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Welcome to our Proper Wild review!
If you’re a member of the “Love Coffee But Just Can’t Handle It Club,” Proper Wild is for you.
With an impressive list of organic and healthy ingredients plus a combination of L-theanine and caffeine, Proper Wild’s clean energy shots are a no-brainer for people who want some jolt without the jitters.
From our chat with their team at Expo West and subsequent interview with energetic leader Vincent Bradley (no surprise there, given his unlimited access to the product), our team became properly impressed with Proper Wild.
In addition to their clean ingredients, Proper Wild also has innovative manufacturing processes to allow for a preservative-free shot, high transparency, and excellent customer service, leading us to award them an A rating overall.
Let’s take a closer look at how we got there.
Loaded with L-theanine and 100mg of organic caffeine per shot, this top-rated flavor is a jitter-free alternative to coffee with the lowest sugar content (8g) of Proper Wild’s shots.
Organic Caffeine, L-Theanine, Purified Water, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Kiwi Juice Concentrate, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Organic Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Monk Fruit Juice Concentrate, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt.
Working in New York City as a software builder in the demanding fin-tech space circa 2017, Proper Wild CEO and Co-Founder Vincent Bradley was no stranger to drinking coffee—but his body wasn’t quite loving it back.
As coffee-sensitive people know all too well, the acid reflux, stomachaches, jitters, and anxiety that follow a venti cup of joe just aren’t worth it.
So Vincent went down the rabbit hole of coffee alternatives, like energy drinks or those well-known little shots that boost your energy for five hours.
But as a former college athlete and health-conscious guy, he didn’t like what he saw—like dozens of grams of sugar and hundreds of calories in humongous cans or little shots loaded with chemical-laden preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
So he did what any good software builder would do—he designed his own.
Proper Wild—tiny and convenient 2.5-oz energy shots that were healthy, clean, and most of all—effective but not anxiety-inducing.
One of the best things about Proper Wild shots is their science-backed combination of L-theanine and caffeine, leading to a jitter-free, mood-boosting, smooth energy experience without the dreaded caffeine crash.
And although their brand is young and their team is small, we’re sure you’re going to be seeing much more of Proper Wild in years to come—especially considering their recent partnership with Barstool Sports (ever heard of ‘em?).
As Vincent told us, “Eat real food, and you’re going to feel better”—and switching up your morning caffeine consumption to Proper Wild can help get you there.
Each brand we review is graded according to this set of six factors—here’s how Proper Wild scored in each category to earn an overall A grade:
High-quality ingredients, cutting-edge manufacturing processes, and preservative-free formulations led us to award Proper Wild with an “A” grade here.
With their brightly colored, easy-to-open resealable bottles showing the ingredients and nutrition label prominently, we had no issues with their packaging or labeling.
As far as energy shots go, Proper Wild’s ingredient list is as clean as you’ll get, with each containing:
Although each shot does contain a fair amount of sugar (8-11g per bottle), we appreciate that the sugar comes from organic fruit juices—which contain some vitamins and antioxidants—rather than cane sugar.
The Proper Wild team also does not use stevia—which can cause some digestive issues—opting instead for a bit of monk fruit juice concentrate.
We also love the science-backed approach to formulation—the combination of 100mg of caffeine and 120mg of L-theanine provides double the amount of caffeine as a shot of espresso and 15 times more L-theanine than a cup of green tea.
The caffeine comes from organic green tea, and the addition of L-theanine supports smooth and focused energy without jitters or crashes—essentially, L-theanine is the perfect calming counterbalance to caffeine’s come-up.
With 19 studies referenced, Proper Wild provides us science nerds with all the details about how L-theanine and caffeine work synergistically to promote cognition, good mood, and focus.
We especially liked this graphic, showing the increased levels of brain alertness (as measured by alpha brain wave activity, which promote relaxed focus) after consuming 50mg of L-theanine.
We also loved learning about their cutting-edge hot-fill manufacturing process, which allows Proper Wild shots to be preservative-free.
In a method akin to pasteurization, hot filling uses a low pH and heat to kill bacteria in the liquid, the bottle, and the cap, leading to a two-year shelf life without needing to add preservatives.
