eGel vs Hammer Gel

I was asked yesterday how I thought Crank Sports’ eGel compared to Hammer Gel. I thought Crank would have the comparison on their web site, but that is one of the products they didn’t compare themselves to. I started thinking maybe it was because Hammer Gel was at least equal, so I pulled out the last packet of Hammer Gel I have and started a comparison.

To start with - Crank has better packaging. Ok, I know that has nothing to do with how well the product works, but anyone who can put “Harder Faster Longer” on their packaging has a one up on any of the competitors. All other things being equal, eGel just won.

But all things aren’t equal. First off, there is more gel in an eGel packet than Hammer Gel. Sure, throw more gel at the problem and of course it will have a higher caloric (wow, I’ve used “caloric” twice in one day, I sound like a trainer) value. The first thing to do is divide the number of total calories in a serving by the number of grams in in a serving. The result:

eGel vs Hammer Gel
Total Calories Serving Size Total Calories per Gram
Hammer Gel 91 36g 2.526/gram
eGel 150 55g 2.727/gram

If you’ve looked at the comparison chart that Crank Sports provides, you’ll notice one missing field in this comparison: sugar. One of the top selling points Crank touts: less sugar. Where 18.66% of the calories in an eGel come from sugar, most gels contain about 20% with Clif Shots coming in at 50%! Including Hammer Gel would seem to undermine their #2 claim because it only gets 8.79% of its calories from sugar with a meager two grams of sugar.

Of course, by cutting the sugar they are cutting the total calories you get as demonstrated in the table above. Among other differences is the amount of potassium. According to the nutritional facts on Hammer Gel, it does not contain any while eGel contains 85mg. Another area that eGel surpasses Hammer Gel is sodium. If you sweat a lot, you’re loosing sodium and need to build it back up. Hammer Gel contains 23mg while eGel contains 230mg - a ten fold increase. If you’re like me and sweat a lot while you’re riding, replenishing sodium can be huge.

Of course, ingredients aren’t enough for someone to make up their mind. Taste matters. I’ve had a few types of gels that I couldn’t hardly stomach and I even had one that I had an allergic reaction to. Thankfully, Hammer Gel and eGel are both pretty palatable. Hammer Gel sticks with more “organic” flavors like orange, chocolate, strawberry, while Crank Sports goes for the more dramatic with Cherry Bomb, Topical Blast, and Mountain Rush. Considering that neither contain taurine or caffeine, the flavor issue is more a personal choice. While I perfer Crank’s flavors as more stimulating, I can handle an orange Hammer Gel without too much issue.

And finally, the most important part of a gel. Does it work? Short of a controlled experiment where I test my fitness using both products under identical situations while I’m at the same fitness level, anything I say here is subjective. That said, both provide a good solid amount of energy. Personally, I find that my energy levels stay higher with eGel than with Hammer Gel. Hammer Gel provides a good steady amount of energy, but tends to start to wane after about 20 minutes. eGel has always seemed to help out for at least 30 minutes and on at lower efforts seems to help for at least 45 minutes. I use the word “seem” because without a power monitor, it’s hard to say with certainty.

So there’s a rough comparison between Hammer Gel and eGel. If you have a problem digesting sugar, Hammer Gel might be the right way to go. If you have issues with sodium loss while you’re riding, eGel is definitely going to be better. Both are great products, but for the time being I’m sticking with eGel. It’s nice to show up to a ride with something different :)

Closing request
I’m currently trying to get win Crank’s Winter Challenge. I didn’t find out about it until a week ago, and already I’m up to 4th place. If you’re a regular reader of my site and would like to help out, leave a comment and fill in the “email address” field and I’ll send you a referal. If you sign up via any of the Crank Sports links that I have on my site, I’ll get 3 points for your sign-up, but if I can email you before hand I get an extra point.

Author’s NoteIn the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I have applied for a spot on Team Crank and may be racing for them this year. That application didn’t effect this article - the guys in El Paso will attest that I’ve been pushing this stuff for awhile now without any sort of sponsorship.