a woman cooking on a camping pan cookware

The 10 Best Backpacking Cookware for Camping [Pots & Pans to the Rescue]

Last Update: 13 September 2019

The 10 Best Camp Cook Sets to Dare the Outdoors in 2019

Are you looking for the best cook set for solo dining in a camping pitch? Or maybe you have an upcoming car camping trip with family and friends but you’re wondering which cookware set to buy?

Here’s the deal:

We’ve tested more than a dozen camping cook sets over the last two and a half years. We know what works well. We’ve had experience with mediocre picks. And we’re familiar with what won’t give you the ultimate dining experience far away from home.

So in this guide, we’ll walk you through the best camping cookware based on our analysis and experience. We’ll tell you their pros and cons, and help you get your purchase right the first time (without feeling ripped off).

But before we get to it, here’s a quick table that lists these top of the line camping cook sets, just in case you’re in a hurry:

Rank
Image Name
Our Rating Check Price / Buy
#1
Mallome backpacking camping cookware

MalloMe Camping & Backpacking Cookware Mess Kit

#2
Gold-Armour 17 pieces camping mess kit set

Gold Armour 17 Pieces Camping Mess Kit

#3
Bisgear 16 pieces camping cookset

Bisgear Outdoor Camping Cook Set

#4
Stanley Adventure Stainless Steel Base camp cook set

Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four

#5
TOAKS Titanium Camping Cookware - 1100ml pot and pan

TOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot with Pan

#6
Petforu ultralight backpacking camp cookset

Petforu Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Cookware

#7
Solo Stove Stainless Steel Camping Cookware

Solo Stove 1800ml Pot Cooking System

#8
Esbit lightweight 3-piece camping cookset

Esbit 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set

#9
FinessCity ultralight titanium camp cookware bpa free

FinessCity Titanium Camping Cookware

#10
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist adonized aluminum backpacking cookset

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist Camping Cook Set

The Best Camping Cookware - List

1. MalloMe Camping & Backpacking Cookware Mess Kit

Mallome Non Stick Camping and Backpacking Cookware Mess Kit
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Performance Chart

88% Overall Score
Design 8 Performance 7 Ease of Use 10 Durability 10

MalloMe 10-Piece Mess Kit is a cookware set of nearly everything you need to cook tasty meals in the wild. Designed for solo campers who love to pack small and get going in minutes, this set is versatile enough to get even the most involving foods ready in time. And although it has its own limitations, much like every other cookware in the market does anyway, it’s still a comprehensive cook set for a budding outdoor enthusiast.

Design

MalloMe Mess Kit features an anodized aluminum build, a non-toxic material that heats up fast to make cooking stress-free. But the aluminum isn’t just laudable for its nonstick attribute. It’s also commendable because it enhances the durability of the cookware, while keeping the overall weight to a minimum.

When it comes to size and weight, we’re more than willing to admit that this cook set is one of the most compact and lightweight units we’ve come across as camping maniacs. The set is so small that it easily collapses into a mini bundle for easy storage. And it’s so lightweight that you won’t even feel its weight in your backpack.

Performance

We’ve used MalloMe Mess Kit a few times for cooking and solo dining in the wild. And we must admit that its heat conductivity, which is a number one priority to every camper, is up to scratch. The anodized aluminum distributes heat evenly, giving you the flexibility you need to get your single serve meals ready in no time.

While MalloMe Mess Kit’s build is up to the standard, its performance when it comes to actually cooking is slightly above average.

It handles light cooking quite well. It can even stand up to that instance where your cooking is a little more involving than it should. But it becomes somewhat duff when you introduce a more sophisticated kind of cooking. At the very least, frying is hard and stovetop baking is nearly impossible.

Ease of Use

The sturdy handles make the frying pans easy to hold during cooking, no matter how hot the pan gets. The nonstick coating releases food with ease, hence the pans are easy to clean after use.

Durability

Apart from being a good conductor of heat, the anodized aluminum is durable enough to last for long. And although it isn’t nearly as strong as stainless steel, it still holds up quite well against instances of packed denting.

