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Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2 Review

A “typical” backpacking cook set with important and appreciated refinements over some of the competitors, but still missing what some consider the essential frying pan.
Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2
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Price:  $90 List | $89.95 at REI
Pros:  Innovative handle, quiet carry
Cons:  No frying pan, nesting the whole kit requires disassembling the cups
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Amber King & Jediah Porter  ⋅  Nov 27, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 5
  • Packability - 20% 8
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Features - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Alpha Set 2.2 from Sea to Summit is a basic, solid backpacking cook and eating set. Two pots (each with lid and clever handle), two deep plates, two insulated mugs, and one dish towel are the start to a complete, nearly-gourmet wilderness cooking set up. The whole package seals together, quietly, to tuck into your backpack. The handle system works to both hold hot pots steady and to lock the lids on for backpack carry. It works in both of these ways better than most. Our only wish, especially for more sophisticated backcountry cooking, is that the Alpha included a non-stick frypan with a sealing lid.


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Pros Innovative handle, quiet carrySturdy 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 No frying pan, nesting the whole kit requires disassembling the cupsHeavy, 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 “typical” backpacking cook set with important and appreciated refinements over some of the competitors, but still missing what some consider the essential frying pan.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 Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2 Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set Stanley Adventure Base Camp 11 Piece Camping Set
Cooking Performance (25%)
10
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5
10
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9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
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7
Packability (20%)
10
0
8
10
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6
10
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7
10
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4
10
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7
Durability (15%)
10
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7
10
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6
10
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6
10
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10
10
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6
Weight (15%)
10
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8
10
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8
10
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8
10
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4
10
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9
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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6
10
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5
Features (10%)
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7
Specs Sea to Summit... Primus PrimeTech... MSR Ceramic 2-Pot... Stanley Adventure... 11 Piece Camping Set
Measured Weight 1.8lbs 1.6 lbs 1 lbs 4.8 lbs 1.8 lbs
Material Hard-anodized Aluminum Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum Stainless Steel. Pot and pan bottoms have additional layers. Hard-anodized Aluminum
Components 1.2L pot, 2.7L pot, 2 strainer lids, 2 bowls, 2 insulated mugs, 1 pack towel 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) 3.92 3.12 3.58 4.12 3.5
3L Pot? (>2.4L) 0 0 0 1 0
2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L) 1 2 1 0 1
1L Pot? (.5-1.4L) 1 0 0 0 0
Frying Pan? 0 0 0 1 1
Frying Pan Lid? N/a N/a N/a No No
Packed Size (inches) 7.2 x 4.7 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 0.7lbs 0.9 lbs 0.5 lbs 1.9 lbs 0.6 lbs
Cooking Surfaces Hard anodized 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

Sea to Summit has long made backpacking and camping accessories like stuff sacks. Their entry to the camp cookware market is well thought out and clever. It competes with the best of the best.

Performance Comparison


Classic backpacking  classic scenery  and a classic environment for making careful  but lightweight meals. In this context the Sea to Summit excels.
Classic backpacking, classic scenery, and a classic environment for making careful, but lightweight meals. In this context the Sea to Summit excels.

Cooking Performance


This is a backpacking cook set, and with such equipment, weight is paramount. And the first thing to suffer is cooking performance. Because of the physics of heat transfer, thinner (and therefore lighter) materials don't cook tricky foods as well. There is an inherent conflict between weight and cooking performance. For backpacking, the Sea to Summit Alpha strikes a great balance.

The aluminum construction conducts heat more evenly than steel or titanium. Sea to Summit chose to use anodized coating instead of a non-stick coating. Anodizing, in general, is less effective than non-stick coatings but is more durable. We found that the Sea To Summit anodizing was more "non-stick" than other anodized products we have assessed. In our scrambled egg test, for instance, the Alpha performed well. The aluminum spread the heat of a focused camp burner, and no eggs stuck to the coating. Sea to Summit claims that their anodizing is more robust than that on other brands. Our test period is long, but not long enough to have fully assessed this claim.

The results of conducting our scrambled egg test in the larger pot of the Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2 set.
The results of conducting our scrambled egg test in the larger pot of the Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2 set.

