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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Guyot Designs Squishy Bowl Set > Test Report by Gail StaisilGuyot Designs
Squishy Bowl Set
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
March 27, 2009
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com
Initial Impressions and Product Description
Guyot Designs Squishy Bowls are collapsible bowls made out of flexible food grade silicone. According to the manufacturer they can be used for cold or hot food being temperature resistant to 400 F (204 C). They are manufactured in a variety of sizes and bright colors. They can be purchased individually or in sets.
The Squishy Bowl Set arrived in seemingly good condition in the color of Lime Green. As aforementioned the bowl set does come in other colors. Although the website refers to the color green as Celery, the bowl set I received is called Lime and it is also referred to that on the manufacturer's pulldown menu (they look the same to me). Other colors available include Tomato, Slate, Tangerine, and Tahoe Blue.
The nested set consists of a large bowl and a cup weighing a total of 4.2 oz (119 g) by my calculation (although most of the specs for the large bowl were correct on the website, the actual weight was different). In fact it was instead the weight listed for the medium bowl at 2.6 oz (71 g). That's fine by me as it's lighter than expected.
The cup at 1.7 oz (48 g) is also labeled on the bottom of it as a small bowl by the manufacturer. The latter is very descriptive as the cup is actually a bowl shape without a handle.
A Quick Try
After handling the set I wondered how they would perform when filled with contents. I also thought the cup was kind of on the small side for drinking purposes. The box that contained the bowl set stated the amount of food or drink the units could contain. I took out a measuring cup and filled each unit with water up to the raised line inside of them.
The bowl can contain up to 16 oz (500 ml) of food at the fill line and the cup holds a bit over 6 oz (177 ml) of liquid at the fill line. After filling I picked each of them up respectively with one hand and the round shape immediately became an egg shape. Although none of the contents spilled I would assume caution should be used if handling hot food or liquid. This is especially the case while I familiarize myself with using bowls that are flexible rather than rigid.
The inside surface of the bowl and the cup are very smooth or non-textured but feature a slightly raised ridgeline about 0.625 in (1.59 cm) the way down from the top. I speculate that this might be the safe-to-fill line as aforementioned. I also assume that the bowl and cup are created with a smooth inside surface so that food or drink wouldn't as readily stick to the silicone surface.
The outside of the bowl and cup have a dull non-slippery rubbery surface. The outside of each also have ridge lines about 1 in (2.54 cm) from the top. These ridge lines are at a greater distance from the top edge than the inside ones. They likely might be helpful with grip. The bottom of the bowls are also indented or concave like most bowls. This allows them to sit on surfaces without toppling over.
The Bowl Set is called "squishy" because even though the bowls have a regular shape they can be squashed to take up a lesser amount of space in a backpack or wherever they are stored. They would however only take up less space if they are squeezed into a smaller space because they pop right back into shape when given the freedom to do so. They are fun to play with!
According to both the box that the bowl set was packaged and the website the bowls are supposed to be temperature resistant to 400 F (204 C). The bottom of the bowls have slightly different information in that they are high temperature rated to 500 F (260 C). They also note that the low temperature that they can be used to would be -40 F (-40 C).
There is also a difference in the washing instructions for the bowls between the website (and box) versus the bowls themselves. The latter indicates that they are dishwasher safe while the former two only mention that they can be hand washed using soap and water. The bowls themselves also are microwave safe as noted only on the bowls. This difference in description might be that the website and container packaging would be marketed to those out in the field where microwaves and dishwashers are non existent.
I look forward to testing the Squishy Bowl Set during many upcoming backpacking trips in the near future.
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June 8, 2009
USA Locations and Conditions
During the field test period, I have used the Squishy Bowl Set during several backpacking excursions. They include a two-day trip to the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, a three-day trip to the North Country Trail in Wisconsin, a two-day trip to the Fox River Pathway in Michigan and a two-day trip to the Craig Lake Wilderness and North Country Trail in Michigan (nine days total). Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities, backcountry lakes and more. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1300 ft (400 m).