The only issue with the durability is the nonstick coating. It tends to wear out with time. And this is an issue with a majority of the cook sets, not just MalloMe Mess Kit.

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2. Gold Armour 17 Pieces Camping Cookware Mess Kit

Gold Armour 17 Pieces Camping Cookware Mess Kit
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Performance Chart

90% Overall Score
Design 10 Performance 8 Ease of Use 8 Durability 10

Gold Amour has always had one simple goal since its founding: to bring you the best camping gears at the lowest possible prices. Of course, it’s hard to imagine that you can get a premium grade cook set for just a few bucks.

Except for one thing:

Gold Amour actually makes it possible.

This brand’s cookware set is a collection of practically everything you need to cook and enjoy a delicacy in the wild without breaking the bank. And while it’s primarily an option for solo camping, this mess kit should be just as sufficient for two light eating campers as the Bisgear 16-piece cook set reviewed below.

Design

The overall design is a mix of wood, metal, and plastic. To be precise, the frying pan and pot are made of anodized aluminum. The two eating bowls are made of BPA-free plastic. The spoons feature a stainless steel construction. And the wooden spoon is safe for healthy cooking.

Additional items included in this package are a carabiner, a loofah sponge, a rice ladle, a fire starter, and a stainless steel cutlery for solo dining.

The nonstick cooking surface is something you’ll appreciate for two reasons. First, it makes foodstuff easy to cook, hence getting your light meals ready in not more than 30 minutes. Second, it makes cleaning easy for you.

Performance

It took me about 5 minutes to unpack the mess kit, ready for performance testing. After fitting the mini stove on a Coleman propane canister, we were ready to take the cook set for a test drive to see if it would hold up to our expectations.

At a first glance, the mini stove looked like a mediocre piece. Because, how was such a tiny thing going to heat up the pan and pot anyway? It’s only until you light it up that you realize how such a tiny piece of camping stove can work wonders. It simmers nicely. And when you need more heat, this stuff is equal to the task.

The heat conduction and even distribution is something you’ll appreciate. In our experience, anodized aluminum tends to heat a lot faster than stainless steel. So for light cooking, the pan and the pot ticked for us. And it should for you, too.

It boiled water faster than many stoves, almost close to as fast as our gas cooker would on low heat setting. It fried eggs well and cooked veggies just fine. However, Gold Amour Camping Cookware Mess Kit requires more than just a tablespoonful of cooking oil to cook well. So you want to keep that in mind.

Overall, the performance of the stove is up to the standard for light cooking. We suggest buying larger stove if you have plans to cook a lot.

Ease of Use

Gold Amour Mess Kit is very easy to use.

The nonstick surface releases food smoothly during serving. This attribute makes the pot and pan easy to clean. The plastic handles, which fold down easily, enable you to hold the pan in position during cooking. In addition, they fold down easily for easy storage.

The entire set is easy to fold down and pack when it’s not in use. And it’s so lightweight that you can carry it in your backpack and not feel the weight.

Durability

Gold Amour uses high quality materials to design this mess kit, giving it the best quality possible. As long as you don’t subject it to literal abuse, it should serve you for many camping adventures to come.

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3. Bisgear Outdoor Camping Cookware Set

Bisgear Outdoor Camping Cookware Set
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Performance Chart

85% Overall Score
Design 8 Performance 6 Ease of Use 10 Durability 10

Bisgear cook set has its highs and lows. But overall, it appears to have a good balance between design and performance.

The package includes a nylon carry bag, a pot with a lid, a pan, carabiner, a loofah sponge, a sturdy wooden spoon, 2 plastic bowls, a small stove with piezo igniter in a beautiful yellow plastic case, a stainless steel pork that folds easily, and a plastic ladel with a strong metal handle.

With everything you need for solo dining all in one place, you’re just a step away to cooking a delicious meal away from home.

