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GSI Outdoors Glacier Basecamper Review

A simple stainless steel base camp set that's best for groups up to four.
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Price:  $80 List | $79.95 at REI
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
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 27, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 8
  • Packability - 20% 6
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Features - 10% 6

Our Verdict

As one of the lightest base camp sets tested, the GSI Glacier offers durable performance on any type of adventure. We tested it while cooking meals in the mountains and the deserts. This set is barebones and comes with two pots (2L, 3L) and a saucepan, allowing you to optimize for weight however you'd like. While the stainless steel is quite resilient and relatively easy to clean, thinner construction doesn't distribute heat in the most efficient way, causing us to manage hot spots. We do appreciate its built-in strainer, but we found ourselves being careful with the handles, as they can heat up quickly. Overall, this is an excellent set if you're seeking something to use for both backpacking and car camping, but it's far from perfect.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Simple, good cooking performance, durable metal construction, nests well with other items, built-in strainerSturdy construction and efficiency-oriented heat exchanger ring, locking universal pot gripperEnvironmental and health-friendly ceramic construction, lightweight and versatile overall constructionDurable, excellent frying pan for discerning cooks, great lidGreat starter set, stable handles, some versatile pieces
Cons Flimsy components, hot spotsHeavy, especially for a kit that requires addition of other features, heat exchanger ring is a little messyFragile coating and pots dent easily, no features beyond two basic potsHeavy, no non-stick coatingSmall bowls, unnecessary accessories
Bottom Line A simple stainless steel base camp set that's best for groups up to four.A few attributes make this efficiency-oriented cook set an excellent foundation for the practical, hearty-cooking, enthusiastic user.For gourmet and health-conscious campers, this set will form the foundation of a kit that will prepare the best meals possible outside for 3-4 people.A car camping cook set, optimized for performance and compact carry, at a high weight.A budget, one stop shop for basic camping menus.
Rating Categories Glacier Basecamper Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set Stanley Adventure Base Camp 11 Piece Camping Set
Cooking Performance (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Packability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
7
Durability (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
6
Weight (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
5
Features (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
3
10
0
10
10
0
7
Specs Glacier Basecamper Primus PrimeTech... MSR Ceramic 2-Pot... Stanley Adventure... 11 Piece Camping Set
Measured Weight 2.8 lbs 1.6 lbs 1 lbs 4.8 lbs 1.8 lbs
Material Stainless Steel Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum Stainless Steel. Pot and pan bottoms have additional layers. Hard-anodized Aluminum
Components 3L pot, 2L pot, 2 strainer lids, 9 in. fry pan, stuff sack 2 2.3L pots, 1 lid, pot tongs, padded/insulated storage bag 2L pot, 1.5L pot, strainer lid, 2 plates, 2 mugs, handle 3.5L pot, vented lid, 7" 3ply frying pan, cutting board, spatula with extending handle, serving spoon with extending handle, [4] 6in plates, [4] 22oz bowls, [4] sporks, dish drying rack, heat resistant trivet, locking bungee 1.9L pot, 6.5" frypan, lid, kettle, ladle, 2 bowls, spatula, scrubbing pad, hot pad
Avg Boil Time (mins) 3.5 3.12 3.58 4.12 3.5
3L Pot? (>2.4L) 1 0 0 1 0
2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L) 1 2 1 0 1
1L Pot? (.5-1.4L) 0 0 0 0 0
Frying Pan? 1 0 0 1 1
Frying Pan Lid? Yes N/a N/a No No
Packed Size (inches) 8.4 x 8.4 x 5.7 in 7.9 x 5.3 in 5.3 x 7.8 in 11 x 6 x 11 in 6.75 x 3.5 in
Weight of pot closest to 1.5L, with lid and handle 0.9 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.5 lbs 1.9 lbs 0.6 lbs
Cooking Surfaces Uncoated Non-stick Teflon like coating One (1.5L) non-stick pot, One (2.5L) uncoated pot Stainless-steel Non-stick Teflon coating on each piece

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.

Performance Comparison


A simple base camp cooking kit perfect for 2-4 people. Use the whole set on a car camping trip  or parse it out to function as apart of your backcountry cooking kit.
A simple base camp cooking kit perfect for 2-4 people. Use the whole set on a car camping trip, or parse it out to function as apart of your backcountry cooking kit.

Cooking Performance


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.

While this set offers good cooking performance overall  we have to manage the heat and move the pot around as it doesn't distribute heat perfectly.
While this set offers good cooking performance overall, we have to manage the heat and move the pot around as it doesn't distribute heat perfectly.

