By: David Rance Lane
I saw the Gerber Compleat set a couple of months ago and the ad and video made it seem very useful. I usually hate ‘spork’ items. By that, I mean things that perform several functions all with lackluster results. Sporks can be used as a spoon or a fork, but it does neither of them particularly well. I was a little put off by the Compleat because it was a four-piece set made up of a spatula, spoon, a small multitool, and of course the dreaded spork. Ugh. I hate sporks. But this little thing seemed useful enough and cheap enough to try out. I took this item out for a fun weekend camping and used it to cook and eat with.
According to Gerber’s website, the Compleat comes in three colors: Onyx, Burnt Bronze, and Flat Sage. The one I have is the latter. All the tools come already nested together in the package, and at first, is a little stiff. But after a few tries, it loosened up. The spatula acts as the holder for the other tools, with the spoon, spork (yes, I know that Gerber’s website says it is a long-tined fork, but it LOOKS much closer to a spork, more on this later), and finally the multi-tool. It does take all three to be stored in the spatula to stay tight.
This doesn’t really bother me, but if you were planning on leaving one at home, or you lose one, the remaining items won’t stay together. No matter which color you choose, the multi-tool and spatula are both black, so they might be easy to lose. I will be adding a stripe of bright paint to each to make it a little more visible if dropped. Especially the multi-tool as it is quite small and could end up under some dead leaves. The spatula is much larger and would be easier to see, but a bit of paint or bright tape on the non-cooking end wouldn’t hurt.
First up is the spatula. I had doubts after seeing this in person, as the spatula surface area is quite small. The spatula appears to be made out of plastic, but the Gerber website indicates it is made out of ‘high-temperature nylon.’ The front edge is angled so it will slide under food. One side is serrated to act as a cutting tool. The opposite side has a silicone edge. The serrated edge will cut softer items such as hamburger patties, but don’t plan on cutting tougher things like steak. The silicone edge was very useful in cleaning up the pot we used for chili, as it scraped the side very well. I could see it helping mix ingredients in a bowl. It stood up to the very high heat and did not deform or melt.
Next up is the spoon and fork (ok, I will finally start calling it a fork, you will see why in a minute). The spoon has a longish handle which is useful for stirring and getting to the bottom of that pot to scrape out that last bit of oatmeal. It seems quite thin, and it is. But it stood up quite well and seemed stronger than I first thought. The fork’s shape has more to do, I think, with it being able to ‘nest’ with the other items and for strength than it does with it being an actual spork. It seemed to puncture food well and was somewhat useful as a fork. It did not do well as a spork, with the spoon portion is fairly shallow. I think they could have extended the tines a little, but it looks like the ‘cupped’ portion is more to provide strength to make the tines harder to distort and bend. There. I said it. It isn’t really a spork. I stand corrected.
The multi-tool is small. Very small. Almost too small. One of the advertised components for this little thing is a can opener, and it works as well as the P38 can opener or one on any ambiguous multi-tool. It is ok, but not great. Another is a bottle opener. Again, no surprises, it does work. The package opener sliced open the hot dog package quite well. I really didn’t have much of an opportunity to use it any more than that, but it seemed to work well. The veggie peeler was more of a scraper than a peeler. This was the least useful item of the whole set, as it would take a really long time to do a lot of veggies. Overall, the multi-tool is useful, but being so short it is hard to hold. I think if it were made a little longer, it would make it more comfortable and useful.
The real magic for this item is when you attach either the spoon or fork to the spatula. I used the fork, and it made an excellent set of tongs. I was able to grip hot dogs and hamburgers with ease. Nothing slipped, and I was very impressed with how it felt and performed. You can use the spoon to make the set of tongs, and I just think the fork is so much more useful for that purpose. Clean-up was a breeze, and nothing seemed to really stick to it.
Overall, I found the Gerber Compleat to perform pretty much as advertised with only a few shortfalls. I think a redesign of the multi-tool would help make this a truly outstanding performer. If the whole thing could be made an inch or so longer, it would make it more comfortable to use and cook with.
Build Quality: A-
Performs as Advertised: B
Although there is some room for improvement, this item is well worth its size and weight in a bugout bag or on a backpacking trip. The price is a little higher than aluminum and even some titanium dinnerware sets, but the unique features justify the $28 list price. It can, however, be found for less online and at retailers.
Weight: 2.3 oz
Spatula [serrated & silicone edge]
High temp nylon w/ silicone overmold
Long tine fork
Deep basin spoon
Tongs [fork or spoon + spatula]
Serrated package opener