Best Overall Camp Cookset
GSI Pinnacle Camper
: 3.7 lbs | Material
Excellent nonstick coating
Modular: choose only what you need
Pot handle gets hot
Teflon coating wears off and poses minor health concerns
The GSI Pinnacle Camper is a top-of-the-line product from an industry leader. Almost across the board, the individual components are exactly as we would like them, and the combination is greater than the sum of its parts. The entire kit nests together, boasting as much space as a climbing or bicycle helmet. Each of the pots and pan is coated with Teflon's top of the line non-stick material, and this choice shows in cooking performance.
This set is designed for a large group of people and isn't meant (as a whole) for one or two people. The nice thing about this set is you can deconstruct it and take what you need. The pot handle is also lacking versatility with other pot sets, as you can only use the GSI handle with other GSI products. The Teflon also poses some health issues, so it's best to use a wooden or plastic stirring utensil and to avoid scratching the surface.
Read review: GSI Pinnacle Camper
Best for Building a Kitchen from Components
Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set
: 1.6 lbs | Material
Amazing heat transfer efficiency
Excellent non-stick coating
Locking, universal pot grip
No frying pan or other accessories
Heat exchanging ring collects dirt
Yes, we granted two Editors' Choice awards this go around. The GSI kit is for those looking for something closer to "one-stop shopping," while the Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set kit offers the best camping pot we have ever used. The main pot has a clever lid to optimize efficiency; the real perk, though, is on the base of that main pot. Primus augments the bottom with heat transfer fins that greatly reduce boiling time and fuel consumption. In our head-to-head testing of boil times, the Primus led the field.
With the Primus kit, you get unparalleled efficiency and performance from the main pot, but you will have to complement it with your own choice of frying pan, cups, and bowls. Either EC product is excellent, and both lead the field. They will simply appeal to different types of consumers. If you want "one-stop shopping", the GSI is better. If you prefer to pick and choose your components, optimizing one attribute or another, starting with the Primus is the way to go.
Read review: Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set
Best Bang for the Buck
Winterial 11 Piece Camping Set
: 1.8 lbs | Material
Great starter set
Some versatile pieces
The Best Buy Award is one of our favorite awards, as we all love to purchase a good product at a great price. We've given the Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set our Best Buy for having the highest value of all the sets tested. It is the only set tested that came with a kettle (no one likes their morning hot drink to taste like last night's dinner), and the pots and pans cook well. The handles are stable, and the set can be pared down to take with you while backpacking.
The Winterial kit includes most of the accessories you will need, but these accessories are a little compromised. The "bowls" are tiny, as are the utensils; for the price, this is easily overlooked. For more sophisticated cooking, the non-stick coating and larger footprint of the GSI pots and pans work much better.
Read review: Winterial 11 Piece Camping Set
Top Pick for Ultralight Backpacking
MSR Trail Mini Duo
: 0.7 lbs | Material
Integrated rubber pot grip
Just the right features
Limited non-stick performance
Tall and narrow profile focuses heat on the bottom.
The MSR Trail Mini Duo is nearly the lightest cook set we tested. When you correct for efficiency advantages of the aluminum construction over a long enough trip, you may find that the MSR is the lightest way to construct a camp kitchen. The Trail Mini Duo, at its simplest, is just one small pot and lid. However, it comes with just the right suite of accessories to optimize performance without weighing you down. Finally, you can put a compact stove and its 8-ounce fuel canister inside the Trail Mini Duo. This whole package fits into the light mesh stuff sack that MSR includes with the Trail Mini Duo.
For any sort of "proper" cooking (basically, anything that isn't freeze-dried or pasta) the MSR Trail Mini Duo isn't your best bet, as the pot is small, tall, and narrow. The anodized coating works ok as a non-stick treatment, but it isn't perfect; this is a specialized piece of kit for limited applications.
