Our Best Buy award for those that want to assemble their own kitchen kit goes to the G4Free Outdoor Camping Set for its high scores in weight, ease of use and packability. This set is our reviewers go-to budget cookware for backpacking specific applications because it can easily fit an entire cooking system within it, and the cylindrical shape helps eliminate dead spots which typically surround a cooking system. It is also very inexpensive. Our reviewers also love the lids that can double as bowls for backpacking meals and felt they were more useful than lids that double as shallower plates, such as in the Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact Cookset. However, while cooking on larger burners that are typically used around trailheads, the green silicone on the handles can melt easily. As well, this set does not conduct heat evenly, and it is difficult to prepare meals that involve more than just simply boiling water.
G4Free 4 Piece Cooking Set Review
Cons: Silicone on handle melts easily, conducts heat unevenly, tall profile is unstable on stove
Our Analysis and Test Results
The G4Free Outdoor Camping Set is a four piece set cast of aluminum and weighs in at only 1.2 pounds, or about 19 ounces. It comes with two pots and two bowls that double as lids that are ideal for the backpacking scene. It has folding handles that wrap around the cookware instead of flipping over the system, and compacts to a packed size of 5.5 inches in diameter by 6.6 inches tall that all fit neatly into a mesh carrying bag. Each of the four pieces can be pared down to the smaller pot with a lid or the more significant pot with lid, and the set can comfortably fit an entire cooking system within it.
With all the different materials used for cookware, we created a few tests to see how each of the cookware sets perform during use. We timed each set to see how quickly they would boil two cups of water, also taking into consideration the shape, including height and diameter, of each pot.
This cookware is smaller in diameter but taller than the other pots we tested, which is great for packing into a backpack; however, it took four minutes to boil water in a home kitchen, which is almost double the time it took the Optimus Terra HE Cookset. Only the Top Pick MSR Trail Mini Duo and Snow Peak Titanium Multi-Compact Cookset took longer to boil the two cups of water. There is a clear correlation between pot diameter and cook time; narrower pots take longer to cook.
Lastly, we scrambled eggs in all of the cookware to check for evenness while cooking, as well as a way to see how much food stuck to the materials to test difficulty of cleanup. This set is ideal for meals focused on boiling water - during our scrambled egg test, this set proved to cook slightly unevenly, and our egg stuck pretty badly. Getting the remaining egg off this bowl wasn't all that difficult though. We recommend avoiding a scrambled egg breakfast in the backcountry; however, cooking anything with a higher fat content, like bacon (because everything is better with bacon!), which coats the pot during cooking, is easy to clean up.
The G4Free equipment is a little more versatile when it comes to cooking performance than the Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact or the MSR Trail MIni Duo. The material is similar to the that of the MalloMe 10 Piece Set and the other Best Buy Winterial 11-Piece Set. These other kits, though, have broad and shallow pans that are more serviceable as frying pans. None of them work as well for sautéing as a broad, Teflon coated pan like that of the Editors' Choice GSI Pinnacle Camper.
Packability is the scoring metric in which this cookware system shines. The oblong shape makes it easy to pack in with the contents of a backpack, and you can utilize the space inside to pack an entire cooking system: small fuel canister, a backpacking stove such as the MSR MicroRocket, lighter, sporks plus a little coffee or tea.
The system can be split up to divide the weight between two backpackers, or scaled down to a single pot and lid for the solo hiker.
The overall size is similar to that of the Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact, but the G4Free product is heavier. The other small kit we tested is the reasonably comprehensive MalloMe Kit. MalloMe has broader pot and pan, and therefore presents a boxier package.
We did experience a durability issue with this set while testing. The handles are coated with bright green silicone to guard your hands against an overheated handle and to make the cooking experience a little more comfortable. However, the silicone near the base melted on stoves with larger burners, such as our two-burner propane stove. We did not experience this issue with a smaller burner system such as any backpacking stove, like the MSR PocketRocket.
