- Jul 7, 2015 at 1:12 am #1330533
My family just came off an Alaskan-Canadian backpacking trip over the Chilkoot Pass and mostly it all went great. Our two kids (10 + 15) did great, the 11-year-old friend kept walking and kept up as we took more and more weight off her each day. The weather was above-average for coastal SE Alaskan with only one day with much rain, my recently-sprained ankle held up, the snowfields weren't too hard to cross, and there were 14 other interesting other people on the trail and in camp each night, but peak season (50 people per day) hadn't started yet.
I'd tossed 5 Light my Fire "sporks" (really, double-ended things with a spoon on one end and a fork on the other) in the kitchen kit. It has a pretty good spoon but the spoon handle is not very comfortable (because it's a fork!) and it is definitely on the short side for eating out of a pouch or stirring the lentils in the pot on the stove. The fork is okay, I mean for all those salads you have on the trail (sarcasm) as long as it is iceberg lettuce and not kale – the fork tines aren't very pointy. I found I was wishing for no fork, a more comfortable handle, and a longer handle.
So when I got home, I picked up some long-handled Ti spoons (used, on BPL gear swap) and debated carving my own spoon out of bamboo flooring. This ain't my first rodeo – I knew making a spoon from scratch is harder than it sounds, and soon focused on finding existing bamboo spoons for possible modification.
Long story short: Buy a 10-pack of bamboo spoons off of Amazon for $10.88. Cheaper, lighter, stronger, more voluminous, and more aesthetically pleasing than any of the other options.
The details are in the photo:
The BPL long-handled Ti spoon is so light and long and thin with a reasonable finish, you wouldn't think there could be any improvement. But right out of the package, the bamboo spoons are lighter, with a bigger bowl, and my wife was very clear, "I like this (bamboo), but that (BPL Ti) doesn't feel good."
Prices are the range I found in a quick web search. Light my Fire ranges from one each pricing at REI to $6.95/4 at Sierra Trading Post with a presumed 35% discount. The Bamboo spoon pricing is $10.88 for 10, $24.88 for 30 and $71.88 for 100 on Amazon with free Amazon Prime shipping. Search for "BambooMN Brand Solid Bamboo Dinner Spoon 8" or see more options at
For the MYOG'ed version, I started with the heaviest spoon out of the package, and sanded down the handle on a belt sander just shy of losing strength and stiffness (even so, it easily beats either Ti spoon if you were serving ice cream or scrapping burned stuff from a pot). And I sanded/gouged out the bowl a little more and got a bit more volume out of it. If I'd started with the lightest one (maybe a little thinner to start, but mostly it was less dense bamboo), I could have beaten the MYOG specs above.
Suggestion: For the next few GGGs, someone order up the 100-pack. Sell them to people for $1 each. Let them whittle / sand / file them down even more, if they wish, but right out of the package, it beats all these other options – lighter, far stiffer, more volume, and way cheaper. I just ordered a 30-pack of their forks, not so much for backpacking (when I don't use a fork much) but for business trips when I buy pre-made salads at Trader Joe's. I hate using plastic forks but fear taking a full-sized metal fork in my carry-on through TSA.Jul 7, 2015 at 5:14 am #2212836Jim CBPL Member
@jimothyLocale: Georgia, USA
Neat, thanks for posting that. It's nice when light and economical go hand-in-hand, something that isn't always the case in our hobby.
How does cleanup compare to a polished titanium spoon? Also, do you know the difference between their dinner spoon and soup spoon?Jul 7, 2015 at 5:34 am #2212837Mike MBPL Member
Dave- nice work- thanks! My go to spoon is the REI plastic spoon, not overly long at 6.5", but light at 7 grams (.24 oz); looking at the spoons you posted guess volume close to 5.5 ml
I'll have to check the bamboo ones out :)
MikeJul 7, 2015 at 5:46 am #2212839Jim ColtenSpectator
The good grief is because I needed an Alaskan to inform to inform me of an option practically in my back yard! I could walk to BambooMN if I had to … but that'd be a long day so I'll bike.
Thanks David.Jul 7, 2015 at 6:15 am #2212844Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
"For the next few GGGs, someone order up the 100-pack."
Great idea.Jul 7, 2015 at 6:15 am #2212845Diane PinkersBPL Member
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
Storing long things in my pack is a current issue for me. My MSR folding spoon weighs about the same as the bamboo spoon, although it doesn't hold as much. How are you carrying the spoon so it is easy to find and doesn't get damaged?Jul 7, 2015 at 6:21 am #2212847Ito JakuchuBPL Member
I also favour a cheap bamboo spoon from ¥100 store (equivalent to say a $ store).
Feels very nice when eating, light, and plenty strong. I also prefer the bite size and handle actually.Jul 7, 2015 at 10:35 am #2212916mik matraBPL Member
@mikmikLocale: Brisbane AUSTRALIA
Seen a few 'spoon' threads on BPL that's for sure lol. We do put a bit on emphasys on this item don't we.