Read review: MSR Trail Mini Duo
Top Pick for Packability
Sea to Summit X Set 32
: 1.9 lbs | Material
: Aluminum & Silicon Sidewalls
Collapsable & Packable
A little heavy
Handles are flimsy and hard to use
Standing out for its packable design, this pot set is one of a kind. Most camp sets are bulkier, lacking a slim profile, and typically take up quite a bit of space in the pack. The Sea to Summit X Set 32 is built for those looking to save space simply because of the pot and kettle collapse and nestle into the pan for a nice, neat package. It's great for putting into a backpack where you need to save a little space. One great application we found for it is for ultralight missions where you may just need a kettle to boil water to rehydrate meals. This sufficed by simply parsing out the different parts.
Unfortunately, because of its silicon side-wall, you need to be extra careful while cooking. The handles are a little flimsy, and the design is surprisingly heavy for having a silicon sidewall. We really do like this cook set, but in comparison to the rest, it requires extra vigilance and care.
Read Review: Sea to Summit X Set 32
Top Pick for Health Conscious Foodies
MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set
: 1 lb | Material
Light and versatile
Non-stick, non-toxic construction
Ceramic will wear off
As a piece of equipment that is truly unique in the field, the ceramic camping cookware from MSR is an easy choice for a Top Pick award. Sophisticated camp cooking requires a nonstick coating. Until recently, that meant either hefty cast iron or Teflon-style coatings. The health risks of Teflon coatings are not appealing to some. Now, with the MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set, the health-conscious foodie has something to form the backbone of his or her camping kitchen. Also, available separately, is an MSR frying pan with the same coating.
This kit is expensive and relatively specialized. To fully assemble a camp kitchen at this level of performance and health consideration is a costly proposition that requires quite a bit of attention. This set up will only appeal to those that care a great deal about the health effects of non-stick coatings yet want lightweight performance.
Read review: MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set
Top Pick for Car Camping
Stanley Adventure Base Camp
: 4.8 lbs | Material
: Stainless steel
Large pot with rigid handles and great lid
Nests together well
Frying pan rivals what you'd use at home
Plates are smaller than what you'd use at home
Stanley's Adventure Series Base Camp cook set is a camping cook kit made with essentially no compromises for weight. Taking weight out of the equation, so to speak, frees Stanley to optimize cooking performance further while maintaining packability. This entire set of the pot, frying pan (with a lid that works on both) and service for four people nests together to easily tuck into the corner of your car trunk or canoe duffel.
It is too heavy to go very far as part of a human-powered cook kit, and the plates are a bit small. For true "glamping", some will want to grab a few plates from their home kitchen. For backpacking, almost any of the other products we assessed are a better choice. On a car or canoe camping trip, the Stanley set is just right.
Read review: Stanley Adventure Base Camp
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead camping cookware testers, Jediah Porter and Amber King, are backcountry enthusiasts, cooking up meals in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Jediah Porter is an internationally certified American Mountain Guide, and avid outdoor adventurer. He spends a lot of time in the camp kitchen, whether it is perched high up on a ledge of a cliff, or at a well-established base camp in Alaska. Amber King is a fast packer that embarks on ultralight missions, trucking along with a simple cookware set. She's a climber, runner, and outdoor adventurer that tries base camps out of her truck every weekend and spends the summer running and hiking long trails. Both know camping cookware well.
From the beaches of Hawaii to the deserts of Utah, these cookware sets have been all over the world. They've been utilized for everything from the solo traveler to the basecamp of tens of people. We made backcountry "Michelin Star" meals, simple veggie plops, and so much more. Subjecting each to the same tests in a controlled (and field) environment, we are able to compare each objectively and without bias.
Related: How We Tested Camping Cookwares
Analysis and Test Results
Camp cookery covers a wide spectrum. On one end is spending one night out and preparing a package of ramen over a campfire. At the other end, folks will fill a giant cooler with dry ice and pounds of fresh foods for a week of gourmet feasting. The uniting criteria are outdoors, nutrition, and concern for efficiency. Efficiency may be optimized through varying avenues such as minimizing weight or ease of cleaning. Either way or anywhere in between, we have assessed the right kit for you.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Cookwares
How do you get the biggest bang for your buck? While there are several different types of camping cookware out there, there are some inherent patterns that we noted that'll help you find a well-priced set for your needs. A set with the best cooking performance is inherently pricier, while others that don't perform as well are a little cheaper. In addition, we've found that the lighter the set, the less expensive, mostly because the set is associated with thinner or less expensive materials. For example; our Best Buy award winner, the Winterial 11 Piece set is made of thinner materials and offers decent cooking performance. When considering the price, be sure to determine what it is you require, the relative performance you'd like to have, and the features you need.
