Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

08 Jun

Late last year I started using Gatorade’s G2 low-calorie sports drink for most of my rides—they sold a container of eight individual packages of drink mix and it suited my needs perfectly. However, I’ve noticed that in the last few weeks the pre-packaged power mix has been on “clearance” at several stores and no longer available at other stores. I don’t know if the folks at Gatorade are ready to drop this product or just come up with a better marketing plan for their products (it would be hard for them to devise a worse marketing plan than the one they are using). As a result, I have looked for a new drink mix powder for my rides and decided to try Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix.

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix was developed by Allen Lim, PhD, a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team (Garmin). He created this product “from scratch” because he thought he could improve on the usual pre-packaged hydration products that were already on the market.

A 16-ounce serving of this mix has 80 calories and provides 20 grams of carbohydrates, along with 60mg of calcium, 45mg of magnesium, 310mg of sodium and 40mg of potassium. The ingredients list is fairly simple: Sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, magnesium, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). As you can see, the mix from Skratch Labs provides less sugar and more electrolytes than other sports drinks.

Back when I was in high school (when the earth was still cooling and dinosaurs roamed the earth) the coaches would pass out both salt and potassium tablets to the athletes on hot days. Any coach that does this today needs to be fired on the spot! Sodium and potassium need to be taken in the right proportions or you can cause a great deal of harm.

The Exercise Hydration Mix comes in several flavors, including: Lemon & Limes, Raspberries, Oranges, and Pineapple. I bought a variety pack that included all the flavors except Pineapple. While I liked all of them, the Raspberry was my favorite—the flavor is not overpowering, but it is a very crisp and refreshing drink.

You can buy the Exercise Hydration Mix in either one or two-pound packages, or as single-serving individual packages. A package of 20 single serving sticks retails for $19.50, which is considerably more expensive than single-serving packages of Gatorade.

While I really like the flavor the Exercise Hydration Mix I am not sure I can recommend it for cyclists. The problem is not the ingredients or the price, but rather the packaging! The single-serving individual packages are designed for 16-ounce bottles, and nearly every water bottle in the world that fits in a bicycle water bottle cage is 20-ounces. In addition, if you buy bottled water at a convenience store it is probably going to come in a 20-ounce bottle. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Skratch Labs is marketing such a fine product in such a horrible size!

I am a distance cyclist and often have trouble making two 20-ounce bottles last between opportunities to refill them, and there is no way on earth I want to go out for a ride with 16-ounce bottles. It is normally recommended that cyclists drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid per hour while riding. On hot and humid days when the heat index is over 110 degrees I’ve been known to drink twice that amount. I could just dilute the powder with more water, but that ruins the taste.

Here is the bottom line: If you can survive with 16-ounce bottles then the Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix is worth trying. Buying this product by the pound will allow you to leave home with two full bottles in whatever size you want, but if you want to refill 20-ounce bottles while on the road you should to look for another product.


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20 responses to “Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

  1. billgncs

    June 8, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    I take along a couple of tums tablets for my rides, the calcium seems to help prevent cramps.
    I use ZIM tablets too which seem to work well for shorter rides.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 8, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      I had never thought of using Tums to prevent cramps — I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the tip.

  2. TdF

    June 8, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    …as like clif…not available in EU :-(

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 8, 2012 at 12:32 PM

      Too bad! I think the shipping charges would make it to expensive to even think of having it shipped to you.

  3. Dan

    June 8, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    I buy the 1 or 2 pound bags of Skratch drink mix, and a package of 500 3×4-inch ziplock bags and add enough mix to each bag to properly dose my water bottles. A little extra work to package it up like this, but it works well and makes it easy to carry true single bottle servings. (

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 8, 2012 at 9:39 PM

      Dan — I had already thought about that since I use those little bags for my vitamins (they work great). However, the Skratch drink mix already costs three times more than Gatorade and while I like their product I hate having to take the time to make up for their poor planning. I buy prepacked drink mixes for convenience and at the moment the Skratch drink mix is definitely not convenient to use.

      I would have loved to have been in the meeting where someone convinced them to make packs for 16-ounce bottles while nearly every water bottle on every bike in America is either 20 or 21-ounces. Last week I asked a bike store owner how many 16-ounce bottles they sold in a year — the woman laughed and said she didn’t think any company even made a 16-ounce bottle that fits in a bike water bottle cage.

  4. Cherry

    June 8, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    I use Nuun tablets. They are quite tasty & I love how it gives it a bit of “carbonized” taste. Best of all, they aren’t made of sucrose but rather, sorbitol.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 8, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Cherry — I’ll have to check those out — I’ve never seen them for sale in the stores around here.

