GSI Pinnacle Camper Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comprehensive, high end materials
Cons: Pot handle gets hot, heavy
Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pinnacle Camper is GSI's top-of-the-line product. It uses a higher-end version of Teflon making its cooking performance superior to other Teflon-based sets. For car camping or backpacking (while making relatively involved, gourmet meals), this Editors' Choice winner is the best-integrated set we have used. It has what you need, with only well thought out extras. As with any extra components of a set like this, when space and weight matter more you can leave things at home.
A cook set is for cooking. But how will you cook? Are you preparing simple, "just-add-water" meals? In that case, it is likely overkill. However, if you aim to prepare food in the backcountry that approximates that which you can make at home, you have to be very discerning in your selection of cookware. For these more involved "glamping" meals, it has all that you need, and each piece is well made and optimized for cooking performance. The aluminum construction, with pot and pan walls thicker than average, distributes heat effectively and evenly. The top-of-the-line Teflon Radiance coating on both pots and the frying pan sheds all but the stickiest of foods. The lids fit tightly, hold their shape, lift easily, and have strainer holes for draining pasta and steamed vegetables.
What we do know, now, is that the Pinnacle Camper set is made with an excellent non-stick coating, that offers great performance while cooking up scrambled eggs or making some the stickiest meals out there.
For boiling water in the wild, the GSI Pinnacle pots do okay. It offers about an average boiling time at 3:47. While this isn't as fast as those with heat exchangers, it's a good enough time to keep you happy and healthy in all sorts of backcountry environments.
Straight "out of the box", this is among the bulkier sets in our review. It takes up as much space in your backpack as a compressed winter down sleeping bag, for instance.
There are a few ways, though, to look at this. First, most will choose this sort of set for gourmet "glamping". In that context, bulk and weight are secondary to convenience and cooking performance. Next, this is a set of cookware for a group of four. In that group, all the shared equipment can be divided for packing. Additionally, many will never even carry this cook set on their backs. It is well suited to car camping and boat-supported trips. Finally, for the more weight-conscious trips you may take, or for a smaller subset of your group, you can strip down to fewer parts.
The positive, flip side of the packability equation with this cook set is that it is quiet and fully self-contained. The components all nest together such that "metal-on-metal" contact is virtually eliminated, and then it is all held snugly together by the included storage bag/water reservoir/dish basin. GSI products are cleverly packable.
The durability of a cook set is a function of its main material, and of its non-stick coating if any. The aluminum structure is, thankfully, quite thick.
This makes it heavier than a thinner construct would, but it makes it both cook better and be more resistant to denting and bending. The Teflon non-stick coating requires careful treatment to remain intact. You must use only plastic or wooden utensils and cleaning materials on the pots and pan. Anything metal (or, for cleaning, sand, and gravel) will scratch and permanently degrade the coating.
On the surface, this set of cookware is super heavy. However, when you correct for size and components, the difference isn't as profound. For car camping and other trips with mechanized or animal or boat support, the weight of the entire set is justifiable.
For groups of exactly four, cooking together and aiming for excellent backcountry food and drink, the entire set is suitable for backpacking use. For lighter trips and smaller groups, leave some of the components behind. For absolute ultralight trips, other choices are more appropriate.
Ease of Use
GSI does a good job of optimizing the usability of all its cook sets. The parts all nest together well, do their individual tasks efficiently and smoothly and complement each other in use.
We like the insulated mugs and the tight-sealing frying pan lid the best. The proprietary pot gripper is light, compact, and secure, but gets hotter than others and cannot be used with non-GSI pots and pans.
It has exactly the features you want and need, and nothing more. No set we have ever tested is fully comprehensive, but this set comes close.
You will have to add eating and cooking utensils, but otherwise, you are fully equipped.
This is an expensive set, with top of the line materials. it hosts high-quality materials that make cooking quite an awesome experience. It also features many components, offering a great value for what you get. Use it for both backpacking (parsed out), car camping, or as your cook set at home.
Unless you absolutely know you need something more specialized (or less expensive), the GSI Pinnacle Camper is an easy, "no-brainer" choice. It is adaptable, functional, and suitable for a wide range of camp kitchen setups. It also wins our Editors' Choice for its overall awesome performance.
— Amber King & Jediah Porter