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Reviews > Cook Gear > Utensils > Sea to Summit Alpha Set > Owner Review by Ralph Ditton

REVIEW OF ALPHA SET
REVIEWER: RALPH DITTON
DATE: 27TH January, 2009


Alpha set

Personal Information

Name: Ralph Ditton
Age: 57
Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 71 kg (156 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Bushwalking Background
I have been bushwalking for over eight years. My playgrounds are the Darling Range, Bibbulmun Track and the Coastal Plain Trail. I aim to become an end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. Just on 200 km (124 mi) to go. My pack weight including food and water tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to five days duration. My shelter of choice is a tent.

Product Information
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.seatosummit.com.au
Made in: China
Listed weight of knife, fork & spoon: 37 g (1.3 oz)
Measured weight of knife, fork & spoon: 38 g (1.3 oz)
Measured weight of carabiner: 4 g (0. 14 oz)
Material: 7075-T6 Aircraft Alloy
Year of manufacturer: 2008
MSRP: Not listed

Product Description
The first question is; what is an Alpha Set?
An Alpha Set is a single set of a knife, fork and spoon made out of Ultra-light hard anodised 7075-T6 aircraft alloy. The metal has a smooth matt finish and is hardened for long use.

In the handle ends there is an integrated hex tool. The knife has a 5 mm (0.19 in) hex, the fork has a 4 mm (0.15 in) hex and the spoon has a 3 mm (0.11 in) hex.

integrated hex tools
To cut down on weight there are four holes punched into the handles but these holes do not compromise the integrity of the tool.
Included with the set is a carabiner to keep the set together which can be seen in the top photo.

The handles of the cutlery set are 105 mm (4.1 in) long. The blade of the knife has a serration which is prominent on one side only and just visible on the other side as per the above photo. The length of the blade is 77 mm (3 in) but the serration is only 63 mm (2.5 in) long.
I can run my fingers along the serration without any risk of cutting myself as it is not at all sharp.

The fork has four prongs that are 30 mm (1.2 in) long, more than adequate to spear food for cutting and eating purposes.

The spoon has a reasonable bowl to capture a good mouthful of food and is slightly bent forward of the handle at 25.

Field use
I tried the knife in cutting various vegetables such as carrots, tomato (yes, it is a fruit), cucumber and beans. Although the knife does cut, it is made difficult as the serrations are not very sharp at all. In fact, the tomatoes were a bit mangled because of the soft skin surface of the tomato.
On the other hand, the knife cut cooked meat very well and I did not have to force or apply much pressure on the meat to achieve a good neat cut.

Out in the field I have cooked schnitzels, bacon, sausages, steaks and chops. The knife cuts the cooked meat without any problems. However, it has great difficulty in cutting the section that joins raw sausages together when I separate them for cooking and cutting through the rind of bacon before it is cooked.

                                      meat cut with knife
                                                                  knife cutting the meat

When I backpack, I like to have a multi use item and a knife definitely falls into this category. I want it to cut food of all different textures. I do not want to be adding weight to my backpack with the same multiple items that each can only carry out a limited number of tasks.

The fork does what a fork does very well. It traps food for cutting and I eat with it. It also doubles up as a tool to fish objects out of a meal and to stir with when being cooked. It is also handy in helping lift a lid off a hot pot.

The spoon. Probably the most used item of the three. I use it to stir, lift tea bags out of my tea when the string has either broken off or fallen in and to eat with, especially dehydrated meals. I would be totally lost without my spoon in the bush. I can get by without a knife and fork to eat with but a spoon is essential as it is so useful with all types of meals.

Its handle (the spoon), to me, is on the short side. When I use it to eat a dehydrated meal in the pouch, I have to trim the packet down so that the spoon can reach the dropping level of food. I cannot use the Alpha knife as it will not cut the foil packet. I have to use another sharp blade that is contained in my Leatherman.

I found a use for the hex tool in the end of the knife. I use it to change the jet on my multi-fuel Primus stove. I need to change the jet when I use different fuels. Currently, I alternate between unleaded petrol and gas.

                                      hex tool unscrewing a jet
                                                                             (unscrewing a jet)
 To date I have not found a use for the other sized hex tools as my backpacking equipment tends not to be of the mechanical type. A stove would be about the most mechanical thing with screws and nuts that I carry backpacking.

Cleaning
Out in the field I clean my cutlery with water and detergent in my kitchen sink without any affect on the metal.
However, upon my return home the first time from a camping bushwalk, I put the cutlery in the dishwasher to give it a thorough clean.

When I emptied the dishwasher, I noticed that the colour had faded with the spoon showing up with blotchy patches on the bowl part, both front and back. Needless to say, I no longer put them in the dishwasher. I just give them a good clean in the kitchen sink at home with very hot water and a mild dish washing detergent.

                                      front of tarnished cutlery
                                                   front of tarnished cutlery

                           reverse of tarnished cutlery
                                               
reverse of tarnished cutlery

Things I like

  • Lightweight
  • Hex tool is very handy
  • Feels good in the hand
Things I don't like
  • Knife is limited as to what it can cut
  • Spoon's handle is too short for dehydrated packets





Read more reviews of Sea to Summit gear
Read more gear reviews by Ralph Ditton

Reviews > Cook Gear > Utensils > Sea to Summit Alpha Set > Owner Review by Ralph Ditton



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