If you're seeking the best camping cookware, cooking performance is one of the most important factors to consider. We want a set that doesn't burn the food we choose to cook, boils water efficiently, and minimizes heat loss so that we don't waste precious drops of fuel. In our testing, we assessed the performance of each product by constructing carefully controlled tests. First, we tested to see how fast each set could boil water. Second, we tested to see which could make the best scrambled eggs without producing a sticky or burnt mess. We outline our results below. If a pot can do either of these well, it has succeeded in its function.
Boiling Time Test
Boiling water is the foundation of camp cookery. It is the task that you will perform the most often. Whether you're making hot drinks on your bumper in the morning or trying to force down another freeze-dried meal in the backcountry, you'll be boiling water frequently and consistently. To test this, we timed how long it took to bring two cups of water to a boil with the main pot from each set. Our results varied considerably, as several factors can drastically affect boiling time.
The "control" pot from our home kitchen is cast from hard-anodized aluminum, which is the same metal used for the MSR Quick 2 System and the Optimus Terra HE Cookset, with a non-stick Teflon coating (similar to the three GSI Outdoors models). It boiled the two cups of water in 3 minutes 50 seconds. This is remarkably close, as a "control" should be, to the average time (3:40) of the tested pots.
The type of metal the pot is cast from is an essential factor, as well as the diameter, depth, and thickness of each pot. Even more than these variables, we found that the presence or absence of heat exchanging rings on the bottom of the pot inform the efficiency in our boil test. The average boil time of pots with flat bottoms is 3 minutes and 50 seconds; for the pots with heat exchange rings, the average boil time is almost a minute faster, at 2:56. From these results, we can conclude that heat exchanging rings decrease the boiling time by 24%. That is significant. If you find yourself boiling snow on Denali, for example, this difference is huge for gas conservation and logistics.
The heat exchanger rings of the PrimeTech add weight, but you get that back if you let your fuel and stove choice reflect the greater efficiency of this pot.
The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper (and nearly identical Editors Choice GSI Pinnacle Camper) offers the best boiling time, with the the MSR Quick 2 System taking only six seconds longer. The Optimus Terra HE Cookset has a heat exchanger element on the bottom of the largest of the two pots in the set, which helped it boil water in 2 minutes and 45 seconds! The Primus PrimeTech 2.3L pot also has heat exchanger fins and boiled the test allotment of water in 3:07.
We're really surprised by the Sea to Summit X Set 32, a Top Pick, who's main pot has a boiling time of a mere 2 minutes and 15 seconds. This set does not have a heat exchanger ring and we attribute its success to its large surface area and thin anodized aluminum bottom that allows ready heat transfer. The kettle in this set boiled water is a little more time, taking about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. The unique kettle included with the Best Buy Winterial 11 Piece Camping Cookware Set is another "flat bottomed" pot with a quick boiling time of 3:30. We attribute the fast boil time of the Winterial kettle to its shape, proportions, and tight-sealing lid over a small opening.
If pot designers are listening, we will dig a lightweight, two quart kettle with an opening big enough to get snow chunks into and heat exchanging fins on the bottom. This would be an unstoppable snow-melting machine!
The Egg Test
Testing the boil time of the Stanley Adventure Series main pot in a semi-controlled environment, but with a real camp stove.
We created a test to see how each of the sets performed while preparing a scrambled egg. Eggs are susceptible to temperature differences, and any hot spots created on the pan will quickly burn the eggs. For this experiment, we beat fifteen eggs and cooked them individually in each of the skillets, if available, or pot if the set did not include a skillet, over our two-burner propane camping stove.
