Gear companies have focused a lot of attention on making kitchen accessories, such as bowls and plates, that are much lighter than products of old. But Sea to Summit has joined those who are trying to go one step further with its X Bowl and X Plate, which not only shave weight, but also occupy less space in a backpack.
The 2.8-ounce X bowl has collapsible sides made of food-grade, flexible silicone. When the soft plastic collapses like an accordion (remember those old plastic water cups a few decades ago?), the bowl becomes a flat disk that fits into a backpack much less awkwardly than a rigid bowl and occupies much less space. When it’s time to chow down, the sides can be lifted to form a shallow bowl that holds about 14 ounces of liquid, or raised further to hold 22 fluid ounces. In our tests, we determined that this is a good-sized bowl that’s sufficiently deep and holds a nice portion of food. And the deployed sides have enough rigid structure that we never felt like it was going to be floppy and allow food to execute an untimely exit -- into our lap, for example.
The silicone side material is tough and able to withstand temperatures of 300 degrees F, so you don’t have to worry about it melting -- though, we would add that if your food ever approaches 300 degrees F, you may have left it on the stove a tad too long. Add in a rugged base made of high-temperature nylon (you could flip it over and use as a small cutting board), and this is a bowl that should survive many years on the trail.
Sea to Summit has also introduced the X Plate, which is made of the same materials as the X Bowl and also has collapsible sides. The interior base of the plate measures about 8 inches across, and when the sides are raised the vessel is 1 1/3 inches deep. During a camping trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, the X Plate came in handy when preparing food for a large group. We used it as a cutting board when we sliced up a heap of carrots. Once the carrot pile grew to a small mountain, we raised the sides to keep the food from spilling out.
According to Sea to Summit, the nylon base of the plate is resistant to cutting, but ours did have several slice marks by the end of a long weekend. Still, it’s not a big enough issue to outweigh the usefulness of an otherwise durable product that serves as a plate, cutting board and even a large, shallow bowl. Plus, the X Plate only weighs 4.9 ounces and, like the X Bowl, occupies minimal space in a pack.
It’s true that there have been failed attempts to produce collapsible kitchen accessories that were truly useful and durable. How many of us tried those old plastic travel cups that would collapse at just the wrong moment and leak? But set aside your preconceived notions about collapsible products, because Sea to Summit -- a company developing a solid reputation for innovative products -- has executed the idea very well with the X Bowl and X Plate. They’ll allow you to carve out a little more room in your backpack and still carry all you need to prepare and to enjoy a good meal.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: X Bowl $14.95; X Plate $16.95