The Best Camping Cookware for Backpackers

Best Camping Cookware (Reviews & Buying Guide 2017)

What is the best camping cookware to buy? This might sound as a surprise question to many campers since when we talk of foods while camping, what comes to mind for many is the processed and packed food. But do we really have to rely on processed food when cooking can be more satisfying while bringing out the fun at the same time?

Shopping for cookware can be overwhelming. What kind of cookware will you use? Do you have a preference for titanium or stainless steel? How deep are your pockets and how much are you prepared to spend on camp cookware? Looking at affordability, portability, cooking performance, weight, usability for campers and durability, we review the top ten camping cookware you can buy right now! And, as has always been, you will never go wrong by relying on our expert opinions.

Comparison Chart for Top Four (4) Best Camping Cookware

MSR Quick 2 System Cookware

Package: 2L pot, 1.5L pot, strainer lid, 2 plates, 2 mugs, handle.

Key features: non-stick interior surface, anti-scratch and corrosion resistant.

Addons: 2 double-wall insulated mugs.

Editor's Rating:

The G4Free Outdoor Camping Set

Package: 1.3L pot, 1L pot, 2 lids/bowls, mini stove with piezo ignition.

Key features: Lightweight, suitable for backpackers due to Aluminium material.

Addons: Mesh bag was included as a gift.

Editor's Rating:

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset

Package: 2L pot, 8” fry pan, strainer lid, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, handle.

Key features: Pinnacle coating for non-stick interiors and protection

Addons: 2 insulated mugs with sip lids, two bowls fitting into each other.

Editor's Rating:

Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Sets

Package: 2 large pots with a lid - 3" height x 6.5" diameter, 1 fry pan 1,25" x 6.4", 1 tea cattle, 1 serving spoon.

Key features: light weight design, best for backpacking.

Addons: a piece of cleaning sponge, 1 personal bowl, 1 serving ladle, carrying bag..

Editor's Rating:


MSR Quick 2 system



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Properties

  • Components: 2L pot, 1.5L pot, strainer lid, 2 plates, 2 mugs, handle
  • Approximate price: $100
  • Score: 85/100
  • Cooking Performance: 8/10
  • Portability: 8/10
  • Durability: 9/10
  • Light-Weight: 8/10
  • Ease of cleaning: 10/10
  • Material: Hard adonized aluminium

The MSR Quick 2 system works very well on a 2 burner propane camping stove and can also be used at home, giving it added flexibility and also making it easier for you to fork out $100 for a set that can be used at home and on your camping trips. Its compact design creates room for insulated mugs which will save a lot of valuable space. The MSR system comes with useful amenities showing that the designers of the set are avid campers who know the pain of using a pot without a little metal lid which helps while straining liquids. The deep dish plates are important as they can handle soupy meals which are not uncommon in campsites all over the world.

The biggest drawback of the MSR Quick 2 system is its lack of a skillet which has to be purchased separately. This only serves to increase the overall price of the whole set. However, given the strong ratings in every category used to review it, the MSR Quick 2 system is worth taking a risk on.

Pros
  • Has secure handles, has a straining lid and dip and also features deep dish plates.
  • Cons
  • The skillet is not included in the MSR Quick 2 system.

  • Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set



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    Properties

    • Components: 1.9L pot, 6.5” fry pan, lid, kettle, ladle, 2 bowls, spatula, scrubbing pad, hot pad
    • Approximate price: $43
    • Score: 82/100
    • Cooking performance: 8/10
    • Portability: 8/10
    • Durability: 8/10
    • Light-Weight: 8/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 9/10
    • Material: Aluminium

    With 11 pieces making up this set and weighing less than 2 pounds, the Winterial camping cookware and pot set will offer you a lot of value, especially if you are a novice at outdoor events such as camping. You can also put to rest concerns about the set being able to cook evenly and to retain temperature (leaky pots are anathema). It is also safe to conclude that there will be no issues with scratching, something that can make your cookware set appear old and unusable in a matter of months if you are not careful.

