In Search of the Perfect Spork
Yes, it really matters
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Want the simple secret to lighten up your backcountry travel kit? Pack less stuff. One of the best ways to do so is to utilize gear that can work for multiple tasks. There are few outdoor multi-use products as iconic as the spork, which is much more than the spoon and fork that its portmanteau suggests. If you find the right one, it can also be used for cooking, cleaning, and repairs. I put six of my favorites head to head to help you decide which is right for you.
- Eating Experience: I ate oatmeal, Top Ramen, and tortilla soup with each of these sporks out of five different insulated food canisters. The containers presented an array of widths and depths from which to retrieve food. I also ate a Good To-Go pad Thai meal directly out of the pouch with each.
- Packability: I weighed each spork on my kitchen scale. Then I packed it in the lid, front, and body of my backpacking pack. I also used accessories to attach each to the outside of my pack.
- Overall Usability: I washed each of these sporks five times and used them as utensils to cook the soup, ramen, and oatmeal. I also scraped and cleaned the aforementioned food canisters with each.
Winner: Morsel XL ($13)
Weight: 0.8 ounce
Eating Experience: 5/5
Overall Usability: 5/5
The Morsel was the most usable utensil for eating, cleaning, and cooking. It stood alone as the best in each of those three categories, which is quite remarkable. The extra-long handle—the entire tool is 10.5 inches—really separated the fork and the spoon, and the fork grabbed double the amount of noodles of any other on this list (something that’s important for extremely hungry backpackers such as myself). That handle length and the ergonomic angle of both the spoon and fork also made it a dream for digging pad Thai scraps out of the bottom of the bag. The slightly rubbery, spatula-like sides of the spoon were fantastic for scraping during cooking and cleaning, and the nonconductive plastic body—all the other sporks were made of metal—meant I could comfortably stir noodles all day without burning my hand. It did not include a carry device, like the bag, cord, or tiny carabiner in some models below, but it featured a hole on the fork side that I easily threaded some paracord through. It’s also the second-heaviest spork on this list, but the extra 0.4 ounce is worth the superior performance that the Morsel provides.
2. Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long ($10)
Weight: 0.4 ounce
Eating Experience: 5/5
Overall Usability: 4/5
Before discovering the Morsel, the Alpha Light was my favorite spork on the market. Its length—8.5 inches—and steep spoon angle means it’s perfect at shoveling food from the corners of dehydrated meal bags as well as deep food containers. It shined during the oatmeal test because of the spoon’s curve, delivering the test’s only perfect bite of oatmeal: the ideal portion (just less than a mouthful) with zero spillage. While the tines on this hybrid are small, they proved mighty, grabbing as many noodles as most of the sporks here with fork-specific sides. The long handle also made it a fantastic soup stirrer. It only took a ding in overall usability because it didn’t scrape as well as the Morsel. It tied for lightest spork on this list, and its tiny carabiner makes it extremely easy to throw on a pack and dry after a meal.
3. Gerber Devour Onyx ($18)
Weight: 0.4 ounce without multitool, 0.8 ounce with multitool
Eating Experience: 4.5/5
Overall Usability: 4.5/5
The Devour was an amazing spork that would have been a clear winner if this test were focused on versatility. It weighs 0.4 ounces, is about half the size of a matchbook, and its design includes a slim detachable six-function multitool (with a can opener, flathead drivers, a bottle opener, and a hook that allows you to hang it from the side of a bowl or pot). As a stand-alone spork, its 7.6-inch length was good for stirring and scooping food from deep corners of containers, and thanks to the full spoon, it was fantastic for grabbing big bites of tortilla soup, maximizing the ratio of chicken to broth I could fit on it. The forklike tines did an admirable job of scooping noodles. It didn’t deliver food from a bag or container to my mouth as efficiently as the Alpha Light, and it wasn’t a cleaning and cooking machine like the Morsel—but in a less stacked list, this could be a clear winner.
4. UCO Gear Titanium with Tether ($15)
Weight: 0.7 ounce
Eating Experience: 3/5
Overall Usability: 3/5
UCO’s titanium spork did everything decently in the eating and usability tests, but it didn’t shine like the sporks above. It was amazingly packable though, with a brilliant bungee tether that efficiently attaches it to the tiniest pieces of webbing on your pack. The issue I had with using this spork for eating and cooking was that the spoon and fork are too close together in a space of seven inches: I had to grab the tines of the fork to use the spoon and visa versa when digging into deep canisters and food bags. While the spoon didn’t hold as much liquid as the Light My Fire spork, below, it offered a better handle (because of its softer angle), making for a better overall eating experience.
5. Light My Fire Titanium ($18)
Weight: 0.7 ounce, bag 0.2 ounce
Eating Experience: 2.5/5
Overall Usability: 3/5
This Scandinavian spork was neck and neck with the UCO but proved less ergonomic when getting at hard-to-reach bits of food. The deep spoon volume and steep angle meant that it efficiently scooped and delivered tortilla soup broth and veggies, but those same attributes made it feel shorter than its sub-seven-inch length. The shortness also plagued it in the stir test, becoming uncomfortably hot after a minute. Like the UCO, I loved its carrying accessory, an ultralight mesh bag that easily attached to the outside of my pack and had enough room for a few other small essentials, like a lighter and some duct tape.
6. Park Tool Stainless Steel ($8)
Weight: 1.3 ounces
Eating Experience: 2/5
Overall Usability: 3/5
This spork looks rad. For pure aesthetics, this stainless-steel, classically designed, vinyl-dipped spork takes the win. That vinyl handle also added a solid layer of thermal protection to the spork, making it a fine stirring tool that never felt too hot. Unfortunately, the ergonomics of the spoon-fork combo were just off. The bowl of the spoon was not deep enough and did not have a steep enough angle to hold on to any liquids when dipped into a canister or food bag. And the tiny tines on the fork held the least noodles of any of the sporks in this test.