Over the years of experimenting with healthy snacks and convenient post-workout food or supplement options, I’ve come to expect more and more. I don’t think athletes should have to compromise flavor or health for convenience. There has to be a better way.
Enter Primal Pacs. I’ve reviewed a lot of jerky and other snack foods here on Breaking Muscle, and I always tout the advantages of dried meats as snacks for athletes. High quality protein that tastes good, isn’t excessively sweetened (or sweetened at all), and travels well is the holy grail of convenient athletic food. Not only does Primal Pacs offer jerky on its own, but the Primal Pacs also combine jerky with nuts and dried fruit to create a mixed-nutrient option for athletes.
Recently I tried out both the basic small Primal Pacs offering, and also a bag of their jerky all by itself. Here’s what I thought of each:
Primal Pacs Jerky
Jerky is included in the standard Primal Pacs, which I talk about below, but you can also get their jerky all by itself. As a jerky connoisseur, I half expected tough jerky when I saw it was also included in their mixed bag option, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Primal Pacs jerky is high quality. They make it tender by using ground beef, which allows for a ton of flavor while keeping the jerky tender. This is the same way I make homemade jerky.
The jerky is lightly flavored, mostly with a standard garlic and salt flavoring. The light flavors allow the jerky to contribute a dose of the flavor as well. Having the food itself contribute most or all of the flavor seems to be a theme with Primal Pacs, and I love this quality. Since the beef is grass-fed and high quality, you want to actually taste it.
The jerky, like all jerky, is not for low-sodium diets. Part of the jerky-making process is in the salt. However, as jerky goes, Primal Pacs keeps the sodium content relatively light compared to store-bought versions. I did notice the labeling seems to be incorrect. The sodium content is listed as 110mg on both the snack pack and jerky labels. However, the Daily Value percentage on the snack pack label is listed as five percent, as opposed to thirteen percent on the jerky label. I’d guess the quantity on the jerky label is mistaken and should be more like 250mg. Even so, this is relatively low.
Where this jerky stands out is its well above-average softness. As noted above, I expected it to be tough, but actually experienced some of the most tender jerky I’ve had. With some jerky, high quality ingredients combined with a wet marinade yields a soft, but wet jerky. While Primal Pacs certainly uses quality ingredients, they use a dry rub to create a dry, but somehow soft product. A+ effort on this one.
The Primal Pacs flagship product is the Primal Pac itself. The Primal Pac comes in two sizes: 2.3oz or 4.3oz. Each pack comes with the above reviewed jerky, along with macadamia nuts, almonds, dried cranberries, and dried mango.
The jerky is the same product from above, so already I love it, but in the Primal Pac you get the jerky flavor along with other sweet or nutty flavors. The cranberries are unsweetened, making them lightly sweet with a bite of tartness that complements the other flavors you might get in one mouthful. The mango brings a sweeter and milder taste than the cranberries, which mellows out the flavor. Although the mango is not listed as sweetened in the ingredient list, it tastes like it might be. Both kinds of dried fruit are moist and not at all chewy.
The nuts in the mix are unsalted. Their healthy fats, along with the saltiness of the beef, help spread all the flavors in your mouth. Although I had exactly one almond in the small pack I tried, it was not short on macadamias, so the slight is forgiven.
In my opinion, the blend of flavors found in the Primal Pacs go well together, but with minimal processing. Even cooking and drying processes are kept to a minimum. Each pinch of food from the pack gives you a different but always delightful mix of sweet, salty, savory, and nutty natural flavors.
The only possible downside on Primal Pacs is price. Any time you put together high quality ingredients you’ll get a higher price point, so this may not be a surprise to you, but it may give the average person cause to balk at purchase. Jerky also tends to be expensive anyway, so for the organic and grass-fed stuff, I don’t expect it’s shocking to pay a bit more. At over $7.00 a bag for the jerky alone (the small Primal Pacs are about half that price), keep in mind that you get what you pay for. That’s only a little more than the store-bought stuff, which doesn’t come close to the quality or tenderness of Primal Pacs.
Besides the justifiably higher price tag for the jerky, Primal Pacs are an excellent product. The mixed Primal Pacs are perhaps more reasonably priced and offer something unique: delicious flavor with the perfect blend of nutrients. Primal Pacs make an ideal post-workout or on-the-job snack that is also a pleasure to eat.
Primal Pacs are available at Amazon.