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From the ExPo Vault: The Best of the Best – Sporks

A few years ago, I was camping with friends, and from across the fire I observed one of my compadres eating dinner, albeit awkwardly, with a spork. I doubt anyone else noticed or cared, but it was a ridiculous scene. Here was a guy with every piece of overland gear imaginable, yet he didn’t have room in his truck for a fork and a spoon?

Moving beyond the question of why people use a spork, I thought it was time to address a much more important query:

Which of the many sporks available to the world is the best?

 

Before diving into a battery of quantifiable tests, I had to first define the things which elevate the humble spork to something, well, superlative. We’ve all tried to eat with the feeble plastic spork doled out at fast-food joints and low-budget picnics. That is clearly the low water mark, but which spork reigns supreme, and why? After soliciting the assistance of a small focus group, we constructed a list of attributes every quality spork should possess.

Spoon volume

When you’re bellied up to a bowl of soup, the last thing you want is a flat paddle of a spoon. You want something that can deliver a large amount of soupy mass with each bite. This involves nuanced design work. It is not just about size as you do still have to get the spoon inside your gaping maw. It’s primarily about shape.

Stab-ability

I concede this isn’t really a word, but the concept is sound. The only reason to integrate fork tines into a spoon is to be able to impale little chunks of food. This is why chopsticks stink. Have you ever seen a farmer move a pile of hay with two fence posts? No. He uses a pitch-fork. A good spork makes positive use of tines that actually work as intended.

Strength

Strength is always a good thing, particularly when you’re trying to wrestle a hefty meatball out of the bottom of your bowl. The last thing you need is to hear the snap of plastic or suffer a fatal bend. Whether made of space-age titanium, surgical stainless steel, or high-density plastic, the strength of the final product is of critical importance to efficient, frustration-free eating.

Length

Eating out of a rehydrated meal pouch requires a spork with generous length. The extended reach allows you to dig deep into a foil pouch without slathering your hairy knuckles with pasta sauce. Give me a scenario where a long spork is a liability and I’ll be happy to shoot holes in that theory. Longer is better.

Weight

Do you remember hearing about that guy who died because his spork was too heavy? I didn’t either. What’re a few grams here and there? Weight doesn’t matter—at all. *Please note the weights are listed next to each spork on the list.

Features

Does your spork aspire to be more than? Everyone loves an overachiever, so why not throw a bottle opener on the end of the handle? Or a tool. You never know when you’ll get to say, “Hey guys, we’re saved, I have a 10-millimeter hex wrench on the end of my spork.”  Extra features can be the very thing that makes a good spork, a great spork.

Testing Protocols

Spoon volume: No, it’s not what it looks like. We carefully measured how much liquid each spoon could contain.

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Fruit Loop capacity: Without manually stacking each loop, we dipped into a bowl of dry loops to see how many we could accrue with each scoop. We also accounted for loop breakage. For the sake of full disclosure, we used a knock-off cereal from Safeway called Silly Circles.

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The giant meatball: We tested each spoon to see if it could shoulder the weight of a 1-pound meatball.

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Stab test: This pass/fail test determined if each spork could stab and retain a single Hebrew National hotdog and move it from a grill to a paper plate 3 feet away. Our art director, the esteemed Sinuhe Xavier, also recommended the challenging green bean pierce. That test was applied to the final three candidates to pick the final winner.

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•All testing was completed in a controlled environment at 75ºF, zero wind, at an elevation of 5,477 feet above sea level. The meatball was made of grass-fed beef with fresh oregano and it was delicious, if not a tiny bit dry. 

Vargo Titanium, 15 grams

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Despite its average stab-ability this spork does have a well-developed spoon for good food transfer. I’d say it is more spoon than fork, but it is nicely made and polished to a high sheen. The small cutouts in the handle reduce weight, not that weight matters when we’re talking about a handful of grams. One thing that does matter is the small hole at the end of the handle which allows for the attachment of a lanyard or carabiner, although it doesn’t come with either. With good rigidity, this is a nice spork fulfilling all of its sporky duties with aplomb. It has a good feel in hand and a nice balance.

