Tag Archives: CRKT

Spork Showdown!

We’ve all seen them, seems to be a new model every month.  Plastic, metal various shapes and sizes.  So I decided to give a couple of them a go and see what I liked and what I didn’t like.   I actually surprised myself.  One thing we bush-bums or outdoorsman are always trying to find the best bit of gear.  That usually means the smallest, toughest most useful and longest living piece of gear we can find for whatever task we want it to perform.  Nobody wants to haul 40lbs of gear down the trail if they don’t have to.  However, I’m not a minimalist, I won’t trade value for small bits of weight.

I prefer gear to be robust AND a good value.  I wont spend 3 or 4 times as much to shave off negligible bits of weight.    many times the loss of weight has too many trade offs depending on what piece of gear it is.

I’ve often wanted to grab one of the CRKT Eatin Tool’s.  I have always been a big fan of CRKT because they are one of the best values in tools out there.  You really get a lot for the money you spend.   I just happened to be stuck at Target and going through their limited bit of outdoors gear and they had a couple of clearance items.  Low and behold the CRKT Eat’n Tools were there and on sale for 2.99 (Normally about $4.00 to $6.00 depending on where you find them).  Figured what the heck, I grabbed one for each of the kids and my wife.  They came in several colors so that everyone could tell them apart.   I was then looking at the CRKT Eat’n tool XL online the next day, My wife had me order her something and I didn’t pay attention and accidentally ordered the one I was looking at.    Was pretty surprised when it showed up.

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The whole gang!

I was then at Walmart the next week and I saw the heavy duty plastic eating sets so I grabbed a bunch for the Boy Scouts.  Figured I’d mark them and give them to each scout as a gift.  They were only $.88 each.   Well I was at Walmart, I also discovered a new spork/knife combo set similar to the CRKT from their “Ozark Trail” line.   Since it was only $3.00 I figured what the heck.  Grabbed a couple of them too.

We’ll start with the plastic set for $.88 Cents.   The good, Full size regular utensils.  Tougher than the cheap plastic disposables.  They have that “Rough” plastic texture that makes them a little more non stick that purely smooth plastic ware and they feel good in the hand.  But while your using them, you just can’t help but feel like they are disposable.   Personally, I think they make a wonderful addition to a car camping group kits or scout patrol boxes.  Not going to break the bank by any means to keep a dozen sets available and nobody gets upset if one breaks.   Being just plastic, I would worry about long term durability and are you going to open your pack after dropping it after a long days hike to find them snapped in half.    Never fear, they are well worth the cost at just $.88 cents.  The other thing going for it is, the spoon is big enough to really eat soups and other liquids!  They are kept on a plastic ring that is very weak.  In a box of goods it will keep them together, but I wouldn’t expect them to hang from it on a cook-set or anything else that gets tossed around for very long.

 

Next up is the CRKT Eat’n Tool  This guy runs from $3.95 to $7.00 depending on where you find them.  I’ve heard from people that it’s too short so I’ve always put off trying it until I could get the XL version.   But finding it so cheap, I figured what the heck.  I also thought it would be too short.  I also thought the wide top of the handle would make it very awkward. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.  You hold the wide handle across the top instead of down the middle like you would a regular spoon.  It seems awkward at first, but after a couple of bites, it’s as natural as using any other spoon.

The “Tools” built into it are kind of a gimmick, sure, if by some chance you ever needed to turn certain sized nuts or open a bottle and all you had on you was your spoon, they could be handy, but to me, they just add extra places for bits of food to get stuck or missed when washing.   Sure the cutouts do keep it even lighter, but as light as it is, the trade-off is negligible.  It is a solid tough eating tool, equal to or surpassing any metal spoon you might normally have.   The length might be an issue if you are eating out of a deep cup, like the Stanley I have here.  But all in all, I was impressed with the little guy.

The biggest downside to me is the “Spork” function.   The tines are not long enough to use as a fork, at best if you have a tough piece of meat, you might be able to stab the spork into it to eat it. It would be most useful for holding down something to cut, like a steak for example.   But realistically, even a perfectly round spoon can hold a tough steak down to cut it with one of my knives.  The spork cuts reduce the amount of liquid the spork will hold when eating soups or other liquid filled meals.  I’d prefer to see the spoon left without the spork cuts.  There is just limited usefulness for them.

