Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trail Utensils...what I use for meals when hiking.

Trail chow. I suppose you could eat energy bars and drink cold beverages, but I like something hot once in awhile. I sometimes plan on making a meal on an outing, and bring along an ESBIT or Swiss Army M71 stove to heat something up [besides, it's fun to trail cook!]. Of course, meals cooked in a pot or can are going to require some form of utensil to consume them, so today I thought I'd chat a little about utensils. 
Trail utensils are probably the least considered piece of kit in a hikers bag, that is until you need to eat something! I kind of bounce around, and will use one of several sets I own.  What I choose depends on what kind of outing I am going on and what I am cooking, but generally I'll want a metal spoon. Plastic sporks don't do real well in hot solutions, and tend to soften up, at least in my experience. They are probably okay for cool meals, cans of peaches, cereal, etc.
And to be completely honest, I can't even say how many times I even forgot utensils and had to eat with just a knife.  In the photo below I have posted up some of my utensils:
L-R: Integral spoon/can opener; MRE spoon;
Plastic Spork; Taiwanese steel set;  IMPERIAL B.S.A. set.
 The tiny spoon on the metal can opener is too small for effective use, but I suppose it is better than nothing. The plastic military MRE spoon is just marginally better,being teaspoon sized. The Taiwan-made set and the BSA set are completely practical, and are stainless steel, so not prone to rust. 
Closeup of the BSA set. Bought at a garage sale for .50 cents.
Crud, how'd I forget this??! I use it more than anything else...it's a cheap WALMART Hobo tool:
WALMART "Hobo Tool"
Funny backstory on this tool:  I was going to the Sespe Mountainman rondy near Ventura, CA around 2007 and got down by Santa Maria, CA and realized I'd forgotten utensils in my camp cook gear, so I pulled off the 101 for the WALMART on Betteravia Road and bought this little tool for 3 bucks. I have used it many times over the years since. The knife blade actually took a good sharpening and has a very sharp edge. 
To lock these you fit the pieces together with rivets that guide into holes on the opposite half, then the spoon and fork trap the rivet heads and hold the pieces together. After some time, the rivets that hold the pieces together fell out and I kept pounding them back in and they'd fall out again. I finally gave up and made a leather collar for it.
I wipe down my metal utensils with olive oil to prevent rust and as it can be safely consumed [versus Petroleum-based oils which will make you ill] and carry it in a little cotton bag held closed by paracord and a cord-lock.
The thing that's nice about this Hobo tool is that the utensils are LARGE and table sized, so you can actually EAT a meal instead of nibble at it....important when you are very hungry! I do have a tiny IMPERIAL Hobo tool pocketknife in my collection, but don't use it because the spoon and fork are child sized and not practical.
Anyhow, my advice is don't limit yourself to just energy bars and snack foods on the trail. Take along a small cookset, utensils, and make a hot meal. It'll make your hike more enjoyable and memorable.
Happy Hiking!

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