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The Best Camping Cookware of 2019

Getting ready to catch some waves with a little pick-me-up first! Here we test the boiling speed of the kettle  which takes little to no time to get the water hot.
Wednesday November 27, 2019
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Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Looking for a new camping cookware set? We analyzed over 100 different products before purchasing 13 of the best options to test for both solo and group use. From base camps to fastpacking missions, we experimented with each, learning the ups and downs of each set. Our testers turned into chefs, cooking up meals all over the world. From camping on high porta-ledges on cliff faces in California to car camping while traveling in Iceland. We even tested their efficiency in the snow and through all sorts of weather conditions. After evaluating key features and performance, we offer you recommendations to help you make the best meals in the backcountry.

Related: The Best Camping Stoves of 2019


Top 13 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 13
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $104.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$45.88 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$47.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$58.29 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$49.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comprehensive, high end materialsSturdy 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 Pot handle gets hot, heavyHeavy, 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 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.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 GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set Stanley Adventure Base Camp 11 Piece Camping Set
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Specs GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech... MSR Ceramic 2-Pot... Stanley Adventure... 11 Piece Camping Set
Measured Weight 3.7 lbs 1.6 lbs 1 lbs 4.8 lbs 1.8 lbs
Material Hard-anodized Aluminum w/Non-Stick Coating Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum Stainless Steel. Pot and pan bottoms have additional layers. Hard-anodized Aluminum
Components 2L pot, 8" frypan, strainer lid, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, handle 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) 3.78 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) 0 0 0 0 0
Frying Pan? 1 0 0 1 1
Frying Pan Lid? Yes N/a N/a No No
Packed Size (inches) 8.5 x 4.6 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 1.0 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.5 lbs 1.9 lbs 0.6 lbs
Cooking Surfaces Pot and frypan both have non-stick Teflon coating 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

Best Overall Camp Cookset


GSI Pinnacle Camper


Editors' Choice Award

$104.96
(25% off)
at Backcountry
See It

74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 9
  • Packability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Features - 10% 10
Weight: 3.7 lbs | Material: Aluminum
Comprehensive
Excellent nonstick coating
Modular: choose each trip only what you need
Pot handle gets hot
Teflon coating wears off and brings minor health concerns as it does so

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, preparing and serving very nice food for four in a package that takes up about 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 really 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 simply deconstruct it and take what you need. The pot handle is also lacking versatility with other pot sets. 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 plastic stirring utensil and to avoid scratching the surface.

Read full review: GSI Pinnacle Camper

Best for Building a Kitchen from Components


Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set


Editors' Choice Award

$45.88
(43% off)
at Backcountry
See It

73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 9
  • Packability - 20% 6
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Features - 10% 4
Weight: 1.6 lbs | Material: Aluminum
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


Best Buy Award

$49.99
at Amazon
See It

69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 7
  • Packability - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5
  • Features - 10% 7
Weight: 1.8 lbs | Material: Aluminum
Great starter set
Stable handles
Some versatile pieces
Small bowls
Unnecessary accessories

Earning our Best Buy Award, the Winterial is one of the highest valued sets out there. Complete with its own kettle, making food has never been easier. The handles are stable enough to be used with both a double and single burner, while many of the pieces in the set can be used for different functions. It's one of our favorites if you need a set for yourself or you and a friend.

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. Nonetheless, it must be noted. 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


MSR Trail Mini Duo
Top Pick Award

$49.95
at Backcountry
See It

63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 3
  • Packability - 20% 8
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Features - 10% 3
Weight: 0.7 lbs | Material: Aluminum
Light
Integrated rubber pot grip
Just the right features
Limited non-stick performance
Tall and narrow profile focuses heat on the bottom.

The MSR Trail Duo is one of the lightest cook sets we've tested, and it makes for a great solo backpacking partner. 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 Trial Mini Duo.

For any sort of "proper" cooking (basically, anything that isn't freeze-dried or pasta) the MSR Trail Mini Duo won't work. 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


Top Pick Award

$129.95
at Backcountry
See It

60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 6
  • Packability - 20% 10
  • Durability - 15% 5
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 4
  • Features - 10% 5
Weight: 1.9 lbs | Material: Aluminum & Silicon Sidewalls
Collapsable & Packable
Versatile
A little heavy
Handles are flimsy and hard to use

Standing out for its packable design, the Sea to Summit 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. It is built for those looking to save space simply. The pot and kettle collapse and nestle into the pan for a nice, neat package. It's great for putting into a backpack when you need to save a little space. You can easily parse out the different pieces to make it more versatile. For example, just take the kettle if you're only going to be boiling water on the trail.

Unfortunately, because of its silicon side-wall, you need to be extra careful while cooking…especially on a single burner stove. If it is not set-up correctly, the silicon can melt, so be aware. The handles are also flimsy and the design is surprisingly heavy with all of the parts.

