The Quest for the Perfect Backpacking Spork

The competitors
The spork is the quintessential utensil for eating on the go. A combination of a spoon and a fork, this utilitarian tool is intended to handle food of all shapes and sizes. Whether you are planning to use one for your weekday lunch, an ultralight backpacking trip, or wolfing down a snack at the crag, the right utensil for the job needs to match certain criteria. We put 8 of the most common and highly rated models through a series of side by side tests to help you find the perfect on-the-go utensil no matter where you plan to break your bread. From backcountry ski trips in the Rocky Mountains to car side meals in Utah's desert, we evaluated each competitor for their ability to help us cook and consume food. We also investigated their breakability and the ease of cleaning. The result is a comprehensive review that flushes out the surprising nuances of these utensils and highlights each model's best uses.

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Test Results and Ratings

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Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Leslie Yedor
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
May 17, 2018

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1

Best Overall


Snow Peak Titanium Spork


Material: Titanium | Weight: 0.6 oz
Feels natural
Durable
Great versatility
Small bowl size
Providing top-notch comfort alongside quality construction, the Snow Peak Titanium has the desired versatility of a spork but handles like a normal utensil. It's easy to forget you are using an oddly shaped piece of silverware, allowing you to simply enjoy your meal whether on the trail or during a work day's lunch. Its bowl and tines have an ergonomic feel, and it performs well as a multi-utensil. Whether scooping, stirring, spreading, cutting, or stabbing, this model is extremely durable and holds up to regular use. It's also easy to clean, and the titanium resists scratches.

The many pros outweigh messy fingers, but this spork does come up short when trying to reach the bottom of a dehydrated food bag or a JetBoil backpacking stove. Its small bowl size also makes it a mediocre soup spoon. For the majority of meals, however, this competitor shines and will keep you fed for years and adventures to come. After digging into your first meal, it is easy to see why the Snow Peak Titanium takes the cake.

Read review: Snow Peak Titanium

2

Best for Ultralight Backpacking


Vargo Titanium ULV


Vargo Titanium
Top Pick Award

$9.94
at Amazon
See It

Material: Titanium | Weight: 0.3 oz
Ultralight
High-quality material
Nice to eat with
Doesn't reach the bottom of dehydrated food bags
Pricey
If you're looking to save on weight without sacrificing function, material, or longevity, the Vargo Titanium ULV is the spork for you. This model received high marks across the board in all of our tests. Its low weight and strong material make it ideal for backpacking but comfortable enough to double as your everyday on-the-go utensil. Whether tossed in your backpack, purse, or lunchbox, you will forget it's even there until it's time to eat.

Although this utensil meets the weight standards for ultralight backpacking, it's average length does lead to challenges if you're planning to rely heavily on dehydrated food bags. Its thin construction also feels a little unusual in hand, but we found nothing uncomfortable about eating with this model. Unlike the more common plastic ultralight options, it's made of pure grade titanium, but be prepared to spend an extra buck or two for the upgraded material. Coming in as one of the lightest and most durable models we tested made it our favorite for heading deep into the backcountry, but also like it well enough for regular use.

Read review: Vargo Titanium ULV

3

Best Bang For Your Buck


humangear GoBites Uno


Humangear GoBites
Best Buy Award

$2.95
at REI
See It

Material: Nylon | Weight: 0.53 oz
Burly despite being plastic
Great price to performance ratio
Mediocre hand-feel
Not the most sanitary
The humangear GoBites Uno provides a low price point without forfeiting durability. Of all the plastic versions we tested, it was by far the strongest model. Its thick design not only lends to its strength but also improves the comfort of the bowl and tines when eating. The material makes it easy to wipe clean when you are on the trail, and the large bowl holds a solid bite of soup or stew.

The main drawback to this competitor is the double-ended design. With a spoon on one end and a fork on the other, holding it is far from natural. Discomfort aside, you lose some of the versatility of a true spork and have to pick either the spoon side or the fork side. Once your choice is made you're either committed or willing to swap ends and risk contamination from dirty hands. Overall, this model is great for the price and may be well suited for children with its rounded edges, resistance to breaking, and low price tag.

