Three Points of the Compass takes a glance inside the gear locker at some items of kit that don’t see much use today, if at all. Orikaso was a range of fold flat tableware from a company that had vision but ultimately failed.
Orikaso Fold Flat Tableware:
“SuperLight, UltraCompact, EasyClean, Unbreakable”Orikaso
Orikaso was a range of polypropylene, fold-flat tableware designed by Jay Cousins and made in England. The brand name Orikaso came from two words- ori (to fold/folding) and kaso (plastic), as in origami- folding/paper. Orikaso and flatworld were registered trademarks of Flatworld (UK) Ltd and despite Japanese origins for their name, products were made in China. The folding table ware gained a bit of notoriety after an appearance on Dragons Den where potential investment was turned down due to the unreasonable demands made by two of the potential investors. Orikaso tableware became all the rage for a while and enjoyed reasonable sales, particularly in the US where it was stocked by REI. But despite product refinement, after around seven years, like their product, the company folded.
As soon as I saw this flat folding tableware I knew I had to have some. The concept made sense to me- something to put food in and eat out, lightweight, easy to clean, takes up barely any space in the pack, cheap. I knew there might be some downsides, but I had to try it out. And force it on my family too…
While the big media unveiling was at the 2004 OutDoor Friedrichshafen trade show in Germany, it was 2006/7/8 when I purchased a few pieces of Orikaso tableware for family camping trips. These were mostly to the English Lake District and Peak District, Scotland and Wales and were usually car camping excursions where more gear was taken.
The first generation of Orikaso tableware had snap closures on the plate and mug while the bowl just folded. A second generation did away with the snap poppers and all pieces simply folded. I preferred the snap closure versions of plate and mug even if food did occasionally get caught up inside the poppers, occasionally making them difficult to snap closed. It was never that big an issue though. The folding bowls however, were simple to fold and use and the best of all the products.
Conforming with gender stereotypes, a young Miss Three Points of the Compass loved her pink folding Orikaso mug and bowl and pink Spork. Some users complained about how difficult the mugs were to assemble but this ten year old managed just fine.
Available in black, red, green, blue, orange and pink, and possibly other colours, the Orikaso range comprised:
- First generation
- 44g 590ml snap closure plate, with different possible configurations
- 33g 650ml folding bowl (no snaps)
- 39g 400ml snap closure mug, without measuring graduations
- Second generation
- 46g 1300ml folding plate
- 40g 850ml folding bowl, (advertised as 700ml)
- 51g 450ml folding mug, with metric and imperial measuring graduations (advertised as 400ml)
- 10g 30ml folding expresso cup
It was mostly car camping trips back then and I did ‘proper’ camp cooking. An open bowl or plate worked great as a chopping board and sliced and chopped chicken and vegetables were placed in assembled Orikaso plates and bowls ready for adding to one of the large pans on my gas or multi-fuel stoves and we all also ate out of Orikaso tableware. Cleaning up was easy- lick it clean, pop it open and rinse off, a bit of a wipe with a cloth, done. Some items saw hundreds of uses and I never had a single failure along a folding hinge.
This Orikaso flatware handled sub zero temperatures and could also cope with boiling water just fine, though the material did get a little softer with hot liquids. I grew less keen with using the mugs with boiling water. We never had an accident but they were never the most stable of mugs and flexed a little when picking up, with a risk of liquid spilling over the top. The products were first offered with a lifetime guarantee, this changed with the second generation to a 10 year guarantee.
A meths Trangia Stormcooker was sometimes used instead of gas or Coleman fuel stoves on these camping holidays and that added further nesting pans to the camp kitchen and a great deal more bulk. There was frequently a lot of washing up afterward and a folding Ortlieb bowl was also an essential element of gear for a while. Once this little lot was accumulated this was most definitely not a lightweight set up, however it was reasonably compact, in part due to the low volume that the flat Orikaso products took up.
All of the products and packaging were recyclable and well-priced at the time. As my daughter grew older, family camping trips eventually ended and I went back to solo backpacking. I moved toward a lighter set up and many extra pieces of kit were cut from my gear lists. I persisted with including a single Orikaso bowl and it was certainly used. It took up almost no room when slipped down the inside of the backpack as these bowls are less than a millimetre thick. But, eventually, that too was excluded and I haven’t looked at my Orikaso tableware much since.
It is still easy to find new old stock, or second hand Orikaso online, especially via eBay. However a clone entered the market and Fozzils folding ‘snapfold’ tableware and dog bowls gained a new tranche of fans that still value the unique qualities this type of product offers. For a while, Orikaso was advertised as ‘The Original Fold Flat Tableware‘. Having left Orikaso behind, I have never felt the need to purchase Fozzils.
Orikaso wasn’t my last foray into fold flat tableware.
Sea to Summit X-series
I think it was around 2007 that Sea to Summit introduced their X-plate, X-bowl and X-mug. The range has since been extended and I see other suppliers, such as UCO and Life Venture, have also now branched into this collapsible tableware field. The X-series has BPA free, flexible food grade silicone uppers, bonded to a rigid, cut-resistant base made of high temperature, food grade nylon. They collapse to form 15mm deep discs for easier storage and carrying. While not the lightest of products they have a lot of fans, amongst lightweight campers looking to also reduce bulk in their set-up. I tried the 67g 480ml capacity mug for a couple of seasons but was never a fan of the top heavy, easily toppled design. The 61g 350ml capacity X-tumbler, introduced later, has a slightly wider base but was again too small a capacity for me.
I also found the mug a little too hot to comfortably hold, other than by the hard rim. I see that Sea to Summit have now addressed this common complaint and produced a ridged ‘cool-grip’ version.
Camping is rarely on the smoothest of surfaces and having to find somewhere flat on which to confidently place a mug is frequently a challenge. I got a bit fed up with having to put the X-mug inside one of my trail shoes to ensure it didn’t topple. This is one of the main reasons why I use a 67g wide base 590ml capacity sipper mug from GSI with lid and insulating sleeve on just about all of my trips. The wider 80g X-bowl and 174g X-plate from Sea to Summit are obviously more stable than the X-mug and 61g X-tumbler but I cannot justify their weights in my gear lists. I mentioned earlier that the Orikaso plates can be used as cutting boards, the lid of my GSI mug can also be used for that, though it does get a bit scored as a result.
Fold flat tableware will always have its fans. While it can be a little fussy to expand and collapse, and also a bit floppy in use, that is the compromise against light(ish) weight and the greatly reduced bulk when being carried inside a pack. It is simply that I have settled on a simple system that incorporates a good sized stable mug with lid that nests inside my preferred size and type of titanium pan. I now have no need for fold flat tableware on trail. This is my preference, it may not be yours.