Gear you really ought to have: A spoon

More often than not, those who head to the woods for backpacking or exploring are focused on food. Or if they are not, they should be. As has been previously discussed throughout the philosophy of the outdoors section at the Exponent, eating is an important aspect of adventuring into the wilderness. With that in mind, it is important that those who venture forward are prepared when the time comes to shovel food into your mouth. Nowadays, the outdoor community is obsessed with the concept of the spork. However, this is not the most practical or useful item for the backcountry. Instead, you should reach for the spoon when deciding utensil choice for outdoor endeavors.

You should always carry a spoon with them in the outdoors. Without a spoon, adventurers are required to use their hands, or worse, a fork, to eat. Hands are, for many reasons, a disgusting way to consume calories in the backcountry. The lack of sinks and running water to wash hands at a moment’s notice leads to potential for gnarly cross-contamination. A spoon limits this possibility. Rather than placing a grimy appendage into one’s mouth, there is a three inch gap to keep germs away. While not ideal, a hand is still better than bringing a fork. Forks are the least practical of utensils. The amount of food that can be shoveled into the mouth per minute with a fork is much less than that of either a hand or a fork, scientifically proven*.

Forks work great for specific foods, but spoons work for all foods. As tested by me, the outdoors writer at the Exponent, there is yet to be a food that cannot be consumed with a spoon. Soups, rice and other edible objects are generally better with a spoon than a fork. Sporks are even worse because they are either a very poorly designed fork, or a spoon with holes in it. That doesn’t make sense for many reasons, and the engineer of the spork should be ashamed for ruining the ease at which food can be shoveled into a gaping maw.

Spoons are also much more practical for other situations in the backcountry. They can be used as impromptu nut tools, a tool which is designed to help get climbing gear out of cracks. While a fork could be used, the prongs will get mangled and render said fork useless. Spoons have much more durability and can be used frequently for such a purpose.

Additionally, a spoon can be used as a weapon. Imagine fighting a grizzly bear: would you rather have a fork or a spoon? While people would assume that a fork would be more practical, once it is stuck within that bear’s eye it is again useless, as the eye would be stuck on the end of the fork. A spoon, however, sharpened correctly, can be used for much more cutting and scooping, staying relatively eyeball free.

Forget an ice axe? Use a spoon. Or, dig a friend out of an avalanche with a spoon, something that is completely doable in comparison to using a fork for the same purpose. If two spoons are brought on a trip (not a bad idea, always be prepared) one has a musical instrument, something forks are not capable of. The reflective aspect of a spoon can be used as a mirror to admire the rugged good looks of outdoors folk, or for rescue purposes to signal a helicopter.

All-in-all, spoons are well-worth the weight to bring while adventuring in the outdoors. One can find a spoon at basically any place that serves food.

*Not actually scientifically proven