Some of our tested cookware, roughly ordered by performance in the egg test, L-R, from upper left: MSR Ceramic, GSI Bugaboo, Optimus, Primus, GSI Pinnacle, Winterial, MalloMe, Snow Peak, MSR Quick, G4Free (previously tested), and MSR Alpine
It is rather obvious which of the sets cooked evenly with minimal sticking. Our best performer is the Editors' Choice GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper model, which has a Teflon non-stick coating on a thick-bottomed, dedicated frying pan. Interestingly, the frying pan of the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker did not perform nearly as well as the Pinnacle Camper, in this test and our "real life" usage. The non-stick coated frying pan of the Optimus Terra HE performed very well also. Although prepared in a pot, the MSR Quick 2 System is also an excellent performer during this test and had a natural clean up afterward. Other models that performed well in this analysis are the Editors' Choice Primus PrimeTech 2.3L and the Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2.
The results of conducting our scrambled egg test in the larger pot of the Sea to Summit set.
Between the egg test and the boil time test, we can deduce much of what we need to know about the cooking performance of a cook set. If a pot set does these two things well, our anecdotal evidence suggests that pretty much all other cooking performance attributes will fall in line. One exception is the meat-browning performance of the laminated Stanley Adventure Series skillet. Whether steak or chicken, meat browned in a skillet like this, at home or on the trail, is beaten only by grilled meat. Nonstick aluminum nor even cast-iron exceeds the performance of laminated stainless for browning meat.
Testing OutdoorGearLab camp cookware on a ski mountaineering, vanlife road trip in Chile. October 2018.
Whether you're living out of your van or backpacking into the wilderness, packability is important. If you're looking to save space, this might be the metric that you focus on. We want a set that will nestled construction that will allow you to fit a complementary fuel canister and won't jostle around while hiking or driving your van. Those that had all these features, or simply took up less space did the best.
The Sea to Summit X Set 32 is the clear winner of this category for its ultra-packable design, earning itself a Top Pick! With silicon sidewalls, it has a kettle and a pot that actually collapses on itself. When collapsed, all items fit inside one another, offering you more space for other important items you might want to take with you. While you can't fit a fuel canister inside, it folds down almost flat and takes up very little room for the volume and size of the pot that it offers. You can also just use the kettle if you plan on ultralight missions, as it is super thin when completely compressed, taking little to no room at all!
Other contenders that take up less space include the Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact Cook Set, followed by the Top Pick MSR Trail Mini Duo. These backpacking-specific designs scored high marks for being the smallest and most compact sets tested. The Top Pick MSR Trail Mini Duo is similar to the Snow Peak Titanium but is shaped such that the user can fit a fuel can and stove inside. It edges ahead this way of the Snow Peak in packability.
MSR gives thought to overall packability. Their Pocket Rocket 2 stove and an 8 ounce fuel canister fit right inside the Trail Mini Duo pot, along with the pot gripper and maybe a couple oatmeal packets.
The Snow Peak Titanium set is so small that we were only able to fit a small fuel canister and some tea bags within it. We felt it is more useful to fit an entire cooking system (stove and canister) into our cookware to save space in our pack. Overall, regardless of what exactly you can fit inside your pot set, make sure that you are filling whatever dead space is there.
Snow Peak makes one of the lightest and most compact sets we tested during this review out of titanium metal. The pot hands collapse back around each pot while the lid handles flip up over the top of the system.
All of the sets of cookware we tested nest together and slide neatly into a sack. Exceptions are the MSR Quick 2 System, Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2, and Top Pick MSR Ceramic Set, all of which lock together by the pot handle flipping over the straining lid. The Top Pick Stanley Adventure Series closes not with a bag but with an elastic strap that, with remarkable security, holds the lid on the main pot, thereby containing all the other parts. The casings for each of the GSI Outdoors sets all double as washbasins/water storage, and the Optimus Terra set uses a neoprene bag that can help insulate food from dropping temperatures as well as keeping your fingers burn-free while eating. The carry bag of the Primus PrimeTech is also insulated.
Light and fast travel requires light and fast food and kitchen supplies. The Trail Mini Duo is just what the doctor ordered. Here our lead test editor Jediah Porter bulks up his ultralight kitchen with a frying pan for night one steak time. Otherwise, his kit is uber light with the Trail Mini Duo.