The Powder coat was already showing signs of wear after the first meal and my son carried his on his belt with his little mini kit and it chipped off several pieces pretty rapidly.  I don’t think the coating would come off fast enough to be a health issue.  But I would definitely recommend the bead blasted rather than the painted versions just because of the paint.  But even with the paint they are still outstanding.  The paint is a non-stick coating so cleaning them is a breeze.  I can HIGHLY recommend this tool for most everyone, with the caveat that it might be too short to use in a tall or deep cup or can.  Also the mini carabiners are not going to last.  In fact my son broke his within 20 minutes just clipping it on and off his kit.   I’d recommend doing up a different method like a paracord loop double through the hole to a tougher carabiner.

 

So, Now on to the CRKT Eat’n tool XL version.  I figured this guy would be awesome.  All the features of the regular eat’n tool with a full length handle!   Well, I was surprised when I got it.  It is HUGE and extremely heavy.  You could use this thing to dig a fox hole or quite possibly jack up a car.  the extra length is good, but the shortened rounded spoon with spork cuts still has the same issue with liquids as the smaller Eat’n tool.  Because of the full length, its a bit heavy to use it held sideways over the back like the smaller eat’n tool, but the extra wide handle makes it awkward to hold like a regular spoon.

Did I mention this thing is HEAVY DUTY.   It almost feels like eating with an entrenching tool.  I actually tapped one of my teeth with it while eating and it made me feel that accidentally breaking a tooth could be a real possibility with this thing.  But it’s a tank.  The tools on it feel as if you could actually use them to turn nuts and bolts, so if you REALLY are looking for a multi-tool instead of a spoon, this might be the guy to go with.  I would definitely advise anyone interested to get one in your hands and feel it before you buy it.    Otherwise it may just end up being another bit of gear laying the bottom of your pack.  And just as the regular Eat’n tool,  the mini carabiners are not going to last.

 

The last item on my showdown turned out to be a great buy.  While looking for 1 of the non coated Eat’n Tools for myself, I ran across the Ozark Trail Walmart brand set below.  I decided that since it was even cheaper, I’d give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  much lighter than the XL and about the same weight with both knife and spork as the Eat’n tool.  A slightly longer handle made it easier to use as a regular spoon and get into deeper cups, but still short enough to fit inside most small cup kits.  Really about the perfect length for a pack kit.  I wish they sold the spork without the knife.  Would be an even better value.  🙂

It has a black non-stick coating that seems a bit more durable than the powder-coats on the CRKT’s.   Plenty tough enough to last a lifetime.  The knife is ok, but nothing special, it’s serrated, so the edge it will last without sharpening for quite some time, however since since we all carry good quality sharp knives everywhere anyway, for a pack kit, I’d leave the knife at home and just take the spork.   Of course, the spork has the same issue as all the other sporks, just too short to be a fork, and lets the liquids drain too much.  Quite frankly, if they made this version without the spork cuts, I would consider it near perfect.  And at roughly 1/2 to 2/3rds the cost of the other models.  It’s an amazing value.

 

A comparison shot to show the difference in thickness of the various metal sporks.

All in all, any one of these tools will work, but given the choice, I like the Ozark trail Spork and the smaller CRKT Eat’n tool the best.  I will continue using all of them over the next couple months for camping and let you all know how they are after being used for a longer period of time.

Happy eating on the trails!

Doc

 


CRKT Woods Kangee Tomahawk

Image Courtesy of CRKT

Image Courtesy of CRKT

Finally managed to get around to picking up some new gear to test.  I almost bought a couple of the SOG hawks which I’ve done a little hands on with and liked, but I’ve been eyeballing the CRKT Woods Kangee for some time now.  For the price (About $41) it’s an impressive piece of gear.  It is heavier than the SOG hawks and feels excellent in the hand.  Let’s run down the first impressions.

Field expedient replaceable handle. The primary reason I like hawk designs over most hatchet designs is the ease of replacing the handle in the field.  Yes, you can carve a fancy handle to match A Gransfors Bruks but it will take quite a bit of time.   Also, there is a small amount of extra time involved fitting the head and pinning it with a wedge.  (I have done this in the field and it’s not difficult, but does take some extra work and if you don’t do it well, the head lands in a patch of poison ivy 30 feet away).    Comparatively, you can strip a limb and narrow it down with a knife (Or the head of the hawk, which is VERY comfortable to use on its own) and slide it onto the new handle with a few tweaks.  That being said, yes, the better designed hatchet/axe handles are more comfortable and the angles and bends can give them a little more power and control.  So that is the trade off.  Everyone

Top Edge Notice how different the bevel is than the bottom edge.

Top Edge Notice how different the bevel is than the bottom edge.

Bottom edge is nearly perfect.

Bottom edge is nearly perfect.

has to decide which is more important to them.  If I’m planning on building a small log cabin, I’d prefer a larger dedicated axe.  But just something to keep strapped to my pack for small shelter building or to tear a stump apart to get to some fat wood or even to dig a root out of the ground, the hawk form just has a bit more flexibility.

