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The Precision Hydration PF 30 Energy Drink Mix finds an excellent balance between carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat. It has a mild and not overly-sweet taste, mixes well, and offers good value for money.
The PF30 mix uses the popular 2:1 ratio of maltodextrin to fructose to deliver 30g of carbs per 500ml bottle. Maltodextrin is a common carbohydrate that is broken down into glucose – put simply, energy – in the stomach. The addition of fructose enables the body to absorb this at an increased rate: typically 90g per hour, compared to 60g per hour without. This means a happy stomach, and I was able to get through two 500ml bottles and an energy bar per hour with no discomfort.
Where the PF 30 drink excels is with its electrolyte content, giving 500mg of sodium, 125mg of potassium and 24mg of calcium per 500ml bottle. These aim to replace the electrolytes you're sweating out and help you absorb fluids into your blood stream, aiding hydration.
Not all sports drinks are quite so open about their electrolyte content, but a bit of digging finds that the same amount of Lucozade Energy provides only half as much sodium, while the High5 drink mentioned earlier has slightly less (240mg per 500ml bottle).
Is this much sodium necessary? Most research indicates that a baseline intake of 500-700mg per hour is optimal, so the simple answer, in my opinion, is yes.
There are of course products which focus primarily on hydration rather than carb content, with SiS GO Electrolyte and Torq Hydration Drink being just two. The latter contains 275mg Sodium, 63mg Potassium and 37mg calcium, but PF 30 almost doubles the first two figures – though has slightly less calcium. Overall that's not bad seeing as it also has twice as many carbohydrates.
For a cheaper alternative, hydration tabs are common due to their ease of use. It is worth noting that these often contain next to zero carbs, though, as they use artificial sweeteners rather than maltodextrin or the like.
PF 30 strikes a tidy balance between energy and hydration, and that makes it great for high intensity efforts – especially when it's hot. It's been my drink of choice for sweaty turbo races and sessions, not just because of its electrolyte replacement capabilities, but also because it is very palatable.
I realise that taste preferences differ hugely, but this avoids excessive sweetness and this 'original' flavour is very subtle. It doesn't need washing down with something else, like some energy drinks.
PF 30 is only available in one 15-serving bag size, but discounts are available for multiples – it's 10% off for two bags or 20% off five. A single bag works out at £1.27 per serving, which is very reasonable against energy drinks we've rated highly in the last few years, such as SiS Beta Fuel (£2.50 per serving), OTE Super Carbs (£2.85) or Enervit Isocarb 2:1 (£1.79). It's more expensive than OTE Lemon and Lime Energy (£0.93 per serving), High5 2:1 Energy: (£0.83) and Torq Hydration Drink (£0.67) though.
PF 30 offers reasonable value for money across the board though, considering it contains more electrolytes than nearly all the drinks available today (as well as a reasonable amount of carbs).
For hot rides when high levels of sweat are likely it'll certainly be my top choice, but for colder training rides you might want a cheaper and carbier drink as electrolytes are not being lost at the same rate.
Good levels of carbs and electrolytes to keep you both hydrated and energised
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Precision Hydration PF 30 Energy Drink Mix
Size tested: n/a
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?
Precision Hydration says: "Delivering the critical trifecta of carbs (30g per 500ml), fluids and electrolytes (500mg per 500ml, 1,000mg per litre), PF 30 Drink Mix is designed primarily for high intensity efforts lasting 2 hours, though it can also be a useful contributor to your energy needs during longer sessions. It delivers a steady stream of rapidly digestible energy along with fluid and a significant level of sodium to combat dehydration and electrolyte losses."
I agree with all of that; the electrolyte content is very impressive, the carb content is decent (if not mind blowing), and the result is best for hot rides when sweating is unavoidable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Precision Hydration:
Designed to help you start and stay fuelled during efforts lasting more than about 60 minutes
Contains 30g of carbohydrate and 500mg of sodium per 500ml serving (60g, 1,000mg per litre) and mixes up into a 6% carbohydrate solution (when mixed as directed)
Useful for high intensity efforts lasting 2 hours, where the delivery of a steady stream of rapidly digestible energy is the priority
Replaces some of the fluids and sodium lost in your sweat, mitigating the risk of dehydration
No chewing required (duh!), digests fast and easier to take in when you're breathing hard
Ideal when you need you hands free, like when kayaking etc
Also useful if you suffer with a nervous stomach before races and struggle to get solid calories in
Use the Quick Carb Calculator to understand your fueling needs
2:1 glucose to fructose ratio to aid carbohydrate uptake
Informed Sport certified
Mild, neutral 'Original' flavour to reduce flavour fatigue
15 servings per bag, each serving delivers 30g of carb and 500mg of sodium (60g carb, 1,000mg sodium per litre)
No artificial ingredients
Osmolarity = 213 mOsmol/kg (hypotonic)
PH = 5.27
Caused no stomach issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – it's very palatable even when you've got the hammer down, is great for keeping you hydrated, and offers decent energy content as well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I like the taste.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
As mentioned in the review, it's OK. Carbier drinks are more expensive, but electrolyte drinks can be found for less... rarely do those contain as many carbs though. You're basically getting two of the cheaper drinks in one, so it works out cheaper overall.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This manages to contain more carbs than most electrolyte drinks – or more electrolytes than most energy drinks, depending on which way you want to look at it. The price is decent, the taste is good and it's easy to get down too. There's little to dislike.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,