CAMPING & HIKING

The Best Camping Cookware: What’s Cooking, Good Looking

Best Camping Cookware featured
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

Do you agree that when you are going camping or on long hikes, food and water are always a concern, especially if you don’t want to handle the logistics of carrying pots, pans or dishes? To solve this problem, you take pre-cooked meals or health bars, but that is not the kind of food you want to be having, right? Well, what if we tell you that with the best camping cookware set, the logistics will stop being an issue, and you will be able to cook what you want even in the middle of the forest? Interested? Read on.

Camping cookware can come in many shapes and sizes, but the purpose is usually all the same – we buy them so we have tools that will prepare our food. Having high-quality backpacking cookware can not only save your life in times of crisis, but it can be a pleasant experience and make the outdoors really feel like a second home. However, it isn’t that easy to pick the right one as there are many options as well as features to consider, and that is why we decided to give you a hand by writing this article.

If you keep reading, you will first find a section talking about the most important features to consider before buying. Then, a list of the best cookware sets on the market, that way you can take a look at them, compare and contrast, and by the end of the read, you will already know which one you want to buy. 

Product Name Product Type WeightMaterial Packability Price
MSR Quick 2Cooking System1.76 lbsAluminum and plasticCompact and easy to packCheck price on Amazon
Winterial Camping cookware set1.5 lbsPlastic and aluminumCompact and easy to packCheck price on Amazon
G4Free Mess Kit Outdoor cookware set1.2 lbsAnodized aluminum and plasticCompact and easy to packCheck price on Amazon
Snow Peak Titanium Cookware set0.8 lbsTitaniumCompact and easy to packCheck price on Amazon
Optimus Terra Lite HE Cookware set1.4 lbsAluminumCompactCheck price on Amazon
Lodge LCC3 Cookware set8 lbsCast iron and SiliconNot compactCheck price on Amazon
Stansport Deluxe Cookware set2.8 lbsAluminumCompactCheck price on Amazon
Coleman 12-Cup Percolato1.8 lbsStainless SteelNot compactCheck price on Amazon
MSR Titan Kettle0.26 lbsTitaniumNot compactCheck price on Amazon
GSI Glacier Percolator4 lbsStainless SteelNot CompactCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying 

The next thing to analyze are the specific qualities that we would look for in camping cookware. Each set has different sizes, weights, and uses, but there are a few key qualities that, when compared, will illustrate which of these sets is the best mess kit for you. Read carefully as to have a very good idea of which are the features you need to consider before buying.

Weight

Anytime you are camping, hiking, or trekking, weight counts. Every ounce you put into your pack is a full-blown decision. You never want to hike with more weight than you need or more than you can handle.

Camping cookware comes in many shapes and forms, but the weight is one of the most important factors. Whether you are taking one singular pan or a whole set of five, how much those items weight both individually and with the rest of your gear will help the decision on whether this is something you want to carry on your back for miles and miles.

Packability

Packability falls into two categories: compact and non-compact. Neither is better than the other, but based on your needs, you may want to consider either one singular pan or pot that is non-compact or a variety of pans and pots that stack nicely together into one compact item. There are tons of creative designs in today’s outdoor cookware that it really is amazing and almost overwhelming how many items and pieces they can fit together into a small bag or box.

camping cooking set in a bag

There are pros and cons to both compact and non-compact, though too. An advantage of compact cookware is that they take up little space, but a con might be that it is difficult to get everything back together the way it was first stacked. A pro to a non-compact pan is that it is one simple item with no additional pieces, but a con would be that you have to purchase other pieces, such as lids, bowls, and eating utensils separately.

Materials

The material is an important factor as well when choosing with cookware is best for you and your trip. Many types of cookware come in plastic and aluminum, which are both very heavy duty materials, but neither of which last forever.

There are also cast iron cookware pots and pans that have been built to last a lifetime, but that may be heavy and bulky. Others can be made from steel or titanium that vary in weight and durability.

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Each material has its own pros and cons to consider. Lightweight and weak or heavy and strong are just two of the combinations of choices you will have when thinking about the material you will need for a solid set of cookware to take outdoors with you.