When purchasing a backpacking specific set, consider looking for a unit that can fit your stove and gas canister inside of it. This minimizes the overall volume of your entire cooking system and keeps everything more organized.
Durability is an important criterion when purchasing camping cookware. Ideally, we'd like for our pots and pans to last a lifetime; however, it's easy to be hard on our camping sets, even if it's unintentional. Metal spoons and spatulas are common around the campground but are hard on delicate non-stick coatings. Stainless steel pots and pans are the most durable and scratch-resistant material available, but as you can see from our results in the cooking performance category, this cookware isn't the best performer. Titanium is similarly inert and therefore loses little to no cooking performance with wear and age. However, titanium cookware is thinner than steel or aluminum stuff. Titanium is stronger than these two. The thinner, but stronger, construction of the Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact seems equally prone to denting as the other backpacking options.
The stainless steel construction of the MSR Alpine and Top Pick Stanley Adventure Series Cookset will last virtually forever. We had no issues with the plastic parts of the Stanley set and found that the chosen polymer strikes the right balance of flexibility and strength.
Cooking in a wild setting with the beefy pot and pan of the Stanley Adventure Series set is a joy.
While we didn't see any real durability issues in our testing, we did notice that the Teflon coating in the skillet of the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper scratched when cleaning it among other contenders. Once the non-stick surface on a pan is scratched, it begins to deteriorate rather quickly, and ingesting flakes of Teflon is a potential health concern (the debate over the safety of Teflon has been going on for decades).
The Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2 Pot Set brings an interesting alternative to the market. The ceramic coating is just as vulnerable to scratching and chipping as the Teflon and Teflon-like coatings, but the material is less damaging to your health and the environment. Many users prefer to discontinue use of their Teflon coated cookware as soon as it becomes scratched. It might continue to be mostly non-stick, but some are concerned with the health effects. The ceramic cookware scratches and degrades just as quickly, but the health effects are minimal or nonexistent. In this way, the MSR Ceramic cook set can be used longer than the Teflon coated ones, and therefore received higher durability scores.
Weight is a key consideration if you plan to carry your cookware for any length of time on your back. If you plan on solely car camping, you can largely disregard this category, but people who enjoy car camping and backpacking (and only want to purchase one set of cookware), will want to consider the weight of the model they purchase carefully. Other camping settings fall somewhere in between. Deluxe backcountry base camps, like those supplied by canoe, airplane, or even short backpack missions, deserve comfy cookware and weight is less of an issue.
Whether your camp kitchen lives in a van, a canoe, or a backpack will inform your choices. Even among backpackers there are different degrees of weight concern and gourmet cooking.
Since none of these cook sets include the same components as another, we devised a mathematical correction to compare the products better. So that we could compare "apples to apples" we weighed one pot of each set, its lid, and its handle. For this metric, we chose the pot in the set closest to 1.5 liters, since that is approximately the median size for all the pots in all the collections. Finally, to normalize for differences in volume among these pots, we divided the mass by the pot's capacity. Our test team found these "weight per volume" numbers to be quite helpful and to better represent the weight "in use" of each product.
The second largest and second heaviest set we tested is the GSI Pinnacle Camper Cookset, which weighs in at 3.7 pounds. This model comes fully featured with two pots, two straining lids, a skillet, four plates, four mugs with lids, and four bowls, plus a sack that doubles as a washbasin. The amenities are great if you're looking to set up your car camping kitchen entirely, but this also adds a considerable amount of weight, overall. The individual components of this kit are user-friendly and reliable. Even when we weighed just one pot, lid, and handle and normalized for volume, this Editors' Choice is slightly heavier than average.
The GSI Bugaboo Camper comes fully loaded with some great amenities, but also makes it the largest, and heaviest cookware we tested.
The absolute heaviest set is the Top Pick for Car Camping Stanley Adventure Series Base Camp. Those that will choose this set will be looking not for minimum weight but cooking performance in a clever packing combination.
