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Our camping experts have evaluated over 50 of the best camping cookware sets for the last ten years. We tested 19 sets for this review while trotting the globe: from high latitudes and altitudes to warm, sunny, seasonless climates. We put each of these sets to the test, packing them for local backpacking trips, ski touring missions, hiking adventures, and adventure trail runs. We've seared meats, boiled water, sauteed vegetables, examined craftsmanship, and assessed features. After hours of cooking on the trail and off our tailgate, we offer you a comprehensive review of the best camping cookware sets available today. Whether you're seeking the creme de la creme or an extraordinary deal, our expert recommendations will help you find the perfect set for your needs and budget.
You can cook some great meals in the great outdoors — you'll need some camp kitchen essentials, though. A top camping stove will do you some good, or if you're heading into the backcountry, check out our review of the best backpacking stoves. If your camp spot isn't outfitted with a picnic table, see our comparison of the best camping tables. We've even done testing on everything you could want for camping or tailgating (need the best tent?) No matter your camping gear needs, our expert advice will help guide you in the right direction.
Editor's Note: Our camping cookware review was edited for clarity and to ensure product availability on May 8, 2023.
Weight: 3.7 lbs | Material: Aluminum with Teflon Coating
REASONS TO BUY
Many pieces for many uses
Top-notch non-stick coating
Easy to clean
Can be modularized
REASONS TO AVOID
Pot handle gets hot if left on
Teflon coating can wear off
The GSI Pinnacle Camper is our top base-camping choice because of its incredible versatility and ability to function for many people. All of the individual components are, in and of themselves, high-quality components we would be happy to own as solo pieces. But their quality compounds when you add them all together as a set. The set nests neatly together for storage and travel, taking up less space than a bicycle helmet. This compact cook set allows you to cook for and serve up to four people without taking up a ton of precious space. The pots and pans are coated with Teflon's premium non-stick material, and this choice shows in cooking performance. It's easy to clean and quick to boil water. If you plan on a solo outing, you can choose the components to bring along, making it exceptionally versatile for any sized group.
Despite how much we love this set, we encountered a couple of caveats. The pot handle is only compatible with GSI products, so if you have another piece of camp cookware you like using, you'll have to bring an additional attachable handle. Also, we suggest using a plastic or wooden stirring utensil to avoid scratching the Teflon coating. Otherwise, it can flake off. Minor issues aside, this camping cookware set is easy to use, features many modularized pieces, and is our favorite choice for cooking for groups of up to four people.
Stanley's Adventure Base Camp cook set is a complete camping cookware kit great for camping due to its weight. In the design of this set, Stanley focused on optimizing cooking performance and packability. It serves four people and nests together perfectly for easy packing in the corner of your car trunk or canoe duffel. It comes with pots, pans, plates, cooking and eating utensils, and more. The price is hard to beat, and its durable stainless steel construction adds to its value. After testing it for over two years, the steel hasn't changed color, and all components still look fresh.
Although the pieces of this camping kit nest nicely, it's far too heavy to go very far as part of a human-powered cook kit, so we don't recommend it for backpacking. The plates are rather small and only suitable for small servings. If you want a true "glamping" experience, you might be better off grabbing some plates from your home kitchen. The Stanley Adventure Base Camp is truly best for budget-conscious folks traveling by boat, plane, or car who need a functional kitchen in one nested package that's great for larger groups. Likewise, you can take individual pieces and modularize them as you wish.
Weight: 1.4 lbs | Material: Hard-Anodized Aluminum with Non-Stick Coating
REASONS TO BUY
Phenomenal heating efficiency
Welded rubber sink
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks frying pan
If you're shopping for a cookware set to take on your camping adventures, it's hard to top the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS. During our water boiling time tests, the included pot was one of the fastest to reach boiling that we've seen. The combination of a heat-exchanger ring at the bottom and hard-anodized aluminum construction speeds up cooking time, which also helps conserve valuable fuel. The set includes a lid that doubles as a strainer, two folding sporks, two insulated mugs, and two bowls. Our favorite accessory was the storage sack, which doubles as a sink. Having a designated spot for scrubbing dishes is much more convenient, clean, and efficient than washing everything in the same pot you use for cooking.
While it has plenty to offer, the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS is not for everyone. Though we have cooked for groups of four or more with similar-sized pots, you'll need to bring extra dishes and utensils if you're going to cook for more campers. Realistically, the Dualist HS is best for two people. A bigger problem than the volume of the pot is the diameter. If you're preparing a meal for which you'd normally use a frying pan, you'll likely find this pot is a little tight to work in. But for its size and weight, this camping cookware set is our top recommendation for backcountry adventurers.
