Collapsible Silicone Gear

Collapsible silicone gear just seems perfect for a galley and over the past six months, I’ve had several questions via e-mail and also on Facebook about how well it works in real life.

I don’t have any of the collapsible silicone myself (it wasn’t available when I was outfitting Que Tal) but I have used several items on friends’ boats — most notably during a week-long visit to Jan, my cookbook co-author. I’m planning to buy some for our new boat, Barefoot Gal, as catamarans are very weight-sensitive.

Several TBG readers have left replies on Facebook about it.  By and large, everyone raves about it.  So here goes:

In general, the silicone gear works really well.  The main advantages include:

  • Space-saving — but several people noted that some items didn’t save as much space as they had expected to over nesting items, since once collapsed, items just get stacked.  Measuring cups definitely fell in this category — if you only had one, yes it saved space.  But the total space taken by a set of collapsible silicone ones versus a traditional nesting set was about the same.
  • No noise — silicone doesn’t clank like metal bowls can.  In fact, you can stash the silicone items around pans to keep them from clanking.  But if you get items with stainless or plastic handles (see more on this below), there can still be some noise.
  • Colors — you can color coordinate your items, but two readers advocated using as many different colors as possible so that it was easy to quickly grab what you want!
  • Easy to hand wash — doesn’t take a lot of water and easily cleans up.
  • Silicone is very heat resistant, so items can be used with boiling water or in the oven if needed.  Handles (if covered in silicone) stay cool.

Items just keep changing, but several things to watch for when you’re deciding what particular item(s) you want.  Many are trade-offs and everyone has different priorities:

  • There's lots of collapsible silicone kitchen gear available. It's a great choice for the galley, taking up less space and not rattling!Handles — watch out how much they add to size.  Small handles, on the other hand, can be a pain to use.
  • Handle material — in general, people prefer plastic or stainless handles, rims around the top and so on as making the item far less prone to collapse.  But read reviews carefully — in some models, where the silicone and other material join can be very prone to failures; in other models, it’s not a problem at all.
  • Silicone “weight” — in general, thinner silicone will collapse smaller, but is also more prone to collapsing in use.  Thinner can also have more problems with tearing along the “fold lines.”  (All things are trade-offs!)
  • Feet and legs — can make various items easier to use, but take up storage space.  Another trade-off!
  • Hole size — on things like colanders and drip coffee cones, pay attention in the reviews to comments about the hole size.  Some items are made with small holes that can lengthen drain times; others have such large holes that things like angel hair pasta slide through.
  • Lid fit — there are some collapsible storage containers.  If you are contemplating these for leftovers, marinating and so on, carefully read reviews for how well the lids stay on.  This is always a problem on boats and some designs simply work better than others.

Three different people have mentioned the Progressive International brand as being very good, and the OXO Good Grips items also get good reviews.  That doesn’t mean other brands are bad, just that you should read reviews closely and see if criticisms are items you care about.

Many items are available in collapsible models.  You can check out the “complete assortment” on Amazon (I find very few items in the small town where I live), but I’ve seen all of the following:

Overall, the collapsible silicone items are a good choice, both for storage and for noise reduction.  Basically, it comes down to personal choice, not that one option is significantly better or worse than another — for example, I use a salad spinner as a bowl and colander in adding to draining and drying all my veggies, so I’m not likely to also buy a collapsible colander.  But you may prefer the colander for your style of cooking.  If you choose the silicone, I think you’ll be happy — I haven’t yet heard from anyone who isn’t!

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23 Comments
  • margot partridge
    Posted at 30 May 2012 Reply

    I have been experimenting with a progressive salad spinner – I love it but I have dark spots forming on the silicone – I wondering if any of your followers have had this problem and more importanting how did they get rid of it

  • Charlotte
    Posted at 19 October 2012 Reply

    I found a progressive collapsible salad spinner, cup and spoon measures, and a colander at Marshalls. I immediately donated all my previous items and have saved so much space. Then a friend gave me a supply of round collapsible bowls. They are not as secure as the locked boxes that Carolyn recommends, and which I love, especially the egg one, but they take up so little room, i have kept them anyway. I wonder how long the collapsibles will retain their flexibility, will just have to wait and see, but for now I am hooked!