Sea to Summit Alpha Light, 9 grams (Value Winner)

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This aluminum alloy spork is a great value at just $7, particularly considering it includes a slick little mini carabiner. The spoon holds a decent amount of volume, and like all Sea to Summit sporks, the tines are actually effective. Although there’s not much to this spork, which is a good thing, the stamped spine of the handle offers excellent rigidity. The satin finish can make cleaning a bit of a challenge, particularly when working with sticky cheeses. A polished finish would have made this the best spork in the test.

Park Tool SPK-1, 77 grams

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Serious eaters need proper tools and Park makes some of the best in the world. Their 316 food-grade stainless steel spork with vinyl-dipped handle is reminiscent of their classic bicycle tools. I say reminiscent of their regular tools, but this is no tool. The giant meatball bent it without much trouble, but it was easy to bend back into shape. The stab-ability stinks, and it’s too flat for effective soup slurping, but it will likely outlive its owner. Those who have used Park tools will likely be drawn to it for the usual reasons: to complete their quirky collection of Park bottle openers, pizza cutters, and other oddities.

GSI Glacier Kung Foon, 57 grams

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The Kung Foon is pure genius. This three-part system uses two chopsticks to lengthen the spork so you can drill deep into foil food pouches. Constructed of stainless steel and bamboo, it is the Bruce Lee of sporks. The fork tines are superb with the outer tines featuring tiny little barbs. It stabbed the Hebrew National hotdog and wouldn’t let go. The chopsticks make for a good backup in a pinch. If Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid used a spork, he’d use this one, and he would absolutely kick butt doing it. It is the only spork in this review to come with its own all-metal case. Does it need it? Of course it does.

Light My Fire Tritan and Titanium Spork, 11/12 grams

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I was tempted to eject these two entries because they’re not really sporks at all. They had the audacity to put the spoon and fork at opposing ends of the same device and call it a spork. To me, it is more of a conjoined spoon-fork. It clearly does not fall within the spork patent of 1874, and yes, I looked it up. That said, I don’t want to be a jerk, so I have to admit this was the second best on the stab-ability scale and has one of the better spoons in the mix. I’m not wild about the severe curve of the handle, and the spoon has a funky shape, but it works—for a spoon-fork. The serrated tine on the fork end is gimmicky and in my opinion makes this product a knork with a spoon on the other end. One last ding against the Tritan plastic version is the excessive flex. It was no match for the meatball and flexed like a stick of gum. I must also say, the titanium version is really light, strong, and overall, quite nice. With a polished finish it was easy to clean and made the plastic version look like a piece of junk.

Sea to Summit Folding, 17 grams

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Few folding utensils are worth a darn. Most fold when you least expect it causing unnecessary consternation. The StS version, on the other hand, is excellent. The all-metal construction featuring well-defined tines allows this spork to stab like Freddy Kreuger. Impressively strong and rigid, it also feels good in hand. It held the 1-pound meatball with confidence, and while it isn’t very long, the size somewhat fits with the keep-it-small theme of the folding design. The only word of caution is with the sliding lock and making sure you have it securely in place. If not, the hinge will collapse. However, if you want a folder, one made of titanium—this is your huckleberry. It fits in my titanium camp mug with my titanium stove, all of which makes me feel pretty ti-fancy.

Sea to Summit Titanium, 13 grams

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There is a lot of me too manufacturing in the spork space. This is effectively the same spork as those made by Snow Peak. It’s a nice spork though, one worth being copied. I particularly like the well-developed tines and the hefty but lightweight feel of the titanium. Once again, the one minor grouse is with the satin finish which is more difficult to clean.

CRKT Eat’N Tool, 67 grams (Raspberry Award)

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This silly thing made me feel sub-human while trying to use it for the one thing it should do well: deliver food to my face. Although it comes with a carabiner, bottle opener, and a host of tools no one could actually use, the one thing it should come with is a bib. I felt like a toddler eating with the Eat’N Tool and my shirt confirmed its abysmal performance. Forget using it to eat out of a foil pouch and don’t bother trying to use it to stir coffee. The fork tines are pointless and stick out like a pair of buck teeth. It also scored the lowest of any fork in the Fruit Loop test and could only scoop up three loops after countless tries. No other spork had so little spoon volume, and it was the heaviest in the review by a factor of three. This terrible idea of a spork failed nearly every test and was the only one to end the evaluation with a trip to the trash. If you know of someone with an Eat’N Tool, intervene. They need help.