Packability


Given all that is included with the Alpha (two pots, each with their one lid and handle, two deep plates, two insulated mugs, and a dish towel), the Alpha is compact and quiet. The handle of the outermost post seals everything inside. The remaining contents nest such that plastic and textile alternates with metal parts. This makes for a virtually rattle-free setup.

A cluttered camp kitchen for a large group. In this context  the Sea to Summit Alpha is just part of the equation  mixing in with larger pots and regular kitchen scale cutting boards.
A cluttered camp kitchen for a large group. In this context, the Sea to Summit Alpha is just part of the equation, mixing in with larger pots and regular kitchen scale cutting boards.

Durability


Aluminum construction is notoriously prone to denting, and the Sea To Summit Alpha is no exception. Whether inside of your backpack with pointy things around, or while jostling around the campsite, you will dent these pots. This is an inherent compromise made for the lightweight of the Alpha. It is no more prone to denting than its close competition. The anodized coating of the Alpha, in our testing, showed zero signs of wear. Anodizing will last longer than non-stick coatings.

Weight


We weighed the cook sets in a couple of different ways. Of course, we weighed the entire set, as purchased. However, since the tested sets all include different features, we also weighed the pot, lid, and handle of the set's pot that is closest to 1.5 liters in capacity. The Alpha weighs 1.8 pounds overall, but when you strip it down to just the main pot, it is only 0.7 pounds.

This is our attempt to show the way the handle of the Alpha 2.2 pots hinges from handle mode to lid lock mode. It swings like a closing cattle gate.
This is our attempt to show the way the handle of the Alpha 2.2 pots hinges from handle mode to lid lock mode. It swings like a closing cattle gate.

Ease of Use


The discerning characteristic of the Alpha Set 2.2 is its handle system; the handles are secure, rigid, and easy to deploy. The handle of each pot serves double duty, and Sea to Summit does this very elegantly. The handle is secure in both modes and locks into two positions. Hinged to the outside, it works as a cook pot handle, while hinged to the inside it locks the lid on, securing the entire package. Aside from this welcome attribute, there is very little to note about the ease of use of the Alpha. Our one minor gripe is that to nest entirely inside, the insulated mugs must be disassembled. Removing the insulating sleeves isn't a big deal, but it is something that all of our testers noted.

All the components of the Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2. The printing on the cups is actually on the insulated covers. In order for the cups to nest together and fit inside the smaller pot  these printed insulating covers must be removed.
All the components of the Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2. The printing on the cups is actually on the insulated covers. In order for the cups to nest together and fit inside the smaller pot, these printed insulating covers must be removed.

Features


Sea to Summit includes all you might likely need for backpacking, short of a cutting board, and eating utensils. Grab a spoon from your kitchen and use the backside of one of the plates for cutting carrots, and you will be set. This feature set (two pots, two bowls, two cups) seems to be fairly standard for backpacking cook sets. For more sophisticated cooking, the only addition we would make is a non-stick frying pan with a tight-sealing lid.

The eating and drinking vessels of the Sea to Summit set are ergonomic and nicely sized to balance volume and packing size.
The eating and drinking vessels of the Sea to Summit set are ergonomic and nicely sized to balance volume and packing size.

Value


The Alpha Set 2.2 is right in the mix with the comparable kits. By choosing a simpler pot set and grabbing some accessories from your own kitchen, you can greatly exceed the value of the Sea to Summit, but you'll compromise on cooking performance and ease of use. Those that'll see the greatest value in this cook set are those that prefer pot-based cooking with just a few extra features.

In a car camping setting the Sea to Summit set is a little lightweight. We'd like to see a larger pot and an integrated frying pan. Here is where the GSI Bugaboo and Stanley sets excel.
In a car camping setting the Sea to Summit set is a little lightweight. We'd like to see a larger pot and an integrated frying pan. Here is where the GSI Bugaboo and Stanley sets excel.

Conclusion


We dig this innovative addition to the market. With a couple of careful enhancements (that handle system and the anodizing that behaves like a non-stick coating), Sea to Summit shakes up the field.


Amber King & Jediah Porter