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GSI Outdoors Glacier Basecamper Review

A simple stainless steel base camp set that's best for groups up to four
GSI Outdoors Glacier Basecamper
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $80 List | $79.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 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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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 16
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 7
  • 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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Star Rating
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Pros Simple, good cooking performance, durable metal construction, nests well with other items, built-in strainerComprehensive, high end materialsSturdy 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 lid, great value for the set
Cons Flimsy components, hot spotsPot handle gets hot, heavyHeavy, 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 coating
Bottom Line A lightweight and simple base camp cook set built for car camping or backpackingAlmost no matter what your camping kitchen needs are, this set (and sometimes a subset of what it includes) will do what you needPrimus set up this basic pot set with some attributes and features that optimize efficiency without bogging you down with finicky performance or gimmicky additionsThe ceramic construction of these pots offer a healthy alternative to TeflonA wonderful option for the frugal car camper
Rating Categories Glacier Basecamper GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set Stanley Adventure Base Camp
Cooking Performance (25%)
7
9
9
8
9
Packability (20%)
6
5
6
7
4
Durability (15%)
7
8
6
6
10
Weight (15%)
6
5
8
8
4
Ease Of Use (15%)
7
8
9
9
6
Features (10%)
6
10
4
3
10
Specs Glacier Basecamper GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech... MSR Ceramic 2-Pot... Stanley Adventure...
Measured Weight 2.8 lbs 3.7 lbs 1.6 lbs 1 lbs 4.8 lbs
Material Stainless Steel Hard-anodized Aluminum w/Non-Stick Coating Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum Stainless Steel; pot and pan bottoms have additional layers
Components 3L pot, 2L pot, 2 strainer lids, 9 in. fry pan, stuff sack 2L pot, 8" frypan, strainer lid, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, handle 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
Avg Boil Time (mins) 3.5 3.78 3.12 3.58 4.12
3L Pot? (>2.4L) 1 0 0 0 1
2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L) 1 1 2 1 0
1L Pot? (.5-1.4L) 0 0 0 0 0
Frying Pan? 1 1 0 0 1
Frying Pan Lid? Yes Yes N/a N/a No
Packed Size 8.4 x 8.4 x 5.7 in 8.5 x 4.6 in 7.9 x 5.3 in 5.3 x 7.8 in 11 x 6 x 11 in
Weight of pot closest to 1.5L, with lid and handle 0.9 lbs 1.0 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.5 lbs 1.9 lbs
Cooking Surfaces Stainless steel Pot and frypan both have non-stick Teflon coating Non-stick Teflon like coating One (1.5L) non-stick pot, One (2.5L) uncoated pot Stainless Steel

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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

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

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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.
Photo: Amber King

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

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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.
Photo: Amber King

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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.
Photo: Amber King

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

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

A bacon test! We cooked up some bacon in this pot. After wiping it...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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.
Photo: Amber King

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...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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