Items Included

Based on the cooking set you are considering, there may be other items included. This can be anything from other pots, pans, or plates, to something as simple as silverware or collapsible cups.

It seems obvious that you want the most of your money, but sometimes less is more. If a potential cook set comes with more items there is also a greater chance that those items may be lost or forgotten at a campsite once you have left.

cooking set with 4 items included

On the flip side, when you don’t add any additional items, you have to ask yourself if that one pot or pan is worth the money without any extras. Adding smaller, simpler items to a combination pack seems like a no-brainer, but there are some people who won’t need those particular items and it may be more hassle to carry them all along than it would be just to purchase them all at your own pace. Additional items usually add value, but we have to make sure they are necessary items or it may, in fact, lose value.

Quantity of People Using Them

This is not exactly a feature of the product itself, but a feature that you have to keep in mind. Are you usually camping on your own or with a partner, or in big groups? Based on this question you will need to decide to buy very specific camping cookware sets.

Many of the camping cookware sets are for either one or two people. However, if you are going to camp as a family, you will want a bigger one or more than one. That is why it is key to keep in mind how many people will be using the set. 

Best Products on Today’s Market

We understand now that weight, packability, materials, and items included are four main factors when choosing a good quality cooking set for the outdoors. However, it is also important to give you a good idea of which are the best cookware products out there. The following list includes them and will give you a head start to help you know which ones are good to buy.

MSR Quick 2 Cooking System Set MSR Quick 2 Cooking System Set

Price: Approx. $100

Weight: 1.76 lbs

Specific features: Compact and easy to pack, the materials are hard-anodized aluminum and plastic, it includes a 1.5-liter non-stick pot, a 2.5-liter hard-anodized pot, strainer lid, 2 deep dish plates, 2 double-wall insulated mugs, a Talon pot handle

Best use: Camping, hiking, traveling

Description: The MSR Quick 2 Cooking System Set might be just what you’re looking for. It’s lightweight at less than 2 pounds and gives you a lot of product for your money. The pots and pans are made of a hard-anodized aluminum that is proven to last over time.

This also means that it will not scratch or dent easily like some other soft aluminum pots and pans may. It includes plenty of cooking items such as two different sizes of pots, a helpful strainer lid, plates to eat from and mugs are also included.

Maybe one of the best parts of this combination cookware set is the pot handle to ensure you will not burn yourself. This mess kit is compact and all items store within other items, and all of it, measures to be no taller than eight inches and no wider than eight inches. Plus, it is lightweight enough to be carried anywhere without becoming uncomfortable.

PROS:

  • It includes all the essentials needed in a camping cook set
  • Lightweight and easy to pack
  • Great quality 

CONS:

  • Pricey

Related: The MSR Folding Utensil Kit is the perfect match for this cooking set. The utensils are foldable and very easy to carry, as well as being of great quality. 

Check the price on Amazon

Winterial Camping Cookware Set Winterial Camping Cookware Set

Price: $45 – $70

Weight: 1.5 lbs

Specific features: Compact and easy to pack, made of plastic and aluminum, comes with a cleaning sponge and a carrying bag.

Best use: Cooking, camping, hiking, backpacking, travel

Description: Weighing in at only one and a half pounds, the Winterial Camping Cookware Set might just be one of the lightest cooking sets that is this compact. Stashing away in one tight pot they manage to fit nearly ten pieces into this space.

Made of aluminum and plastic most of these items are tough enough on their own, but shouldn’t withstand more than they are made for. With a two-quart pot and lid plus a frying pan and a tea kettle.

They give you the essentials of cookware along with a personal bowl, a ladle for safe scooping, a spoon that doubles as a spatula, and a sponge to clean it all up. All of these items fit snugly into a mesh carrying bag for easy storage and retrieval and measuring at less than four inches in height and around six and a half inches in diameter, makes this one compact package.

The carrying bag is also useful because it helps make sure no small pieces or important parts are left behind or forgotten after leaving a campsite in the early light.

