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MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set Review

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.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $80 List | $47.93 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Environmental and health-friendly ceramic construction, lightweight and versatile overall construction
Cons:  Fragile coating and pots dent easily, no features beyond two basic pots
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Amber King & Jediah Porter  ⋅  Nov 27, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 8
  • Packability - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Features - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set stands out for its health-conscious construction. If you are a food fanatic that likes to plan your menus weeks in advance and cruise the produce section for the freshest of the fresh, this might be camping set for you. This set contains two pots that nest together with a simple pair of pliar-like potholders. The ceramic material is health-friendly while being lightweight and versatile. Its simplicity allows you to pair it with other utensils and items to make it more functional for your purpose. We love using it for both backpacking and car-camping adventures. Its non-stick ceramic coating makes gourmet cooking a real possibility on the trail.


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Pros Environmental and health-friendly ceramic construction, lightweight and versatile overall constructionComprehensive, high end materialsSturdy construction and efficiency-oriented heat exchanger ring, locking universal pot gripperDurable, excellent frying pan for discerning cooks, great lidGreat starter set, stable handles, some versatile pieces
Cons Fragile coating and pots dent easily, no features beyond two basic potsPot handle gets hot, heavyHeavy, especially for a kit that requires addition of other features, heat exchanger ring is a little messyHeavy, no non-stick coatingSmall bowls, unnecessary accessories
Bottom Line 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 comprehensive set of cookware for all sorts of camping scenarios.A few attributes make this efficiency-oriented cook set an excellent foundation for the practical, hearty-cooking, enthusiastic user.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 MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set Stanley Adventure Base Camp 11 Piece Camping Set
Cooking Performance (25%)
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9
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7
Packability (20%)
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7
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6
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7
Durability (15%)
10
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6
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8
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6
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10
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6
Weight (15%)
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8
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5
10
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9
Ease Of Use (15%)
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5
Features (10%)
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7
Specs MSR Ceramic 2-Pot... GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech... Stanley Adventure... 11 Piece Camping Set
Measured Weight 1 lbs 3.7 lbs 1.6 lbs 4.8 lbs 1.8 lbs
Material Hard-anodized Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum w/Non-Stick Coating Aluminum Stainless Steel. Pot and pan bottoms have additional layers. Hard-anodized Aluminum
Components 2L pot, 1.5L pot, strainer lid, 2 plates, 2 mugs, handle 2L pot, 8" frypan, strainer lid, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, handle 2 2.3L pots, 1 lid, pot tongs, padded/insulated storage bag 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) 3.58 3.78 3.12 4.12 3.5
3L Pot? (>2.4L) 0 0 0 1 0
2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L) 1 1 2 0 1
1L Pot? (.5-1.4L) 0 0 0 0 0
Frying Pan? 0 1 0 1 1
Frying Pan Lid? N/a Yes N/a No No
Packed Size (inches) 5.3 x 7.8 in 8.5 x 4.6 in 7.9 x 5.3 in 11 x 6 x 11 in 6.75 x 3.5 in
Weight of pot closest to 1.5L, with lid and handle 0.5 lbs 1.0 lbs 0.9 lbs 1.9 lbs 0.6 lbs
Cooking Surfaces One (1.5L) non-stick pot, One (2.5L) uncoated pot Pot and frypan both have non-stick Teflon coating Non-stick Teflon like coating Stainless-steel Non-stick Teflon coating on each piece

Our Analysis and Test Results

MSR takes state of the art ceramic coatings, only recently receiving extensive use in regular kitchens, and adapts the technology for backcountry use. This form, including the smart lids, clever handle, and overall construction that creates a contained package without a separate carry bag, augments the excellent materials. The result is an award-winning product that is tailor-made for the discerning, health-conscious backcountry chef.

Performance Comparison


IFMGA mountain guide and OGL lead test editor Jed Porter puts the MSR Ceramic pots to the test in the Catskills of upstate New York.
IFMGA mountain guide and OGL lead test editor Jed Porter puts the MSR Ceramic pots to the test in the Catskills of upstate New York.

Cooking Performance


It is for its cooking performance that the Ceramic 2-Pot Set truly stands out. In fact, we had to add an entirely new consideration to our evaluation. This set boils water quickly (3 min 35 sec) and cooks evenly. Even the stickiest of food doesn't get burned on, and the performance lasts after many uses. We are impressed by its overall performance. Plus, we like it more than Teflon.