Read Review: Sea to Summit X Set 32

Top Pick for Health Conscious Foodies


MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set


Top Pick Award

$47.93
(40% off)
at REI
See It

72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 8
  • Packability - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9
  • Features - 10% 3
Weight: 1 lb | Material: Aluminum
Light and versatile
Non-stick, non-toxic construction
No accessories
Ceramic will wear off

As a piece of equipment that is truly unique in the field, the MSR 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 very heavy cast iron or Teflon-style coatings. The health risks of Teflon coatings are not appealing to some. Now, 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 an expensive 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


Stanley Adventure Base Camp
Top Pick Award

$58.29
(27% off)
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 9
  • Packability - 20% 4
  • Durability - 15% 10
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Features - 10% 10
Weight: 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
Heavy
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


We go gourmet while testing camping cookware in all parts of the world.
We go gourmet while testing camping cookware in all parts of the world.

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 in remote places like the Faroe Islands, with simple cookware set in tow. She's a climber, runner, and outdoor adventurer that base camps out of her truck every weekend and spends the summer running and hiking long trails. They both love to cook and spend time outdoors.

These cookware sets have been all over the world. From the beaches of Hawaii to the deserts of Utah. 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

While the whole set isn't the lightest  it's still a good option for backpacking.
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.

Analysis and Test Results


The camp cookware spectrum is wide but uniting in promoting healthy sustenance in an outdoor environment. Some love to pack a cooler to the brim, preparing full-on gourmet meals right from the tailgate of their truck. Others might prefer to simply add water to a meal, with a preference to go light and fast while traveling. Whatever your preference, we've taken a look at just about every camp cookware set out there, and provide you ideas on which kit is just right for you.

Grungy but happy! We eat some delicious breakfast on a remote beach in Hawaii while testing out the Sea to Summit cookware set. A great packable option for any small group of backpackers.
Grungy but happy! We eat some delicious breakfast on a remote beach in Hawaii while testing out the Sea to Summit cookware set. A great packable option for any small group of backpackers.

Related: Buying Advice for Camping Cookwares

Value


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 as it uses thicker materials, such as the Stanley Adventure Base Camp 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, and typically, less durable. For example; our Best Buy award winner, the Winterial 11 Piece set is made of thinner materials and offers decent cooking performance, but lacks some key durability features that other more expensive sets hone. 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.


Cooking Performance


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.

We take the time to test the boiling time of the GSI Glacier Base Camp Set on a pocket rocket stove. We take three trials for each and average them.
We take the time to test the boiling time of the GSI Glacier Base Camp Set on a pocket rocket stove. We take three trials for each and average them.

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 Cooksetwith 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. Those that use thicker materials with better conductivity distribute heat more efficinetly, thus leading to better cooking performance. For example, the Stanley Adventure Base Camp is composed of super thick stainless steel. This offers exceptional cooking performance in comparison to the rest — similar to what you'd get in your kitchen.

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 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.

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, such as the Primus Prime Tech 2.3, the average boil time is faster. This difference is significant especially if you find yourself boiling snow on Denali for both gas conservation and logistics.


We are 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. We attribute the fast boil time of the Winterial kettle to its shape, proportions, and tight-sealing lid over a small opening.

Out on a fastpacking trip in a remote part of Iceland. Pictured here is a collapsible kettle that boils water quite quickly  even in cold  wet conditions.
Out on a fastpacking trip in a remote part of Iceland. Pictured here is a collapsible kettle that boils water quite quickly, even in cold, wet conditions.

Other pot sets like the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper (and nearly identical Editors Choice GSI Pinnacle Camper) and GSI Glacier Base Camp offers about an average boiling time, hanging around 3 minutes, 50 seconds. The MSR Ceramic set is a tiny bit faster, as a result of material that offers better conductivity and a tight-fitting pot lid.

The fastest to boil water are those with heat exchangers. If you're planning on traveling in environments where fuel optimization is important, be sure to look for one just like this!

Testing the boil time of the Stanley Adventure Series main pot in a semi-controlled environment  but with a real camp stove.
Testing the boil time of the Stanley Adventure Series main pot in a semi-controlled environment, but with a real camp stove.

The Egg Test

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
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. Although prepared in a pot, the MSR Quick 2 System is also an excellent performer during this test and had a natural cleanup afterward. Other models that performed well in this analysis are the Editors' Choice Primus PrimeTech 2.3L and the Top Pick MSR Ceramic 2. All have surfaces that don't stick easily, making clean up nice. Of them, the Ceramic 2 uses the healthiest material as Teflon has health concerns if it gets into your food.

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.

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.
Testing OutdoorGearLab camp cookware on a ski mountaineering, vanlife road trip in Chile.

Packability


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. Keep in mind, you can also buy a set with more features and parse out individual components to make it more packable.


