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The Gerber ComplEAT utensil set includes a lightweight spoon, spork, spatula, and a multitool bottle-opener, can opener, and peeler. It’s aimed at any backcountry hiker, backpacker, camper or hunter.
To get Man Makes Fire a closer look, Gerber sent us a review unit. This is what we learned:
Gerber ComplEAT Review
The genius on the Gerber ComplEAT is the sum of its parts and how well it all fits together. The idea, of course, is that you get everything you need to eat in a complete package. You get a relatively long-handled spoon, a forkish sort of spork, and a spatula/turner.
You can use the nylon and silicone spatula/turner with lightweight non-stick cookware to fry and stir fry. As long as your pancakes are fairly small, you can flip those with the spatula, too.
If you’re grilling or cooking chunks of meat or veggies, the spatula pairs with the spork to create a cool set of tongs. It works surprisingly well.
Meanwhile, what about that little multitool? The multitool is basically a bottle opener, vegetable peeler, can opener, and serrated package opener. It also serves as the piece that ties the Gerber ComplEAT elements together.
So Far So Good
The spoon and fork are made from anodized aluminum and they’re suitably lightweight. In fact, the entire Gerber ComplEAT system weighs in at a respectable 2.3 ounces.
As far as the spoon and spork goes, the spoon is long enough to be useful when eating dried backpacking food out of the bag.
Gerber calls the spork a fork, but it’s basically a spork. And sporks work ok as forks and ok as spoons but they’re not particularly great either way.
The spatula is handy if you actually cook in a pan in the backcountry vs just boiling water for freeze-dried meals. And it’s also handy as a scraper that can help clean your pots and pans.
Where the value of the Gerber ComplEAT gets tricky is with the multitool. Most outdoor adventurers I know pack a knife and/or multitool pretty much wherever they go. So the built-in veggie peeler offers little value over a knife. The same goes for the built-in serrated package opener. As for the bottle opener, if I’m packing a bottle of beer, I’m usually not going far, so adding a bottle opener to my pack isn’t a big deal. And the can opener? We’ve all been camping where somehow the can opener is missing from the camp box . . . so having a can opener is sort of handy.
While we talking about unneeded utensils, you might be wondering how often do you need both a fork and a spoon in the backcountry? More often than you might think. Why? You would be surprised at how often someone forgets a spoon. Sure, it shouldn’t happen with proper planning, but not everyone can get out the door for an impromptu trip as easily as others. Alternately, if you’re gearing up a buddy to go backpacking for the first time, it’s nice to have an extra lightweight spoon or spork to lend.
Gerber ComplEAT: Pros and Cons
As it stands, I’m a fan of the Gerber ComplEAT. I like having the backcountry options for extra cooking utensils — and I can always leave all but the spoon behind if I’m trying to save weight.
For me personally, the Gerber ComplEAT has earned a spot in my portable camp grill/stove box as an extra set of utensils. It’s there if I need it when cooking off the tailgate of the pickup, and it’s also there for a quick hike.
For real-world use, each piece on its own works well, including the tongs. There is really only one con, and that’s the multitool. It holds the kit together, and if you don’t have it, the kit doesn’t stay together. The cutter is also a bit sharp. I haven’t cut or scraped myself on it, but I can see it happening.
To nest the handles together, you have to slide the multitool into the grooves in the turner. The rounded peeler portion is smooth, so your thumb has a tendency to slip and slide, which is super annoying . . . until you finally learn to do it with two thumbs at the same time. Then it’s fast and easy. Unless your hands are wet. None of this is exactly hard, it’s just not as easy as you expect.
The real question about the Gerber ComplEAT isn’t whether it’s a good product — it is — it’s whether the Gerber ComplEAT is the right product and value for you personally. At about $30, you could buy lightweight utensils separately and still come in under budget. But its tidy package is undeniably cool. If you want to start cooking in the backcountry beyond freeze-dried packages, the Gerber ComplEAT is great way to point you in that direction. Similarly, if you want to create a backcountry go-pack or survival-type bag, the Gerber ComplEAT is a handy set.
All that said, we actually think the Gerber ComplEAT is best as a gift for backpackers, campers, or outdoor lovers who like to frequently get off the beaten path. Why? The price point, while certainly fair for the quality and design, is a bit high for anyone on a budget who can get by with what they already have. As a gift, however, it’s a relatively affordable splurge sort of item. It’s the kind of kit that we would tend to hesitate to buy for ourselves but happily receive it as a gift.