Design

The quality of the design is the first thing we look at before buying almost any camping gear. And the Bisgear cook set wouldn’t be an exception.

The kit features a mix of material as far as the construction of the whole set is concerned. And in our opinion, the design is pretty much up to the standard.

To begin with, the pan and the pot are made of FDA-approved anodized aluminum. The spoon, knife, and fork are made of stainless steel and the wooden spoon, which you’ll use more often to cook your meals, is sturdy and 100% healthy. Add to this the BPA-free plastic bowl and what you have is a full set for healthy cooking and serving.

Performance

The materials used for the constriction are BPA-free and FDA-approved. This only justifies the health and safety aspect of the cook set. But it doesn’t quantify its performance. So we had to put this to thorough testing, at home and in the wild, to see if it would live up to the hype.

Here’s what we found:

Once we unpacked the unit from the box, we realized just how small this unit is. This thing is so tiny that it’s only suitable for solo camping. It might be a good option for two light eaters, but we really can’t make a sound conclusion given its size.

The stove is so small you might think it won’t work well. But you don’t want to underestimate its power. This tiny thing simmers well. And when you need more heat to cook faster, you get just that. The piezo ignition caught my attention the most. It makes the stove very easy to light. And it stands up against harsh weather so well that fire won’t extinguish in the event of wind.

You’ll need Coleman butane or propane for the mini stove. This isn’t in the package, so you’ll have to spare a couple of bucks for it.

The pot and the pan can hold 32 and 17 ounces of water respectively. The 2 BPA-free plastic bowls can hold only up to 7 ounces of water each.

The performance when it comes to cooking isn’t perfect, but it’s satisfactory. It fries eggs really well and cook vegetables with ease. A tablespoon of cooking butter should be enough to cook at most two eggs. The more oil the better. It warms water faster. And you can even use it to make tea if you want. However, you can’t use it for heavy cooking.

We loved the even heat distribution of the aluminum pan and pot. At least, we didn’t have to use the wooden spoon to concentrate food at the center above the mini stove. The only issue we discovered with the performance is that sometimes food tends to stick on the surface, so the nonstick aspect of the pan and pot is subject to scrutiny.

Ease of Use

Bisgear Outdoor Camping Cookware Set is generally easy to use. The plastic handles let you hold the pan and pot during cooking. They also fold down for easy storage.

This item weighs around 20.5 oz., which means it’s easy to carry along especially when backpacking. Cleaning is a breeze, just use the loofah sponge to wipe it and you‘re good to go for the next round of cooking.

Durability

Generally, this is a well-built cook set. The anodized aluminum is solid, no doubt. Items made of stainless steel should definitely last for long. Be careful not to subject the plastic to pressure or denting, otherwise they’ll get messy.

Don’t scrape the nonstick coating with metal or anything hard. You’ll end up shedding of the coating and interfere with the lifespan of the pan and pot.

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4. Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four

Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four 17 Pieces
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Performance Chart

80% Overall Score
Design 6 Performance 6 Ease of Use 10 Durability 10

Car camping is a lot more fun with friends and/or family around you. Add a good meal to the moment and it becomes an unforgettable adventure in the wild. To cook, serve and dine in style, you will need to bring the best stainless steel camping cook set to the camping site. Stanley Base Camp Cook Set is a solid choice, and for good reasons.

At the very least, this dinnerware includes nearly everything you need to cook and serve four people. You get a pot, a frying pan, four bowls, four plates, four spokes, a hot plate, a dish drying rack, and a lid. The only things missing in the package are drinking vessels and a chopping knife.

Design

Stanley Base Camp is unlike the cook sets we’ve already looked at as far as material used for design is concerned. The set features a stainless steel build, which, although sturdy and durable, makes the set quite heavy. Of course, this set is for camping. So, the weight is really nothing you can’t handle.

The rustproof and scratch-resistant lid is a unique addition to the kit. It’s made of the same material used to construct the pot and frying pan. Traditionally, its purpose is to keep heat in the pan or pot so that your food cooks faster. And in my view, you’ll find it useful when cooking outside in a windy camping site, because it helps to prevent foreign materials from entering your food.

