Review Without Influence: PaleoKits vs. Primal Pacs

I thought I would try something a little different here and do a comparison review of 2 products that I’ve come across of late. Why would I do such a thing? Simple – if I have a chance to grace the heathens of this world with my beautiful and borderline lyrical prose AND give a little guidance at the same time, then why the hell wouldn’t I?  Yeah… got no smarty comebacks for me now, do ya chief?  Wait… where the hell was I?  Oh yes… a review.

I call this a “Review Without Influence” because I have no outside vested interest in the outcome of this product comparison. No one is paying me to do this and I wasn’t sent anything for free. Given that my day job involves ethics in the corporate setting, I am a pretty huge believer in full disclosure. If I ever get to the point where someone does send me something free and I write about it, y’all will know it.  Ahh, for the chance to live in such heady times!

So today’s Review Without Influence is a comparison of two products that are intended to bring some convenience to the increasingly popular Paleo Diet.  While I could spend an inordinate amount of time describing the diet, I will break it down to its barest fundamentals: If cavemen ate it, get on it. If not, let it pass.The poor cavemen never had the convenience of Internet shopping and shrink-wrapped snack deliciousness, though… so I feel kind of bad for them.  Fortunately for us, that’s not an issue. Please note I find it amusing that while typing up this post, I was eating buffalo (Paleo!), but with black beans, cheese and a beer (none of which are Paleo in the slightest).

Primal deliciousness

The two products are Primal Pacs and PaleoKits by Steve’s Original.  In making this comparison, I tried to find the most comparable sizes of products, which if you look at the photo above may make it seem like I did a lousy job in accomplishing this task. I can see why you would think that, but the funny thing was that the Primal Pac small and the PaleoKit large were actually the closest in terms of content/nutritional breakdown.

Enough dawdling. Let the prehistoric comparison commence!

Steve’s Original PaleoKit

I tried the PaleoKits first because they shipped a bit quicker. The packaging is of sturdy construction such that you aren’t going to worry about the plastic tearing or puncturing if you have it in your bag while on-the-go. I ordered the grass-fed beef jerky, nuts and berries combo which is comprised of grass-fed beef jerky, cranberries, strawberries, almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts (although I must confess, not enough of the mac nuts for my liking).

2012-01-10 19.27.24

All of the nutritional info you can find above. If you skip ahead to look at the same info for the Primal Pacs, it makes for an interesting comparison. While the large PaleoKit has slightly more protein and slightly less fat, it has a much larger overall size for the package (122g vs. 56g in the Primal Pac). There are more carbohydrates in the PaleoKit, but given that I am not a low-carb zealot, it doesn’t bother me at all… but it does look like the carbs make up the bulk of the difference in the total content of the two products.

And speaking of that, let’s get to taste. PaleoKits are… in a word… tasty. They do a nice job of giving you both sweet and salty (a combination I’ve long enjoyed). Of the two products, this is the saltier without a doubt (just check the sodium content if you don’t believe me). The beef jerky is flavorful and not overly tough/chewy. I think this is due, at least in part, to the amount of liquid/juices in the packaging. It’s not moist like a filet mignon or juicy burger, but it’s actually nice to have something to chew on that isn’t akin to rawhide leather.

I would definitely advise that if you want to eat these on-the-go (which is probably why you would buy them in the first place), pack napkins. You will definitely have seriously sticky fingers otherwise from the fruit juices in the package. It’s not a major hassle, but it’s something to keep in mind.

On a completely unrelated note, it’s kind of cool to see that 15% of the profits from PaleoKits go to a 501(c)(3) charity for kids. I will leave it up to you to make your own choices on the fact that the charity is to get at-risk kids involved in Crossfit. But giving back to something that matters to the owners? Always a thumbs up from me.

Pricing: The cost for the 5 Grass-fed PaleoKits (size large) was $32.50 plus $9.39 in shipping, at a total of $41.89. Working out to $8.38 per pack, that’s a bit pricey in my mind. You do certainly get the convenience factor for a very healthy snack with grass-fed beef you can eat anytime – 100% agreement. Just need to think over whether that’s worth quite that much.

Primal Pacs

Primal Pacs were the second Paleo snack product I had the chance to try and I snacked on these today. Fairly similar packaging to the PaleoKit and they seemed like they could withstand being knocked around wherever you had to take them (camping, hiking, gym bag, carry-on at the airport, etc.) For the Primal Pac, I looked for the most comparable product and since everything is grass-fed/grass-finished beef, it made it easy. The ingredients here were grass-fed jerky, mango, macadamia nuts, almonds, cranberries and a variety of spices and seasonings.