The GSI Glacier 1-Person is a simple cook set that's best for the solo backpacker looking for simplicity and reliability at a low cost. Far from a full kitchen, it features one pot (one-liter capacity), pan, bowl, and cup. Constructed with stainless steel, it is ultra-durable and resistant to dents and scratches. This is the set to buy if you're about to embark on a long mission and require confidence on your trek. Best for backpacking, it boils water quickly and prepares just enough food and water for one person. We also love the super low price that adds even more value.
If you want all the bells and whistles, then you should consider another set in the lineup. The GSI Glacier 1-Person is simple yet highly durable. However, we should note the steel has changed color after a few camping trips, making it look a little older than we would like. Also, the stainless steel design doesn't offer cooking performance as good as other stainless steel options. This camping cookware is best for preparing basic meals and for campers who can appreciate a minimalist approach at a great price.
The tall and narrow profile focuses heat on the bottom
The MSR Trail Mini Duo is one of the lightest cook sets we've tested, making it a fantastic addition to your ultralight kit. When you correct for the efficiency advantages of aluminum construction over a long enough trip, the MSR is one of the lightest ways to construct a camp kitchen. The Trail Mini Duo, at its simplest, is just one small pot, cup, 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 an eight-ounce fuel canister inside. The whole package fits into the light mesh stuff sack that MSR includes with the set.
For any sort of "proper" cooking (basically, anything that isn't freeze-dried or pasta), the MSR Trail Mini Duo will struggle, as the pot is small, tall, and narrow. The anodized coating is sub-par at best for a non-stick treatment that feels more specialized with limited applications. While you can get away with cooking an egg inside it, it's best for boiling water and hydrating food. On a recent backpacking trip, the rubber pot grip got a bit too hot over a single-burner stove and melted; you'll want to ensure you're watching this pot on a high-powered single burner. Still, this is the set we reach for when heading out on a solo weekend backpacking or hiking escapade.
The MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set is truly unique as a quality ceramic set. Sophisticated camp cooking has always required a non-stick coating. Until recently, that meant either hefty cast iron or Teflon-style coatings, but the times have changed. This ceramic-made option doesn't use a Teflon coating. We appreciate its lightweight and seemingly high-quality construction. An MSR frying pan is available separately, with the same coating that is non-stick in nature and easy to clean. After three years of use, the coating still looks fresh when using only plastic utensils while cooking.
Not only is this kit pricey, but it is also relatively specialized. To fully assemble a camp kitchen at this level of performance and health consideration is an expensive proposition that requires some mindfulness. You should not clean it with a ball of abrasive steel wool or cook with metal utensils. With proper care in mind, the MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set is a prime option for those who prefer a ceramic coating over Teflon.
These cookware sets have been all over the world, from Hawaii's beaches to Iceland's high tundra. They've been utilized by solo travelers and in basecamps with a dozen people. We made backcountry "Michelin Star" meals, simple veggie mixes, and so much more. We subject each cookware set to the same controlled tests, both in the field and back in the lab. This allows us to objectively compare these sets without bias. We then pass all of that information and experience onto you in the form of expert recommendations.
We break down our overall score into six key metrics:
Cooking Performance (25% of overall score weighting)
Portability (20% weighting)
Durability (15% weighting)
Weight (15% weighting)
Ease of Use (15% weighting)
Features (10% weighting)
Our lead camping cookware testers, Jediah Porter, Ross Patton, and Amber King, have cooked up meals in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Jediah Porter is an IFMGA/AMGA-certified mountain guide. He spends a lot of time in the camp kitchen, whether perched high up on a cliff ledge or at a well-established base camp in Alaska. Ross Patton is a lifelong outdoor adventurer and avid camper. Growing up in Utah, he first completed the White Rim Trail on a bicycle at just ten years old. His education is in Environmental Science, so he is no stranger to the laboratory side of testing. Amber King is a fast-packer that embarks on ultralight missions in remote places like the Faroe Islands with her simple sets of cookware in tow. She's a climber, runner, and outdoor adventurer who camps out of her truck every weekend and spends the summer running and hiking long trails.
Analysis and Test Results
We took the time to select a wide range of cook sets to compare. From full basecamp setups to single pots, we've chosen options for all campers. We have tested sets for folks who prefer camping, others who prefer to carry a backpack, for picnickers who want to carry a cookset for a day hike, and for the ultralight crowd. To objectively compare each, we rate them across six important metrics, including cooking performance, packability, durability, weight, ease of use, and features. It is important to consider how you will use a set of camping cookware to determine which metrics are most important to you.