Performance

Stainless steel isn’t nearly as good as aluminum when it comes to heat dispersion. More often than not, food in a stainless steel cookware tends to cook slowly. And this is the case with Stanley Base Camp. Still, the set cooks food well, which means the performance is up to the standard.

The 3-layer base construction spreads heat all around the pot thus promoting easy and even cooking. Because the pot has a flat base, you can use just about any heat source to cook with it. But there are limits. Ideally, we wouldn’t recommend placing it on a mini stove mostly used for backpacking. It’ll scorch the bottom and negatively affect the durability.

You can brown meat and cook vegetables just fine. But frying nonstick eggs in the pan is going to be a pain in the ass. Regardless, the chunks that stick on the surface shouldn’t be difficult to clean. At least from my experience with this, a little amount of water should be enough to soak the surface and cleaning becomes a breeze thereafter.

Ease of Use

During our testing at least, we noticed just how easy this item was to use. Holding the pot and pan over a fire was safe and straightforward considering the holders on the side.

Cleaning didn’t take much of our time. Even with eggs sticking on the surface in a few instances, we spent only a couple of minutes to scrub the chunks.

Durability

Featuring a stainless steel construction, the pot and pan are sturdy and durable. These should last longer than expected. The only maintenance required is regular cleaning. The BPA-free plastic items are also durable enough to stand unexpected abuse. But be careful how you handle them anyway.

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5. TOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot with Pan

TOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot with Pan
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Performance Chart

93% Overall Score
Design 10 Performance 7 Ease of Use 10 Durability 10

TOAKS 1100ml Pot with Pan is the first aluminum cookware that we’ve ever used for camp cooking. Based on our testing and findings, we’re confident that the set will give you the value for your money.

Weighing just 6.5 oz., this cookware is so lightweight that it won’t feel heavy on your backpack. And with a capacity of 1100 milligram, it’s sizeable enough to cook enough food for one person. Generally, this cookware is a good choice for solo camping.

Design

When it comes to design, the first thing we always look at is the material used. This helps us to determine the durability as well as the safety of the unit. Clearly, TOAKS 1100ml Pot looks sleek to the eyes. The appearance gives you the impression that it’s a good 2-piece cook set built to last. And it is for sure.

Both the pot and the pan are made of corrosion-resistant, ultralight titanium. TOAK made the bottom rounded to ensure heat efficiency, ease of use and easy cleaning. Also, the handles fold down with ease, enabling you to store the cook set away when it’s not in use.

Performance

The first thing we wanted to know is how fast this material conducts heat. To our surprise, the titanium is just as good as hard-anodized aluminum when it comes to heat distribution.

It dispersed heat faster than aluminum, which, to us, was quite impressive.

But this kind of quick and even heat dispersion has its own challenges. Mostly, though, this is only a case with titanium cook sets.

You can boil water just fine on low, medium, or high heat setting. But it’s another story altogether when it comes to cooking an actual meal. Unless you cook on low heat, the pan will burn quickly and leave black residue.

Another issue with this cook set is that it’s NOT nonstick. Warm up a cup of milk, it sticks. Fry eggs, they stick. In other words, pretty much anything sticks, making the pan a whole lot harder to clean.

Ease of Use

This was a bit challenging to use at first. But once we were able to control how much heat the pan gets when cooking a meal, using it became a lot easier.

It doesn’t come with a lid. But we figured out that you could use the pan as a lid for the pot and get your meals to cook just fine.

The handles hold up well no matter how hot the pan gets. They also fold down easily for storage. You can use the mesh bag to store the set away when it’s not in use.

Durability

TOAKS has maintained the quality of the materials they use for design throughout their product line. For just a few bucks, what you get here is a cook set that you can use for a lifetime of a camping adventure.