I have never broken a plastic spoon on trail (there I go jinxing myself….) but all I use it for is eating. I get mine for free at Maccas then bench grind about 10mm off the handle's end to store it neatly in my FosterPot and it weighs 4 grams.Jul 7, 2015 at 11:12 am #2212929jimmer ultralightSpectator
I love wooden items as a general rule.. Very nice work on your handmade spoon! I will have to get a few of the bamboo spoons a shot.
As to the stowability and bowl size issues, my MYOG design using a Coghlans delrin spoon seems to be the solution so far.
Here it is in the center. Packs down to 4". A solid 7.5" long assmbled and has a nice big bowl and very heat resistant. As an actual eating utensil, I have not found anything it cannot do yet. I was even flipping pancakes with it the other day. Very happy with it.Jul 7, 2015 at 11:26 am #2212936
Jim: The bamboo spoons come with a finish on them and they clean up pretty well. I suppose repeated use of sand as a scrubbie or a nylon scrub pad would wear that finish more than it would a Ti spoon. I've only played with this "soup spoon" of theirs. Ideally, the bowl would be a bit longer – then it would hold even more without being any wider (I wouldn't want it any wider) – sort of an over-sized teaspoon. Maybe one of their of larger bamboo serving spoons would be like that? Interestingly (to me) my MYOGed bamboo spoon, on which I'd sanded off the finish, held a little LESS water because there was less surface tension to bare bamboo than to the factory finish but MORE dry rice because there was more friction between the rice and the spoon's bowl.
Diane: On family BPing trips, I carry a zippered organizer pouch (Adventure-16, circa 1985) for all the kitchen bits – spoons, serving spatula, mini Bic, scrubbie, hand sanitizer, dish soap, stove (it's tiny), back-up water treatment (iodine), pinch light, little-Vicky paring knife, GI can opener, or whatever subset of that is needed for a trip. I go lighter and more minimal on a solo trip. Generally, meeting one's future spouse on a gourmet backpacking trip is a good omen, but I'll never get my wife to go full UL about food and cooking. I grant that the light-my0fire sporks and the Ti spoons nest very nicely with more of the same. I wouldn't fret about damaging it – it's much stronger than the other options. It would be very easy to cut one of these spoons to a particular diameter / diagonal to fit a pot precisely and sand the cut end smooth.
Mik: solo, with a shallower pot, and a minimal spoon would work for me, too. Granted, the biggest utility of a longer, stronger spoon is for the FIRST one you bring – food prep, food serving, getting the last bit from the pouch, not sliding into your cooking pot. Four other spoons could be very minimal.
The different colors of the light-my-fire sporks were helpful for the 10-year-old who thinks her brother has couties and wants her own dedicated spoon. But a sharpie fixes that on any type of spoon.
If a Scout troop was getting into backpacking, a group buy of 30 bamboo spoons for $24.88 could avoid a collective $75 to $300 being spent at REI.
Edited to answer Jimmer: nice MYOG on the spoon. What is the extension made from? It looks like maybe the body of a Bic pen? I've pondered carving down the end of the bamboo spoon to snugly fit a spatula/scraper blade to (1) get all the calories from the pot / bowl / pouch and (2) thereby aid dish washing.Jul 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm #2212948jimmer ultralightSpectator
Yes- the handle extension was made from a BIC pen type knockoff-$1 for 15 ! Total cost even with the new pen was about 75 cents.
It worked out well enough I started a thread about it-
The first post details the inspiration ,design and construction.
The spoon has a bit if a texture to it, so the mouth feel may bother some folks, but its OK to me. It cleans up well enough but stains a bit over time. Certainly no worse than the MSR spoons ,though.
I think for most folks, the mouth feel issue is the most important. Looking to experiment with other spoon bowl alternatives like the Wendys chilli spoons etc.Jul 7, 2015 at 4:12 pm #2213013Larry De La BriandaisBPL Member
@hitechLocale: SF Bay Area
I use one of these:
Not sure how accurate the 0.5 oz is, but at least the specs are similar to the bamboo spoons. Except modifying them is probably much harder. ;^)Jul 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm #2213022
That "Campware Long Spoon" does look nice for its length, affordability, moderate stack-ability, and bowl size/style.
I probably should have titled this thread "LONG-HANDLED Spoon Comparison" because between my wife's use of a 3-liter Ti pot (sorry, no, she won't reorganize the menu for a smaller pot), my dislike of short spoons going for a swim in the big pot, and the occasional F-D food in a pouch, the long-handled option was my focus in this R&D effort.Jul 7, 2015 at 4:59 pm #2213026Larry De La BriandaisBPL Member
@hitechLocale: SF Bay Area
Um… It is 8.5 inches long, about the same as the other ones. Bamboo has advantages over the plastic spoon, but it otherwise compares favorably. As long as the weight isn't way off. It's buried at the moment or I'd verify the weight. :^)Jul 7, 2015 at 6:23 pm #2213054
It's probably not to everyone's taste, but I use my Ti spoon as a multi-use tool – as a cat hole digger. To dig only, not to cover! I don't think the bamboo spoons would work too well, at least not for long, for this purpose.
