The collapsible knife, fork and spoon set fits inside a credit card-sized carry case that slides in your wallet, ensuring you always have them on hand. Useful for camping, sure, but the idea goes well beyond that, seeking to eliminate the single-use plastic utensils people use every day.
The 30`1 stainless steel Flatware set is a more neatly-packaged version of the portable camping utensils you'll find dangling around the checkout aisle of your local outdoor rec shop, products like the Gerber Compleat or Kuma. Unlike the more three-dimensional shapes of others, GoSun's design packs down into a 4-mm-thick HDPE carry case, sliding away in your wallet to keep the reusable utensils handy every time you'd otherwise be reaching for plastic disposables.
And when you make that swap, you save a set of plastic throwaways from ending up in the world's landfills and waterways. By GoSun's reckoning, that's 322 plastic utensils per year for every person that makes (and commits to) the switch to Flatware.
Outlery's collapsible utensils were created with the same goal in mind, but that design relied on an extra carry tin to win the fight for valuable pocket space. Flatware's compact, flat size means it's essentially easier to keep the utensils on you than to leave them behind. Perhaps the biggest issue will be remembering to wash them between uses since dishwashers and sinks of soapy water don't tend to be available when eating out, but cleaning the detachable heads and handles should be easier than keeping a collapsible keychain straw clean.
We've always liked the idea of all-in-one camping utensils, but it's a tough balance to get right, and the execution tends to fall apart somewhere. Some are small and convenient enough to carry but not very user-friendly when it comes time to eat, and others are dinner-friendly but too large and awkward to fit in a stuffed backpack or pocket.
GoSun has designed an intriguing alternative in creating individual fork and spoon heads that easily slide away into their handles, collapsing small and flat. The carry case is about five times thicker than a 0.76-mm (0.03-in) credit card, but measures a comparable 3.3 x 2 in (9 x 5 cm) in length and width. So you might struggle to fit it in an ultra-sleek minimalist card holder, but it could replace a stack of business cards in a larger wallet. In fact, the largest stack of old business cards, bus passes and ski passes sitting in my wallet at this very moment measures just over 5 mm thick, so I could easily fit the Flatware set inside my compact, super-lightweight triple-fold.
If you're wondering why GoSun doesn't make the whole thing even thinner by eliminating the case, it includes the case partly for convenience but even more so for storing away utensils after use. This way, you don't have a set of grimy utensils dirtying up your wallet or purse. Users could always drop the case if that works better for them.
When it's time to eat, the fork and spoon heads lock in place, and the indents appear to create a firmer grip. We're not sure how the serrated knife edge on the spoon will work when cutting meat, and it seems like it might scrape and scratch your mouth if you're not careful, but can it really be that much worse than cutting with a throwaway plastic knife or poking yourself with spork tines? We'll have to test Flatware to find out, but from a distance, it looks like a smart, functional design that beats the alternatives, save perhaps for carrying around a complete homestyle table setting in a purse or backpack.
GoSun is currently holding a Kickstarter for Flatware, starting the full kit (fork, spoon and carry case) off at pledge levels of US$20, which it says is 49 percent off retail. The campaign has gone nearly 10 times over its initial $2,500 goal and still has close to a month left to go. Deliveries will begin in February, if everything continues going smoothly.