Read review: humangear GoBites Uno

4

Best for Added Reach


Sea to Summit AlphaLight Spork - Long


The Sea to Summit AlphaLight Long Spork

$8.95
at Amazon
See It

Material: Aluminum Alloy | Weight: 0.42 oz
Extra length advantages
Low weight
A bit awkward
Bulky for packing
The long handle and the bowl angle of the Sea to Summit AlphaLight Long make it the best model for cooking. It reaches into the deepest corners of a dehydrated food bag with ease and keeps your fingers far above the heat of the stove when stirring meals. It's also one of the lightest models we tested, and when every ounce counts, this utensil won't weigh you down.

Although its unique shape lends well to cooking, it is unfortunately quite awkward to eat with. Its extra long handle also makes it difficult to pack when space is limited. If you are living off of dehydrated food bags or cooking with a JetBoil, though, this model is for you.

Read review: Sea to Summit AlphaLight Long

5

A Great Gift for Your Outdoorsy Friend


GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kung Foon


GSI Outdoors Kung Foon

$9.56
at Backcountry
See It

Material: Stainless Steel/ Wood | Weight: 1.83 oz
Max versatility
Fun
Bulky and heavy
Spork alone is awkward
The GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kung Foon is a great multi-purpose tool for chopstick lovers. Alone, the chopsticks and the spork provide versatile utensils and the option to share with a friend. Together, they combine to create a long handled cooking gadget that can reach the bottom of even the deepest pots and pans.

Despite the fact that this combination utensil is highly versatile, the spork itself is uncomfortable to eat with, and the chopsticks are thin and fragile. It's heavy and bulky making it a poor choice for backpacking. If you're looking for a technical piece of gear, you'll be best suited with a different model, but if car camping and punny names are your jam, the Kung Foon is for you.

Read review: GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Kung Foon

6

Our Favorite Folding Model


MSR Folding


MSR Folding

$2.96
at Amazon
See It

Material: Nylon| Weight: 0.35 oz
Compact and lightweight
Inexpensive
Prone to melting
Difficult to clean
With a well-engineered folding mechanism and comfortable design, the MSR Folding was our favorite folding model. It surpassed our initial expectations in durability and performed well as an eating device. Its ability to both fold in half for storage and stay extended while in use, make it a great compact utensil when on-the-go storage options are limited.

The nylon material renders this utensil especially lightweight, but it is prone to melting and proved to be one of the least durable models we tested. While the locking mechanism is highly functional, it is difficult to clean, and bits of food get trapped in the plastic joints. If optimizing space is your main priority and you're not overly concerned about cleanliness, this compact utensil will fit the bill.

Read review: MSR Folding

7

Compact & Durable


TOAKS Titanium Folding


TOAKS Titanium Folding

$10.95
at Amazon
See It

Material: Titanium | Weight: 0.6 oz
Hardy material
Small packed size
Tough to lock into place
Not nicest utensil to eat with
If your preference is for a compact titanium model, the Toaks Folding offers a robust version of the folding spork. This metal folding utensil is highly packable and resistant to bending or breaking. It fits neatly into your camp kitchen, and its durability offers a confidence boost that your only utensil will last the duration of your trip.

Be prepared to use some elbow grease to get the locking mechanism into place. It is prone to collapsing while eating and the exceptionally wide bowl is awkward-feeling for all but the biggest mouths. With all the other lightweight and durable models available, this competitor is only meant for you if a long-lasting foldable model is a must.

Read review: Toaks Titanium Folding

8

Works in a Pinch


Light My Fire Original Spork


Material: Titanium | Weight: 0.3 oz
Low price and weight
Doesn't scratch non-stick pan coating
Uncomfortable serrated edge
Likely to break
The Light My Fire Original is a fork, knife, spoon combination utensil. Made of a BPA-free plastic called Tritan, this spork is lightweight and inexpensive. It's fun colors and low cost make it a good option for kids. The soft material is also gentle on a non-stick pan.

This design is intended to provide the versatility of three utensils in one. However, the execution is lacking. The serrated knife edge is on the outside of the tines on the fork end. When eating with the fork, the knife is rough in the mouth. If opting to eat with the spoon end, the knife edge is sharp on the fingers. This spork is also terribly fragile and prone to breaking with regular use, leaving it with poor markings in every category we tested.

Read review: Light My Fire Original

Spork Buying Advice


Using tools with our opposable thumbs is one of the defining characteristics of being human. Be it a spoon, fork, knife, or chopsticks, these instruments are designed with the sole purpose of facilitating our consumption of food. Your silverware drawer at home likely contains a variety of those utensils. After all, few want to eat soup with a fork. But what happens when you want to eat on-the-go? Carrying a set of classic silverware is both bulky and heavy, and single-use plastic utensils are wasteful and might leach toxic chemicals. Enter the spork. It's the perfect combination of utility and portability. Most models are lightweight, ranging from 1.8 oz all the way down to 0.3 oz and offer the versatility of both a SP-oon and a f-ORK.