PROS:

  • Includes many and very useful cooking items
  • Very light and easy to carry around
  • Easy storage 

CONS:

  • The quality of the aluminum isn’t the best

Related: The Stansport Tableware Set is commonly bought alongside this cooking set. Both complement each other and are ideal to cook and eat in a campsite.

Check the price on Amazon

G4Free Outdoor Mess Kit G4Free Outdoor Mess Kit 

Price: $18 – $36

Weight: 1.2 lbs

Specific features: Very easy to pack, materials are anodized aluminum and plastic, includes a 1.25-quart pot, a 1-quart pot, 2 cup pans, and a mesh carrying bag.

Best use: Outdoor cooking, hiking, camping

Description: The G4Free Outdoor Mess Kit is small and mighty. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles with added forks, knives or spoons, though. It just gives you the essential pots and pans and a guarantee they will last.

With the same tough anodized aluminum, these are built to last years and come with a handy mesh bag to ensure they are safe and sound once they are packed up. All pots and pans included slide into one another and maybe the best part of this package is that they left room for the important stuff.

It contains room in the center of all pans and pots to place those necessities like matches, small camping stoves, seasonings like salt and pepper, or a small sponge. This extra room keeps all of the important items together in one place for convenience on the trail. At 1.2 pounds, this lightweight stack is also fairly small to pack away.

Folded away, it is under 7 inches in height and the diameter is 5.5 inches. Lightweight, easy to pack and store, and extra space to spare sounds like a backpackers dream come true.

PROS:

  • Great price
  • Very good quality
  • Ideal for camping and hiking for the weight and size 

CONS:

  • Being so small, the Bunsen burner can actually burn the handles

Related: The Reehut Portable Campstoves are ideal for this cook set, they are two stoves, very easy to carry around, and that can be lit to use both pots in this set at the same time. 

Check the price on Amazon

Snow Peak Titanium Cookware Set Snow Peak Titanium Cookware Set

Price: $80 – $90

Weight: 0.8 lbs

Specific features: It is compact and easy to pack, made of titanium, includes 1-quart pot, a 0.8-quart pot, 2 pot lids.

Best use: Outdoors, camping, backpacking

Description: The Snow Peak Titanium Cookware Set might be simple, but it prides itself on being just what you need. With only four pieces, two pots around one-quart capacity, and two lids that can double as pans or even plates, this set is perfect for the minimalist who still wants a warm meal. These items also weigh in under one pound, too, making it very easy to take around anywhere as the weight won’t even be noticed.

They nest neatly together and even nest with other items of this brand. This makes it easy to upgrade and customize each trip depending on what you might be eating or who else is joining you on the trail.

Super lightweight, but durable titanium makes this pot set perfect for ultralight backpackers or those who move fast. Easy setup and cleanup, save time and energy that you will need on the trails. When it comes to long camping and hiking trips, this is probably the ideal cookware set to pack.

PROS:

  • Light and compact
  • Ideal for long hikes
  • Lasts long 

CONS:

  • A bit small for more than one person

Related: The Toaks Titanium Cutlery Set is commonly bought with this cookware set. That way once the meal is prepared, you can eat with this excellent cutlery. 

Check the price on Amazon

Optimus Terra Lite HE Cookware Set Optimus Terra Lite HE Cookware Set

Price: Approx. $36

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Specific features: Compact and easy to pack, made of aluminum, includes 2 anodized pots, one is 1.65 liters and Teflon-coated, the other is also 1.75 liters, but not coated, a 1.65-liter Teflon-coated pan, a pot grabber, and a neoprene storage sack.

Best use: Cooking, camping, hiking

Description: Versatility and convenience are brimming with the Optimus Terra Lite HE Cookware Set. It comes with three main pieces, two pots and one pan, but added features make it that much more useful.

A key benefit here is that one pot and one pan are Teflon-coated, and Teflon is one of the most well-known pan coatings that resists sticking. It makes cooking and frying so much easier knowing you won’t have to scrape and scratch to get the food residue off the pans.

These items are stored nicely together when they stack, and can all be placed into a smooth neoprene sack for easy storage and retrieval. The stack nested together is highly convenient at only 4-5 inches tall with a diameter of just over 8 inches make it fairly packable considering its uses.

