All right, I can hear what you’re thinking already: this guy is doing a review on bowls? Is he nuts? It’s a circular container that you eat food out of right? Not much more to be said. Well, in most cases you’d probably be right, but Guyot Designs has managed to pull off an interesting and practical twist to one of man's oldest vessels with their new line of Squishy Bowls. Let’s face it, unless you’re eating right from your mess kit (not necessarily a bad option) the bowl is probably the most practical thing you can bring to eat from when camping and backpacking. They’re generally pretty compact, light weight and they’re easy to eat out of when sitting on a log, the ground, or balanced on a rock. A plate often takes up more room and isn’t nearly as versatile. Ever try eating soup off of a plate? I thought not.
While the basic bowl hasn’t changed much over the years the materials have. While most sane folks aren’t going to take a glass or porcelain bowl out in the field you will see most any other material being used including wood, aluminum, stainless steel, plastic or Lexan, and even Titanium. While the weight of the bowl will vary with size and material, the one factor that pretty much remains the same is that it’s a rigid circular construction that still takes up space in your pack. Enter Guyot Designs.
Guyot Designs took a look at the age old rigid bowl and revolutionized it by making theirs out of a flexible food grade Silicone material. To quote their website you can “squish, squash and pack down into the tiniest spaces” and “they pop right back into shape”. Essentially, they made a flexible bowl. It sounds weird, but its pretty fun to mess with and actually works well too. Lets take a look.
Squishy Bowls come in a variety of sizes, but the ones I got came in a set containing a large 16oz. bowl and a smaller 6oz cup. Other sizes are a medium 10oz. bowl and a set of two 1.5oz. cups they call Travel Shots. I chose the bright Tahoe blue color as I felt they’d stand out well in the woods if I set them down. Plus I liked the blue. Other colors consist of Tomato, Lime, Slate (that’s Red, Green and Black to us common folks).
The Silicone material is soft and flexible and allows the bowls to be crushed, packed, and stuffed pretty much wherever, yet they still spring back into shape the moment you let go of them or pull them out of your pack. This also makes them pretty much indestructible. Guyot says that they’re temperature resistant up to 400 degrees so they’re good to go for hot foods and beverages. I contacted Guyot and they confirmed that they are even dishwasher and microwave safe if you're cleaning up after a trip or using them around the house. They recommend hand washing the bowls with soap and water on the packaging though and that's most likely what you'd be doing in the field anyway.
The Squishy bowls are both practical and fun. From a practicality standpoint, they pack small and will fit just about anywhere in your pack and you don’t have to worry about them breaking, or even digging into your back if you don’t pack them right. No worries about cranking that cinch strap on your pack down on top of them either since they just squash or move with it. From the fun aspect, well, brightly colored squishy bowls are just kind of entertaining. They draw lots of interest whether its in the lunch room at work or around the camp fire in the woods. The color draws your eye and the soft flexible texture under your fingertips makes you want to play with them. Kids seem to love them too for these very reasons. As a matter of fact, I've had trouble getting mine back off my kids lately!
So, they look cool, pack nicely and are fun to handle. But, do they actually work as bowls? Thankfully, the answer is yes. The flexible nature of them raised some eyebrows when I was testing mine at work before venturing out into the woods with them. I was curious if they’d actually hold up, as were the guys at work. I found out that they work great for stuff like oatmeal, noodles, and thicker dishes just fine. Naturally it’s just fine with dry foods like trail mix and snacks too. With actual liquids like soup you have to be careful not to squeeze the bowls much while your eating of you risk slopping hot soup out onto your lap. That’s true to a degree with the cup as well although its smaller size and opening seems to lend it a bit more rigidity. It's by no means an insurmountable issue though and they do just fine, you just can't get really crazy squeezing away at them while you're eating.
Another issue with hot foods is heat transfer. You do get some transfer of heat through the bowl to your hand so watch out with hot stuff. However, it’s nowhere near as bad as with Titanium bowls or even stainless steel. It’s probably a touch less than a basic Lexan or plastic bowl although this is a bit subjective. The flexibility of the bowl also makes them handy for pouring liquids when you actually want to. Just squeeze a bit and the opening narrows down and makes a pretty effective spout for transferring the contents of a bowl into a cup or other container. When it comes time for clean up the Squishy Bowls rock. They wipe out easily and you can flip the whole thing inside out to make sure you get everything out. That makes it easy to dry the inside out as well.
Overall, I have to say that I’m really digging the Guyot Squishy Bowls. They’re a fun and unique product that has a lot of practicality to it as well. They pack small, are practically indestructible, and are easy to clean in the field. Couple that with a very reasonable price tag of well under $20 for the cup, and bowl set like I have and you’ve got a real winner of a product that should serve well in the field or in the lunch box!
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