I prefer Hammer's Perpetuem). I carry it in a super small narrow necked plastic soda bottle (the neck has to fit inside an Amphipod, and you fill the bottle with a funnel). I also carry an Amphipod gel flask that clips to my Nathan pack. What I do, and can do this easily on the run, is fill the Amphipod up to a marked level that corresponds to two scoops (an hour's worth of stuff) from the powder bottle, sip in a mouthful of water from my bladder, squeeze air out of the amphipod, have it suck the water out of my mouth, close the top, and shake it for a few seconds.

The result is two scoops dry + one mouthful water = gel consistency Perpetuem goo. Easy to do running. Doesn't leak, unless you put the powder in a crappy container.
5 Friday, 24 September 2010 08:28
I make my own now and use the amphipod or UD waist belt systems for all my long runs... The gel I make is far superior to anything on the market, doesn't leak all over you, you have complete control on how much you make and what exactly is in it, and it costs about $.25 an ounce...

The base is Malto, dextrose, rice protein, and a blend of amino's (I started with the raw aminos that Hammer uses in their Anti Fatigue caps and endurance amino caps). All of this stuff can be bought in bulk for dirt cheap. I flavor with powdered dried fruits (pomegranate is my fav - cherry is great too).

If you want more info email me at michael at michael-hodges dot com

I feel your pain!
I use Mini Max Flasks
6 Friday, 03 December 2010 10:21
These guys must be runners, they made a liquid gel and
put it in 10serving pocket flasks and little 3oz
running flasks, never a mess and easy to handle.

7 Friday, 07 January 2011 14:29
I quit using Gels a few years ago for the same reason. Can't stand the leaking and the gooey mess after using them. As a responsible runner I always keep the empty pack for disposal and suffer the mess in my pack or lose time getting out a zip lock bag for storage. I've gone to Solo bars instead along with NUUN electrolyte tabs.
8 Saturday, 22 January 2011 15:35
I haven't had the problem with leakage using E-Gels. Yet I do have problems with the mess the gels make. E-Gels carry a larger volume with 150 cals per container, so you don't have to pack as many. Still a bit of a pain.
9 Friday, 18 February 2011 15:46
I'm a major consumer of gels and have sold 10,000s of them in my run shops and I have to be honest I've only had one box (Power Bar) ever leak. I once took a nasty digger and blew one up in my fanny pack but no other issues. Either I have been living a charmed life or you guys gotta be nicer to your gel packs.
10 Monday, 13 June 2011 07:13
I've been using 1st Endurance EFS Liquid Shot for a few years now. 1 quart bottles and 5 oz flasks. Works great for me.