2012-01-10 19.26.46


In looking at the nutritional info, eating a full package of the small Primal Pac gets you close to the PaleoKit on protein and fats, but is definitely off on the carbohydrate side. You can even just tell looking at the side-by-side shot of the two packages that there is a big volume difference, but in eating them, I did not notice a huge difference in feeling more or less full with one or the other. That’s actually one thing similar between the two: I did not feel all that full in eating them, but truthfully, that was perfect. I feel satisfied and really nicely energize on both – these are not the kind of snacks you knock back, get an energy rush and then want to take a nap from 60 minutes later. They both seemed to do a nice job of keeping me going through my work day (which is likely when I would be using them in addition to airport snacking). Also, these are definitely the lower carb option of the two products (if that is something you are concerned about).

From a taste perspective, the Primal Pacs are also way tasty. The mango is a really nice twist to the overall flavoring and these are much less salty overall. Truth be told, I think I like the flavor of the Primal Pacs just a slight bit better than the PaleoKits. The taste and texture of the meat on both is very good, but the overall flavor combination of the beef, mangoes, cranberries and nuts with less juice and less salt made for an overall more pleasant taste experience. The ingredients get a chance to shine on their own without the salt winning out. Again, this is a subtle edge here to the Primal Pacs since I did enjoy both brands.

Finally, the pricing on the small Primal Pacs was $17.50 for 5 and $5.00 for shipping for a total of $22.50. That works out to $4.50 per pack which is quite a bit less than the PaleoKits. It’s important to note that Primal Pacs and Steve’s Original do become cheaper on a per-pack basis when you purchase in greater quantities (which I will no doubt do going forward).

Final Verdict

I’m giving the edge to the Primal Pacs in this particular match-up of grass-fed beef/fruit/nut products. Their overall flavoring is a little better in my mind and the pricing difference is notable. I am curious to try some of the other Steve’s Original products since they have a very wide product line (which you can find here), so there may be other varieties which will grab my palate with a vengeance. But from a pure taste and value standpoint? I take my hat off to the fine Primal Pac folks – a nice product that I will be ordering some more of soon. I am hoping they will at least follow the lead of Steve’s Original in developing a wider range of product offerings as well.

Either way, I think both of these would be great choices for any kind of traveling you may do. The kind of utter gahr-baaage you find in airports is not something a health-oriented person is going to lean towards, so these can be a real saving grace. I mean… unless that airport has some Chik-Fil-A. That stuff is flat-out magical… not healthy, but sweet mother of God is it tasty.

But if you want tasty AND healthy, your friends at Steve’s Original or Primal Pacs can hook you up with a means to eat like a caveman wherever you travel… even if cavemen never flew coach from Boston to LA. At least that we know of. Those pterodactyls never looked very roomy if you ask me.

If you enjoyed this, let me know or if you have ideas from some more product comparisons, I would be happy to do this again sometime (especially if it involves a lot of eating).

29 Replies to “Review Without Influence: PaleoKits vs. Primal Pacs”

  1. I have to say it….that looks like packaged poo. 🙂 That said, I would have to choose the Primal Pac based on sugar content alone. Good post. Thanks

  2. The PaleoKit: 122g at $8.38 is approx 7 cents per gram The Primal Pac: 56g at $4.50 is approx 8 cents per gram This makes the cost nearly identical. Essentially you would need to compare one paleokit to two primal pacs. Personally we much preferred the taste of the PaleoKits, especially the Paleo MRE.

  3. Thanks PaleoJunky. Remember that chopped and formed is hamburgers while whole muscle meat are primal cuts of steak. PP uses chopped and formed jerky….they take ground meat, grind it up in a mixer and cut it into pieces to dehydrate in the oven. As for whole muscle meat, we take round grassfed steaks, slice them up by hand and then put it in ovens to dehydrate. This also explains why PP has less sodium because it is much easier to dry out ground meat as opposed to whole muscle meat.

  4. Thanks, Steve. That’s actually a very helpful delineation between the two. I have not seen anything specific about the Primal Pacs to show it as chopped and formed, so I would probably need to actually see it up close again to know for sure (but judging from your comments, you may have done just that already).

    PaleoJunky – I should have been clearer in my post. The difference I was thinking of was the cost per gram of protein (which is most of my focus in these snacks).