How do you get the biggest bang for your buck? While there are several different types of camping cookware sets out there, there are some inherent patterns to note that will help you find a well-priced set for your needs. When considering the price of a cookware set, be sure to consider what size of set you require, what performance features you would like to have, and where you plan camping and cooking.
If you like to group camp, the Stanley Adventure Base Camp stands out for its lower price and stainless steel design that is seemingly bombproof. While it is heavier than the GSI Pinnacle or GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper, it's just as featured with better durability, a lower price, better features, and thus a much higher value.
One of the lowest-priced contenders, the GSI Glacier 1-Person, stands out for its simplistic design and stainless steel construction. The Winterial 11 Piece Camping Set is another set to consider that has the capacity to cook for two but is less durable than other sets we tested. Earning one of the highest overall scores with a more affordable price tag, the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS is a great deal for a top-tier backpacking set.
If you seek the best camp cookware, cooking performance is the most important factor to consider. We want a set that cooks well, boils water efficiently, and minimizes heat loss so that precious fuel is not squandered. In our tests, we assess the performance of each product by constructing carefully controlled tests. First, we look to see how fast each will boil water. Second, we test which will make the best scrambled eggs without producing a sticky or burnt mess. Finally, we make several on-trail meals and make noteworthy the easiest options to use and require more attention. The non-stick pots are typically the easiest to cook with and have the fastest boil times.
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.
Our Control Tests
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 GSI Outdoors models). It boiled the two cups of water in three minutes and fifty seconds. This is remarkably close, as a "control" should be, to the tested pots' average time (3:40).
The pot's diameter, depth, materials, and thickness are essential factors here. Pots that use thicker materials with better conductivity distribute heat more efficiently, 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 compared to the rest — similar to what you'd get in your kitchen.
Even more than these variables, we found that the presence or absence of heat-exchanging rings on the bottom of the pot affects the efficiency of our boil test. The average boil time of pots with flat bottoms is three minutes and 50 seconds. For the pots with heat exchange rings, such as the Primus Prime Tech 2.3 and the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS, the average boil time is faster. This difference is significant for gas conservation, especially if you find yourself boiling snow on high mountains like Denali.
The set with the pot that boiled water the fastest is the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS, clocking a time of a mere one minute and 20 seconds. With a rate this quick, you can plan to bring less fuel on extended backpacking trips and expeditions. Finishing just behind the Dualist HS with a time of one minute and 30 seconds was the Sea to Summit X-Pot. This pot 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.
We were surprised by the Sea to Summit X-Pot's larger cousin, the Sea to Summit X Set 32, as the main pot had a boiling time of only two minutes and 15 seconds. The kettle in this set took a little longer to boil, about two minutes and 45 seconds. The unique kettle included with the 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.
Other pot sets like the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper (and nearly identical GSI Pinnacle Camper) and GSI Outdoors Glacier Basecamper offer about an average boiling time, hanging around three minutes, 50 seconds. The MSR Ceramic set is a tiny bit faster because its material offers better conductivity and has a tight-fitting pot lid.
Smaller pot sets also offer a faster boiling time. For example, the Snow Peak Personal Cooker is tiny and will boil one liter of water in three minutes and five seconds. The GSI Glacier 1-Person is similar with the same amount of time. Both have a thinner stainless steel construction, with an aluminum core that quickly conducts heat. The uncoated and smaller construction makes it that much better. We also appreciate the 3:10 boiling time of the Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium, a camping cup built for boiling water and rehydrating meals on the go.
Consider a Heat Exchanger for Speed
The fastest pots to boil water are those with heat exchangers. If you're planning on traveling in environments where fuel optimization is important, look for one like the Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set or the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS set.
The Egg Test
We created a test to see how each set 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 cooked scrambled eggs in each skillet (or pot if the set did not include a skillet) over our two-burner propane camping stove or a single-burner backpacking stove.
It is rather obvious which of the sets cooked evenly with minimal sticking. Our best performer is the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper model, which has a Teflon non-stick coating on a thick-bottomed, dedicated frying pan. Interestingly, the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker frying pan did not perform nearly as well as the Pinnacle Camper in this test and our "real life" usage.
Although we prepared the egg in a pot, the MSR Quick 2 System was an excellent performer during this test. Other models that performed well in this analysis were the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS, Primus PrimeTech 2.3L, and the MSR Ceramic 2. All of these sets have non-stick surfaces, making clean-up easy.
