Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Spork by Any Other Name

Photographs by Nicole Holt

A Review of the GSI Telescoping Foon

Long time readers of Graham's Travel Blog will remember that I am a big fan of sporks. For a little background here, please see Spork and Chopsticks. I recently acquired a new spork for my collection and I'm excited to share the details with you today.

Before I get into the details about this tool, I'd like to get one thing straight. I am not at all pleased that GSI used the term foon to describe this product. When I saw the display of these hanging in the travel section of Powell's City Of Books I was immediately drawn to it, but it took me hours in deciding whether or not I could in good conscience purchase and own a foon. Upon inspection of the tool, I discovered that it was actually a spork that had been incorrectly labeled a foon by some misguided marketing person.

I decided that I couldn't hold the name of a product against the engineering folks at GSI, so I purchased the lowly fun. My guess is that since there are several sporks on the market and the name foon was used in an attempt to make this product stand out. I'll admit that the name does stand out, but naming your product a foon in a world of spork lovers is just asking for trouble. From here on in, I'm calling it what it is; a spork.

So, what makes this spork different? Firstly, it's light weight. At 8 grams, it's half the weight of my Snow Peak Titanium spork. This might not sound like a big deal, but if you are an ultra light backpacker then reducing the weight of anything by half is an impressive feat.

The second distinctive feature of this spark is its size. Since this is a collapsible utensil, it measures just 3 7/8 inches long when closed, yet it is a comfortable 6 inches when extended. This is nearly half and inch shorter than the Snow Peak, but when the GSI spork was in use I did not miss this length.

Sadly, this is all this spark has going for it. In light use it performed well enough, but I do have some concerns about durability. Most foods that I put to the GSI Telescoping Foon were no match, but I did notice a fair amount of flex in this utensil in the area where the handle meets the bowl. Ironically, this problem is inherent to the design of the major feature that attracted me to this spark in the first place. Sadly, this flaw is also its greatest weakness.

When you expand the spork, you must be sure to move the tines away from the handle before proceeding as there is a small ledge that keeps the spork from opening unintentionally. This ledge does its job almost too well. When you do want open the spork, you you can irreparably bend the tines if you are not careful. I saw at least one spork at the store with such a bent tine. On the subject of tine strength and durability, I've used this spork for less than a month and I've already seen signs of stress on some of the tines.

What GSI has done is to take a simple and reliable tool and made it complicated and, quite likely, unreliable for real world use. A piece of backpacking equipment needs to work consistently. On a given trip, I will put my travel spork through very little, however I wouldn't want to be dependent on this product for all of my spork related needs for fear of it breaking.

While it is true that this utensil is compact and lightweight, its drawbacks imposed by an unnecessary gimmick far outnumber the benefits. For my pack, I'm sticking to my Snow Peak Titanium model until something better comes along.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, it's useful for me
    but about travelling to south america, it's also great ;)
    Latino Guy
    Latino Portal