The shelves at your local outfitter are likely loaded with a vast selection of eating utensils designed for use in the backcountry. Sporks, spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks, aluminum, titanium, plastic, lexan… It can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. Which utensil is best? Well, it depends on what your needs are. What follows is a breakdown of some of the more common choices and how they can benefit your load out.

Let’s start by ruling a couple of features out:

  • Forks – Are just not necessary, not to mention that most forks you’ll find hardly function as such. In all of my time hiking, I have not once required a fork.
  • Sporks – Why ruin a perfectly good spoon with a non-functioning “fork”?
  • Chopsticks – Are a niche piece of gear that can only be used for certain dishes. Backpacking wisdom tells us that one-purpose items should be limited as much as possible.
  • Knives – Are very rarely needed (for cooking/food purposes). Plus, it’s likely you have a pocket knife with you anyways. Your spoon will spread peanut butter just fine.
  • LightMyFire spoon/fork/knife combo thing. I’ve seen far too many of these things break to ever even think of using one. Just don’t…

Ok with that out of the way lets take a look at materials, common ones include:

  • Plastic – You may encounter some generic plastic spoons in an outfitter. These tend to be very brittle and are generally about as useful as a disposable spoon from a restaurant (Which would be cheaper and lighter).
  • Lexan – Is a stronger and slightly flexible plastic that actually makes a great material for backpacking utensils. It’s best feature is its price; a lexan spoon can be had for around $2-$3. This could be considered a steal next to the pricier Al and Ti spoons. Lexan tends to flex over snapping, so while it may not break on you, long handled pieces tend to flex a bit. These are generally BPA free.
  • Aluminum – It’s the lightest of the metallic options and offers a light, rigid spoon that is fairly affordable and generally strong. It can bend, however, if left in a pack wrong or subjected to a serious tub of ice cream.
  • Titanium – The strongest option available, at the cost of a slightly heavier weight than aluminum. Titanium is normally the most expensive option, but nearly indestructible and so shiny.

One thing that I always recommend is getting a long-handled spoon. Getting down into the corners of your ziplock, tall pot, Mountainhouse bag, or pasta side bag is so much easier with a long spoon. This serves to keep your hands clean (wouldn’t want to wake up to a critter licking your hand would you?) and allows you to get every last hike-fueling scrap out of your meals. People who transition to long handled spoons are always happy with their choice.

So with all of these choices taken into consideration, what’s the best option? Let’s break it down by backpacker type:

Ultralight Minimalist: If you’re looking for the absolute lightest yet functional item, consider a short-handled lexan spoon. It won’t break on you and it will serve its purpose well. The lack of a long handle is inconvenient, but it does save weight. Bonus: it’s cheap! The spoon pictured below is available through Yogi’s Website. Alternatively, you could just use disposable cutlery to save even more weight, though it will certainly be fragile.

P1050467
This lexan spoon only weight 0.2 oz (5.7 g)

Thru-hiker: Go with a titanium, long-handled spoon. It will stand up to being shoved in your pack every day and it’ll get into every nook and cranny of that pasta side meal. Mine has survived the AT and PCT and is still going strong (It’s also my favorite piece of gear). Check out my favorite: Optimus Long-handled Titanium Spoon. Bonus: the smooth finish on this one feels like a real spoon!

P1050465
Optimus’ titanium spoon comes in at 0.7oz (19.8 g)

Weekenders/Everyone Else: Give an aluminum long-handled spoon a try. It may not be as durable as titanium, but you don’t require something so stout. You’ll save a little weight by going with the aluminum. Recommendation: Sea to Summit’s Alpha Light Spoon.

P1050464
Sea to Summit’s Alpha Light Spoon weighs a scant 0.4 oz (11.3 g)

 

 

Comments

Joe B.

Joe is a triple crown thru hiker that lives for anything outdoor adventure related. He loves delving into a complex DIY project, testing out the latest and greatest backpacking gear, rock climbing, hiking, and much more.

Contact

  • Look out backpacking quilt market a new challenger approaches! Ivehellip
    4 days ago by backcountrybanter Look out backpacking quilt market... a new challenger approaches! I’ve been giving the Bandit top quilt by  @ugqoutdoor  some testing and decided to do an initial review video on it. I won’t spoil the review, but let’s just say I’m excited. Both for the quality of this quilt and for the price at which people will now be able to get a lightweight quilt. Woohoo! Check out the link below or click through to my Instagram account to find a clickable link.
  • This is officially the coolest cake Ive ever received! hammockcampinghellip
    2 weeks ago by backcountrybanter This is officially the coolest cake I’ve ever received!  #hammockcamping  Thanks  @theadventuresoffunk  and co. !!! I’m proud to call  @feralmountainco  home. (Also, sweeeet cake  @valhallacakes  )
  • I just posted a new 2017 thru hiker gift guidehellip
    3 weeks ago by backcountrybanter I just posted a new 2017 thru hiker gift guide to the website. Check it out for some great gift ideas for all of those stinky backpackers in your life. Also, check out the new website design! Click thru to my profile for a clickable link. http://backcountrybanter.com/backpacker-and-thru-hiker-gift-guide-2017/
  • Ice Stalagmites found in an old mine Kinda crazy thathellip
    4 weeks ago by backcountrybanter Ice “Stalagmites” found in an old mine. Kinda crazy that they have flat tops though!
  • I stumbled across an old mining camp while exploring thehellip
    1 month ago by backcountrybanter I stumbled across an old mining camp while exploring the Colorado mountains yesterday... I found a lot of micah and quartz around the site. Any idea what they might have been mining for?
  • Well the blog is gonna be down for a dayhellip
    1 month ago by backcountrybanter Well the blog is gonna be down for a day or two as some improvements are being made. New fancy layout and way better features coming soon. In the mean time, here’s something I’ve been distracting myself with. Should this be the new header for the site? ;)  #strangerthings 
  • I got a glimpse of the Smokies from 33867 onhellip
    2 months ago by backcountrybanter I got a glimpse of the Smokies from 33,867’ on yesterday’s flight home. It was amazingly clear (and cold!) They’ve already gotten a nice dusting of snow.
  • Ive had this print for a while Thanks Max! buthellip
    2 months ago by backcountrybanter I’ve had this print for a while (Thanks Max!) but have never had a chance to share it. It reminds me of the northern sections of the PCT. Artwork by:  @zepangborn 
  • Im back in NC for a few days and gothellip
    2 months ago by backcountrybanter I’m back in NC for a few days and got a chance to do some kayaking. One thing I’ve really been missing in CO is tree diversity. It’s always the same three or four species of trees wherever you go. This photo probably contains more tree species than the entire state of Colorado!
  • Sometimes I come across lines in books that seem tohellip
    2 months ago by backcountrybanter Sometimes I come across lines in books that seem to strike chords with notes from my past experiences. This one really digs to the core of why I love thru hiking and backpacking. Taken from Jeff Vandermeer’s newest book “Borne”. (His books always do this to me...)

@BackcountryBanter