  5. kitcischke

    June 9, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    A couple of notes:
    1. The Skratch Labs mix is more expensive because it’s made of real food. No “natural flavors” or anything.
    2. The single-serve packets cost $1.25 per serving, whereas buying the 1 or 2 pound bags only costs $1.00 per serving. (Actually $0.98.) In my own time-crunched training, I go through about 5 bottles per week, which would mean placing an order each month. Over the course of a year, I would spend an extra $60 on those little packets as opposed to buying in bulk. Any convenience of having single-serve packets seems quite overshadowed by that price difference. And when you buy the 1 pound bags, you can easily measure out enough powder to fill the 20 or 24 oz. bottles that seem to reproduce in your cupboards.
    3. The Nuun tablets are also designed for 16 oz. bottles. If you use one of the big 24 oz. bottles, you can break a tablet in half (they are scored to make this fairly easy).
    4. I have never had more GI distress on a bike than when I used the Kona Cola flavor of Nuun. I felt *horrible*. In fairness, the TriBerry flavor didn’t upset my stomach as much.
    5. As a personal opinion (as if the rest of this wasn’t a ton of opinion anyways), I’d much rather be putting natural sugar in my body instead of a sugar alcohol that is known to cause GI distress and have a laxative effect. (That would be sorbitol.)

    I guess my overall message is that I have never been as happy with a drink mix as I have been with the Skratch Labs mixes and dismissing them because the single-serve packets are targeted at a 16 oz. bottle seems like a missed opportunity.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 9, 2012 at 10:14 PM

      Thanks for the note! I’ve never tried the Nuun tablets myself, but as soon as you mentioned “GI distress” I remembered why I never consume products with sorbitol! I agree with you that natural sugar is far better than sugar alcohol. You go through five bottles a week, but in an average week I go through at least 20 bottles and sometimes up to 30 (the joy of being a distance cyclist). If Skratch Labs ever makes single servings for a 20-ounce bottle I’ll switch immediately.

  6. 8isgr8

    June 9, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Thanks for liking my post Dave!! Loving your blogsite. This is the first time I’ve cycled in the winter and I’m enjoying it and now I have most of the right gear it is even better… But then our winters would probably be a spring day for you!! :D

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM

      8isgr8 — Our winters get down to about -15 or -20 (F), which still makes for a decent bike ride. On the other hand, we never have to worry about poisonous snakes!

  7. mike

    June 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    Why not just put the mix in 20 oz bottle?…so it’s a bit diluted, is that so bad?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 16, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      Mike — yes, you can easily put the mix into a 20-ounce bottle. The downside is the taste — Skratch is not very good when diluted.

  8. r

    June 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Easiest solution is to buy the 1# bag and do the math. According to Skratch labs the volumetric measurement is 1.75 tablespoons per 500ml. That translates into almost exactly 2tbs for a 20 oz bottle and 2.5tbs for a 24 oz bottle.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      June 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      Sorry, but when everyone else in the world figured out that 98% of cyclists rode with 20-ounce bottles, the folks at Skratch decided to make their product available in 16 ounce packages. Yes, I could buy the 1-pound packages and then spend several hours repackaging their product, but I use over 800 bottles a year and while their product is excellent, it is not worth that much time (at least for me). Folks who don’t ride much might be able to get away with it, but not for distance cyclists.

  9. Dave

    July 1, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    I love Skratch Labs Exercise and Everyday Hydration mixes. I am stuck on Lemon Lime. Tried the Raspberry and it was OK but it’s not one of my favorite flavors anyway.

    Diluting the mix in a 20oz bottle does not bother me. I drink the everyday mix 1/2 strength (2 of the small scoops in a 32oz nalgene bottle) anyway so when I put the exercise mix in my 20oz cycling bottle it has more flavor than I am used to.

    The lack of flavor is one of the reasons I like Skratch mixes. After 9 hours and 150+ miles on the bike, Gatorade can get a little tough to swallow. And If I dilute it, then I am diluting the benifits as well. I can drink Skratch for the duration of the ride, be it a 30 mile group ride or a 400k Brevet and it keeps me going. I also like the natural ingredients.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 1, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      You are certainly right about Gatorade on long rides — if it is your only drink on endurance rides it becomes VERY hard to drink. It’s funny that you don’t mind diluting Skratch Labs products but you do mind diluting Gatorade. I don’t like diluting either one — which is why I wish they made premixed packages for 20-ounce bottles.

  10. st sahm

    January 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Didn’t know about this brand. Neat. I bet if you let them know about the ounce issue they would upsize from 16-20…good luck.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 15, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      I did talk with them — they were very nice! Apparently it is not as easy to do as I thought. However, this is a GREAT drink for athletes — it even tastes great warm (I carry it in a thermos on cold winter rides).


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