Electing to forgo a more formal table setting (sorry Mom, those etiquette classes aren't useful here!) and adopting a hybrid utensil for your travel eating needs, may seem like a no-brainer, but picking the right model isn't as simple as it sounds.

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to these products making for a number great options depending on your unique cutlery needs.
There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to these products making for a number great options depending on your unique cutlery needs.

Where you plan to use it, what you plan to use it for, and how dependent you are on its survival for your own are a few of the main factors to take into consideration. To answer these questions, we tested the most popular models on the market to determine their performance as eating instruments and cooking tools. We also evaluated how easy they were to clean and their ability to withstand sustained use without breaking or deforming. We pushed these utensils to find their limits so when you find yourself eating somewhere deep in the Andes, you don't have to.

Location, Location, Location


Where you plan to use your spork plays the biggest role in determining the necessary requirements. Like most things, the more technical the equipment, the higher the price tag. These products range from $3 to $12, and for the most part, the more expensive models have more activity-specific features.

Weight & Durability
For backpacking, your primary concerns are durability and weight. A lightweight model won't serve you if it only lasts part way through your trip. Reliability counts if you are planning an extended thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail or even a week-long trip in the Adirondacks, but so does reducing the total weight of your gear. While a few fractions of an ounce might seem insignificant, when all of your possessions are strapped to your back for mile after mile, every little bit counts.

5-lbs had this model bending over backwards
This plastic model didn't budge with an added 10-lbs.

To better assess weight and durability, we first weighed each model using a kitchen scale to double check its factory specs. We then put them through the use and abuse of months of eating and cooking. To drive home their (in)destructibility we c-clamped each product to a table and hung incrementally heavier weights (from 1 to 10 lbs) on the end until it bent or broke. Unfortunately, the Light My Fire model didn't survive earlier phases of testing and failed to advance to this stage. The titanium and stainless steel models, however, never faltered throughout our testing.

The LightMyFire Original was the only model that didn't survive general use during our testing period.
The LightMyFire Original was the only model that didn't survive general use during our testing period.

Comfort
Comfort in the backcountry is no small luxury and eating should be about food, not the vehicle you use to transport it from plate to mouth. With exceptional scores in durability and comfort as well as a reasonable weight of 0.6oz, our Editor's Choice, the Snow Peak Titanium, is a great option no matter where you plan to take it. Lighter models, like the Vargo Titanium ULV and the humangear GoBites Uno scored above average in comfort and durability. The former is one of the pricer models but won our Top Pick for Ultralight Backpacking due to its super lightweight, resistance to breaking, and decent resemblance to a normal utensil. The humangear GoBites Uno, on the other hand, is a resilient plastic alternative that boasts an exceptionally low price tag which earned it our Best Buy Award.

A comfortable utensil means you can focus on your food  not your cutlery.
A comfortable utensil means you can focus on your food, not your cutlery.

Front Country Dining
While most of the models suitable for backpacking perform well in the front country, car camping and workday or school lunches lead to more flexibility. Comfort can become a top priority, and for that, the Snow Peak Titanium takes the cake as it most closely resembles what's already in your kitchen but brings the added versatility of a hybrid. When it comes to kids, sending a more expensive and pokey titanium model to school with your child might be a bit of a risk. The humangear GoBites Uno offers the safety of plastic, and its low price tag makes it a bit easier to replace if it magically grows legs and wanders off on its own… or so says little Johnny.

Reviewer Leslie Yedor enjoys some backcountry ramen.
Reviewer Leslie Yedor enjoys some backcountry ramen.

Keeping it Clean


Where and how you plan to wash your dishes will suit some models better than others. Fortunately, all of the models we tested are dishwasher safe except the Sea to Summit AlphaLight Long. While this may seem like a bummer for that particular product, its long handle and angled bowl make it best for backcountry cooking where we're pretty sure you won't have a dishwasher handy anyways.

The material and design also affect the utensil's cleanliness. The titanium models are easier to wipe clean and/or rinse with cold water than the plastic alternatives. Folding models also have extra grooves at their joints where bits of food are prone to linger. Last but certainly not least, the products with double-ended designs are a recipe for dirty hands and contaminated dinner unless you are committed to using either a spoon or a fork but not both.