Another heavy product on our mathematically adjusted list is the Optimus Terra HE. Now, be even more careful comparing the weight of this pot from this set. While it is indeed heavy, considering the volume it holds, it will use far less fuel than other pots to accomplish the same amount of water boiling or snow melting. If your camping agenda includes lots of these things, over a long time, you could very well save weight with this product, by omitting fuel, as compared to a seemingly lighter "flat bottomed" pan. You could make the same calculations for the Editors' Choice Primus PrimeTech 2.3L set. It is heavy but efficient.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact, cast from lightweight titanium, weighs in at 10.6 ounces. This backpacking specific set is ultralight, but it sacrifices cooking performance to achieve it. It does not cook an egg (or much else) evenly and almost feels as though we were playing tea time. Whether you look at the overall weight or the corrected, calculated weight we devised for comparison, the Snow Peak leads the pack.
The ultralight Snow Peak Titanium pot in action high in Wyoming's Tetons.
The MSR Trail Mini Duo, no matter how you look at its weight, is just a little behind the Snow Peak. The MSR is a little easier to use, and a far more packable shape. It also comes with a few accessories, and the aluminum construction is more efficient with heat transfer than titanium. It is all this that sets it apart from the Snow Peak. It is for these reasons that we grant it our Top Pick award for Ultralight Backpacking.
Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is where we found the sweet spot for weight that didn't sacrifice too many amenities or cooking performance. Also in this middleweight range (1.2 - 1.8 lbs), the sets were great for car camping, or, when scaled down a bit, even for backpacking. Our Editors' Choice winner, the Primus PrimeTech 2.3L, is one such option. Another tremendous mid-weight solution, with a few extra amenities included, is the MSR Quick 2 System.
We also appreciate the kettle in the Sea to Summit X Set that is a mere 0.4lbs. We used this super collapsible and lightweight component while fastpacking in Iceland. We used it to simple rehydrate meals and boil water. This is one of our favorites.
Ease of Use
During the months of our hands-on testing, we used these sets in as many ways as we could imagine. We went alpine climbing in the Tetons, picnicking in New York's Catskills, and even took some on an expedition to Chile. We looked at the different features, the handles, and simply how easy it is to use while cooking and serving food.
We used every single piece in every set to determine their versatility and practicality. The MSR Quick 2 System ranks the highest within this category for its versatility both in the campground as well as on the backpacking trail. Even though a skillet is not included with this set, these pots still perform well during our scrambled egg test. Often, we find a skillet unnecessary for overnight backpacking trips, and due to how well this set scrambled an egg without one, we felt like anyone could do without a pan on short car camping excursions. The MSR set tied for the top "ease of use" score with Editors' Choice Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set. We like the insulated cover of the Primus set as well as the universal, locking pot gripper. It may seem silly to the uninitiated, but the widespread and locking pot gripper of the Primus Set sets it apart from everything else we tested.
We can't stress enough how much we love the deep dish plates included in the MSR Quick 2 System; they are the ideal plate to use around the campground.
While the Snow Peak Titanium is by far the lightest set. The Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set receives a high score for its versatility. You can easily shed some pounds from this set by leaving several pieces behind and slip this model into your backpack.
We went the extra mile, in fact about five extra miles, for a backcountry picnic while testing the Snow Peak Titanium cookware. Here, Ryan prepares a Mac and Cheese meal while Great Dane, Page, supervises on the Avalanche Lake trail in Western Colorado near Carbondale.
The lowest competitors in this category are the MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set, the Snow Peak Titanium set and the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset. The Snow Peak Titanium set is so small that we felt like we are cooking with a child's tea set. Although we enjoy the cooking performance of the Pinnacle Backpacker, we are unlikely to backpack with it due to the delicate Teflon coating. The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper set scores a little higher than the Pinnacle in this category for being easy to use while car camping. It comes with the most pieces of all the cookware we tested, and the two pots and skillet are a great size to use when cooking for four.
The Best Buy Winterial 11 Piece Set has a dedicated frying pan, but the thin, anodized aluminum construction doesn't lend itself very well to egg cooking. The newcomer MalloMe 10 Piece Set also has a thin, anodized frying pan, this one even smaller than that of the Winterial; it performs the same as the Winterial.