Hawk vs Axe.  We touched on the hawk vs axe above, but to expand, I like dedicated tools that perform best for some functions.  So in my van when “Car” camping, or setting up a base-camp I always have a full sized axe available for big chopping tasks.  But when I head out on the trail, I don’t want to lug too much weight with me, so I like smaller more multipurpose tools.  This is the primary reason I decided to try out the Kangee.  It’s a bit heavier than most of the hawks out there but still lighter than a full sized ax.   The heavier head gives it an advantage over most hawks when chopping.  The longer handle also gives it a comfortable 2 handed chopping grip.  It also fits well on a pack hung through a carabineer.  The Kangee has a spike on the rear rather than the typical hammer.  I was split 50/50 on whether to get the Chogan model with the hammer or the Kangee with the spike.  So I sat down and decided what exactly am going to do with it in the woods?  The hammer is nice for pounding tent stakes, or pressing some dirt in to level a cook stove, but those are tasks that can be accomplished easily with just a piece of wood.   The spike however is useful for tearing apart wood (To reach fat wood, or if you REALLY need the sustenance, grabbing some grubs) or ripping apart a troublesome knot.  It also works great for digging, (Using it in the frozen ground was excellent.  Could breach ice and frozen dirt far better than a stake).  It works kind of like a mini mattock.  So having used many hatchets with hammer backs over the years, I decided to go with the spike.  Glad I did.  The spike is a great shape for tearing stuff apart.  Fat enough, with a good bevel on the edges.  It REALLY digs in.  (One cautionary note, the Kangee does NOT come with a sheath or holster.  There are some aftermarket kits for it though.  I am in process of building a leather “Bungee” cover for it.  I’ll post that project when it is completed.

The heavier weight and design of the spike makes it dig in deep.

The heavier weight and design of the spike makes it dig in deep.

Spike really tears stuff up

Spike really tears stuff up.  (My oldest boy really enjoyed tearing the stump up with it).

One thing that did disappoint me was the edge.  I’ve been a big fan of CRKT for many years, every knife I’ve ever received from them was shaving sharp right out of the box.  When the Kangee arrived, the first thing I noticed was the bevel was off, (about a 30% difference on one end of the blade, and about 10% on the other.  There was a huge overgrind on one side that left a very large bur along the top 1.5 inches of the blade.   It literally would not cut paper out of the box.  I had to do some work on the blade.  Took about 10 minutes to clear the bur and re-profile the edge so that it was somewhat even on the cutting surface.  This is not a problem for me, I’ve done it on many blades, but if you’ve never worked an edge like this, it could be difficult to get an edge and if you aren’t a big knife guy/gal, you could use this out of the box and not be able to cut anything with it.  I spent a little more time tonight fixing the edge.  It’ll shave but it’s still slightly off.  Most of the fit and finish of the head was outstanding, the hickory handle is fully functional and long enough to get a really full swing out of it even with both hands.  But the quality control on the blade edge bugged me.  I have seen online that this has been an issue on many of the Kangee and Chogan hawks.  Again, it’s not difficult to fix, but it is a little disappointing on a tool coming from CRKT.  I will contact them about this and let you know what I hear.  They have been a good company to deal with in the past, so I’m sure they will handle this well.

My oldest boy using the hawk to fuzz some wood

My oldest boy using the hawk to fuzz some wood

Price, this is what blows me away.  The cost for this hawk ranges from $39 to $50, I paid $42 for mine through Knifeworks.com.  There are a lot of high quality hatchets out there like the Gransfors Bruks, which are outstanding tools.  But for the price, this is really a tremendous bargain.  Will this last as long as a Gransfors?  Maybe, maybe not, but at 1/3rd the cost, you could purchase 3 of these, and if by any chance one finally wears out some

Spike splits a frozen stump really well.

Spike splits a frozen stump really well.

time in the next millennia, you can pull out the new one and keep on truckin and STILL have a spare waiting in wings.   I do like high quality stuff, but I will absolutely jump on something that come close.  Only time will tell if the quality is good enough for a lifetime.  But from

Makes short work of a 3 inch limb quickly.

Makes short work of a 3 inch limb quickly.

initial testing, and what I’ve seen from others.  The quality is outstanding.  Don’t get me wrong, I like high quality stuff.  I REALLY want a Gransfors axe someday, but in the meantime, it’s hard to justify spending that much money on a single tool, when I could get something like this and have enough left over to get another high quality knife or tool.

After spending some heavy cutting time with it, I do have to say it chops like a dream, but being heavier it does wear on you a bit more.  That heavier head does its job very well.