Early April Backpacking Trip:
Location: Kettle Moraine State Forest - Ice Age Trail - Wisconsin
Type of Trip: Trail along glacial features including eskers, moraines, kettles and kames
Distance: 18 mi (29 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days
Pack Weight: 30 lb (14 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, windy, sleet
Precipitation: 0.18 in/0.46 cm (snow/sleet)
Temperature Range: 33 F (1 C) to 45 F (7 C)
Late April Backpacking Trip:
Location: North Country Trail - Wisconsin
Type of Trip: Mostly trail
Distance: 18 mi (29 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/3 nights
Pack Weight: 27.5 lb (12.5 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sleet, hail storm, rain, sunny
Precipitation: 0.37 in (0.94 cm)
Temperature Range: 33 F (1 C) to 68 F (20 C)
May Backpacking Trip:
Location: Fox River Pathway - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 17.5 mi (28 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: 28 lb (13 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly sunny
Temperature Range: 25 F (-4 C) to 51 F (11 C)
Early June Backpacking Trip:
Location: Craig Lake Wilderness/North Country Trail - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail, bushwhack
Distance: 6 mi (10 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Pack Weight: 26.5 lb (12 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain
Precipitation: 0.52 in (1.35 cm)
Temperature Range: 31 F (-1 C) to 58 F (14 C)
Performance in the Field
Out in the Field Right Away
I first used the Squishy Bowls on a two-day backpacking trip. I placed the bowls inside my 0.8 L (0.85 qt) pot and they fit in there just fine. I used the large bowl for a rice noodle-based dinner. I placed the dry ingredients inside of it and then added hot water to hydrate. I placed the lid from my pot over the top of the bowl so that heat wouldn't escape. Since it was only about 40 F (4 C) I wondered if that would do the trick as to keeping it hot. I was happy that the combination worked well enough.
I used the cup to make hot cocoa. Since the cup only holds about 6 fl oz (177 ml) of liquid, I only poured in just part of the cocoa mix. Later I added more cocoa and more hot water as I had consumed the first cup quickly. After I was finished I poured a bit of water into both components of the bowl set, mixed it around a bit and drank the remnants from each container. They were clean enough to let them dry in the wind as the wind was strong. Since they weren't perfectly clean I put them both in a zippered bag and hung them with my food for the night.
In the morning I used the bowl set for breakfast making oatmeal and Chai tea. I repeated the cleaning process and put the nested bowl and cup back in my food pot inside of a zip bag. When I got home I cleaned them with soap and water by hand and let to dry.
During the next backpacking trip the Squishy bowls were used for six meals over four days. The weather was mostly cool. I again had some noodle dinners. I found that the dinners didn't fully hydrate before they got cold as they weren't protected from the elements. I may have to make a suitable cozy for colder conditions for the dinner bowl. I normally put my food-filled zip bag to hydrate and stay warm into a stuff sack. I didn't chance doing this as it would be too easy to forget that the Squishy Bowl doesn't have a cover.
In May I went for a short backpacking trip. I again used the bowls for all of my meals making oatmeal, cocoa, Chai and more. With the latter two I used the small cup and find that the average pre-packaged size of those drinks are too much for the size of the bowl. I generally put only half the mix inside and then later as I consume the drink I add more hot water and the rest of the drink mix. While this is only a bit inconvenient, I would prefer to have a larger cup size. I would like to use the large bowl for my drink but it normally has my meal in it!
When I fill the Squishy Bowl and Cup with hot water I find I that they're initially a bit hot to handle. After a few minutes they're comfortable to touch and in fact nice to have something to keep my hands warm. When I grab the flexible cup or bowl with my hands it usually takes on an oval shape but the contents haven't spilled yet. The finish on the outside of the bowls is non-slippery so I haven't had any issues with grip even when grasping with partially wet hands.
During my early June trip I packed the Squishy Bowls in the same way that I did on the other trips. The bowls were nested and placed in a zip bag, they were then placed in a stuff sack with my stove and other accessories and squashed to take up less space. During this trip the large Squishy Bowl took on a new role serving as a mixing bowl in preparation for making a powdered egg and sausage bits meal. I placed the bowl on a rock outcropping, blended the product and kept it there to wait for my stove to be ready for cooking.
New Eating Style
I must say I've enjoyed eating my dinners out of the colorful Squishy Bowl as it is much more efficient than eating out of a zip bag that has to be closed or balanced if I place it aside for a minute or so. With the Squishy Bowl and Cup I can put them down for a minute or more with the contents in them and do another chore if desired. It is also much easier to eat out of a bowl rather than my normal zip bag. My spoon can reach all surfaces of the bowl quickly and the smooth interior likely makes most foods non sticking.
I have experimented with the placement of the bowls on outdoor uneven surfaces such as rocks and logs and found that the set does not have to be placed on flat ground. They seem to stabilize in various angles or positions. Also on the upside they have been easy to clean. In the field I just pour extra hot water into each bowl when I have finished the meal and then swish it around and drink it clean..well almost! I put both of the bowls nested inside a zip bag and store in my stove bag. At night the zip bag is put into my food bag for the bear hang.