This set is best for smaller camping groups, but really does its job and makes cooking outdoors a breeze.

PROS:

  • Good price
  • Easy to pack and carry around
  • Not heavy
  • Very easy to clean thanks to the Teflon 

CONS:

  • Frying pan does not fit properly on top of the pot and doesn’t work as a lid.

Related: The Solo Stove Lite is a great item, often bought alongside this cooking set. It is ideal to start a small fire on a campsite and then use the cook set to prepare the meals.

Check the price on Amazon

Lodge LCC3 Cookware Set Lodge LCC3 Cookware Set

Price: Approx. $40

Weight: 8 lbs

Specific features: Made of cast iron and silicon, items included: 1- 3 quart cast iron pan, 1- shallow cast-iron skillet, 1 silicone handle holder

Best use: Hiking, camping, backpacking, traveling

Description: Cast-Iron pans are a league of their own and the Lodge LCC3 Cookware Set is no different. These are definitely non-compact and not lightweight either. An average cast-iron skillet alone can weigh between six and eight pounds.

This isn’t for the ultralight backpackers by any means. The campers this is for are the ones who want a good tasty meal. This particular combo comes with one 3-quart cast-iron pan and a shallow cast-iron skillet that is 10.25 inches in diameter.

These two items alone are all that you would need to make a tasty meal in the woods, not to mention if you are traveling as a group. This makes great meals and can make them for numerous people with the size of these pieces.

A key feature in this combination set is the silicon handle holder. Cast-iron pans are heavy to move anyway, much less move them carefully when they are piping hot! The silicon holder is light and foldable, and is essential to carry with these two sturdy pans.

PROS:

  • Excellent quality and durability
  • Very easy to wash and clean
  • The size is perfect to easily cook meals 

CONS:

  • Very heavy to be taken around on hikes
  • Too big to easily pack it

Related: The Lodge Silicone Hot Handle Holder is a perfect item to buy with this pan. You can place the silicone holder on the arm of the pan as to never burn your hands when you have to hold it.

Check the price on Amazon

Stansport Deluxe Cookware Set Stansport Deluxe Cookware Set

Price: Approx. $10

Weight: 2.8 lbs

Specific features: Very compact, different pieces are made of either plastic or aluminum, items included: 1- 9 inch frying pan/lid, 1 – 5.5 quart pot, 1 – 1.5 quart pot, 1 – 6 cup coffee pot & lid, 4 plastic plates, 4 plastic cups, set of salt & pepper shakers, 1 frying pan handle.

Best use: Outdoor cooking, camping, backpacking

Description: The Stansport Deluxe Cookware Set is just that, deluxe! Designed for cooking in groups, it comes with a wide variety of pieces both big and small. Items include one frying pan, 2 sizes of pots, a handle that can attach to all, a 6-cup coffee pot with included lid, plates, cups, and even salt and pepper shakers.

This set combination is one of the fullest and you are definitely getting many pieces of cookware for your money. That being said, this package includes small pieces that are more likely to be lost, and although they are compact and stackable, there is no sort of storage bags for these items.

When stacked they are less than ten inches tall and around seven inches in diameter which is larger than some of the other compacts we have seen. It’s really better for group hikes or camping with children. One person may not need this complex cookware set, but for those in large numbers, you will be happy you have this many pieces to feed hungry mouths.

PROS:

  • Cheap
  • Compact and easy to pack and carry
  • It comes with pretty much everything that is needed 

CONS:

  • Quality and durability are a concern

Related: The SE Utensil Set is the ideal item to get alongside this cookware set. This other set includes a fork, a knife and a spoon, just what is needed to eat. 

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman 12 Cup Percolator Coleman 12 Cup Percolator

Price: Approx. $45

Weight: 1.8 lbs

 Specific features: 12-cup capacity, made of stainless steel, corrosion resistant

Best use: Camping, hiking, backpacking

Description: The Coleman 12 Cup Percolator might need to be in its own list. Of course, it’s not compact and there aren’t various items to consider, but there are some real positives to this percolator that might change your mind.