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6. Petforu Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Cookware & Stove

Petforu Camping Stove Hiking Backpacking Picnic Cookware
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Performance Chart

85% Overall Score
Design 8 Performance 8 Ease of Use 8 Durability 10

There is no better way to make a tasty meal in the wild than to use a high quality cookware set. Petforu Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Cookware is a good option to try, partly because it’s affordable and mostly because it’s versatile, lightweight, and easy to clean. Ideally, you can use this cook set for hiking, backpacking, as well as camp cooking.

Design

At Camping Maniacs, we are fans of cook sets built with high quality materials. This alone explains why Petforu Ultralight Cookware earned a spot on our list.

To be precise, the pan and pot are made of FDA-approved anodized aluminum, a material highly appraised for its weight, durability, and heat dispersion. It weighs just 3.2 ounces and it’s so small that it’s only suitable for solo camping.

Performance & Ease of Use

Although this cook set’s stove is small, it heats up fast to provide the heat you need to boil water and cook your meals. Its piezoelectric ignition is safe and more reliable than many of the options we’ve tested. And we loved the fact that it works so well with different types of gas tanks.

Based on our testing, the pot and pan were able to distribute heat evenly from the mini stove. With this in mind, you can use the frying pan to fry a few ounces of meat. And you can use the pot to boil tasty soup or make some seriously delicious stew in less than 30 minutes.

This cook set is so lightweight and compact that you can use it during hiking, camping, and backpacking. The nonstick surfaces of the pot and pan release food with ease, making it easy for you to wipe the cooking area after preparing a meal.

Then there are the folding handles. They make the unit easy to carry and easy to hold during cooking.

Durability

To say that this cook set is made of high quality materials and leave it at that would be pretty much an understatement. The anodized aluminum isn’t just a sturdy material approved by the FDA. It’s also high-temperature resilient. This means it will hold up fine even if you cook on high heat.

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7. Solo Stove Pot 1800 Cooking System

Solo Stove Pot 1800ml Cooking System
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Performance Chart

78% Overall Score
Design 10 Performance 8 Ease of Use 7 Durability 6

Solo Stove first appeared in the limelight after designing one of the best camping stoves. They went a step further and released Solo Stove Pot Cooking System, which has also become quite common among campers. To us, this cooking system deserves a mention because it’s durable, lightweight, and very easy to use.

Design

Solo Stove Pot 1800 Cooking System is made of premium 304 stainless steel. The pot is 6.1 inches high, 5.5 inches in diameter, and it has a capacity (volume) of 1800 ml.

At 12.5 ounces, it may not be as lightweight as the Esbit 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set below. But it’s still reasonably easy to move around.

Performance & Ease of Use

Like other wood burning camp stoves, Solo Stove allows you to use natural fuel to cook. To us, this is a big move and an innovative approach that helps to save on cost while still keeping the overall performance up to the standard.

To put this into perspective, Solo Stove allows you to use natural elements found in the wild as fuel. And the best part is? They work as well just as original fuel in a camping stove does. Pinecone, wood, leaves, and twigs will give you sufficient fire you need to cook a tasty meal.

Ideally, this cooking system took about 6 minutes to boil water and at least 25 minutes to cook beef stew.

As other cookware sets in this guide, we found this cooking system quite easy to use. For example, the handles made it easy for us to hold the pot no matter how hot it got. The pour spout makes the set even more convenient. For storage, you can use the nylon stuff sack.

Durability

Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials on the planet. So as you can imagine, this cooking set will definitely service you for a long time. That’s all you need to know about durability.

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8. Esbit 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set

Esbit 3-Piece Lightweight Camping Cook Set for Use with Solid Fuel Tablets
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Performance Chart

85% Overall Score
Design 8 Performance 8 Ease of Use 10 Durability 8

Even if you’re in the market for an affordable camping cook set, you still want to be sure that the kit is good enough to give you the biggest bang for your bucks. We included Esbit 3-Piece Set on this list because its design, performance, and flexibility give you just that. Except for a few drawbacks, we would have given this one a five-star rating otherwise.

