The 6 Best Backpacking Utensils

Backpacking through the wilderness is among the most exhilarating experiences you can have — but it’s also among the most exhausting. It takes serious effort to trek through the forest for eight hours a day, and when you get to camp, you’re going to be tired — and hungry. That’s why you need to make sure you have the best backpacking utensils. To aid you in your search for the right ones, here's what to consider:

Size: The types of utensils you need for a backpacking trip are different than what you’d use for the average camping excursion. Mainly, they should be compact, since every item counts when you’re loading a backpack for hiking. That means you may want to consider hybrid items like “sporks,” multi-use tools, or folding utensils that won’t hog room in your bag.

Weight: If you’re going to lug the items on your back all day, you don’t want them to be any heavier than necessary. The weight will largely boils down to the type of material, each of which has own pros and cons.

Material: Plastic utensils are typically the lightest option, and also the most affordable; however, they’re also flimsier and less durable. Plastic also isn’t as heat-resistant as metal, so it's often useless for stirring boiling water or roasting things over a campfire. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is among the most durable materials, but also the heaviest. Aluminum is similar and tends to be clunky — and as with all of the metal options, you’re going to contend with heat transfer issues (which can lead to burning yourself on the handles since you won't want to haul along a pot holder). Titanium is typically the best metal option, being the most lightweight; however it’s usually the most expensive, too.

1Best Spork: Most Durable, Made Of Titanium

Made of lightweight titanium, this backpacking spork has a fork on one side, a spoon on the other, and a stiff outer edge that's serrated to help cut through food. Unlike some sporks that feature both utensils on the same end, these tools are separated, giving the spoon enough of a rim to comfortably hold food and creating a fork that isn't dipped and awkward. The titanium material makes it sturdier than its plastic counterparts and less likely to bend or fold while using. It's also heat-resistant with a high melting point that can be directly held over an open flame. But at $15 for a single spork, it's not for the casual camper either.

2A More Affordable Alternative: Plastic, Comes In A Four Pack

The utensils in this plastic spork set are shaped similarly to the titanium version, but are lighter to carry. And, at roughly $2.50 per item, they're significantly cheaper, too. The Triton plastic material is BPA-free and you can put them in the dishwasher when you get home from your trip. The plastic won't scratch your camping pots like metal does and the heat tolerance is slightly higher than some plastic versions, so they won't melt if you stick them in boiling water. The knife isn't as strong as the titanium version, but if you're looking for a super lightweight, affordable option, this set is a great choice.

3Best Separated Utensils: High-Quality, Made Of Aluminum

If you're someone who doesn't like eating with an all-in-one, spork-style backpacking utensils, this three-piece set is a great choice that separates them without being bulky. The knife, spoon, and fork come on a sturdy carabiner that keeps them together, and each utensil has a hexagon-shaped hole on the bottom that doubles as a 3, 4, and 5 millimeter wrench. While not quite as lightweight as titanium, the aluminum alloy is strong and durable — plus, the whole trio still only weighs 1.44 ounces. Besides being on the more expensive end of this list, the only other drawback to this option is that it doesn't come with a carrying case; if that feature is important to you and you don't mind a small amount of extra weight, try this utensil set instead.

4A More Affordable Separated Option: Foldable, Made Of Stainless Steel

These folding camping utensils are durable and strong, but only take up very little space in your bag (the whole kit measures at just 2.3 by 6.3 inches). Each set comes with a spoon, fork, knife, and carrying bag. The hinges are sturdy and fold together easily without sticking or catching; when open, the clasps keep the utensils steady so they don't wobble or bend. The fact that they're made of stainless steel makes them slightly heavier, but also cheaper. If you're on a trip where every gram matters, however, consider this similar MSR option instead.

5Best For Group Trips: The Largest Set, Comes With Tons Of Extras

Equipped with 24 pieces of cookware and accessories, this backpacking set offers a compact way to bring a full kitchen's worth of cooking utensils along on your trip. In addition to four sets of forks, spoons, and knives, the 11.7 by 7.7-inch bag includes a large foldable spoon and spatula, utility knife, spice shaker, cutting board, scrubber, camp towel, and two condiment containers. The salt and pepper shaker are fully waterproof and come with screw-on modules to keep them fresh and dry. The whole thing weighs less than 2 pounds and features special pouches and holders for each piece. This is a must-have for anyone who takes frequent group camping, hiking, or backpacking trips.

6Honorable Mention: A Multi-Use Tool With A Bottle Opener, Corkscrew, & More

For folks who love a good all-in-one multi-tool, this versatile backpacking gadget includes a fork, spoon, pocket knife, mini flashlight, corkscrew, bottle opener, and tiny spoon (everything is made of stainless steel). The main spoon and fork are detachable, the unit is easy to clean, and it comes with a durable nylon carrying pouch with a built-in belt loop. Best of all, it's super compact — and affordable, too. Choose from two colors: red and silver.

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