Cleaning up your latest bean/egg/pepper/cheese breakfast creation can be a hassle when camping. Be careful with how you scrub your pans though, as the wrong scrubbing brush can ruin your set. Stainless steel sets can handle abrasive steel wool pads, but all other sets should be treated more cautiously. For aluminum and titanium sets, green scrubbing pads are the best way to go, but if your pan has a non-stick coating, then you'll want to be even more gentle and use a spatula or soft dishcloth to loosen and remove leftover food.
The features of a camping cook set vary considerably. Some of the sets we tested are as simple as two pots and a lid, with the corresponding handle. For spartan kits like this, you will need to add everything else in. The Top Pick MSR Trail Mini Duo is one pot, one lid, a plastic bowl, a pot gripping pliers, and a bag. The pot is equipped with a removable rubber band around the upper portion as another grip option. This set of features, plus your stove and fuel is all that a team of two needs on an ultralight backpacking trip, provided their food is correspondingly simple and light.
On the other hand, some products incorporate all but the food, at least for basic camp cooking. For even slightly more elaborate culinary pursuits, you will need to supplement every one of the products with at least a sharp knife. Most will need additional spoons and forks. In short, there is no "one-stop shop" regarding camping cookware. Some products save you some shopping, but all require some more thought. The degree to which you need to select other features depends on which kit you choose.
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.
Let's examine what your typical camping kitchen should include. A lightweight backpacking cook kit is a pot for boiling water for every 2-4 people and a spoon for each person. Everyone should then eat out of their freeze-dried food bag and drink from their water bottles. At the other end of the spectrum, gourmet "glamping" menus and kitchens require cookware that could be just taken from your home kitchen. In between is the sweet spot. Whether car camping, base camping, or collecting a kit that will work for all of these and from which can be selected as a subset of backpacking, you need the following.
Assuming a cooking group of 2-3 people, you need a couple of pots around 1.5-2 liters, with lids and handles. A frying pan with a lid is essential to most people. A cutting board, knife, and serving spoon/ladle round out the group gear. Each camper then needs a bowl or deep plate, a cup for hot and cold liquids, a spoon, and a fork. In assembling this standard kitchen kit, you have two primary options in our review. You can choose your pot set and then add the rest on your own, or you can pick a kit that includes at least some of the additional accessories.
The kettle is functional and easy to use.
Just under half of the cook sets we tested are two pots, lid(s), and handle(s). All of these products have no additional features. For each, you will need to acquire a cutting board, knife, cutlery, bowls, and cups. In most cases, you will also choose to add a frying pan. The Editors' Choice, the Primus PrimeTech 2.3L is an excellent example of this type of set.
To that basic 2-pot foundation, the Optimus Terra HE adds a perfect frying pan. All three GSI products, including the Editors' Choice Pinnacle Camper Cookset, match the Optimus and add dedicated lids, insulated coffee cups, narrow "bowls", and the carry bag doubles as water storage and a wash basin. The MSR Quick 2 System and Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2 have similar feature sets. Each is basically two pots with lids, a couple bowl/plates, and insulated mugs. For backpacking, even when preparing relatively nice food, this is a great start, if not all you will need.
Of the features that aren't in every set we tested, the frying pan is the most useful. If you want to prepare most types of "real food", including steak, having a frying pan to complement the main pot is clutch.
The MalloMe 10 Piece Mess Kit and the Best Buy Winterial 11 Piece Camping Cookware Set are somewhat similar. They are both made of anodized aluminum, their pots and pans have fold-out handles, and both include small, lidded frying pans. They both also have little plastic "bowls" that aren't much bigger than the spoons some people eat with. The Winterial kit also has a cutting board and a clever and much-appreciated kettle for dedicated water heating use.
We trust that our recommendations and references are sound and well-researched. We "pound the pavement" (or, anything but pavement, as the case may be) to ensure that our reviews are the best in the business. With camping cookware that means that we cook hundreds of meals in many different settings. Our test team does this as a part of its shared and respective lives, passions, and professions. For your purposes, you can count that our information is up to date and relevant.
Side-by-side with the Winterial Camping Cookware skillet and the Optimus Terra HE skillet, Ryan prepares a yummy, and colorful, meal of pork fajitas.