It is not every day that new gear catches me by surprise for its usefulness and simplicity, but that is exactly what happened when I started using the X-Bowl, manufactured by Sea to Summit.

The X-Bowl, and its companions — the X-Plate and X-Cup — are collapsible food-grade bowls and plates made out of a hard, cut-resistant nylon base and a flexible silicon wall. This innovative design allows the X-Bowl to collapse from about 2″ to about a ½” thick.

I have been using the X-Bowl for about four weeks now, and I have to admit that I like it so much that its found its way into my backpack (and briefcase) along side my spork.

Here’s what I like about the X-Bowl. When extended, the sides of the X-Bowl are high enough to create a very functional bowl. When collapsed, the X-Bowl is super easy to pack. You can use a sharp knife against the bottom without causing damage, which make it easy to cut up your meal including meat, fruits, and veggies. The sides can handle hot food (up to 300 degrees according to the manufacturer), and you can compress the walls to make it easy to pour liquids. This makes it perfect for pasta, soup or cereal. You can toss it into the microwave to heat up leftovers and its easy to clean by hand or in a dishwasher. There are easy-to-read measurements on the inside walls so you can use the X-Bowl to mix freeze-dried food. The nylon base and silicon walls are BPA-free. In other words, it does it ALL!

I like gear that is simple and useful and there’s nothing worse than trying to eat cereal or soup out of a cup or pot. For backpacking, I’ve always wanted a “real” bowl that didn’t take up a lot of space. The X-Bowl and X-Plate are no-brainers. They’re easy to pack, lightweight and functional. I have to hand it to Sea and Summit. I think their “X” products are real winners. I’ll be getting the X-Plate and X-Cup.

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