Cleaning and sanitizing the Ti spoon after digging and before eating is not a big deal, just a quick dab of Dr. Bronner's and a splash of water. Bamboo probably wouldn't clean up as readily after digging.
That being said, I hope to see you at the next GGG with 100 bamboo spoons in tow!Jul 7, 2015 at 7:18 pm #2213073Warren GreerSpectator
What's up with people and their cat-hole trowels?
I use a stick and it works just fine every time. And no extra grams to account for.
I like Jimmer's spoon with the Bic Pen handle. I do like the shape of the bamboo spoon but don't like the taste of wood.
Rock on David with the spoon comparison.Jul 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm #2213074Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
Bamboo spoons have a dual use if you have two of them. My friend plays the spoons using bamboo spoons. He's really good. A really good spoon player is an amazing thing.Jul 7, 2015 at 8:27 pm #2213088
"What's up with people and their cat-hole trowels?
I use a stick and it works just fine every time."
Which is fine until you're up above treeline for a week.Jul 7, 2015 at 11:01 pm #2213106Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I like my long-handled Lexan spoon. Had it for 5 years and no problems.Jul 8, 2015 at 6:51 am #2213133Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
I'm not convinced you can use a stick to dig a proper 6" cathole, especially in hard soil with rocks and roots.
The only time I had an easy time digging a cathole was in the Adirondacks, where the duff was thick and very loose. Dirt in the Wind River Range was the driest, hardest stuff I'd ever seen. No way in hell you were chopping into that stuff with a stick.Jul 8, 2015 at 9:54 am #2213182jimmy bBPL Member
+1 yeah, Adk's last weekend and Berkshires on the AT this weekend. No way we were getting past the fine mesh of roots to dig a proper hole with a stick. Probably why someone's old TP was floating around in back of our pitch area. I'm carrying a Delmar replica now for total investment of $3.
Dual purpose spoon and P-trowel. I wouldn't get that one by the wife, LOL, still that must be a ridged spoon.
Love the spoon shoot out! Nice MYOG spoon too. I started a spoon thread last year for help and dang it I still have the same long handle plastic spoons. I'm going another route weight wise because we now started repackaging dried foods or making our own. Instead of freezer bag cooking we heat water in the Ti kettle and dump it in. Saves a little weight of foil or heavier freezer bags and dirty bags to carry out. Repurpose the first nights food bag to a garbage bag and eating out of the pot we don't need long handle spoons. Cut down the old plastic spoons to a more standard size and we're good to go. One big plus we found is that half way through the rehydration in the pot when the meal is still watery we can reheat the meal and when its fully hydrated its smoking hot when ready to eat and stays hot until we devour it. No cozy needed.
jimmybJul 8, 2015 at 1:47 pm #2213263monkeySpectator
@monkeyseeLocale: Up a tree
Great spoon comparison! Between two of us, we use Vargo fork and spoon from this set:
Approx 0.5oz each and 7.2" long. Fairly cheap too, especially considering they will last forever! I tend to avoid wooden cutlery for hygienic reasons mainly. Even without digging cat-holes spoon is something that travels between mouth and food, lots of bacteria in the former and plenty of nourishment in the latter! With ti spoon all you need to do is boil it from time to time, and nasties are off. With wooden spoon boiling or other deep cleaning will shorten its life, making it economically inferior.
(Also not particularly keen at eating the coating – "finish" on wooden cutlery!)Jul 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm #2213291
KenT and DavidG:
To add a competitive element to a GGG:
1) hand out bamboo spoons early on and have a lightest-weight spoon contest the next day. Whittling, sanding, filing allowed.
2) "The human scale" contest – starting with something that has some variation (say, those bamboo spoons), contestants line them up according to their perceived weight. After everyone has recorded their answers: 1-3-4-2, 3-1-2-4, etc, the spoons are weighed on a digital scale and points are awarded. Similar rounds could be conducted with packed packs, puffies, etc.
3) Some metric of the perfect spoon is developed: 1000 divided by (spoonfuls to transfer one cup of water x spoonfuls to transfer one cup of rice x spoon weight in grams x square root of cost) and people bring or MYOG their own competition spoons. Any such metric is going to kind of silly, but watching a dozen adult gram weenies trying to move water and rice in their micro spoons would be a good spectator sport.Jul 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm #2213309
Will do! Since they probably won't let us have a wood stove competition again due to the drought here it will be fun to have some other games/competitions to do.Jul 8, 2015 at 5:54 pm #2213330Warren GreerSpectator
Location is apparently very important in the trowel discussion. Duly noted.
Now back to the spoon comp!
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