There is just something about camping and hiking that makes dinner taste better than anything you can make at home. Cooking in the outdoors can be a fun and relaxing experience…with the right gear. While you might be able to cook with your household pots and pans, most traditional kitchenware is too heavy and bulky to carry with you on the trail. An all-inclusive cook set for camping usually contains everything you need to cook and eat in the great outdoors without bringing along your entire home kitchen. And the great thing about shopping for the best camping cookware is that you can find many fabulous options under $100, with many costing much less!
Here’s a sneaky peak at our top picks of the best cooksets around in 2017. Wehther you’re looking for an ultra lightweight cookset for solo backcountry missions, or something that will allow you to cook for your whole family on your next camping vacation, there’s something for every type of camper.
|Sea to Summit Alpha Pot Set 2.2||1.7lbs (765g)||Backpacking and car camping||$$$|
|MSR Alpine 4 Stainless Steel Pot Cookset||3.1lbs (1.4kg)||Car camping||$$|
|GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Base Camper Cookset||3.2lbs (1.4kg)||Car camping||$$$|
|Sea to Summit X Set 32||1.66lbs (756g)||Backpacking||$$$$|
|Stanley Adventure Base Camp Cook Set||5.6 lbs (2.5kg)||Car camping||$$|
|Optimus Terra HE Cookset||1.5lbs (680g)||Backpacking||$$|
|Terra Hiker Camping Cookware||1.65lbs (750g)||Backpacking||$|
|Snow Peak Multi Compact Cookset||0.72lbs (328g)||Ultra lightweight backpacking||$$$|
|G4Free Outdoor Camping Set||1.5lbs (680g)||Backpacking||$|
|Winterial Camping Cookware||1.5lbs (680g)||Backpacking||$$|
|MSR Quick 2 System||1.76lbs (793g)||Backpacking||$$$|
What to look for when choosing the best camping cookware
When shopping for the best camping cookware, consider the size, accessories, and material of each set.
The best camping cookware for you will be just big enough without being too big. A pot that is too small will be frustrating to use, while a set for four takes up too much space in your pack if you are backpacking alone or with a partner. Look at the capacity, break-down size, and weight when comparing cookware. Weight is less of an issue with car or RV camping than backpacking; pick the set that matches your most common uses. For multi-day backpacking trips, consider something like the lightest cookware on the list: the Snow Peak Multi Compact Cook Set.
How important is it that your cookware come with compact utensils or bowls? If you want a set that will be your only cooking and eating gear, Stanley’s Adventure Base Camp Cook Set includes service for four. If you are looking for something simpler for primitive camping or to use with other accessories you already own, consider MSR’s Alpine 4 Stainless Cook Set.
Cleaning dishes while camping, especially cookware with baked-on eggs or rice, can be a challenge. Many campers turn to non-stick cookware to simplify the cooking and cleaning process. The downside to non-stick coatings is that they can scratch easily without careful use. Sturdy metal cookware without non-stick coating of any kind can handle metal utensils and coarse scrubbing. Clean up often takes longer, however, because food is more likely to stick during cooking. Which type of cookware you choose really depends on how you plan to use it. If you aren’t sure whether or not you need traditional or non-stick pots, the Quick 2 System from MSR offers one of each!
The 11 best camping cookware sets
Once you have determined the parameters of your ideal backpacking cookware, one of these great options is sure to be the perfect fit:
If you’re after a complete cooking and eating set for your camping adventures then look no further than the Sea to Summit Alpha Pot Set 2.2. This is a similar set to the MSR Quick 2 System, but at 765g (1.7lbs) it is a fraction lighter and also a little cheaper. The set features two lidded mugs, two bowls, and 2 lidded pots with folding handles that lock into place. The whole set it ideal for two people on backpacking trips who want to eat more than boil-in-the-nag meals. And the pots are also sizable enough to cater for larger groups when car camping.
For more information read our full review of the Alpha Pot Set 2.2.
- Complete cooking and eating set
- Locking pots handles are very reliable
- Big pot is good for large meals
- A little bulky compared to other pot sets
- Fairly pricey
MSR’s Alpine 4 Stainless Cook Set is heavy duty enough to withstand cooking on a variety of heat sources, including an open flame. The three separate pots come with a lid that doubles as a plate. What the Alpine 4 has in durability comes at the cost of more weight – at just over 3 lb. for the entire set, it’s not something you’ll be wanting to carry far in your pack. For trips when weight isn’t a problem, such as car or RV camping, the Alpine 4 cook set is hard to beat for versatility and price.
- Heavy duty
- Can be used on a campfire
- Three different pot sizes
- No frying pan
- Heavy – Over 3 lb.
