Over the years there have been a couple renaissance points for outdoor gear. To be blunt, this isn’t one of those times. At least to me. I have found I haven’t bought much outdoor gear the past 5 years. Now partially that is due to simply having what I need. But I can be easily swayed by pretty gear if it is front of me. I am a hiker after all. But I have found I just rarely see anything that catches my eyes.
The the last period of gear innovation for outdoor cooking was between 10 to 15 years ago. New products were coming out constantly. It was exciting for sure. The “big” gear companies had new stoves, pots and pans, tools and so much more. Everything was aimed at going light, if not ultra light. New shapes (if only I had kept the hexagon shaped pot I was once sent…..), the metals were more refined, and a whole lot less nonstick coatings. I did freelance work for Backpacker Magazine then, reviewing cooking gear. And some of that is still being used all these years later – because it was solid. And those items are still being sold.
The other week the boys and I went to the mainland as they wanted to go to the mall. There is an REI there so I wandered in. I hadn’t been into REI since before 2020, when our state had forced retail stores to close up. I realized that those 3 years of our oppressive retail rules had soured me on shopping in person – and only now am I going back into stores to just wander. But that is an important thing: I find things by wandering. I don’t wander when shopping online. So if I don’t know about it, I have a big chance of missing it. With my resting face of “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL, DO NOT ASK ME IF I AM AN REI MEMBER”, I was left alone to peruse the camping and backpacking cooking area. This is important for how I find things, be it gear or food.
And woah, I was disappointed. Now maybe it is that this isn’t a huge REI location (Alderwood Mall, Lynwood, Wa state) but it was thin. If anything, it was aimed at car and cabin campers. Which is cool, I get it. Car camping is a lot easier than backpacking, and an easy way to get into the outdoors – so no judging (I love camping any way I can).
There wasn’t much in stoves or pots. And a lot of it was under lock (it’s Washington state, and thievery is a popular pastime). It took me 5 minutes to see what they had. I either owned it (and had bought it and/or received it to review 15 years or so ago) or it was items I wouldn’t use (too heavy stainless steel for example). The Lodge cast iron collection was something I’d buy for home, not even in my RV would I carry that. I had to laugh a bit, as the big cooking display was cast iron and big cabin camping propane stoves.
But what I saw was a lack of innovation. It could have been 2010 in that REI. It honestly had little more to offer than my local hardware store’s outdoor rec aisle. That’s kind of sad really.
But one thing did catch my eye.
A $5.50 spoon.
Freezer Bag Cooking needs a good long handled spoon. Years ago GSI Outdoors made a blue one, out of Lexan (polycarbonate), till Lexan went out of fashion (what water bottles were made of back in the dinosaur ages…..). For the past 5 or 6 years I have used bamboo spoons in general. They don’t scrape pans up, wrecking finishes. And most of all, I just don’t like metal utensils in the outdoors. They get so hot when cooking, then are so cold if it is chilly. Yes, I am finicky for sure. I had seen this spoon awhile back, but hadn’t seen it in person – which for me I really like to hold gear in my hands and feel it. To see how it feels, how it balances, etc.
That’s what happens when I don’t go into a gear store physically in 3 years. I miss out on fun finds.
The GSI Outdoors Essential Spoon – Long Sold on REI’s website (and in store).
I regret not buying one sooner. It is that good. But alas, while REI and Amazon have them, when I went to GSI Outdoors website the spoon doesn’t exist. Only their old school 9″ hard plastic spoon is sold on it.
This concerns me though, did I just find a product that has had its production stopped?
I’d leave this review with that this solid spoon is worth picking up, for both FBC and cooking in a pot. Easy cleanup. Spoon stays normal temperature. And if it was discontinued, buy it soon while you can.