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 all other cooking performance attributes will fall in line. One exception is the meat-browning performance of the laminated Stanley Adventure Series skillet. Not even cast iron skillets can match the performance of laminated stainless steel for browning meat.
Packability is important whether you're living out of your van or backpacking in the wilderness. If you're looking to save space, this might be the metric you want to focus on.
We generally look for a set with nestled construction that will allow you to fit a fuel canister inside and that will not jostle around while hiking or driving your van. Those sets with all of these features or that simply took up less space did the best. Remember that you can also buy a set with more features and parse out individual components to make it more packable.
Two models stand out for their ultra-packable design – The Sea to Summit X Set 32 and the Sea to Summit X-Pot. With silicone sidewalls, the X Set 32 has a kettle and a pot that 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. The X-Pot is a smaller version with a standalone pot geared toward backpacking.
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.
Other contenders that take up less space include the MSR Trail Mini Duo, MSR Trail Lite Duo, Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium, GSI Glacier 1-Person, GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS and Snow Peak Personal Cooker 3. These backpacking-specific designs scored high marks for being the smallest and most compact sets tested.
The MSR Trail Mini Duo is shaped so the user can fit a fuel can and stove inside. The Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium, GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS, and GSI Glacier 1-Person can fit both a small canister and stove inside, while the Snow Peak Personal Cooker 3 can only fit one or the other. All five kits are designed for backpacking and lightweight adventures. But the Snow Peak Trek 700 is one of our favorites because it has the smallest dimensions and takes up the least amount of room in a backpack.
The cookware sets we tested nest together and slide neatly into a sack. Exceptions are the MSR Quick 2 System, Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2, and MSR Ceramic Set, all of which lock together by the pot handle flipping over the straining lid. The Stanley Adventure Series closes with an elastic strap that holds the lid on the main pot, containing all its parts. The casings for each of the GSI Outdoors sets all double as washbasins or water storage. The Primus PrimeTech carry bag is also insulated, which we like for colder hiking adventures.
Can It Fit a Stove?
When purchasing a backpacking-specific set, consider looking for a unit that can fit your stove and gas canister inside 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 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 stainless steel construction of the GSI Glacier Basecamper, GSI Glacier 1-Person, Snow Peak Personal Cooker 3, MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set, and Stanley Adventure Series Cookset will last. 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, which has flimsy lid holders, but well-crafted pots and a pan.
We also appreciate the seemingly indestructible construction of the titanium contenders. Specifically, the Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium cup didn't scratch or dent when cleaned with steel wool or banged (hard) against rocks. While titanium doesn't cook nearly as well as stainless steel, it seems more durable for its weight. Even though it's thin, it's super-strong.
While we didn't see any real durability issues in our testing, we did notice that the Teflon coating on skillets, like the one included in the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper, scratched when cleaning it. 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 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. This way, you can use the Ceramic 2 Pot Set cook set longer than the Teflon-coated ones, making it a more durable option.
Weight is a key consideration if you carry your cookware for any length of time on your back.
If you plan on solely camping, you can largely disregard this category. But people who enjoy 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.
The second-largest and second-heaviest set we tested was the GSI Pinnacle Camper Cookset, which weighed 3.7 pounds. This model features two pots, two straining lids, a skillet, four plates, four mugs with lids, and four bowls, plus a sack that doubles as a wash basin. The amenities are great if you're looking to set up your camping kitchen entirely, but this also adds considerable 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, it was slightly heavier than average.
Of the camp setups out there, the GSI Glacier Set is one of the lightest. It only has two high-capacity pots (two and three liters) and one saucepan with no extra components. While the pots might be heavier than the most ultralight options, they can cook more food at once, decreasing the fuel required for the trip. If a less-heavy camp set is what you seek, this is one to consider.
The absolute heaviest set is the Stanley Adventure Series Base Camp. Those who choose this set can expect high cooking performance from a set with a clever packing combination. You can get away with bringing it into the backcountry if you parse out all its components, amongst others.
On the other end of the spectrum are the lightest sets, intended for backpacking, fastpacking, and those that appreciate minimalism at its best. The Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium (0.3 ounces) and the MSR Trail Mini Duo (0.7 ounces) are some of the lightest cookware sets we've tested. The Trek 700 is just a simple and durable cup, while the Trail Mini Duo comes with a pot and eating bowl, and has better cooking performance overall. The GSI Glacier 1-Person is stainless steel and a touch heavier. Unlike the Trail Mini Duo, it also comes with a frying pan, pot, bowl, and cup. So it has more features, but its cooking performance simply doesn't compare.