If storage capability is a top priority, the Bugaboo Base Camper from GSI Outdoors is a great choice. Both pots, the pan, and cutting board nest inside the largest pot for easy storage. The nylon lid with built-in strainer is guaranteed not to crush even stacked underneath other gear. Teflon coating on the insides of the pots and pan keeps even tough-to-clean foods like eggs from sticking to the pan. For trips where water is in short supply, easy clean pots are a must.
- Easy to clean
- Will not crush or dent in storage
- Built-in strainer and cutting board
- Requires special brushes and utensils
- Cutting board is very small
Sea to Summit X Set 32 is an incredibly popular set of cookware – and for good reason. The X Set 32 takes compact design to the next level with a kettle and pot that actually collapse to take up very little space in your pack or kit. One of the best features is a strainer lid that actually clips onto the pot. Many cook sets include a straining lid, but holding a lid in place while straining hot water can be tricky. A lid that stays in place while staining is safer and easier to use.
For more information about the X Set 32, read our full review.
- Collapses down for storage
- Silicone handles stay cool when the cookware is hot
- Handles on the frying pan collapse at the touch
- More expensive than other 3-piece sets
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Cooking for more than one or two people out on the trail is much simpler with one big cook set than everyone packing their own gear. With four separate sets, you will end up with four pots, four ladles, four fry pans, and more. An all-inclusive cook set like the Base Camp Cook Set from Stanley Adventure includes service for four and an extra large pot and frying pan. With no duplications, even the larger cook set will not take up as much room in your gear as you might think.
- Cookware base designed for even cooking on uneven heat
- Includes plates and bowls for four
- 19 pieces in all
- Too large for one or two campers
- Accessories take up more space than a simpler set
When saving time and space are your top priority, consider the Optimus Terra HE Cook Set, which contains fewer pieces than most but makes up for it in size and quality. The pots and pan are slightly larger than comparable cook sets, making them adequate for at least three campers per set. Water boils faster in the Terra HE than other pots – a helpful feature for those trips where you need to set up camp right at dusk or make a cup of coffee before setting out on the trail first thing in the morning.
- Boils water quickly
- Larger capacity pots and pan
- Easy to clean
- Comes with no accessories or dishes
- Non-stick coating prone to scratching with misuse
One of the best starter cook sets on our list is the Terra Hiker Camping Cookware because it is easy to use and priced well below most of the other sets on the list. The non-stick material is easy to clean, and the set comes with its own scratch-free utensils. A bamboo rice spoon is also included. Since many camping and backpacking meals incorporate rice, the rice spoon should get plenty of use! All ten pieces together weigh under 2 lbs.
- Easy to clean
- Includes scratch-free utensils
- No plates or bowls
- Kettle holds less than 1L
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When cookware that can multitask as more than one thing is a top priority, Snow Peak’s Multi Compact Cook Set offers pot lids that double as plates. The two largest lids can even be used as frying pans! Each piece is made of pure titanium with no coating you need to worry about scratching. The pots are really only large enough for cooking for one, making this a great option for ultralight cookware at only 11 oz. for the whole set.
- Super lightweight
- Compact for storage
- Can withstand heavy scrubbing and scratching
- No accessories
- Only large enough for one
The least expensive cook set on our list is also one of the most compact. Each of the nesting pots and pans in the G4Free Outdoor Camping Set feature silicone-coated handles that fold around the pot for easy storage. There are no utensils or plates included, which gives you the freedom to pack as many or as few as you need for your trip. The pans can also double as pot lids if you are making anything that must be covered during cooking such as rice or rehydrated meals.
- Versatile: pans and handles have multiple uses
- Room to store spices and utensils inside the smallest pot
- No plates or utensils
- Mesh storage bag is barely large enough
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This 11 piece cookset has everything a solo backpacker needs for cooking up great meals in the backcountry. The non-stick pot, frying pan and kettle are accompanied by a bowl, spoon, ladel and sponge, and the whole lot packs neatly together inside a carry bag. The Winterial Camping Cookset pots also have fold away handles and the aluminium is both hardwearing and lightweight. A really excellent value cookset for camping and backpacking.
- Great value
- Comes with kettle
- Can be easy to burn the bottom of the pan if you’re not careful
- Pot lid handles are a little close to the metal of the lid
The Quick 2 System from MSR is an all-inclusive camping cooking system that includes two pots, two plates, two mugs, and one interchangeable handle that can connect to either pot. Volume marks inside the pots make measuring a simple process without any extra gear. Can’t decide if you want non-stick coating on your camp cookware? No problem! The Quick 2 System has one pot with non-stick coating and one without.
- Measurement marks inside the pots
- Easy to clean
- Coated and non-coated pots to fit your needs
- Designed for 2 campers: too bulky for 1 and not large enough for 3+
Whether you are looking for an ultralight, collapsible cookware set for a backpacking trip or a more substantial set to cook for a group, one of the cookware sets on this list is sure to be the perfect fit for your upcoming camping and backpacking trips.