No other set we tested had durability issues like the G4Free. We know that with even further extended use, the non-stick coatings of something like the Editors' Choice Primus PrimeTech 2.3 or the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker will break down, while anodized aluminum of the G4Free lasts longer. The uncoated steel and titanium, respectively, of the MSR Alpine 2 and Snow Peak Titanium are the most durable in the whole review. Overall, the G4Free should fall between the major types, provided you avoid melting the handles on a wide-burner stove.
Although this set is not as light as the 12 ounce Snow Peak Titanium set, it still received a high score for weight. A solo backpacker can even divide and conquer with this set and only pack the large or small pots with their corresponding bowl lids. The small pot and lid weigh 8.5 ounces, making it even lighter than the Snow Peak cookware combo, and it provides you with more useful pieces.
While backpacking with two, you can separate this cookware, and each carries pretty close to half a pound worth of cookware, with enough room to effectively utilize the empty space inside.
Ease of Use
Our reviewers were similarly divided on the ease of use of this set. A vocal minority liked the narrow profile and swing out handles. This same crowd digs the deep bowl-like lids on the pots. Both pots are easy to boil water in for ramen or mac and cheese meals on the go, and the two bowls are of a reasonable size so that you don't feel like you're using a child's tea set. Also, the handles wrap around the cookware for easy packing but are secure, stable and comfortable to use while around the campsite. On the other hand, an authoritative part of the test team found the tall profile to be unstable and found the deep lids to be wasteful of precious pack volume. In the end, the usability scores ended up below average, given a pretty clear majority of votes in that direction.
Small cookware is challenging to cook in. Narrow cookware is less stable on a stove. In general, despite the vocal proponents of this cookware form, you will do better, regarding ease of use, with more traditionally shaped pots. The broad pots and pans of sets like the MSR Quick 2 System and the GSI Pinnacle Camper much more closely approximate your home cooking experience than the narrow G4Free stuff.
There are very few extra features to speak of with the G4Free gear. We reviewed cook sets in two main categories. There are the kits that include accessories, and those that leave that to you. Some prefer one style, while others prefer another. For this reason, we chose a Best Buy and Editors' Choice winner on either side of this preference gap.
For those that need no to minimal accessories, or want to select their own, the G4Free is our Best Buy winner. For high-end function, at a higher price, the Editors' Choice is the Primus PrimeTech 2.3. If you want some or all of your accessories included with your cookset, check out the Winterial 11 Piece Set as a Best Buy, and the GSI Pinnacle Camper as the Editors' Choice.
The G4Free Outdoor Camping Set is a great option to consider for budget backpacking specific trips, due to its size and weight, while providing versatile and useful pieces. It can still be used for car camping, but it is pretty small and does not come outfitted with a skillet, which is a nice addition to a camp kitchen. If you're looking for a system that can cook for a group of people, check out the GSI Bugaboo Camper Cookset, in which you can easily prepare meals for groups of four. If you're looking for inexpensive cookware to accompany you on the John Muir trail, then this is the set for you.
This set ranks high in value when comparing overall performance with price. As the foundation of a simple, lightweight camp kitchen, the G4Free 4 Piece Set is a great start. You can collect the accessories as you go along, even borrowing them from your home kitchen as you acquire camping specific equipment.
G4Free brings you excellent budget cookware with their Outdoor Camping Set, which earns our Best Buy Award. It is lightweight, versatile, and provides you with useful pieces for the backcountry. It is a little small to use regularly during car camping, and you would melt the silicone from the handles if you did use it consistently with a two burner propane stove.
If you're looking for a set with a few more amenities, and aren't overly concerned with weight, that can easily take you from car camping to backpacking, consider the MSR Quick 2 System. Or if your budget is a little tight and you want all the bells and whistles included, consider our Best Buy Award winner, the Winterial cookware, which is a great set to get you started.
— Jediah Porter