  • Allan Cobb on Facebook
    Posted at 14 January 2013 Reply

    I love my silicone gear. It is really nice to be able to have a full size colander. I also have 5 and 7 quart collapsible mixing bowls! There is no other way I could store these in my galley!

  • Erin Jackson on Facebook
    Posted at 14 January 2013 Reply

    I just found 2 qt bowls on clearance at West Marine for about $9 each! I was so stoked since they were originally $24.99.

  • Blue Water Dreaming on Facebook
    Posted at 15 January 2013 Reply

    We have only recently bought a collapsible colander and love it, although we have found it’s not that great for rice, but for pasta and potatoes it’s a dream. I would get more collapsible gear for the galley if I knew where to find it, I stumbled onto our colander at Target for $10.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 16 January 2013 Reply

      Amazon has absolutely tons of different pieces, and the prices are pretty good, too.

  • S/V Dos Libras
    Posted at 03 September 2013 Reply

    I LOVE the collapsible pieces I have and wish I could boot others to replace with collapsible. Maybe they´ll accidentally get left too close to the burner…

  • S/V Dos Libras
    Posted at 03 September 2013 Reply

    I LOVE the collapsible pieces I have and wish I could boot others to replace with collapsible. Maybe they’ll accidentally get left too close to the burner…

  • Patti Gay Hartzell
    Posted at 03 September 2013 Reply

    I have been looking all over for these for the Casa Mare´. I never thought of Amazon. If it collapses, I must have it. Some of us don´t have the luxury of stowing full sized items in the galley. I can already see I will have more room for things after I replace the molded ones I have. I saw that Bed Bath and Beyond has the measuring cups and spoons but have yet to find collapsible bowls there, at at our store anyway. Now…for a collapsible bucket or three and heatproof (just kidding) collapsible pans. Thanks for the post!

  • Patti Gay Hartzell
    Posted at 03 September 2013 Reply

    I have been looking all over for these for the Casa Mare’. I never thought of Amazon. If it collapses, I must have it. Some of us don’t have the luxury of stowing full sized items in the galley. I can already see I will have more room for things after I replace the molded ones I have. I saw that Bed Bath and Beyond has the measuring cups and spoons but have yet to find collapsible bowls there, at at our store anyway. Now…for a collapsible bucket or three and heatproof (just kidding) collapsible pans. Thanks for the post!

  • Diane Dashevsky
    Posted at 04 September 2013 Reply

    Love my collapsibles!!

  • Dan N Jaye
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    Oh, yes, collapsible silicone is PERFECT for boats!

  • Cari Gunsaulus
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    I love mine.

  • Linda Pedersen
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    I have some of these pieces – love them!

  • Lahowind
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    I tried and tried and tried to find the tea kettle before we left and I guess they don’t make it anymore. Such a bummer. Love the collapsible gear!

  • Laura Adams
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    Love all my collapsible kitchen ware! Target has a lot

  • Kenneth Moody
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    Love our collapsible gear on Moody Gras!

  • Bill Tanner
    Posted at 28 July 2014 Reply

    Very cool

  • Lysa Evans
    Posted at 29 July 2014 Reply

    I love this stuff!

  • Ellen Farris
    Posted at 29 July 2014 Reply

    I have the bowls on board. Love ’em!

  • Kellie Lieshout
    Posted at 29 July 2014 Reply

    I didn’t know a collapsible kettle existed. Unfortunately we just bought a stainless steel one.
    (Using a kettle for boiling, instead of a pot, is a tip I picked up here.)

  • Barbara
    Posted at 12 November 2015 Reply

    I have a collapsible salad spinner which I absolutely love! I have bowls, colander, strainer, funnel and a dishpan as well. Didn’t know about the teakettle – too bad it’s out of stock.

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