|Personal Biographical Information:
Name: André Corterier
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight: 80 kg (175 lb)
Home: Bonn, Germany
I have started out with backpacking slowly – single-day 24 km (15 mi) jaunts
by myself or even shorter hikes in the company of my little daughter. I am getting started on longer
hikes, as a lightweight packer and hammock or tarp camper. I’ve been upgrading my old gear and am now carrying a
dry FSO weight (everything carried From the Skin Out except food, fuel and water)
of less than 9 kg (20 lb) for three-season camping.
Year of manufacture: 2009
listed weight (on the packaging):
Cup: 1.25 oz (36 g)
Bowl: 1.3 oz (37 g)
Spoon: 0.2 oz (6 g)
measured weight (on my gram scale):
Cup: 1.27 oz (36 g)
Bowl: 1.27 oz (36 g)
Spoon: 0.18 oz (5 g)
Flat Earth! Ahem. Flat dishes, anyway. Fozzil's pack-flat dishes are advertised as lightweight dishes that fold flat. The Ultralight Soloist set I received (I did not find it on the web site)
consists of cup, bowl and spoon. That's more than a true gram weenie would need when eating out of the pot and drinking out of the water container, but a touch of civilized niceties for less
than 100 g (less than three ounces, even) sounds like a nice idea. And intriguing, too...
Well, the first time I tried this out it wasn't dishes that fold flat, it was flat pieces of plastic that fold into dishes. I found it easy enough to do, except for the spoon. The spoon has a
rather tricky topography and required a bit of bending this way and that way before it ended up in a proper spoon shape. The shape it ended up in does look like a spoon, however - and once it
had been folded into that shape, folding it flat and into a spoon again was easy.
The Fozzil set pieces do not unfold entirely flat when I unfold them. While I assume I might be able to press them into a very flat shape again, I don't see any need to resort to force. They
are close enough to flat that it should be easy to store them and they are anyway more likely to find a spot near the side of my pack where they should be able to follow the pack's curve nicely.
They come in a flat plastic shipping box that the instructions suggest may make a good tray and/or cutting board. It weighs 53 g (1.87 oz). Being the heaviest item by far (and not necessarily part
of the set), I'm not likely to be taking it along much - I tend to resort to pre-made foods anyway, and have no need for either a tray or a cutting board.
Cup and bowl also nest into one another, and again into my cook pot (while folded together). That's nice - I'm sure the spoon will find a place for itself as well, whether folded or unfolded.
I'm looking forward to trying this set out with my daughters, if my own experience suggests sharing it on family excursions. I can see myself eating from my own pot, with the older one using the
Fozzil bowl and the younger one the cup. Before going there, however, I will be certain to try it out with hot food myself. The packaging states that the plastic will get soft when in contact with
hot stuff. I guess I'll find out whether the Fozzil cup is a safe container for my morning cup of coffee...
I looks really neat. It's pretty lightweight, too. And my daughters love 'em already. Some concern regarding performance with hot liquids remains. Stay tuned.
I've had the Fozzil set with me on a three-day hike with my daughters in the German-Luxembourg Nature preserve (temps around the 20s C / 70s F), a couple of dayhikes
around the woods here in similar temperatures, a car camping trip to Sweden (again in similar temps), a two-day hiking trip in Australia (the
Binna Burra area of Lamington National
Park, a good bit colder) and a three-day hiking trip on the Mount Mulanje Massif in southern Malawi (Southeast Africa), which was downright chilly at night,
though still above freezing.
I like that I can put the folded bits of plastic pretty much anywhere in my pack. While they do fold into my cookpot, I tend to have some food in there along
with my spices and lighter, so it was good to be able to just slide them in anywhere. This was often the main body of the pack (when I make food, I unpack
anyway, so that seemed to be a good place), but sometimes the top lid (when I had repacked again and was ready to go when I found that I forgot to pack the
Fozzils) or even stashed into an outside mesh pocket (if still wet).
Not sure if this is part of "Packability" proper or should go in its own section, but they've usually been dry enough to pack rather quickly after washing,
without needing to be dried - vigorous shaking seemed to get nearly all the moisture off my set. So lying them down in the sun for a bit thereafter usually
had them dry in just a few minutes (though I'd then forget to pack them into the main body of my pack - sigh).
