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I have a confession that may lose me some outdoor friendships, or at least lead to a few arguments. I don’t like sporks. Equally so, I don’t like cutlery multi-tools. You know the kind — fork or spork on one end, spoon on the other. Some of them have a butter knife kind of thing on the side.
I know folks who love them. I have gotten countless recommendations for this spork. And listen, if you love sporks, I’m sure it’s great… But it’s just not for me.
Gearheads love talking about shaving ounces, and I get it. Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. Shaving off another quarter of an ounce by carrying a titanium spork instead of a fork and spoon seems like an easy win. Despite my general dislike of them, I’ll admit that most of them aren’t super expensive. Sure, the top end ones may cost about $20 — while expensive for a single piece of cutlery, it’s not very pricey for a piece of backpacking gear.
Sporks drive me nuts
But I’ve simply never used a spork that didn’t drive me insane. They’re not good as forks at being forks, and they’re less effective as spoons than a spoon is. The double-sided versions are uncomfortable to hold, and strike me as oddly unhygienic. But as someone that has cut food with the same knife he batons wood, I probably shouldn’t throw shade based on that.
Instead, I’ll revert back to my original point. I just don’t really like them. So I carry a spoon — just a cheap plastic spoon. I don’t need a fork, because I carry a pocketknife, which can act as a fork. If I need to use the knife and a fork at the same time, I can use the knife to make chopsticks or a rudimentary fork.
Perhaps your use case is different from mine. During the course of a 5-month thru hike, maybe a spork transforms into a truly utilitarian tool. I’m willing to entertain that notion, and if you would like to sponsor a thru hike for me to test the theory, let’s talk.
Spoon > Spork?
Until then, I’ll stick to the spoon. If you’re concerned about shaving ounces, the lightest spoon you will ever take with you into the great outdoors is a plastic spoon. It won’t even cost you a penny. Next time you’re at a fast food restaurant, coffee shop, or cafeteria, simply ask for a spoon. Chances are, they’ll hand you a plastic spoon — either white or black, the color doesn’t matter — and you’re in business.
“But Wade, what about plastic waste?” Good point my friend. Except you don’t have to get rid of that spoon after one use. I have used the same plastic spoon for years, much like I have used the same Smart Water bottles to filter water since 2017. Hell I bet, dollars to donuts that you’ve probably thrown one of these spoons away after someone put one in your takeout or drive-thru bag. Or maybe it’s sitting in a junk drawer in your kitchen. Go get it. Use it. Don’t spend money on fancy sporks. Unless you really love sporks — in which case, you do you.
Why the rant about cutlery?
So I don’t like sporks, but maybe you do. If so, by all means, spork away. However, I also want to use this as an opportunity to mention “barriers to entry.” What I mean by that is all the things that prevent people from getting out and doing things. One of the most frequently cited barriers to entry that I encounter has to do with money. Because while it isn’t super expensive to start playing outside, it can quickly get expensive to keep playing outside. And the titanium spork is emblematic of this to me.
Advertising will tell you that you need the best of everything to go play outside. And yes, there are things you shouldn’t skimp on, and many times you get what you pay for. But if you have a small budget, don’t let influencers and advertisers convince you that you need a $300 headlamp, $150 socks, or even a $20 spork. You don’t. If you’re strapped for cash, you can get started with stuff for a budget kit, and grow from there.
My humble opinion is that sporks are an inefficient, ineffective way to eat food, and that they don’t save any weight compared to the lightweight plastic of which a much more user-friendly spoon is made. It’s often one more piece of gear that you don’t need to spend money on.
You may disagree, and if that’s the case, please continue to use your spork of choice.
And if you’re interested in changing my mind on this matter by sponsoring a thru-hike, I’ll gladly use the spork the entire way.