  5. Kevin, If you don’t see “Jerky” on the ingredients list, you’re getting something fairly different. While you may see “Jerky” elsewhere on the packaging, when you don’t see it in the ingredients list, you’ve probably purchased a “chopped and formed” or “chunked and formed” product. FYI.

  6. The blog post Steve has written about formed jerky is complete bullshit and in poor taste. Primal Pacs uses only the best organic sustainably raised beef available for our jerky. We are very proud of that. We know Steve is a troll and will most likely comment on this but Primal Pacs will not participate on Steve’s level and therefore will not add anymore to this thread.

  7. Primal – And I appreciate your participating as well, especially since I liked your product quite a bit. My overall thought is that the quality of the meat (grass-fed and organic) matter to me the most, as well as getting the best value for my money. Well, that and just plain tasting good – can’t forget that.

  8. PP – Can you please enlighten everyone on why the article is “complete bullshit?” Are you not selling chopped and formed meat advertised as grassfed beef jerky from whole muscle? I also find it amusing that you had the audacity to call your idea “original” (here: z when we were distributing the PaleoKit to the CrossFit community 2 years before you tried to copy the PaleoKit (you even tried calling your product “Just jerky” which we have a trademark on but you quickly changed the name when I emailed you…remember that one? Although I do believe competition is a good thing as it validates a new product category, I’m afraid your product only serves to confuse the customer who thinks anything with the word “grass-fed” is a high quality, when in fact you are cleverly selling people chopped and formed meat (which is not “beef jerky”) that is highly processed and loses much of its protein and nutrition value.

  9. As for someone who googled both products to find a review, this comment thread is as enlightening as the article.

    I tend to look for grass-fed/finished meat that is more connective tissue than muscle meat. I’ve been studying everything from Primal to Ray Peat to PHD diets. Thanks for the review because now I’m buying the Primal Pacs for the sugar content, sodium, formed jerky (like I make that when I can) and because the representative did not act like a douche.

  10. I’ve had both the Steve’s PaleoKits and the Primal Pacs and based on taste, I liked the Primal Pacs better. I didn’t care for the taste of the jerky in the PaleoKits. Also with my Steve’s order there seemed to be a lot more literature/packaging, which seemed a bit wasteful to me. It was just stuff I ended up having to recycle.

  11. Good find, Michael. That guy should be ashamed of himself for lying to customers. I remember when they first started they were lying about the amount of protein in each ounce of their jerky (they claimed 12 grams of protein) but we sent it off to a lab and the lab said 8 grams of protein per once. I also remember when they first came out their label did not list sunflower oil nor sugars on the back of the label, but then they went USDA and the label changed along with the ingredients. Glad you found this though…if I had bring it to light, it would simply look like I had an ax to grind.

  12. We are far from “ashamed”. We make a kick ass product that people love. We are also completely transparent as a company. We also tested Paleo Kits “grass fed” beef and found them to be pumped full of steroids and antibiotics. Basically using feed lot beef and calling it grass fed which is mislabeling. We do not work with the for mentioned supplier of dried fruit. Our dried fruit is just that….dried fruit. NO sugar added.

  13. Kevin,

    Even looking at the cost based on cost per gram of protein it is still not comparable. The PaleoKit still has twice the amount of protein than the Primal Pac. You would be looking at 30 cents per gram in the PaleoKit and 37.5 cents per gram in the Primal Pac.
    When you say, “eating a full package of the small Primal Pac gets you close to the PaleoKit on protein and fats, but is definitely off on the carbohydrate side.” it doesn’t. It’s still close to twice the amount because those packs are not similar. If you would have reviewed the Small PaleoKit (14g Protein, 6g Fat, 18g Carbs) vs the Small Primal Pac (12g Protein 7g fat 7 Carbs) I believe it would have been a much better comparison.
    I have NOT tried either product you reviewed and only came across this review because I was thinking about purchasing some to try out because they seem like great products I can throw into my ruck for the days I have to go to the field. I am about to place my first order (yes, with PaleoKit only because it better reflects the needs of the Zone diet) and appreciate the information you provided here. It saved me a great deal of time.

  14. Thanks for this review. The comments from both suppliers are enlightening! Steve’s shipping fees are excessive. And it’s telling that they no longer accept PayPal.

  15. While this is a non-issue, as we have documented proof of our grass fed qualification, we’ll clear the air. Our Grass-fed Beef Jerky option is USDA certified Grass-fed, and meets all specifications of that qualification. Additionally, as we are aware of the boundaries of that qualification, we have sourced 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef that we feel exceeds even the USDA requirements.

