Gear Watch: Caffeinated Gum

As an admitted and serious caffeine junkie, I'm always on the lookout for new ways to ingest the brain-pumping stuff—especially lightweight and compact delivery systems that pack well on the trail. So when I recently encountered a pack of Jolt Caffeine Energy Gum, I couldn't pass it up.

Produced by the same company that brought you Jolt Cola ("All the sugar and 2x the caffeine"), the gum hews to the company's mantra of sweet and significant caffeine delivery. According to their web site, two pieces of gum contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee or standard size energy drink. (This likely translates to about 50 milligrams of caffeine per piece, though nowhere do they specifically mention the amount.) For an additional energy boost, the gum also contains small amounts of guarana.

The gum is available in two flavors: Super Fresh Icy Mint and Spearmint. As more of a mint guy, I tried the former. In terms of flavor, I would say it's on par with most other gum I've tried—both in terms of taste and longevity of flavor. There is, however, a distinct and slightly bitter overtone, which can probably be attributed to the caffeine (Which by itself is quite bitter, or so I'm told).

In terms of the energy boost, it's subtle but definitely there. I popped a couple of pieces during one of my regular mid-afternoon brain and energy lulls, and clearly detected an increased level of alertness and focus. It certainly doesn't provide the same brain punch as ingesting two shots of espresso, but it's a lot cheaper (and a lot mintier).

In terms of use in the backcountry, it's a solid ultralight, fit-in-your-pocket caffeine delivery option. Plus it has the added bonus of keeping your salivary glands juicing during hot and strenuous uphill climbs or any other rigorous exercise. And it helps make your breath "Super Fresh!"

By the way, the Jolt Gum web site is one of the more amusing product sites I've come across lately and makes for some very entertaining reading. Well worth a browse if you need a smile. For example, check out this excerpt from their company info page: "As the line of thinking went, if [the founders] could just give the U.S. Special Forces, MacGyver, Vin Diesel, and Charlie’s Angels more awake hours, then there would be more time for butt kicking and world saving. Kevin [founder] explained that, 'From a business standpoint, the particularly good news was that even non-super heroes think caffeine gum is a pretty great idea.' "

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.