    The construction of the handles is a feature that you will fall in love with, since the handles collapse back around the pot and pan. This is in contrast with other cookware where handles collapse over the top of the system, a cumbersome and irritating experience. The fry pan is deep to prevent overflow of contents while cooking, which makes it a viable candidate for making pizza in the great outdoors.

    In the end, if you are just starting out on camping, or if you are not sure on what you need to take with you apart from a pot and skillet, then the Winterial camping cookware and pot set will come in handy. The disadvantage of this cooking set lies with the 2 small bowls and the ladle, which you can do without. Given all the evidence, it would be wise to purchase this cookware set as it is affordable and not deleterious to your financial pocket. After having spent a couple of days out in your tent, you will know exactly what you need with you and what you can do without, allowing you greater flexibility and precision in your purchasing decisions.

    Pros
  • It is a great set for those who are just starting their camping outings. The set features stable handles and has versatile pieces.
  • Cons
  • Features small bowls that can be a pain to bear with. It also has unnecessary accessories that you will probably not use and which will only end up taking much needed space.

  • The G4Free Outdoor Camping Set




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    Properties

    • Components: 1.3L pot, 1L pot, 2 lids/bowls
    • Approximate price: $20
    • Score: 79/100
    • Cooking performance: 6/10
    • Portability: 10/10
    • Durability: 7/10
    • Light-Weight: 9/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 9/10
    • Material: Aluminium

    The four pieces of cast aluminum that make up this cooking set are adequately suited for backpacking and camping. The entire set only weighs 1.2 pounds, and this is great news for those who will be constantly moving from one campsite to the next. Being burdened by heavy cookware will only make the journey more arduous and tiring than it already promises to be. The set is smaller in diameter and taller, and this unique feature means that it can be easily packed into a backpack. The drawback is that it will take longer to boil water and there are chances of losing heat/temperature more than other cookware set models. The best applicable use for the G4Free Outdoor Camping set is for specific trips that are time bound and also for car camping expeditions. The final con of the G4Free is that it does not come with a skillet, which is something you are bound to miss while camping.

    Pros
  • The cookware set is lightweight. It contains useful components that you will value when camping. You can pack the cooking system inside.
  • Cons
  • The handles made of silicone can melt easily. The cookware set has a problem of conducting heat unevenly.

  • Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact Cookset



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    Properties

    • Components: 1L pot, 8L pot, 6” lid/fry pan, 5.3” lid/fry pan
    • Approximate price: $95
    • Score: 71/100
    • Cooking performance: 5/10
    • Portability: 9/10
    • Durability: 7/10
    • Light-Weight: 10/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 9/10
    • Material: Titanium

    This 4 piece set was designed for those who like traveling light, and for those who detest having to carry heavy loads for long distances. The pot hands tend to collapse around the back of each pot, while the lid handles flip up over the top of the set. One of the drawbacks of using this cookware set is the lack of a skillet, and trying to use the lids of any of the two pots for this purpose is bound to be an exercise in futility. All this means you should budget extra for a skillet if you need one, and factor in the price to the buying price so as to know your final expenditure. It is also worth noting that titanium might be a light weight yet strong and durable material to use, yet it presents problems with heat conduction. This means that the best method of preparing foods using this cooking set is by boiling water.

    Pros
  • It has a Teflon coating which makes cleaning up afterwards easy and pain free.
  • The pots and pans come in a great size that is just right for all camping purposes.
  • Cons
  • The cookware set is heavy and presents problems for those who would prefer lighter loads.
  • The non stick coating is prone to scratches, which means that you must be super conscious about this while cooking.

  • GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Camper Cookset



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    Properties

    • Components: 3L pot, 2L pot, 2 strainer lids, 9” fry pan, 4 mugs, bowls, plates and handle
    • Approximate price: $109
    • Score: 62/100
    • Cooking performance: 8/10
    • Portability: 4/10
    • Durability: 5/10
    • Light-Weight: 5/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 8/10
    • Material: Aluminium and non-stick teflon coating

    GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset



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    Properties

    • Components: 2L pot, 8” fry pan, strainer lid, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, handle
    • Approximate price: $115
    • Score: 67/100
    • Cooking performance: 9/10
    • Portability: 5/10
    • Durability: 5/10
    • Light-Weight: 6/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 9/10
    • Material: Hard anodized aluminum and non-stick coating

    This Cookset is perfect for a couple or two people going out camping. Once the number of people in your group increases, you will find it hard to use the GSI outdoors pinnacle backpacker Cookset. The non stick coating material means that using the Cookset will not present any difficulties when cleaning up. The set is contained by a carrier that is flexible enough to double as a wash basin, further eliminating the number of items that you will have to carry on your camping or backpacking trip. One of the major drawbacks with this set of cookware is that it is particularly heavy to carry around, and the fact that you are likely going to be two people means that there won’t be much gain in load sharing. This is something you should bear in mind before going for the GSI outdoors pinnacle backpacker Cookset. You will also have to be very careful of the Teflon coating, since the type of utensils you use could end up scratching it. Once scratched, the non stick coating material will come off in tiny chunks that could end up in your mouth and system. This is not an enticing prospect to think about.

    Pros
  • It is very easy to clean up after use. The pot and skillet size are perfect for two people.
  • Cons
  • It is heavy and might present an unwanted burden during your camping trip.
  • You need to be careful while using metal utensils.
  • It is not the best Cookset to use when hosting large groups of people. More than three people in your camping trip constitute a large group.

  • MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set



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    Properties

    • Components: 2L pot, 1.5 pot, lid, pot grabber
    • Approximate price: $50
    • Score: 64/100
    • Cooking performance: 4/10
    • Portability: 6/10
    • Durability: 10/10
    • Light-Weight: 8/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 5/10
    • Material: Stainless steel

    The MSR Alpine 2 pot set is one of the rare stainless steel cookware sets that you will come across in this review. While it is good for eliminating temperature loss, it is a poor heat conductor and will take the longest time to boil water amongst all the cook sets that have been reviewed here. This is mainly due to the fact that stainless steel is not the best conductor of heat. However, the huge advantage of the MSR Alpine 2 pot set is its durability. Stainless steel is very scratch resistant, unlike other Teflon coated sets that need an extremely vigilant person to use them in food preparation. What this means is that you can use cleaning materials such as steel wool without worrying about preparing an environment for chunks of Teflon to find their way to your gastrointestinal tract.

    Pros
  • Very durable and can definitely take a beating.
  • Cons
  • It is a poor heat conductor and this translates to uneven cooking that will leave you feeling frustrated. For example, it takes a long time to boil water.
  • The Cookset does not come with a skillet.

  • Optimus Terra HE 3 piece cookset



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    Properties

    • Components: 1.75L pot with a heat exchanger, 1.7L pot, lid/ fry pan, pot grabber
    • Approximate price: $50
    • Score: 70/100
    • Cooking performance: 7/10
    • Portability: 7/10
    • Durability: 6/10
    • Light-Weight: 7/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 8/10
    • Material: Hard anodized aluminum

    If you are looking for a Cookset that can be used without having to use grippers to insulate yourself and one that can boil water very quickly, then the Optimus Terra HE Cookset is what you need. However, this is a double edged sword as the pots will boil water the fastest but also cool down in the shortest possible time. This means that you need to be very vigilant to avoid wasting time in reheating the water. The HE cookware is easy to use and easy to clean, with non stick coating on the smallest pot. As with other Teflon coated cookware sets, you need to be careful to prevent it from being scratching and then coming off in chunks that can end up in your body. The pot grabber is disliked because it means you need to maintain an active grip while moving or straining anything in the set. It would appear at the outset that this HE cook set is best used when car camping and not when backpacking. This is due to the fact that it is heavy and it does not fit in an ordinary backpack. As a parting shot, the heat exchanger drastically reduces the amount of fuel you will need for boiling and for food preparation, a boon to any camper who must conserve the energy at their disposal.