    In regards to shipping, we offer the best rates available with our carriers, but are continually working towards an improved shipping model. It is also important to note, we do not mark up our rates or make any profit from it whatsoever. We simply pass along the rates that we receive from UPS and USPS. I do agree our shipping rates are more pricey if you are comparing us to Amazon, but if you compare our shipping rates to other size online food retailers you will find them very competitive. As for Paypal, unfortunately, we had to remove it from site for a short due to an integration issue on PayPal’s end. We hope to have it back up and running soon.

  16. Interesting how PaleoKits refuses to name the suppliers of their beef? Ours is clearly labeled on our webpage.

    Know your sources and read your labels. We are completely transparent and proud of our beef suppliers. The beef is more expensive but its worth it to provide a better product to our customers. We are stoked to provide an ORGANIC grass fed and finished product. Produced in a environmentally responsible manner.

  17. I’m appalled Primal Pacs of the fact that you are ordering Mango from an overseas company that uses SUGAR!! I also don’t like the fact that PaleoKits doesn’t have a pack without sunflower oil. If they made one without sunflower oil I would buy it in a snap!!

    Primal Pacs, can you confirm why you are using sugar in the Mango, or not disclosing it??

  18. While I have been quiet on the comment thread, I do want to wade in a bit at this point on something clear: Unless you can make something more akin to a fact-based discussion about the products, I will start knocking out comments. While I let Jonathan’s comment above through, I am only doing so in the interest of him bringing up something that explains it. Otherwise, I’m completely uninterested in bashing/trolling either of the products here (both of which I have used and enjoyed quite a bit)

    Jonathan, please tell me where you got any of your information. How do you know where they source their mangos from? And why do you say they are using sugar? I haven’t noticed anything with them to suggest it and have I had several batches of them. Give support to your statements or I will just bag your comment.

  19. And part of the reason I say that is that Michael asked me to take his comments down and I just did not have the chance to do so as of yet, hence if you are basing it on that, then I’m not sure you are on target.

  20. KEVIN, someone above posted a video of the mango and where it comes from. Looks crazy to me. That’s why I made the comment. Thanks Steve for clarifying that for me. PP are never consistent for me when I order. Their jerky is so hard to eat.

  21. Wow.. Sounds like there are few folks out there that are really misinformed about the mangoes we use. Here are the links to our wholesaler/mango supplier. Great company and we have nothing but great things to say about their sourcing and products.

    They also sell on a retail level too. So anyone that wants to buy smaller quantities can.

    Seems like there are a few folks that do have “an axe to grind”. And really to me it’s a pretty dull axe. Usually you grind an axe with a bastard file not a sponge coated in BS…

    Pretty harsh wording about how “that guy should be ashamed”…. “For shame”? You gotta be kidding me??? We DO NOT “add sugar” to the mangoes we use.

    The bit about sourcing our mangoes from overseas is even more ridiculous….. Give me the name of a reliable wholesaler for organic mangoes that are produced in the USA??? You won’t.. Because there aren’t any….

    We as a company source our mangoes as responsibly as we can. We take great care in knowing where that product is coming from and how it is processed before it becomes part of an awesome piece of heaven that is a Primal Pac.

    The quality of our beef is what really sets us apart. I (Matt) would encourage anyone reading this thread to go to our friends page on the Primal Pacs website and checkout our beef suppliers. They really are top notch organizations.

    I generally don’t respond to this kind of stuff. I’m to busy trying to provide a quality REAL Paleo product to people that need and want a quality convenience food that fits those parameters. I’m not sure what motivates some people to slander our company needlessly without even knowing the facts about what we are doing or even bothering to ask. I feel like as producers and consumers of healthy and responsible food we should be supportive and at the very least tolerant of one another.

    We make a remarkable product. I know it, and the people that bother to look at what we are doing know it. So with that I’m done with the negative vibes and gonna go make Fridays batch of amazingness that is Primal Pacs Organic/Grass-fed and Finished Beef Jerky…..

    On a side note we have been trying to figure out how to get organic California dried mango on a consistent basis. Looks like the industry is growing so There is hope that will happen in the near future.

  22. Thank you, Matt. I appreciate the open and thoughtful response.

    I’m open to people continuing to write about their preferences and such in this comment thread (everyone will have their respective opinions about what they like or don’t like), but I’m basically not going to post anything that has a whiff of cheap shots. I’m just not interested in it.

  23. Based on the this thread, I’m not buying anything from either of these companies. You really should think before you post.

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