Simple designs were easier to clean than ones with folding joints or tight grooves.
Simple designs were easier to clean than ones with folding joints or tight grooves.

The Multi-Tool Utensil


Non-Stick Cookware
When backpacking, your spork has to double not only as a drawer full of silverware but also as your cooking gadget. If you're planning to cook with a non-stick, beware. Every model except the LightMyFire Original scratched our "extra durable" Teflon coated pan during testing.

Unfortunately all of the models we tested except one scratched our non-stick pan.
Unfortunately all of the models we tested except one scratched our non-stick pan.

Dehydrated Food Bags & JetBoils
If preparing dehydrated food in its bag or cooking with a JetBoil stove is your style, a long-handled model comes in handy. While the standard is 6.5-inches from tip to tines, the MSR Folding is 8.5-inch long when extended, and the Sea to Summit AlphLight Long boasts a 10.5-inch profile. This added reach keeps your fingers out of your food and far above the flame when cooking. The Sea to Summit also has a small bowl with a sharp angle which excels at stirring even if it feels a bit odd to eat with.

While cooking may not be the primary function of these utensils  they certainly get the job done in remote locations.
While cooking may not be the primary function of these utensils, they certainly get the job done in remote locations.

Different Cuisines
The beauty of these hybrid utensils is in their ability to handle a variety of foods better than a spoon or a fork can alone. Once you've eaten spaghetti with a spork, you'll be asking the Italians why this wasn't invented decades ago. The double ended models, however, lose out on this new found pasta-perfect identity.

While none of these products are as ideal for slurping soup as a deeply laden Asian soup spoon, most of them hold enough liquid to be sufficient. To test their soup carrying capacity, we used a syringe to load the bowl of each model to its maximum. Not surprisingly, the double ended models without the slots of the tines performed best, but after eating countless bowls of ramen, chili, and chicken soup with these products, we found this measurement to only minimally impact our preferences.

These utensils are a match made in heaven when it comes to eating ramen. The tines keep a hold on those slippery noodles and the bowl delivers delicious broth in every bite.
These utensils are a match made in heaven when it comes to eating ramen. The tines keep a hold on those slippery noodles and the bowl delivers delicious broth in every bite.

Material Matters


Nylon and other plastic models, like the MSR Folding and LightMyFire Original, are prone to deforming with repetitive use in a hot pan. While none of the plastic models outright melted during testing, the edge that touches the pan becomes deformed over time. The thick walls of the plastic models also rendered them less useful for slicing. This might not matter if you bring a pocket knife, but in that case, avoid the temptation to slice over anything other than a hard surface. Otherwise, use the thin-walled edge of one of the metal versions to slice through cheese while sparing your thigh the need for stitches.

Health Implications
Titanium is a high-grade material that is resistant to wear and tear. This means that it will not only withstand the harshest of adventures, but it will also keep its particles to itself and not wind up leaching chemicals into your food. Stainless steel follows a similar suit. Aluminum, on the other hand, is a heavy metal that has been known to contaminate food when in contact with heat. While this applies more so to aluminum pots and pans, it's still something to be aware of.

When it comes to plastic, the main concern is BPA (bisphenol-a), a toxic chemical linked to cancer growth in humans. Fortunately, all of the models we tested are BPA-free, but it is only one of many potentially harmful chemicals found in plastic. As research continues to emerge about the dangers of these petroleum-based polymers, it's wise to proceed with caution. The white plastic silverware you find at places like Taco Bell comes with no guarantee and whether you elect to buy one of the plastic or metals products we tested, you can at least be sure that you are not adding BPA to your meals.

Our Editor's Choice  the Snow Peak Titanium  on a backcountry ski trip.
Our Editor's Choice, the Snow Peak Titanium, on a backcountry ski trip.

Conclusion


Whether you are eating a summit snack at 10,000ft or last night's leftovers in the office breakroom, a spork is your ideal on-the-go utensil. The versatile design of a spoon-fork hybrid maximizes eating efficiency, and the lightweight material makes them great for travel. Everyone's got to eat, and this technical piece of cutlery is an essential part of every adventurer's mealtime kit. From big walls to classrooms, these tools will keep you fed and save your fingers for the more important things, like hand jams and puff paint. Check out our individual product reviews to find your perfect mealtime match.
Leslie Yedor

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