For decades now, camping cookware has been made with inert steel, titanium, and anodized aluminum, or aluminum coated with hazardous-but-easy-to-cook-with Teflon and Teflon-like materials. For lightweight camp cooking, one was forced to choose between poor cooking performance or the debatable dangers of the coatings. A few years back, ceramic coatings came to kitchen cookware, with the performance that replicates Teflon.

The main pots of two of the MSR cook sets. On the left is the Ceramic  with the teflon pot of the Quick 2 System on the right.
The main pots of two of the MSR cook sets. On the left is the Ceramic, with the teflon pot of the Quick 2 System on the right.

It took a while, and there are still very few options available, but ceramic has now made its way to camping cookware. The MSR products are the best we have found, and the 2-Pot Set we evaluated is the best way to start your own health-conscious, gourmet-eating, camping kitchen. It is not as comprehensive as some, but these work-horse components form an excellent foundation. Sauces, stir-fries, pasta, grains, and even meats will cook well. While our test didn't allow for extensive baking, our lead test editor, mountain guide, and backcountry cinnamon roll connoisseur, vouch for the competence of these pots for that sort of task.

Packability


MSR makes innovative gear in a variety of categories. Their equipment is reliable and clever, without being overdone in any way. Their hallmark is gimmick-less performance. The packability of the Ceramic 2-Pot Set exemplifies this. The two included pots pack securely, quietly, and contained without using a bag, which is a nice plus.


For the most part, packability is a function of size. You can easily fit a mini-stove, lighter, and other items inside the voluminous pots. We were also able to fit a small sponge and other essential items we needed use. Like other sets, you can parse down the size to make it more packable inside a backpack or in your kitchen kit. We're happy with its ability to nest and packing other items inside.

In order to protect the ceramic lining  and to serve as a cleaning and drying tool  MSR includes the blue square of pack towel.
In order to protect the ceramic lining, and to serve as a cleaning and drying tool, MSR includes the blue square of pack towel.

Durability


The main durability issue with backcountry cookware is the integrity of the non-stick coating, if it has one. Uniquely equipped with a ceramic non-stick coating, the MSR Ceramic is in a class of its own. While our testing this time around was not extensive enough to truly compare long-term durability, we have enough experience with this and similar products to make an assessment.


A ceramic coating lasts about the same amount of time and uses as a Teflon or Teflon-style coating. In the case of the Teflon coating, however, the chips may present concerns. Once it is damaged, it chips even faster. Ceramic will scratch and wear off, too, but doesn't present the same challenges that Teflon does when heated to a high temperature. We've deduced that the MSR Ceramic pot sets won't necessarily last longer than the Teflon coated products, but that they remain more usable through the deterioration.

In this way, we score the Ceramic 2-Pot Set higher in durability than the Teflon coated products but lower than the bare metal and anodized products. Regarding other durability variables, the MSR does fine. The metal isn't the thickest, nor is it the thinnest. It is vulnerable to warping and denting, but careful packing will manage that. The hardware is reliable and simple enough that it will last at least as long as the coating will.

Weight


The MSR Ceramic pots are squarely on the low end when it comes to weight. In any human-powered camping situation, weight matters a great deal. In the best comparison we could think of (comparing the main pot, lid, and gripper of all the sets, and then normalizing for volume), the Ceramic 2-Pot Set from MSR is quite light. Feel free to use it when you're trying to slim down on the pounds that you carry.


Ease of Use


This is a simple collection of basic cookware; there is little to "figure out" and even less to fail. Every piece is smooth, inside and out, and therefore easily cleaned to the best of your camping abilities. The one compromise that MSR has made, to cut some weight and create their proprietary packing closure system, is to use a proprietary pot handle instead of a universal pliers-style gripper. In most ways, this is a serviceable trade-off, but some will certainly notice the limited compatibility of the MSR handle. It's also fairly easy to wipe out and clean after use.


Features


Very few features are included with the Ceramic 2-Pot Set. This is a set of high-end cookware to form the skeleton of a carefully curated camping kitchen. For those attracted to this set of equipment, the process of selecting the accompanying features, individually, will likely be a pleasure of its own.


Value


These are not inexpensive pots. However, their value does not dramatically stand out from the others we tested. It compares to some of our top performers, and those that will find the most value in it are those that don't like Teflon but want a similar level of overall performance.

Late night meals on climbing trips is a great place for this health-conscious set.
Late night meals on climbing trips is a great place for this health-conscious set.

Conclusion


This is a food connoisseur's set of camping pots. They are lightweight and easy to use. If you take care of your nutrition as well as with the aesthetic side of camping food, the health and performance of the MSR Ceramic set will serve you well.


Amber King & Jediah Porter