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! Better yet, you can parse out parts of the set to optimize it even further.

The Sea to Summit X Set 32 in its uncompressed form.
The Sea to Summit X Set 32 in its uncompressed form.
A look at it completely compressed. You can also parse out the set and take fewer items to optimize for space and weight on ultralight missions.
A look at it completely compressed. You can also parse out the set and take fewer items to optimize for space and weight on ultralight missions.

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.
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.
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 wash basins/water storage. The carry bag of the Primus PrimeTech is also insulated which we like for colder hiking adventures.

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.
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


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 GSI Glacier Base Camper, 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. The Alpine set is also constructed of durable components, unlike the GSI Glacier, that has flimsy lid holders, but well-crafted pots and pan.

Cooking in a wild setting with the beefy pot and pan of the Stanley Adventure Series set is a joy.
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 anodized aluminum construction prefers plastic utensils as the metal can scratch easily. If you are worried about scratching  look for stainless steel construction at is quite a bit more durable.
The anodized aluminum construction prefers plastic utensils as the metal can scratch easily. If you are worried about scratching, look for stainless steel construction at is quite a bit more durable.

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 the 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 Ceramic 2 Pot Set cook set can be used longer than the Teflon coated ones, and therefore received higher durability scores.

A look at a clean pot after three months of rigorous use. The Outdoor Glacier still looks pretty good! Use metal utensils  and beat the crud out of it. The stainless steel construction is quite bomber.
A look at a clean pot after three months of rigorous use. The Outdoor Glacier still looks pretty good! Use metal utensils, and beat the crud out of it. The stainless steel construction is quite bomber.

Weight


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.
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.


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 GSI Bugaboo Camper comes fully loaded with some great amenities, but also makes it the largest, and heaviest cookware we tested.

Of the base camp set-ups out there, the GSI Glacier Set is one of the lightest. While it only has two high capacity pots (2L, 3L) and one saucepan, with no extra components, we appreciate its simplicity. While the pots might be heavier than the most ultralight options out there, they can cook more food at once, decreasing the amount of fuel required on the trip. If a less heavy base camp set is what you seek, this one to consider.

The overall weight of the Glacier is about a pound less than other options. That said  this does not come with any utensils  plates  or other pieces. It's basic and simple.
The overall weight of the Glacier is about a pound less than other options. That said, this does not come with any utensils, plates, or other pieces. It's basic and simple.

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.

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 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.

The ultralight Snow Peak Titanium pot in action high in Wyoming's Tetons.
The ultralight Snow Peak Titanium pot in action high in Wyoming's Tetons.

Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is where we found the sweet spot for the 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 which is a mere 0.4lbs. We used this super collapsible and lightweight component while fastpacking in Iceland and camping on a beach in Hawaii. We used it to simple rehydrate meals and boil water. In all weather conditions, it proves to be quick and efficient.

The Sea to Summit kettle offers a packable way to make coffee on this remote beach in Hawaii.
The Sea to Summit kettle offers a packable way to make coffee on this remote beach in Hawaii.

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 even boiled water for 10 days straight while fastpacking in the high latitudes of the world, exploring Iceland and areas beyond. 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 single 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.
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.

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.
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.

We also evaluate how easy it is to clean a pot or pan. This is the result after cooking bacon early in the morning. With some sand scrubbing  it eventually comes out  but it requires a little work.
We also evaluate how easy it is to clean a pot or pan. This is the result after cooking bacon early in the morning. With some sand scrubbing, it eventually comes out, but it requires a little work.

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.

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.

Features


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.
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 just be 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.

This set doesn't come with all the bells and whistles but has just two pots and a pan. This kind of set allows you to optimize and add your own components to personalize your camping trip.
This set doesn't come with all the bells and whistles but has just two pots and a pan. This kind of set allows you to optimize and add your own components to personalize your camping trip.

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.

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 a great example of this type of set.

Look for features like a built-in strainer in the lid that makes pasta-making pretty simple.
Look for features like a built-in strainer in the lid that makes pasta-making pretty simple.

To that basic 2-pot foundation, the Optimus Terra HE adds a perfect frying pan. Three GSI products, including the Editors' Choice Pinnacle Camper Cookset, offer dedicated lids, insulated coffee cups, narrow "bowls", and the carry bag doubles as water storage and a washbasin. The GSI Glacier Base Camper has none of these. 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.

The Best Buy Winterial 11 Piece Camping Cookware Set is made of anodized aluminum with pots and pans with fold-out handles and small, lidded frying pans. It also comes with a cutting board and a clever and much-appreciated kettle for dedicated water heating use. It is simple with features that we love.

Ryan prepares a yummy  and colorful  meal of pork fajitas on one of our many testing expeditions.
Ryan prepares a yummy, and colorful, meal of pork fajitas on one of our many testing expeditions.

Conclusion


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.


Amber King & Jediah Porter