Even though I have used a variety of foods in the bowl and cup set I haven't found that the silicone alters the taste of the food. In other words I can't taste anything other than what the food tastes like.
So far I've enjoyed using the Squishy Bowl Set. It adds a bit of weight to my normal eating kit but the stability of the bowls and the fact that they are easy to eat out of and are easy to clean has been a positive. I feel that the food inside of them retains heat longer than many other bowls I have used in the past.
During the long term period I will continue to use the Squishy Bowl Set during several extended backpacking trips. Because I expect the weather to be somewhat warmer I will use the bowl and cup for cold foods in addition to hot foods.
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Long Term Report:
August 4, 2009
Locations and Conditions
During the long term test period, I have used the Squishy Bowl Set during several backpacking trips. They included a nine-day trip to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, USA, a four-day trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada and a five-day trip to Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, Canada. Besides eighteen days of backpacking they were also used for seven days of base camping in the Canadian Rockies. Locations ranged from and included sub-alpine and boreal forest communities, backcountry lakes and more. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to 8235 ft (2510 m).
Late June Solo Backpacking Trip:
Location: Isle Royale National Park, an island in Lake Superior - Michigan, USA
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 75 mi (121 km)
Length of Trip: 9 days/8 nights
Pack Weight: 39 lb (17.69 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Fog, light rain, mostly sunny, cloudy
Precipitation: 0.14 in (0.36 cm)
Temperature Range: 44 F (7 C) to 86 F (30 C)
Mid-July Backpacking Trip:
Location: Skyline Trail - Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 27.3 mi (44 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days/3 nights
Pack Weight: 38 lb (17 kg), Carried common gear for two people
Sky and Air Conditions: Mostly sunny
Temperature Range: (45 F to 91 F) 7 C to 33 C
Late July Backpacking Trip:
Location: Rockwall Trail - Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Type of Trip: Steep trail (vertical gain 8530 ft/2600 m, vertical loss 7382 ft/2250 m)
Distance: 34.2 mi (55 km)
Length of Trip: 5 days/4 nights
Pack Weight: 41 lb (18.6 kg), Carried common gear for two people
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and thunderstorms
Precipitation: Rain 0.89 in (22.5 ml)
Temperature Range: 43 F to 81 F (27 C to 6 C)
Performance in the Field
Tons of Field Use
During the long term period, I continued to use the Squishy Bowls for all of my backpacking trips. Since I backpacked 18 days during the last two months and base camped 7 days, the bowls were used over 50 times during the final period. The bowl and cup were used for breakfast and dinner meals each day.
The large bowl was used in two different ways. Sometimes I ate my meals directly out of the bowl and other times I used the bowl to hold open packages of food. The second scenario often involved using instant oatmeal packages. I directly poured the water into the package and sometimes used the bowl to just support it. I did this on some mornings when I was in a hurry and didn't want to clean the bowl.
I mostly used the small cup for hot tea or Chai but typically had to fill it twice to drink enough liquid. I never had to worry that it would spill when placed on uneven surfaces as it settled quite nicely on any surface including rocks, dirt, logs and picnic tables.
I haven't found the bowl or cup hard to clean as typically after a meal I will pour a bit of water in the bowl/cup and mix it around with a spoon and then drink the remnants. Other times I will broad spread the liquid after straining any food bits.
Since the weather was atypically hot on all of these trips I didn't have to worry about heat escaping from the top of the bowl or cup and making my meals cold. My drinks and meals stayed hot enough throughout the meal process.
I continued to store the bowl and cup nested inside of my pot. I used an 0.8 L (0.85 L) pot on the first trip and an 1.1 L (1.16 qt) pot on the rest of the trips. Both pots could not only hold the flexible bowl set but also held my small alcohol stove and foldable base for the stove.
At camp, I continued to store the bowl and cup with my stove kit and food at night. They were either hung from a bear pole or placed in a food storage locker.
I have found the Squishy Bowl Set to be a fun product. Impressed with the product, I even bought a set in a different color for a friend's birthday present which they appreciated.
I have really enjoyed using the Squishy Bowl Set. The fact that the bowl and cup are easy to stabilize to prevent spilling and that they are easy to pack and clean has made them fun to use. They have proven to be both durable and flexible. I plan to continue using the large bowl for most of my future trips but will probably leave the small cup at home as it simply is a bit too small for my needs. I will use the large bowl for both drinks and food and will consider purchasing a second large bowl so that I don't have to eat and drink at separate times.
Thanks to Guyot Designs and BackpackGearTest for this neat opportunity to test the Squishy Bowl Set. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.
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