We also appreciate the kettle in the Sea to Summit X Set, which is a mere 0.4 pounds. We used this super collapsible and lightweight component while fastpacking in Iceland and camping on a beach in Hawaii. We used it to rehydrate meals and boil water, which proved quick and efficient in all weather conditions. For standalone pots, the Sea to Summit X-Pot holds two liters of liquids but only weighs 0.6 pounds.
The MSR Ceramic 2-Pot is another super lightweight option, only weighing one pound, with amazing cooking performance. It's larger than the Glacier 1-Person but has a much higher capacity, suited for two to three people instead of just one. You'll be spending less on fuel as you can boil more water with less fuel for more people.
Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is where we found the sweet spot for weight, where a set didn't sacrifice too many amenities or too much cooking performance. These middleweight-range sets (1.2 - 1.8 pounds) were great for camping, or even for backpacking when scaled down a bit. The MSR Trail Lite Duo Cook Set, Primus PrimeTech 2.3L, and the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS fall within this range. Another excellent mid-weight solution, with a few extra amenities included, is the MSR Quick 2 System.
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 ten days straight while fastpacking in the world's high latitudes, 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 piece in every set to determine its versatility and practicality. The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS, MSR Trail Lite Duo Cook Set, MSR Quick 2 System, MSR Ceramic, and Primus Prime Tech 2.3 rank the highest within this category for their versatility both in the campground and on the trail. All these pots performed well during our scrambled egg test and were very easy to clean. Often, we find a skillet is unnecessary for overnight backpacking trips. And because of how well the MSR Quick 2 System and GSI Pinnacle Dualist HS scrambled an egg without one, we feel like anyone can do without a pan for short camping excursions.
The MSR Quick 2 System set tied for the top ease of use score with PrimeTech 2.3L and MSR Ceramic. We like the Primus set's insulated cover and 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. The Ceramic also uses a super steady pot gripper, but it's specific to its setup and can't be used for other uses.
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. It has a dedicated frying pan, but the thin, anodized aluminum construction doesn't lend itself very well to egg cooking.
The lowest competitors in this category are the MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set and the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset. The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo camper set scores a little higher than the Pinnacle in this category for being easy to use while 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.
Cleaning Methods Matter
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 brush can ruin your set. Stainless steel can handle abrasive steel wool pads, but you should treat all other sets more cautiously. Green scrubbing pads are the best way to go for aluminum and titanium sets, but if your pan has a non-stick coating, 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 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 MSR Trail Mini Duo is one pot, one lid, a plastic bowl, 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, are all 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.
Let's examine what your typical camping kitchen should include. A lightweight backpacking cook kit might have one pot for boiling water for every 2-4 people and a spoon for each person. Everyone can 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 you could just take from your home kitchen. In between is the sweet spot. Whether camping or collecting a kit that will work for all of these and 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 needs a bowl or deep plate, a cup for hot and cold liquids, a spoon, and a fork (or a spork). 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 with at least some additional accessories.
Under half of the cook sets we tested are two pots, lid(s) and handle(s). All of these products have no additional features. You will need to acquire a cutting board, knife, cutlery, bowls, and cups for each. In most cases, you will also choose to add a frying pan. The Primus PrimeTech 2.3L or the MSR Ceramic are great examples of this type of set.
Two GSI products, including the Pinnacle Camper Cookset, offer dedicated lids, insulated coffee cups, narrow "bowls," and the carry bag doubles as water storage and a washbasin. GSI's newer backpacking set, the Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS, has wider mugs and bowls, which allow for the storage of a stove and a fuel canister inside the pot. This model also includes the type of carrying bag that doubles as a sink.
The GSI Glacier Basecamper has none of these. The MSR Quick 2 System, MSR Trail Lite Duo, and Sea to Summit Alpha 2.2 have similar feature sets. Each is two pots with lids, a couple of bowls/plates, and insulated mugs. For backpacking, even when preparing relatively nice food, this is a great start, if not all you will need.
The Winterial 11 Piece Camping Cookware Set is made of 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.
We cooked hundreds of meals in many different settings to test camping cookware, so you can trust that our references are sound and well-researched. The shared experience of our test team allows us to offer unbiased, expert recommendations. This comprehensive review will help you find the perfect camping cookware for your needs and budget so you can get back out on the trail and after your next adventure.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.