However, Proper Wild shots currently do not have any certifications—although they are organic, gluten-free, soy-free, stevia-free, and GMO-free, their small team is understandably putting their resources towards things other than getting the official certifications right now.
Although Proper Wild only has one product category—their clean energy shots—they do have a handful of flavors to choose from.
Just this year, they upped their original three shots (Ginger, Blackberry, and Peach Mango) to now include six flavors.
The six flavors currently offered include:
Some areas on the site could gain a bit more detail, but Proper Wild did an above-average job in our interview, sharing information about sourcing, manufacturing, and the brand overall.
A brand’s transparency comes from several factors, including details about sourcing and manufacturing, the company founding story, and shipping and return policies.
Proper Wild did quite a few things right when it comes to transparency, including offering easily accessible and helpful information about the supplement facts, ingredients, and benefits.
And although the website doesn’t share much about the founding story and sourcing/manufacturing processes, we gleaned much more in our interview with Vincent.
For instance, we learned that Proper Wild partners with Wellington Foods, a dietary supplement manufacturer based in Corona, CA, with strict testing guidelines.
The development process of Proper Wild’s shots was also intensive, as Vincent told us he spent a lot of time meeting with manufacturers and flavor labs to get the taste right without adding preservatives or unnecessary additives.
Blind taste tests also confirmed what Vincent thought to be true—that people prefer the taste of fruit-based natural flavors (for example, the blackberry flavor comes directly from blackberries).
Plus, the products were evaluated and approved by a team of food scientists and Registered Dietitians.
One area we would have liked to see more details in was a “who’s who” in the company—we know that Vincent and a team of “engineers, designers, athletes, and foodies based in New York City” are behind the brand, but would love to learn more.
Lastly, a minor nitpick is that there is no separate page for shipping and return policies—you have to hunt through the FAQs for this information.
With a simple, clean design and helpful educational resources, Proper Wild earns an A in website experience.
With just a handful of products to choose from, Proper Wild’s website is simple, clean, and easy to navigate.
We liked that each product page had all of the essential information a consumer would want to know—nutritional facts, ingredients, and benefits—with links accessible to learn more if desired.
For example, the Science page goes into more detail about the research behind L-theanine and caffeine, while the blog offers additional educational resources, with article topics like “Does Caffeine Affect Your Memory?” and “How to Avoid the Afternoon Crash.”
The e-commerce experience was standard and straightforward, with no issues seen.
Overall, the website is straightforward, educational, looks great, and gives all of the necessary information, earning Proper Wild a solid A in this category.
Despite their small team, Proper Wild’s customer service is top-tier, providing free shipping on all orders, a generous return policy, and almost-immediate responses.
From shipping and return policies to the responsiveness and accommodation of customer service, it’s safe to say we were wildly impressed with Proper Wild in this category, earning them a rare A+.
Unlike many food or supplement brands, Proper Wild has a money-back guarantee (even on opened products), offering a refund within 30 days.
The one and only downside is that the refund is limited to one six-pack—but with free shipping on orders of any size (yep!), we can’t imagine that someone would order in bulk on their first shipment without trying them first.
Proper Wild offers three customer service channels easily accessible on the Contact page—live chat, email, and text—with chat and text providing the most immediate responses.
We received helpful replies in five and nine minutes when chatting and texting, respectively.
Combining the quick responses, generous free shipping, and above-par return policies, Proper Wild gets an A+ in customer service.
Despite their relatively high price point per shot, Proper Wild gets an A- for value due to their generous subscription discounts and the value of the solution for people wanting clean energy shots.
The value of a product is not simply based on the price itself—we also consider the quality of ingredients relative to the cost and how similar products are priced by competitors.
And Proper Wild is definitely several steps above mainstream brands like 5-Hour Energy when it comes to ingredient quality.
But that’s not saying these aren’t on the pricey side—each Proper Wild shot will put you back $3.99 per shot.
However, the subscription model is probably the most generous we’ve ever seen, saving you 20-40% depending on how many you buy.