They've been rather more usable than I had expected. I had been worried that they might provide issues if holding hot soup (bowl) or coffee (cup), because
the manufacturer had warned that the plastic softens with heat. While it did, that just meant that they got to be a little softer to the touch. They did
not slouch in a way that ever had me concerned they would become more prone to spillage.
One issue I did have with heat is that of spooning noodle soup (unfortunately, that's something I do often when backpacking). The spoon, obviously, is not
a spork, so does not have tines. That means getting noodles out of a container is a bit tricky. What exacerbated the problem is that if there was some hot
liquid on the spoon (invariably) and I tilted the business end up beyond horizontal (often, to keep the noodles from slipping back into the bowl), said
hot liquid would run down through the folded handle into my hand. As I like to eat my noodles hot (sustenance eaten at above body temperature providing
literally instant calories simply through their warmth), this resulted in a surprised yelp and a bit of spill the first time it happened.
A lesser heat related observation is that the plastic doesn't seem to insulate against heat too well. So the coffee cools down rapidly, but is rather hot against my hands
when initially poured into the cup. But I've had similar experiences with other (non-insulating) cups so do not consider this an "issue", and just resorted
to gloves (which I carry anyway).
A somewhat more serious (and more difficult to avoid) temperature-related issue I had was with cold (yes, I know, there's no such thing, it's just the absence
of heat, yadda yadda). On Mount Mulanje I was unable to fold the dishes together. The cold had let the plastic become so stiff that it would unsnap the
buttons. I kept them underneath my jacket for about 20 minutes, which did not change this at all. It may not have been all that much warmer under my
jacket, but it was cold enough that I didn't want to put them underneath my base layer. The spoon was not so affected, but both the cup and the bowl
refused to behave.
Cleaning them is fun. It's also necessary. That shouldn't be a surprise. But sometimes, after having slurped the last bit of soup, they look as though they're
"clean enough" (call me lazy). This is partially because liquid seems to come off the plastic so easily. However, there tends to be some of the liquid, often
even some of the more solid contents of the soup, stuck in the folds. This can become nasty with time.
Luckily, cleaning them - as mentioned before - is both fun and easy. Unfold, hold under running water, shake off - presto, that was usually all that was
Necessity - or Lack Thereof:
Clearly, I don't *need* to bring these items along on a hike. Being a lightweight hiker with some ultralight tendencies, I can eat out of my pot and drink out of my water bottle (and on
Mount Mulanje had to resort to that anyway). But it was nice to be able to pour the soup into my bowl, swish out the pot and put some more hot water on
for a hot cup of tea or coffee right away. Or the other way around. Also, eating out of one (small) pot was difficult enough with one daughter, now that I
sometimes have two of them along, it was good to have dishes to share, without having to carry a lot of weight. In fact, my kids were so enamored of them
that I was lucky I had two pieces, so each could carry one (of course I still carry the smaller of my children - but her belief system doesn't contain a lot of physics
yet, so she's convinced that if she's carrying the cup, I don't have to carry it even if I carry her).
LONG TERM REPORT:
There aren't any significant new findings, really. My daughters are able to take them apart and put them back together again (except for the spoon, that's too hard for
the little one). The spoon's tendency to soften with heat sometimes annoys me a little when eating something like hot porridge - I find it harder to insert the spoon into
it to scoop the stuff with a very flexible spoon. But it still works, if not with the uncompromising bite of a titanium utensil. I have not had any further problems or insights
regarding their use. They work. My kids love them. So when I go backpacking with the kids (which I will again do next weekend), they're coming along. On my own, I may continue
to take along the bowl - it was really nice to be able to begin eating with the pot empty, so I could do something else with the pot. On fastpacking days, I guess I'll go back
to the ultralight standard of eating from the pot and drinking from the bottle.
The Fozzils have been out less in the last two months than they were earlier - no multi-day hikes on foreign continents. But they have been used, usually with or by
my daughters. This was for a total of only three days, in the foothills around Bonn. Temperatures were between 15 and 25 C
(60 and 75 F), elevation between 100 and 300 m (330 and 1000 ft), without precipitation (when and where we were eating). We
were eating noodles or muesli from them.
Neat. Good if wanting to share. Easily cleaned. Doesn't seem to work in the cold half of the year.
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