Sea to Summit X Set 32 Review
Cons: Requires extra attention while cooking, potential durability issues, expensive
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sea to Summit X Set 32 is built for two people who plan on getting after it in the backcountry. While it's not the lightest cooking set-up, it is super packable and a Top Pick. Be careful to ensure you use all pieces properly, or you could end up with a bent lid, or even worse, a hole in the sidewall of your pot. While it is expensive, you might find its unique construction and utility worth the price.
This cooking set features three different pieces that nestle into one another. It has a 2.8L pot, one 1.3L kettle, and an 8-inch pan. These pieces are constructed of hard-anodized aluminum that articulates with the burner. Water boils fast in both the pot and kettle, while a large amount of food, sufficient for two people, can be made. The material on the pot doesn't distribute heat evenly, and sticky substances like scrambled eggs do get stuck, but with careful care, this packable cook set does a great job while cooking.
On an adventure in the beautiful islands of Hawaii, we sought out remote beaches, packing in our food and cooking our meals by the ocean. Our breakfasts typically consisted of bacon, eggs, and some rolls, while our dinners were a smorgasbord of veggies, rice, and other delicious fix-ins.
We love the mini kettle and found this incredibly useful on ultralight backpacking missions where all we needed to do was boil water. We used this on a four day remote trip in Iceland (with no backup), and it proved to be a reliable choice for our needs of simple meals that just needed to be rehydrated. The pot boils about two liters of water in approximately two minutes and 45 seconds with a pocket rocket on high. This made for super quick cowboy coffee and tea in the morning.
On the pan, we cooked bacon, but we had to constantly move it, as the pan is fairly thin and does not distribute heat well. The burner region gets super hot, meaning that you can burn your food if you're not careful. We also cooked scrambled eggs on this frying pan, which made for some stickiness, but we still managed to make a delicious meal without burning anything.
The big pot has a nice large volume, sufficient to fit lots of delicious things inside. The Sea to Summit website recommends only using this pot of water-based cooking, like soups and other meals of the like; however, during testing, it did perfectly well for small stir-frys, making rice, and boiling noodles. It has a boiling time of about 2 minutes and 15 seconds (for 2L), which is faster than the kettle, due to its larger surface area.
Overall, cooking performance is good, but you have to tend carefully to the food, or it will burn. Due to the thin metal, water boils quickly, but heat is not distributed evenly. If you're attentive, you can make all kinds of delicious meals on your backpacking adventures.
We love this set for how packable it is! Constructed with silicone side-walls, its the only cooking set we reviewed that collapses on itself. This convenient construct makes it a wonderful choice for those who are looking for a cooking set that will pack flat and isn't too bulky. It earns a Top Pick because of this unique property that earns top marks in this category.
On several backpacking trips, this was a top choice when we were looking for a less bulky cooking set. It easily feeds two people, and the whole set nestles into itself.
All three pieces fit into the larger pan, equating to less depth needed and more room to pack other essential items. For most of our backpacking trips, this became a prime choice, as it offered the best packability of the lot.
While this set is quite packable, durability is questionable. The silicon sidewalls need to be treated with care because if they get too hot or are exposed to flame, they can melt. The lids aren't as durable as other contenders, and the porous textile can be breeding ground for bacteria if not dried before storing.
The lids are also not as durable as other contenders that are made of metal. They are instead constructed of a super-strong BPA plastic. While the lid held up in most tests, we did experience the kettle lid deforming when we accidentally left the kettle on the burner for five additional minutes, after the water was boiling. When we took the lid off, it bent and cooled, changing its shape. As a result, it never fits on the kettle correctly again.
The sidewalls themselves seem to be pretty tough, but we do worry about them ripping over many years of collapsing on the seams. We haven't observed this or read about it, but it is a wonder we have when looking at the design. Another thing to note is to always store each piece after it's been dried out; after a long trip, we left the kettle in storage with a little moisture inside. After it had been packed away for three months, we took it out to find a bunch of mold and bacteria growing on the plastic material. We cleaned it, but now we know it requires attention to drying and extra maintenance.
Don't wash these pots in the dishwasher either, as the aluminum will be damaged. Overall, this set requires quite a bit of care, and it is important to note where your heat source is.
The entire set weighs about 1.9 ounces with all three pieces. The kettle weighs 0.4 pounds. If you're trying to go ultralight, this is not the best set-up as it is a little bit heavy for the lightest of missions. However, you can take just pieces of the set and use that for ultralight adventures.
While this set is heavy with all the pieces, it still performs well for general backpacking. If you need something that is light and packable, just use a piece of the set. For example, we used just the kettle while running 20-mile+ distances each day for five days on a fastpacking trip to Iceland. There is some versatility in this set if you deconstruct it and use its parts; otherwise, it's an excellent option for your classic backpacking trip or to take out while car camping.
Ease of Use
This cookware set has a plethora of uses that range from backpacking missions with all the pieces to ultralight missions. Cooking with this cookware set isn't the easiest in the world, primarily due to the flimsiness of the handles.
The kettle is the easiest to use of all pieces. It can be carried for the solo backpacking missions, especially if all you need to do is boil water. The handles are pretty solid and easy to grab after you've boiled a pot of water.
The pan and the 2.8L pot are a different story. Typically when you cook, a handle is helpful to keep the pot or pan in place on the burner. On camp stoves, this is especially important when you are cooking with a single-small burner like the MSR Pocket Rocket 2. Typically you need to find the "sweet spot" for balance on these burners to ensure you don't spill your food everywhere; this is normally provided with a convenient handle to hold when stirring food.
The 2.8L pot has two flimsy silicone handles that can be grabbed, but because they have no structure, they won't support the pot at all. We actually needed two people to cook with this pot; one to stir, and one to hold the pot in place.
The 8-inch pan is similar. It has two handles that flip up. These seem good at first, but if you pick up the handle on one side (to stabilize the pan) and it has food inside, the handle will flop down. This can lead to spills, requiring you to be careful once again.
Overall, cooking with this set is fine, but not the most convenient. We'd love to see sturdier handles on the pan that can support the weight of the food when loaded up. The pot requires two people for stirring, while the kettle does a great job doing what it's supposed to do.
Aside from its collapsible architecture, there are one a few notable features this pot set has. They are logical and quite helpful when cooking at camp.
The most notable feature is the straining mechanism on the lid of the larger pot. The handles are flexible and can be used to hold the pot when tipping it over for easy straining of noodles or other grains that you might be cooking up. Aside from that, it does not come with any additional pieces like spoons, bowls, or cutting boards.
This is one of the most expensive sets tested. We do have some worry surrounding durability, and if not used properly, this product could be rendered useless. That said, if you're willing to shell out a few extra bucks for something that is ultra-packable, you might find the extra weight worth it.
The Sea to Summit X Set 32 stands out for its collapsible pot, pan, and kettle that is super packable. It is best for those seeking a full camping set that will yield a little extra space in your pack. While the pot and pan offer decent cooking performance, this is a set that requires extra vigilance and care. The durability of the set is wonderful, but you must ensure that you use all pieces correctly. Overall, this is a favorite for its packable size and unique architecture.
— Amber King