    Pros
  • This Cookset can boil water quickly compared to other models.
  • . It also easy to use on the burner without having to use a gripper.
  • Cons
  • The bag is not easy to use; it is heavy presenting portability problems.
  • The set does not have any dishware or cups.
  • It comes with a pot grabber instead of an attached handle.

  • Stanley Adventure 2 Pot Cookset



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    Properties

    • Components: 2 pots (1.5L and 2L), folding cutting board, collapsible spatula, ladle, 2 bowls
    • Approximate price: $39
    • Score: 70/100
    • Cooking performance: 4/10
    • Portability: 5/10
    • Durability: 10/10
    • Light-Weight: 5/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 5/10
    • Material: Stainless steel

    This cookware set is perfect for those who want to save space as it comes with a compact nesting system. The stainless steel material means you can expect problems with heat conduction, but at the same time it is scratch resistant and durable. It is too heavy for backpacking trips that are going to last more than a couple of days.

    Pros
  • Features a compact nesting system.
  • It is defiant to scratches and highly durable.
  • Cons
  • Too heavy for multi day backpacking trips
  • Poor heat conduction hence cumbersome cooking.

  • Primus LiTech Super Set



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    Properties

    • Components: 2 pots, a frying pan and lid
    • Approximate price: $80
    • Score: 70/100
    • Cooking performance: 8/10
    • Portability: 7/10
    • Durability: 8/10
    • Light-Weight: 7/10
    • Ease of cleaning: 8/10
    • Material: Hard anodized aluminum combined with multi layer non stick titanium coating

    The Primus Litech Super Set is best used for gourmet camp meals, when you are in the mood for some outdoor sophistication. However, this is not a cookware set for backpackers who are on the move and are used to simple camp meals. The non stick coating is excellent when it comes to cleaning up.

    Pros
  • High quality cookware.
  • There is nothing to hold the lid in place during storage, presenting portability problems.
  • Cons
  • It is heavy and may present problems for backpackers.
  • Poor heat conduction hence cumbersome cooking.

  • The Ultimate Camping Cookware Buying Guide: What You Should Consider Before the Committal Decision

    We all know that foraging and reading through the various reviews for each cookware in an online store is a headache none of us would like to be caught in. But, as a camping enthusiast, there are some salient features and deciding factors that one should consider first before making their final purchasing decision. Some of the factors that we have considered while reviewing the various cook sets (and which you should consider before investing your money in any cookware) include:

    1. Cooking Setup
    2. This should be your first consideration. Where will you be preparing your food? How many people will be in your group? Will you be cooking at a campsite with your car a stone’s throw away or will you be the nimble backpacker with only your feet for company? The answer will determine what kind of cookware you should go for.

      For instance, if you are car camping, then you will not pay much attention to the weight and portability of your cookware, since it is the vehicle that will be doing the heavy lifting for you. Car campers are also likely to have portable grills and camping stoves with them. This means that checking the bottom of your cookware to ensure that they are flat and can be used without difficulty on your camping stove is important.

      Backpacking setups are different from car camping setups, seeing that weight is the first consideration for many who will have to bear the load of their cookware throughout the camping trip. This means that most backpackers will opt for lightweight cookware. Their camping stoves are also different hence it is imperative to make sure that your cooking sets can fit properly on backpackers’ camping stoves.

    3. Type of Material Used to Make the Cookware
    4. There are many different materials used to make cook sets, and each has its own special pros and cons. It is worth going through the different materials and noting down which material is best suited for your purposes:

      1. Aluminium
      2. Pros: It is affordable, lightweight and can conduct heat very well compared to its counterparts. This means that you won’t have to spend too much time preparing food instead of enjoying the outdoors.

