Hydration mixes such as Tailwind Nutrition drink powders are a lifesaver for me. I often lose my appetite when I’m at altitude and exerting myself strenuously. Early in my backpacking career, before I figured out what was happening, I’d frequently bonk in the afternoon. I’d often reach a state of exhaustion that was difficult to recover from. Bonking can include symptoms of irritability, impaired vision, loss of balance, dizziness and inability to focus. This can be caused by depleted glycogen stores, our primary source of energy, that is stored in the muscles and liver. I remember a hike in the early days when my friend called to me, asking me what I was doing. I had no idea, but had somehow wandered off the trail and was aimlessly walking who-knows-where, seemingly forgetting that I was hiking with a group of four. She was understandably concerned. After some experimentation, I found that I needed to make sure I had enough fuel in the middle of the afternoon to carry me to the end. Even when I couldn’t eat, I could always drink. I used an old standby, Tang, at first. It worked, but it’s mostly sugar. As I learned more I realized that I needed a complete form of nutrition that included electrolytes. Now electrolyte replenishing powders are a mainstay of my backpacking trips and I haven’t bonked in years.
I’ve noticed that as brands proliferate, there is an increased focus on clean mixes that are carefully formulated to be digestible, easy on the stomach and flavorful with a minimum of ingredients. Tailwind Nutrition falls neatly into this category of newer hydration powders with a clean-tasting drink that has only a few ingredients.
I’ve been using Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel this summer and it’s working well for me. It has a light flavor profile that tastes clean and not too sugary. It tastes slightly salty, as do all hydration mixes due to the necessary replenishment of sodium. The orange flavor in the Mandarin Orange powder is present but not overwhelming. The most striking thing about the beverage after the powder has been mixed with water is that it’s clear—you can read the label right through the glass. That’s an impressive way to demonstrate that there aren’t any unnecessary food dyes or additives.
I received 29 oz pouch of Endurance Fuel in the mail as a sample and immediately noticed my name written on the package. Along the bottom of the pouch is printed, “Go rider, go runner, go __”Inga”__, go spelunker, go skier.” My name was hand-written on the line, which made me smile. They won’t be able to do this for everyone now that they are ramping up production, but it originates from when the founders, Jeff and Jenny, were developing and testing the product. They mixed up different batches in their kitchen and brought suspicious looking baggies of white powder to events such as the Leadville 100, an adventure race in Leadville, CO. When they graduated to a more professional looking package, they were still handwriting notes to athletes and writing their names on the pouch.
Jeff and Jenny did their research into nutrition and exercise science to come up with an easily digestible product that could fuel athletes participating in endurance events. They describe the product on their website this way: “Tailwind’s glucose/sucrose fuel takes advantage of how our bodies absorb nutrients… Once in the bloodstream, the glucose in Tailwind fuels muscles directly, allowing athletes to go longer at higher intensities. Tailwind’s electrolyte profile mimics what you’re sweating out.”
The Mandarin Orange flavored Endurance Fuel contains the following ingredients:
- Non-GMO dextrose
- Non-GMO sucrose
- Citric acid
- Sodium citrate
- Sea salt
- Organic Mandarin orange flavor
- Potassium chloride
- Magnesium citrate
- Calcium carbonate
1 scoop provides the following:
- 100 calories
- 303 mg of sodium
- 88 mg of potassium
- 25 g of carbohydrate
- 26 mg of calcium an
- 14 mg of magnesium.
The amount used can be titrated according to the level of activity. One to three scoops in 24 oz of water per hour is all that is needed for fuel.
A unique offering from Tailwind is a Naked flavor, which is no flavor at all. This unflavored powder can be mixed with any flavored or unflavored drink. There are seven flavors in all, including berry flavors, orange and green tea. Some flavors are caffeinated.
The drink powders come in two-serving stick packs or 29 oz pouches. They also have merchandise with the Tailwind brand on some familiar products such as Injinji toe socks and one of my favorite products, the Hydraflask soft, collapsible Ultraflask. I have a Hydrapak Softflask and I used it backpacking with Tailwind drink mix. Once I drank the mix, I rolled up the flask and it took up hardly any space.
Tailwind Nutrition offers a clean, light tasting electrolyte powder that is and easily digestible fuel source.
All photos by Inga Aksamit, unless otherwise credited.
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.