On first sight, Aptonia Energy Gel immediately sets itself apart from most other gels in that it comes packaged in a toothpaste-like tube, instead of the usual plastic wrapper. To consume it, you simply twist the plastic end off and squeeze. While certainly different, this packaging design has both its merits and drawbacks.
On the negative side, once bitten off, the plastic end is destined to be dropped onto the road as no one is realistically going to fuss about trying to stuff it back into a pocket in the heat of the moment. Having said that, the design of the tube itself ensures that the remaining gel doesn't leak everywhere when you put it back in your pocket, providing you place it with the hole facing upwards. This should encourage more people to hang on to their empty gels once consumed, reducing the amount of litter on the roads. If Aptonia could just find a way to ensure that the plastic nub doesn't come away completely from the tube, then it would be a great design, environmentally speaking.
Each gel provides around 19g of carbohydrates, or 75kcal of energy, from a combination of glucose syrup and maltodextrin. Apart from that, the gels don't provide a whole lot, but then they aren't intended to be nutritious; their role is to fuel the fire. Working from the generally accepted maximum carbohydrate absorption rate of 70g/hour, you should be looking to take around 2-3 of these gels per hour, depending on whether you're also taking on energy drink.
The Energy Gel is available in a variety of fruit flavours, but also an interesting salted flavour — salted butter caramel — which was the flavour tested. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the caramel flavour turned out to be more sweet than salty; a little too sweet I found, and the flavour did start to cloy after the first couple of gels.
To make matters worse, the texture is very thick, which, combined with the sweetness meant that each gel had to be followed by large slugs of water — not ideal when on the limit in a race.
Where the Aptonia Gels do score well is on value. Though they are only available in packs of six which makes experimenting with flavours a bit more of difficult, each a six-pack of most flavours will set you back only £2.99. This works out to be around 60p per gel which is pretty cheap as far as gels go. At £4.59 for six, this caramel flavour is unusually expensive by Decathlon standards.
Unfortunately though, in the case of the salted butter caramel flavour at least, the overly sweet taste and thick texture mean that it's too difficult to get down and, no matter how cheap, it's not a gel I could recommend.
Good value, but too sweet and too thick to be easily consumable
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Make and model: Aptonia Salted Butter Caramel energy gel
Size tested: Salted Butter Caramel flavour, 26g sachets
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Aptonia Energy Gels are designed to be taken during exercise and are useful for occasions when a no-fuss hit of energy is required - a race or the last hour of a sportive for example.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Glucose syrup (75%), water, maltodextrin (9.5%), flavourings, salt, caramel colouring agent, preservative: potassium sorbate, vitamins: C, B1
Contains: milk. Made in a factory which handles: gluten, shellfish, eggs, fish, peanuts, soy, milk, nuts, celery, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, molluscs
Nutritional Information per gel (25g)
of which sugars: 5.5g
Vitamin B1: 0.175mg (16% RDA)
Vitamin C: 12mg (15% RDA)
The salted caramel flavour is too sweet and the texture is so thick that it makes consumption quite difficult. Each gel had to be followed by a few slugs of water which isn't ideal in the heat of the moment
Though the gels are certainly cheap, their value is less certain as they're not all that pleasant to use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not well; too thick and sweet for quick and pleasant consumption.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The toothpaste style packaging.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Taste and texture.
Did you enjoy using the product? No.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.
Age: 22 Height: 190cm Weight: 69kg
I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, mtb,
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.