        Cons: Aluminum can react with either acidic or alkaline foods and change their flavor. Aluminum is not as durable as other materials and can dent or warp easily. This mainly applies to raw aluminum. On the other hand, anodized aluminum is less prone to dent or warp or react with the food you are preparing.

        Best applicable use: Aluminum is best used when simmering food without scorching them. It is also worth noting that it is affordable than costly stainless steel.

      3. Hard-adonized Aluminium
      4. Pros: this material creates a thicker and tougher coating than the regular anodized aluminum. This thickness and toughness can be up to three times better. The advantage of this is that you get more durable cookware.

        Cons: hard anodized aluminum is usually coupled with non-sticking coating such as Teflon that requires a vigilant and hyperaware individual to use the cookware. This is due to the fact that Teflon can chip away due to scratching by metal utensils or any other utensil inappropriately used. Once it starts to come apart, the Teflon will gradually become incorporated into the food being prepared and this will eventually find its way into your gastrointestinal tract.

        Best applicable use: cooking meals with fresh ingredients

      5. Titanium
      6. Pros: Very light and excellent for backpackers who cannot bear to carry heavy cookware with them. Titanium also makes for thin walled cooking sets that allow pots and pans to heat up quickly, which is a boon to those who don’t want to stay cooking for too long.

        Cons: Titanium has the tendency of creating hot spots. This can be attributed to its poor heat conductivity properties. It is also more expensive compared to other materials and this might take up a huge chunk of the money you had set aside for your camping trip.

        Best applicable use: Titanium is best used by backpackers who do not have the convenience of cars and other vehicles to help in load bearing. It should also be used in preparing meals that involve boiling water more than other meals.

      7. Stainless Steel
      8. Pros: Stainless steel is durable and scratch resistant. This means steel wool can be used without any hassle.

        Cons: Cooking is uneven due to the prevalence of hot spots. It also makes cookware heavy and this will not be preferred by backpackers.

        Best applicable use: Stainless steel is best used by frequent campers who place a lot of value on durability.

      9. Cast Iron
      10. Pros: It is very durable and can last a lifetime. It cooks evenly and is naturally non sticky. It is also perfect for baking over a stove or campfire.

        Cons: It is heavy and may require frequent re-seasoning so that the non stick surface can be retained. It is not suitable for backpacking.

        Best applicable use: Cookware made of this material is best used for car camping.

      11. Non-stick Coatings
      12. Pros: Cookware does not need as much cooking oil compared to other models without the non stick coating. It is also easier to clean and maintain.

        Cons: It is prone to getting scratched and requires you to be very careful when using it. It also breaks down very quickly after the first scratch.

        Best applicable use: best used by car campers who value easy clean ups.

    5. Type of Pieces That You Want for Your Cook Set
    6. You should also know what assortment of pots, skillets, lids, utensils, plates, bowls and cups that you will require for a successful camping trip. This is important because there is such a thing as overbuying. You should only go for the big cookware sets if you can justify the decision. Otherwise, you will be left with many pieces and utensils that you will not use and that will only end up gathering dust in your basement.

    7. Efficiency
    8. The efficiency of your cooking set will largely depend on the color, pot diameter and height in addition to the type of material that has been used to make the cookware. Darker colored pots and cookware tend to be the most fuel efficient and it is worth bearing this in mind when purchasing cook sets. The bigger the diameter of your pots, the more efficient they will be, as a larger surface area will be exposed to the flame as compared to the tall skinny pots that might be more portable.

    9. Pot Grabbers and Handles
    10. Pot grabbers and handles are also something worth considering, especially if you do not envision yourself holding on to the pot to make sure it does not fall while stirring. You should look for handles that can lock onto the pot and steer clear of separate pot grabbers.

    11. What to Do With Accesssories
    12. There are cookware sets that come with just a pot and skillet, whereas others come complete with mugs, utensils, plates, bowels and some have been known to come packed with towels and tea pots. It is important to get these extras if you are just starting out. However, if you already have these items, then it would make sense to go for a simple pot and skillet combination so as to not spend too much money on things you already have.

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