Snow Peak Colored Titanium, 12 grams

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Sometimes the only way to make something better is to make it blue. That’s not really true, but this is a nice looking utensil. This spork is one of my favorites because it is exactly what it needs to be and nothing more. It has the traditional shape and dimensions of a normal spoon with the addition of a few subtle and effective tines. It is everything the Eat’N Tool is not, which is why it’s a winner. It might also be the cheapest thing in the Snow Peak lineup next to the spork listed below.

Snow Peak Short, 9.5

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I can only guess that someone within Snow Peak decided their catalog needed another product SKU, and thus the sawed-off spork was born. I seriously doubt anyone at the design table thought the long-handled spork was just too darn long. I say, eat with your fingers if this is of interest to you. I was told it was intended to be added to a lanyard or serve as a key fob. I don’t know what’s worse, having this thing hanging around your neck like some kind of nerdy amulet or banging around under your steering column. Just walk away.

Sea to Summit Delta Spork/Knife, 15 grams

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I realize I chided Light My Fire for putting the fork on the opposing end of their spork, but Sea to Summit did something similar with the addition of a serrated knife. I admit, I dig it. I tried cutting a few things with the knife and while it did better than I expected, it made for a better spreader. I like the depth of the spoon, and this was the hands-down winner of the Fruit Loop scoop test. It might be a little on the big side and makes for a mouthful, but overall, this is a good spork.

Ramen Noodle, 38 grams

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I bet you didn’t see this coming. Available for sale through the Japanese American National Museum website, this spork was designed by Masami Takahashi for the express purpose of delivering the perfect bite of ramen noodles. Few sporks have such a steep learning curve, but once mastered you’ll be slurping down bales of ramen noodles like a starving samurai. Clearly the best stabber in the review, it does make for a lousy spoon. Let’s just say, this isn’t your best bet for oatmeal, and don’t wear your favorite shirt when putting it to use. The spoon is also so big you better have the mouth of a goliath grouper, and be careful not to jab your teeth with the tines. On the upshot, dedicate yourself to the high art of eating with the Ramen Noodle spork and your efforts will be rewarded. Okay, probably not, but it makes for a fun conversation piece.

It came to my attention during the final stages of testing that I may have overlooked another aspect of testing criteria. Once again, our own Sinuhe Xavier suggested an important metric and urged us to integrate the difficult spaghetti twirling test. His suggestion proved salient as only the Ramen Noodle fork could really “twirl” pasta with any proficiency. Although only the likes of Marco Polo could corroborate my claims, I think only the chopsticks of the Kung Foon could do justice to pasta. And with that, I think I need to reach out to our familia in Italia for further pasta testing.

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It does work beautifully for ramen. Try this with any other spork. It just doesn’t work.

Conclusions

The hands-down loser in this lineup is the Eat’N Tool. The only useful element to that particular spork is the bottle opener. The second biggest flop is the Snow Peak Shortie. Both of those sporks are an embarrassment to the 125-year legacy of the toothed spoon.

 

The winners in my opinion, and confirmed by our rigorous testing protocols, are the Vargo, Snow Peak, and Sea to Summit titanium sporks, all of which have simple and unfettered designs. They are in many ways the same spork, so it’s difficult to award one the ultimate prize of Best Spork. If forced to declare one of the three the winner, I’d go with the titanium Snow Peak spork. I also think the Sea to Summit titanium folding spork is pretty cool if you need something in a compact package, and that’s really what spork design is all about.

 

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(Left to Right) The long tines of the Ti Snow Peak made it a winner. The Ti Sea to Summit simply scored well overall, and the polished end of the Vargo cleaned easily. Any of these would be a great addition to your kitchen kit.

 

The takeaway: The more you mess around with a classic design, the more likely you are to screw it up. Keep it simple, respect the basic design concept, and maybe make it blue.

 

And as one last aside, we all like to joke about titanium being an unnecessary material for something as trivial as a spork, but truth be told, that material made for the best sporks.

 

 

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.