The three-piece set isn’t a collection of everything you need for dining in the wild. But it’s a great choice if all you need is a durable pot and a stove. Generally, the three pieces are a cooking pot, a lid, and an Esbit stove. You also get a mesh bag, which you can use to store the set away when it’s not in use.

Design

There isn’t much to say about the design really. But it’s worth mentioning that this cookware is made of hard-anodized aluminum, a material well known for superior heat conduction and reasonable weight.

Weighing only 7 ounces, the Esbit cook set is one of the most lightweight cook sets we’ve tested on a few camping trips.

Performance & Ease of Use

The Esbit stove of this set is the engine of this cook set. It’s where the cooking power comes from. Designed to work only with Esbit solid fuel tablets, the stove provides stable heat for boiling and cooking. That’s, at the very least, what the brand claims.

But we needed to verify the uniformity of heat distribution. So once we placed the solid fuel tablet on the tray-shaped ditch on the stove’s bottom, we were good to go.

From our testing, it took us around 8 minutes to boil water. It took nearly the same time to make coffee, tea, and instant soup. And when we tossed in some cooking of dehydrated foods, the set heeats up really well.

We found this cook set very easy to use.

The volume indicator, marked on the inner and outer wall, made it possible for you to know how much content it can hold. The silicone grips on the handles make the pot easy to hold for long. And the small handle at the top of the lid makes the lid itself easy to lift.

That it’s made of aluminum makes it so lightweight that you can easily bring it with you anywhere you go camping.

Durability

As much as the material used to design this set is lightweight, it is still sturdy and durable. So you can expect the cooking pot, wind deflector, lid, and the potholder to work just fine for a very long time.

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9. The FinessCity Titanium Camping Cookware

FinessCity outdoor camping cooking pot and pan mess kit
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Performance Chart

85% Overall Score
Design 8 Performance 8 Ease of Use 8 Durability 10

FinessCity Camping Cookware is a good choice for the simple reason that it’s lightweight and portable. Also, it’s a versatile option that you can use for RV camping, backpacking, and camp cooking.

Design

This cook set is made of titanium, a material that heats a lot faster to make cooking hassle-free. Weighing just 10.6 ounces, this cook set is one of the most lightweight options on our list, hence an ideal option for solo camping and backpacking.

The insulated handles make the pots and pan easy to hold over a heat source. And, like TOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot with Pan, it doesn’t come with a lid.

Performance & Ease of Use

This is a very small package. It only comes with 2 pots and a pan. A lot is missing here, obviously. However, it’s a good option for a solo camper who’s only looking for pots and pans for the price. We recommend the MalloMe 10-Piece Mess Kit for campers and backpackers who would rather purchase a complete cook set once.

The bigger pot can hold up to 1.2 liters of water. The medium-sized one can hold up to 800ml. And the pan can hold up to 400ml when full.

The 3-piece cook set works well with any fire source, including mini backpacking stove and campfire. Moreover, it’s able to cook a variety of foods very well, including meals with acidic and alkali content in them. Generally, titanium is acid and alkali resistant, which means that such meals won’t lose their flavor after cooking.

We generally found this 3-piece set easy to use. The handles feature a good insulation, so you can hold the pots and pan over a fire for long just fine. We do recommend setting the heat as low as possible for consistent heating.

Durability

We believe that this cook set is durable and can serve you for a very long time. First, it’s made of high quality material, titanium. Second, the titanium is heat and corrosion resistant, making the set an environmental and human friendly choice to use for camp cooking.

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10. GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist Camping Cook Set

GSI Outdoors - Pinnacle Soloist, Ultralight Backpacking, Camping Cook Set
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Performance Chart

85% Overall Score
Design 8 Performance 8 Ease of Use 10 Durability 8

This Pinnacle cookware is a set designed by outdoor fanatics for budding camping enthusiasts. It’s a solo camping kit built to survive even the toughest condition in a campsite. Sold for under $50, GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist is one of the most affordable cook sets on our list.

