Have Spork, Will Travel

Por­ta­ble Uten­sils Bring a Touch of Ci­vil­ity to Any Sit­u­a­tion

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Contents - By Steven Kuo

Por­ta­ble Uten­sil Bring a Torch Ci­vil­ity to Any Sit­u­a­tion

Sure, you can eat with your hands. But who wants to do that all the time? Whether camp­ing, sur­viv­ing, or just tak­ing a snack break on the trail, hav­ing handy, eas­ily car­ried por­ta­ble uten­sils can en­hance your din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. A quick story: Dur­ing a multi-day ri­fle marks­man­ship course, the Tier 1 in­struc­tor, he took one morn­ing to ex­plain how to main­tain the AR-plat­form ri­fle. Dur­ing his demon­stra­tion, he field stripped the bolt car­rier group on a sam­ple ri­fle that had seen sev­eral thou­sand rounds since its last clean­ing. For all to see, he held up the tail of the bolt, which had col­lected caked-on car­bon and other foul­ing. He pulled a knife from his pocket, flicked it open, and showed the class how you could use it to scrape the bolt tail. He stashed the knife back in his pants pocket. Later, we broke for lunch. The sea­soned, snake-eat­ing in­struc­tor am­bled over to a ta­ble and pro­duced a loaf of bread, may­on­naise, and lunch meat from a gro­cery bag. He dipped into the may­on­naise and started spread­ing it on a slice of bread — with the very same pock­etknife.

If this sounds like some­thing you might do, then per­haps you can hap­pily use some rusty nails as skew­ers and your dirty knife to cut your meat. But even those whose five-sec­ond rule is more like five min­utes must ad­mit that it’s of­ten eas­ier to eat with uten­sils than your hands, espe­cially when food is scald­ing hot. While they aren’t strictly nec­es­sary, we sus­pect many of our read­ers would ap­pre­ci­ate the lux­ury of pur­pose-built uten­sils. Plus, dur­ing tense and dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, be­ing able to feel a lit­tle more civ­i­lized with some com­forts of home can pro­vide much needed psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fit and boost morale.

So we col­lected a wide se­lec­tion of por­ta­ble uten­sils with vary­ing de­sign philoso­phies for your read­ing en­joy­ment. We tested them with dif­fer­ent types of foods and took them on the road.

Eval­u­a­tion Cri­te­ria

In par­tic­u­lar, we as­sessed the fol­low­ing:

Scoop­ing: How well does it func­tion as a spoon?

Spear­ing: How well does it func­tion as a fork?

Cut­ting: How well does it func­tion as a knife?

Pack­ag­ing: How com­pact and por­ta­ble is it?

Dura­bil­ity and main­te­nance: How durable is it and how easy it is to clean?

The us­abil­ity of a uten­sil as a spoon, fork, or knife in­volves not just the pointy (or spoony) end, but also how you grasp it. Prod­ucts de­signed first and fore­most for com­pact size typ­i­cally hin­der their ef­fec­tive­ness by com­pro­mis­ing in two ar­eas: a small han­dle and a “spork” de­sign, com­bin­ing a spoon and fork in one. Sporks are in­vari­ably bet­ter spoons than they are forks. In fact, they’re usu­ally pretty poor forks. Ad­di­tion­ally, ul­tra-com­pact tools of­ten lack a knife, which prob­a­bly isn’t the end of the world since we sus­pect nearly all of our read­ers have a pock­etknife (if not an en­tire col­lec­tion of them). Se­lect one of these types of tools if you value porta­bil­ity over all else.

Some prod­ucts use a fold­ing de­sign, like a pocket or Swiss Army knife. This re­sults in a con­ve­nient, com­pact pack­age, but has some dis­ad­van­tages as well. Some de­signs also make the forks or spoons aw­fully small. While the han­dles are typ­i­cally gen­er­ously sized, the necks of the spoons and forks ex­tend­ing from the pivot are usu­ally rather short, mak­ing them less use­ful for dip­ping deeply into your food or soup. And all suf­fer from be­ing harder to clean — you need to be dili­gent to avoid rust. These types of tools make a tidy, com­pact pack­age, but they aren’t our fa­vorites to use and main­tain.

As you’ll see, our fa­vorite uten­sils for the ac­tual din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence fea­ture sep­a­rate spoons, forks, and knives, and stack to­gether for stor­age. Sim­ple and ef­fi­cient.

In a web-ex­clu­sive sup­ple­ment linked at the end of this ar­ti­cle, we also looked at a cou­ple of por­ta­ble chop­sticks. These are the ul­ti­mate min­i­mal­ist uten­sils, as they of­fer the ex­act same func­tion­al­ity as reg­u­lar chop­sticks. Chop­sticks are sim­ply… sticks. Like a por­ta­ble pool cue, two-piece chop­sticks sim­ply thread to­gether for use, be­com­ing iden­ti­cal to a one-piece chop­stick.

Not to men­tion that they’re very com­pact and light­weight. As long as you're mostly eat­ing solid foods, chop­sticks can be a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to a uten­sil set.

So read on and see what’ll make your next meal a more civ­i­lized ex­pe­ri­ence.


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