If you're looking for a set of cookware that can take a beating and keep on ticking, the MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set is an excellent option. This "classic" set is made of sturdy stainless steel, which is scratch-resistant and durable. If you've been camping and backpacking for a while, you probably have a set of these pots in your gear bin, and they are most likely still in good shape! However, this set is not the best performer when it comes to cooking, as it has hot spots and needs to be managed while cooking. While it's not the top performer in our review, it's still a good one if you love stainless steel and prefer a durable set. Its one of our recommendations if you seek a durable cookware set, where cooking performance isn't the most important consideration. It comes at a good price too.
MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Super duper durable, simple design, good price
Cons: Poor heat conductor, uneven cooking, long boil time, no skillet included
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set is one of the stainless steel cookware sets in our fleet. The set as a whole weighs just a bit over a pound and measures eight inches by a little over four inches when packed together. It includes a 1.5 and 2 liter pot, a lid that may also double as a plate, a pot grabber, and it neatly packs into its bag. There are other products far better suited to elaborate cooking, but there is nothing that will last longer.
We performed two objective tests to determine our scores in this category, plus anecdotal evidence from "real-time" use. In establishing the time to boil two cups of water and how well it cooked a scrambled egg, mixed with information from cooking countless meals in the wild, we generated a score that approximates cooking performance. Given our introduction, you won't be surprised to learn that this set scored low in this category.
During our egg tests, we learned that the stainless steel tends to be sticky and doesn't do a great job. Stainless steel is not a good conductor of heat, and it is rather apparent when cooking an egg to see the hot spot created while on a narrow camp stove burner.
This set's packed measurements aren't that big, nor is it that small. It's a good option if you want to take it out backpacking or simply car camping. We love that the pots nest together, and because of its durable steel construction, you can stuff this set full of any items you like without concern of scratching!
Although the stainless steel pots scored low in cooking performance, it is rugged. One great thing about cooking with stainless steel is that it is extremely scratch-resistant, so you don't have to second guess yourself when grabbing the steel wool during cleaning. Our reviewers needed to do this after the scrambled egg test. Even if you do manage to scratch the steel, performance will not change. The surface is the same as what's "underneath". Scrape and scrub away. Steel wool, sand - whatever you choose to scrub with won't affect the performance. No coatings here…only solid metal.
Overall this set weighs in at 1.3 pounds. The overall weight tells part of the story. If you'll be carrying just one pot, lid, and handle for a simple cooking mission, the Alpine 2 is quite heavy. In short, the MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set is not a lightweight choice, and there are lighter options out there with a better weight to use ratio.
Ease of Use
Although the weight and packable size of this set are roughly comparable to many of the models we tested, these pots scored lower than average in this category because of its limited versatility. This set does not include a true skillet (the lid can be pressed into such service, but it doesn't work that well), which our reviewers missed while car camping, but some found unimportant while backpacking. This cookware comes with a pliers-style pot grabber, instead of an attachable handle. We prefer handles that are a little more securely attached to the pot. Our reviewers found this problematic while cooking with both pots at the same time; the system is a little less secure than an attached handle.
There are essentially no extra features to speak of with the MSR Alpine set. You get two simple pots and a universal fit lid. For truly comprehensive cooking and dining, you will need to add a frying pan, cutlery, bowls, cups, and a cutting board. No kit we tested is truly comprehensive, but many add at least some of these features.
This set does have a high value, especially when you examine price vs. overall score and the price per year of service. Since stainless steel pots are going to take a beating and keep on ticking, this set should last a long time. Those that will find value in it will be seeking a durable cook set. Guides and avid outdoors people that need their camp cookware to last.
If you're in the market for a camping cookware set that could potentially last a lifetime and aren't looking to cook gourmet meals in the backcountry, then this is a great set to consider.
— Amber King & Jediah Porter