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.

Here we start our egg cooking tests. Mmmmm...mushrooms  sausage  and scrambled eggs on this rest day in Red Rocks.
Here we start our egg cooking tests. Mmmmm...mushrooms, sausage, and scrambled eggs on this rest day in Red Rocks.

And....the result. This is without the use of oil  which is kind of impressive  but far from perfect.
And....the result. This is without the use of oil, which is kind of impressive, but far from perfect.

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.

Here we cook up some marinated meats. The stainless steel (at the right temperature) doesn't stick  but we have to keep pushing around the meat as heat is concentrated over the burner.
Here we cook up some marinated meats. The stainless steel (at the right temperature) doesn't stick, but we have to keep pushing around the meat as heat is concentrated over the burner.

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.

We started seeing some bubbles around one minute.
We started seeing some bubbles around one minute.

A rolling boil begins! This is test #1. We averaged the results of three independent tests with the 2L pot.
A rolling boil begins! This is test #1. We averaged the results of three independent tests with the 2L pot.

Packability


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.

Everything nests nicely inside! There's even room to add a cleaning cloth and some utensils. This packability makes it easy to use just one pot as your backcountry kit  or the entire set on a car camping mission.
Everything nests nicely inside! There's even room to add a cleaning cloth and some utensils. This packability makes it easy to use just one pot as your backcountry kit, or the entire set on a car camping mission.

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.

A look at the relative size in comparison to a standard pencil.
A look at the relative size in comparison to a standard pencil.

Durability


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.

A look at a clean pot after three months of rigorous use. The Outdoor Glacier still looks pretty good! Use metal utensils  and beat the crud out of it. The stainless steel construction is quite bomber.
A look at a clean pot after three months of rigorous use. The Outdoor Glacier still looks pretty good! Use metal utensils, and beat the crud out of it. The stainless steel construction is quite bomber.

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.

Except...this lid holder is not what we'd hoped for  and is our biggest caveat in terms of durability.
Except...this lid holder is not what we'd hoped for, and is our biggest caveat in terms of durability.

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.

The hot pads come off as well. This isn't a caveat  but the components of this otherwise durable camp set are quite flimsy and cheap.
The hot pads come off as well. This isn't a caveat, but the components of this otherwise durable camp set are quite flimsy and cheap.

Weight


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.

A look at the weight of all components. Use them all or parse them out when you want to go a little lighter.
A look at the weight of all components. Use them all or parse them out when you want to go a little lighter.

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.

The overall weight of the Glacier is about a pound less than other base camp options. That said  this does not come with any utensils  plates  or other pieces. It's basic and simple.
The overall weight of the Glacier is about a pound less than other base camp options. That said, this does not come with any utensils, plates, or other pieces. It's basic and simple.

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.

The built-in strainer comes in handy! If only the pot handles didn't get so warm after being on the stove...pictured here is some pasta making after a day of climbing. We had to wait for the handles to cool down before straining.
The built-in strainer comes in handy! If only the pot handles didn't get so warm after being on the stove...pictured here is some pasta making after a day of climbing. We had to wait for the handles to cool down before straining.

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.

Use the handle and the pad together to carry the pot around.
Use the handle and the pad together to carry the pot around.

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.

Here we test the heat of the handles before pouring some water into our coffee press early in the morning.
Here we test the heat of the handles before pouring some water into our coffee press early in the morning.

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.

The saucepan cleans up nicely after cooking marinated meats  without any additional oil or butter. The stainless steel is super nice for this!
The saucepan cleans up nicely after cooking marinated meats, without any additional oil or butter. The stainless steel is super nice for this!

A bacon test! We cooked up some bacon in this pot. After wiping it out with a paper towel and scrubbing it with an abrasive pad for about two minutes  it cleans right up.
A bacon test! We cooked up some bacon in this pot. After wiping it out with a paper towel and scrubbing it with an abrasive pad for about two minutes, it cleans right up.

Features


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.

This set is pretty simple. No bells or whistles to speak of.
This set is pretty simple. No bells or whistles to speak of.

Value


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.

Go gourmet on your next camping trip! Use the whole set to cook a gourmet meal  or just take one pot on a trip to boil water. The hard stainless steel is resilient and strong. Just make sure you manage hot spots. It's best for two-four people but can make enough (less bulky) food for up to six.
Go gourmet on your next camping trip! Use the whole set to cook a gourmet meal, or just take one pot on a trip to boil water. The hard stainless steel is resilient and strong. Just make sure you manage hot spots. It's best for two-four people but can make enough (less bulky) food for up to six.

Conclusion


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