With a subscription (which you can cancel anytime), one six-pack would drop it down to $3.16 per shot, which is less than other clean energy shots—take a look at the cost comparison here.
|Energy Shot||Cost*||Key Ingredients|
|Proper Wild Energy Shot||$3.99/shot ($1.60/oz)||100mg caffeine; 120mg L-theanine|
|5-Hour Energy||$1.94/shot ($1.00/oz)||200mg caffeine; vitamins B6, B12, taurine, glucuronic acid|
|Ethan’s Organic Energy Shot||$3.25/shot ($1.62/oz)||150mg caffeine; lion’s mane, cordyceps, green tea extract|
|Qualia Mind Energy Shot||$6.95/shot ($3.48/oz)||90mg caffeine; alpha-GPC, L-theanine, ginseng, niacin, Alpinia galanga|
Overall, Proper Wild’s shots are a good value, especially if you take one instead of buying a morning latte.
Considering their innovative and high-quality product that disrupted the energy shot industry, Proper Wild gets a B+ for brand value—with a slight docking for few philanthropic or environmental-focused initiatives.
Lastly, brand value scores are considered by a combination of product innovation, industry disruption, impact on public nutrition, and philanthropic or sustainability efforts.
Proper Wild gets high points for their innovation—as one of the first clean energy shots on the market, they successfully disrupted their industry to provide healthier alternatives to the sugar- and chemical-loaded energy shots out there.
Along the same lines, their shots could be considered beneficial to public nutrition—especially if someone was regularly drinking said chemical-loaded energy drinks or shots.
Another “pro” in this category was that Proper Wild has Registered Dietitians and food chemists on the team, which adds some credibility to their product formulations.
However, a couple of areas where we’d like to see improvements are in sustainability and philanthropic efforts.
They definitely have a few things going for them here, including regular energy shot donations to hospitals, healthcare workers, and the military.
On the environmental front, they use PET plastic for their bottles, which is 100% recyclable.
However, while we know Proper Wild is still a young and growing company (so we didn’t fault them too hard here), we’d love to see them step up with some sustainability measures and charitable contributions.
Plus, we learned that they are currently prioritizing spending resources on top-tier, clean ingredients over more sustainable packaging, which is a noble feat in and of itself.
Our team was able to sample all of Proper Wild’s clean energy shots.
As someone who loves coffee but absolutely could not drink it before a workout lest uncomfortable symptoms ensue, a quick swig of Proper Wild before a HIIT class was the perfect alternative.
But, we do have to talk about the taste.
As two of the prominent ingredients in Proper Wild shots, caffeine and L-theanine, are reported to have bitter tastes, it’s understandable that the shots are on the bitter side.
If you’re a bitter supertaster—meaning you also struggle with hoppy beer, broccoli, and coffee, to name a few—you may have a hard time with the slight bitterness of these shots.
However, keep in mind that you’re not drinking a large cup of it—just a quick couple of swigs, and you get the promised boost of smooth energy without too much trouble.
A couple of favorites from our team were the Apple and Ginger (which seemed to overpower the other flavors—in a good way).
Overall, the benefits of the clean caffeine and calm energy outweighed the bit of bitterness.
Vincent Bradley is the CEO and Co-Founder of Proper Wild.
Each shot contains 100mg of organic caffeine and 120mg of L-theanine.
Due to their hot-fill process without preservatives, each shot has a shelf life of two years.
Caffeine is not typically recommended for children—especially younger kids.
According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the maximum caffeine recommendations for children are as follows:
Ages 4 to 6: 45mg
Ages 7 to 9: 62.5mg
Ages 10 to 12: 85mg
Adolescents aged 13–17: 85–100mg
Since every Proper Wild Energy Shot contains 100mg of caffeine, the above report suggests Proper Wild would only be safe for adolescents aged 13-17.
If you’re unsure if your child should have caffeine or Proper Wild, speak with their healthcare provider.
With attributes like high-quality ingredients, innovation, high transparency, and excellent customer service, Proper Wild earns a solid A grade from our team.
A few minor details, like charitable or environmental involvement and high price point without a subscription, were the only less-than-perfect areas.
Overall, the clean energy that Proper Wild provides is a significant improvement in the energy shot industry, and we appreciate their commitment to nutrition and health.
On this topic, Vincent shared some final thoughts about his nutrition philosophy, “Know what you’re putting into your body—what you put into your body has the biggest impact on your quality of life. I wish everything was centered around food—how to pay your taxes and what to eat should be in every curriculum from ten years old until graduating college. Food would solve most things.”
We couldn’t agree more!
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