GSI Outdoors Glacier Basecamper Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Simple, good cooking performance, durable metal construction, nests well with other items, built-in strainer
Cons: Flimsy components, hot spots
Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The GSI Glacier Base Camp Set's spartan design has everything you need. The stainless steel offers good cooking performance, but the thinner construction results in hot spots that need to be managed. While it's not the lightest option out there, it can easily cook for group sizes up for four people. Anything more than that, then you'll find yourself cooking in shifts, especially if making veggies or other delicious treats on the trail.
We cooked loads of food with this camp set while adventuring throughout the USA. On a climbing trip to Red Rocks, Nevada, it was a favorite. We made all sorts of meals ranging from quesadillas to bacon and eggs during our testing period. It comes with two pots and a saucepan that nest together easily. The stainless steel design offers good cooking performance, even after several uses. When making bacon and chicken for the first time in the saucepan, the meats didn't stick, even under high heat and with minimal oil. Our first egg test also showed a similar result. The eggs didn't stick, offering an easier clean-up over time.
This cook set offers decent heat distribution, but given its thinner construction, it does concentrate centrally on the pot. Hot spots are an issue and need to be monitored. In our initial tests, we were really impressed with its performance, after a few washes, the pots and pans became a little stickier.
While this didn't make cooking hard, by any means, it's an important note. Be ready to deal with a little less amazing performance after a few hard uses. However, even after all that, the stainless steel design is impressive, with the ability to help showcase your chef skills, even while camping.
In our water boiling tests, we saw bubbles forming in just over one minute in the 2L pot. It took about three minutes, 50 seconds for those bubbles to turn into a rolling boil. We tested this three times and averaged our results.
This is a larger set designed for one to four people. While the entire set is best used as a car camping set-up, it's easy to grab a single pot to boil water while backpacking. A stove and canister fit easily inside the smallest pot, with a little space to spare.
This optimal nesting makes it quite packable. Since it doesn't have a whole bunch of additional items or features, you can optimize your backpacking setup quite easily.
This set has an average level of durability when compared to other options. The stainless steel design is more durable than sets constructed from anodized Teflon but not as durable as ceramic options out there. If all the components for use were as durable as the metal itself, this set would earn a perfect score. However, it has some construction flaws.
The most obvious is the pot top handle that easily comes off; we had the pot lid drop several times while cooking as a result of its flimsy design. The pot handles need to be flipped up when cooking, or they can be scorched (and melted) very easily. Even when they were, they got so hot we had to use a cloth or our sleeves to prevent our hands from burning. Or we had to wait until they cooled; this was especially a problem when using a two-burner Coleman stove.
The metal itself is not a coating, but pure stainless steel. As a result, the metal will offer similar performance throughout its lifetime. We also appreciate that the pots don't bend or dent easily, and you can also use it with metal cooking tools. Overall, this set has some flaws, but the construction of the pots pretty bomber. If these components weren't as flimsy, it'd score much higher.
This set really is best for car camping and base camp set-ups. While it can be carried amongst a larger group for backpacking, there are lighter options out there. Of the base camp set-ups, though, it is one of the lightest. The entire set weighs about 2.8 pounds, which is almost a pound less than other base camp set-ups. It doesn't come with a huge amount of features, which helps with weight. It has one 3L pot, one 2L pot, and one fry pan with a stuff sack.
We appreciate the versatility of this set. If you want to take one pot on a trip, you're looking at only 0.9 pounds for the 2L pot option. This one can easily fit a stove and canister with other smaller provisions you'll need on the trail.
This is the lightest of all the base camp set-ups with the least amount of the "things"; it has everything you need. You can also eliminate weight if you don't take all your components. Just a single pot could suffice for a backpacking trip while the entire set is great for feeding two to four people.
Ease of Use
This set is pretty easy to use with some basic caveats. We tested it on both a single and double burner camping stove.
On a single burner, it's relatively stable when using the handles to keep it in place. On a double burner, it was super stable, needing only one hand to hold it while pushing food around. While cooking, you need to flip up the handles to avoid melting them off the pot.
It also has two heat-resistant pads on the lid. With both the pot handles and pads in line, you can take the pot off the stove and drain water right through the lid. Our biggest caveat is the handles do get hot and you need to be careful not to burn yourself. The saucepan didn't have this issue.
The stainless steel design is surprisingly easy to clean! Even burnt on bacon, eggs, and other food (that we didn't use oil with) came off with just a minimal amount of scrubbing. This proves to be much easier to clean than other those constructed of non-stick Teflon coating and the like.
This set is pretty bare-bones but has everything you need. We used it to cook for two people during a climbing trip, and it was perfect. The pot capacity can certainly cook for more; it comes only with two pots (2L, 3L) and a saucepan. You can supplement it with your own utensils and bowls or plates to really optimize for weight. While the lids on all the pots fit quite well, they are not sealed. You'll want to make sure you use the provided carry case to keep everything together.
Of the base camp sets out there, this one is lighter, but has less when it comes to features. Those that will find the best value in it are those seeking out a set that'll perform well for everything from a car camping trip to backpacking adventures. Parse out the weight on a backpacking trip or simply just use one of the pots. The stainless steel design is fairly durable, but given the thinner metal, hot spots are an issue. We'd say that this set is of value if you appreciate the performance of stainless steel on a camping trip.
The GSI Glacier Base Camp Set is a wonderful option for car campers and backpackers alike. The stainless steel design offers good cooking performance with a fairly easy to use system. Unfortunately, hot spots are an issue, and some of its components are a little flimsy. Aside from that, though, it is a high-value option that is quite versatile for any type of meal you want to cook while exploring the great outdoors.
— Amber King