Design

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist’s build features a combination of clear Lexan and hard-anodized aluminum. The materials are so lightweight that the whole set only weighs 10.8 ounces. The pot is 1.1 liter and the mug is about 14 ounces. The package also includes a strainer lid.

Performance & Ease of Use

The most impressive feature of this cookware is the Teflon coating. Not only does it release food with ease after cooking, it also makes cleaning easy.

In our testing, heat distribution was even, a common characteristic with hard-anodized aluminum cook sets. This made it easy for us to cook foods consistently and within the shortest time possible.

The locking mechanism of this cookware is quite impressive. To operate this, all you have to do is to press the two sides of the handle together, release them, and they easily lock in place. Also, you can fold the handle on top of the lid so it securely holds the lid in place.

Based on our testing, we’re confident this cook set is easy to use. It’s more or less similar to FinessCity Titanium Camping Cookware. The handles fold in and out and lock in place very well. It’s lightweight, hence easy to carry in a backpack. It’s also easy to clean.

Durability

FinessCity Titanium Camping Cookware is tough, thanks to the aluminum construction. Except for the Teflon coating that will obviously chip if you scratch the surface of the pot hard, the cook set should serve you for a very long time.

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Buyer’s Guide: Here’s How to Choose the Best Camping Cookware

Manufacturers spoil you for choice as far as camping cook sets are concerned. But just because you have many options at your disposal doesn’t mean a random pick will work fine for you.

As camping maniacs, we’ve tested dozens of camping cookware over the last two and a half years. And believe it when we tell you that some sets live up to the hype and some are complete junk.

So to help you make the best buying decision, and to ensure you get your purchase right the first time, here are a few things to help you determine the right cookware for you.

1. Determine Your Cooking Setup

backpacking camp cookset

This is a no brainer for nearly all of us. But it’s downright the most important thing to consider before buying a camping cook set. It’s all about deterring how you will be camping and the number of people you intend to serve. This, in the end, will enable you to choose a camping cookware of the right weight and size.

Let’s put it this way:

The cook set you’d use for car camping is completely different from what’s typically recommended for backpacking.

Car camping doesn’t require you to pay a lot of attention to the weight of the cook set. Because, more often than not, the cookware is in your car and they don’t require a lot of movement. As long as the set is an all-around option, with its durability performance up to scratch, you’re good to get going.

Backpack camping is a completely different story altogether. When choosing a cook set for this kind of an adventure, pay close attention to the weight of the cook set the same way you pay attention when evaluating durability and performance.

2. Understand the Material Used to Make the Cookware

Over the years, different brands have worked hard around the clock to design camping cook sets that can stand the test of time. For the most part, they’ve done a good job. Based on our testing, we are confident that many of these sets can easily stand up to environmental abuse and work just fine.

But we need you to understand one thing:

As much as every material used in making camping cookware is up to the standard, they do have their shortcomings as well. Understanding the value as well as the downside of the material used will help you to make a wise decision when it comes to choosing a cook set for an away from home camp dining.

So here’s a quick rundown on this:

Titanium

Titanium cook set for backpacking and solo camping is the most lightweight option we’ve come across. Based on our testing of the TOAKS 1100ml Pot with Pan, titanium cookware seem to heat a lot faster than aluminum, hard-anodized aluminum, cast iron and stainless steel.

The problem with titanium is that it tends to create hot spots mostly due to uneven heat dispersion. Such cook sets are also more expensive unlike the ones made of materials like aluminum and stainless steel.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel cook sets are durable and scratch resistant. You can scrub them hard with steel wool and they will hold up just fine. Bottom line, they are durable and can last a lifetime.

However, stainless steel tends to create hot spots, which makes cooking uneven. And since they are heavy, we don’t think they are anywhere close to good enough for backpacking.

Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the materials ever used to design cookware for car camping, RV camping, and backpacking. It’s affordable, lightweight, and disperses heat evenly to enable you cook with ease.

However, aluminum isn’t as durable as materials like cast iron and stainless steel. It tends to dent easily if bent. And it warps faster than its competition. Raw aluminum also reacts with acidic and alkaline foods, eventually changing their flavor during cooking – making your food taste bad.