It might just be enough to take on a hiking trip and make everyone happy. Making up to twelve cups of tea or coffee and this percolator is completely erosion resistant. The fact that it is made of stainless steel can reassure you that it will not only last long, but it can pretty much be taken anywhere and it won’t be breaking, getting damaged or rusted in any way. Plus, it is very easy to clean, and it has an excellent size or volume.

It’s built to last. It’s not very tall for its liquid capacity and is less than ten inches in height and less than nine inches across including the handle. It’s got an easy pour spout and is proven to give you great tasting coffee for years and years.

PROS:

  • Excellent quality and durability
  • Heats up quickly
  • Very good capacity 

CONS:

  • Not compact
  • Not easy to carry or pack

Related: The Tops Reusable Coffee Filter might be a very good choice to buy alongside the percolator. It is the ideal filter to use time and time again to make coffee on a camping trip. 

Check the price on Amazon

MSR Titan Kettle MSR Titan Kettle

Price: Approx. $60

Weight: 0.26 lbs

Specific features: It is made of titanium and includes one 0.85 liter kettle with a lid

Best use: Outdoors, hiking, camping, traveling

Description: The MSR Titan Kettle is also something you should not hit the trail without. This titanium kettle conducts heat quickly for fast morning coffee and is very easy to clean with rounded edges to minimize crevices that catch leftover water or coffee.

At a little over four inches tall, this is super easy to pack. It is also not heavy at all, meaning that wherever you go, carrying it with you will not mean a problem or an additional weight that can make you uncomfortable. It comes with a lid that will keep the heat it and prevent spills and burns.

This little kettle holds almost a full liter of liquid and would actually be the perfect compliment to the cookware set you use for eating. Perfect for one or two people to enjoy a hot beverage when they are on a camping or hiking trip, especially during cold mornings.

PROS:

  • Durability and quality are excellent
  • Really easy to clean

CONS:

  • The measuring system isn’t very good

Related: The MSR PocketRocket Stove is the ideal stove that you can buy to heat up this kettle.

Check the price on Amazon

GSI Glacier Percolator GSI Glacier Percolator

Price: $40 – $100

Weight: 4 lbs

Specific features: 12-cup percolator made of heavy-gauge, 18/8 stainless steel,ultra-rugged, corrosion-resistant design stands up to ground impacts, PercView dome made of Lexan resin for checking the brew progress, heat-resistant silicone handle stays cool to the touch

Best use: Camping, hiking, backpacking

Description: The GSI Glacier Percolator is something you shouldn’t leave behind when packing either. This is a very good percolator that will allow you heat and boil water quickly, saving you time when you want to cook, clean something or why not get some morning coffee before you start hiking or the day’s activities.

It quickly heats up your water with the corrosion-resistant, marine-grade stainless steel body. It has a carrying handle to prevent burns and an easy pour spout on a hinged lid to prevent spills of hot liquids.

It’s fairly heavy, coming in at about four pounds, but that weight will vary based on the size you choose. This percolator makes great-tasting coffee a breeze, whether it’s just for you or for a whole group. It works well for coffee, tea, or just boiling yourself some clean, pure water for drinking and is an outdoor essential for a trip that feels like home.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to wash
  • Good volume to heat enough water for more than one person 

CONS:

  • A bit heavy
  • Not very portable

Related: The Melitta Coffee Filters are a great add-on to this percolator. This way you can use the boiled water with the filters as to get some morning coffee ready. 

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up 

There are many things to consider when choosing outdoor eating and drinking equipment. A lot of the decision comes down to size, practicality for you, and uses. Asking yourself if what you wish to bring is too large or too heavy is one main concern.

camping cookware

Any backpacker or hiker will tell you that weight does matter. We all wish we could take our full-blown espresso machines with us to use in the morning, but that just isn’t a reality, unfortunately. We also have to realize that a 4-course meal is out of the question in the wild too.

When you are packing for a trip, weight and size matter because you are exploring the outdoors to test yourself. Testing your creativity and your ability to use a little as possible. This counts for food too.

Now it’s your turn to share thoughts. Have you used any of the reviewed products? If so, share some of your experience by leaving a comment in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

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