Hard Anodized Aluminum

A cook set made of hard-anodized aluminum feature a thick, tough coating, making them up to three times better that raw aluminum cookware. What you get is a more durable set that can last for a long time.

The biggest problem with hard-anodized aluminum cook set is with the nonstick coating. The Teflon coat will chip if scratched during cleaning, rendering the pot and pan useless and unhealthy. But as long as you’re careful during cleaning, sets made of this material should work just fine for you.

Cast Iron

A camping cook set made of cast iron is downright durable and can last for a lifetime. Such a set is nonstick and cooks food evenly all the time. You can use the set to fry and bake over a stove or campfire.

The problem with cast iron cookware is they are heavy, hence somewhat difficult to move around. They are suitable for car camping, but they are completely duff for backpacking. They also require frequent seasoning to retain the nonstick surface.

3. Don’t Ignore the Coatings

There are two types of nonstick coatings: Teflon and Ceramic. They are durable, require less oil for cooking, and are easy to clean.

However, the Teflon coating, although widely available, tends to scratch a lot more easily than ceramic. The best way to preserve the coating is to not use metal utensils with a Teflon coated pot or pan.

4. How Many Pieces Do You Need in a Cook Set?

camp cookware pieces

This is also a no brainer. Actually, the number of pieces you choose will mostly depend on you and your dining requirements.

For example, the number pots and pans you buy will depend on the size of your camping crew. For solo camping, a pot and a pan is usually enough. But there are more persons coming along for this trip, more is better.

It’s best to create a checklist of the items you will need for dining during camping, depending on the number of people on board. Then choose your cookware set based on your checklist.

5. Make Sure the Cookware is Reliable and Efficient

The more versatile a cook set is, the better. Go for a collection that allows you to boil water and cook a variety of foods with ease.

If you can invest on darker pots like Esbit CS585HA, that would be great. This doesn’t mean other options are mediocre, far from it. Darker pots just tend to be a little more fuel efficient than shiny cookware.

Choose a cookware with a bigger diameter. And if it has a flat bottom, that would be great. Such cook sets tend to distribute heat a lot more evenly, making it easy for you to cook your camping meal in just a couple of minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backpacking Cookware

1. Which material is best for camping cookware?

Remember, each material is subject to scrutiny, because they have their pros and cons. In our opinion, none is better than the other is, especially because different campers have different needs.

For example, cast iron is a durable material. But it’s heavy and only suitable for car camping. Hard-anodized aluminum is also durable. But unlike cast iron, it’s so lightweight that it’s suitable for backpacking.

Bottom line:

The material you choose depends on your needs.

2. Is price a determining factor when choosing a camping cook set?

Price may be a determining factor if you’re on a very tight camping budget. However, if all you need is a high quality cookware that performs well, price is something you’d most likely overlook.

3. Do all mini stoves work with gas canisters?

Yes, you can use the mini-backpacking stove with almost any Coleman gas canister.

4. What’s the best way to maintain a camping cookware?

You should always clean the cook set after use. Then store it away in a carrying bag until the next use. Remember to check if the pans ad pots are dishwasher safe. We recommend doing this before buying a set.

Conclusion

Generally, the most important things to look for in a cook set for dining in a campsite are durability, cooking performance, versatility, portability, and ease of use. If you’ve identified a set that meets these five criteria, then you just found yourself the best camping cookware for the money.

Author-bio

ABOUT DANIEL MSANII

When he's not camping or adventuring the outdoors, you'll find him grinding hard on his keyboard to put up some super-awesome content on campingmaniacs.com. Starting off on camping escapades back in 2011, he has grown fond of the activity over the years. His exposure to a myriad of different camping terrains, gear and the outdoor atmosphere has hitherto changed his perception of the entire outdoor life. He enjoys sharing the experiences of his adventures and gear reviews with the awesome camping community on this platform. Read more about us.

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