Heading to the backcountry for an overnight or extended camping trip usually means foregoing most of the creature comforts we enjoy at home. There is, however, no need to believe that dinner times in the wild should be any less enjoyable—if, that is, we have the right cookware along for the trip. To help you get your hands on just that kind of cookware, in this article we’ll introduce you to our selection of the top five camping cookware sets out there in 2020.
We reviewed dozens of camping cookware sets to identify the best of the best. We examined a range of factors, including type, capacity, number of components, materials, weight, cooking performance, cost, and average customer reviews. All of these camping cookware sets are available on Amazon.com.
Having considered a large number of camping cookware sets, we chose the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Base Camper Cook Set as our top pick. This 7-piece set is not only outstandingly well made and designed with the backcountry minimalist in mind, but it also uses very lightweight but rugged materials, is as packable as high-capacity cooking sets come, and is suitable for groups of up to six people.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Items of Camping Cookware
|Best Camping Cookware Overall||GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Base Camper Cook Set||4.7|
|Best Cast Iron Camping Cookware||Outdoor Gourmet 5 Piece Cast Iron Cookware Set||4.5|
|Best Budget Camping Cookware||Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set||4.5|
|Best Stainless Steel Camping Cookware||Stanley Adventure Base 4X Camp Cook Set||4.7|
|Best Camping Cookware Mess Kit||Gold Armour Camping Cookware Mess Kit||4.5|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Camping Cookware Overall: GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Base Camper Cook Set
After considering a wide range of options, the camping cookware set that wins our vote as the best on the market in 2020 is the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Base Camper Cook Set.
This seven-piece set is a true ticker of boxes, performing well in each of the criteria that determine a cookware set’s overall performance and suitability for both remote, backcountry camping and car camping at established campsites.
This set includes a 5-liter pot, 3-liter pot, 9″ frying pan, 2 nylon strainer lids, a cutting board, a folding pot handle, and a waterproof welded stuff sack that helps to keep everything organized and also doubles up as a sink for washing. Each cooking component is made with highly durable, hard-anodized aluminum with non-stick coatings and can be shifted to and from your stove with a detachable handle that can be used with each pot and pan individually. In total, the complete set measures just 10 x 10 x 6 inches and weighs in at a very portable 3 pounds and 4 ounces, making it one of the lightest and most compact complete sets for 4-6 people out there.
The Pinnacle Base Camper set is no slouch in terms of cooking performance either, using a durable, scratch-resistant, three-layer construction with a non-stick Teflon Radiance Technology outer coating that enhances heat distribution and reduces hotspots for a more even, burn-free cook.
And the downsides? While it would have been nice if GSI had thrown in some utensils and a spork or two, it’s hard to begrudge them this minor oversight given the overall quality, performance, and value for money this set provides otherwise.
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Base Camper Cook Set Key Features:
- Anodized aluminum pots and pans
- Nylon strainer lids
- Cutting board
- 9″ frying pan
- Weighs 3 lbs. 7 oz.
- Measures 10 x 10 x 6 inches
Best Cast Iron Camping Cookware: Outdoor Gourmet Cast Iron Cookware Set
While a little too heavy for backcountry camping and a touch on the pricey side, for foodies who like to do their cooking with only the best equipment available and plan on establishing their campsite kitchen within the vicinity of their vehicle, the Outdoor Gourmet Cast Iron Cookware Set is a great choice.
This 5-piece set contains everything you could possibly need to cook up a hearty feast for as many as six hungry campers, including two cast-iron skillets measuring 19.5 and 15 inches respectively (including the handles), one cast-iron Dutch oven with a 4.5-quart capacity and 11-inch diameter, a 10-inch cast-iron lid, and a 20-inch cast-iron griddle.
The materials used in each component in this set are as durable and bump, bang, and scratch-resistant as they come, very easy to clean, put a nice sear on your steaks, burgers, and sausages, and, while bumping up the price a little compared to aluminum or steel models, will last a lifetime if looked after properly.
Outdoor Gourmet 5 Piece Cast Iron Cookware Set Key Features:
- 5-piece set
- 4-quart cast-iron skillet
- 2-quart cast-iron skillet
- 4.5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven
- 10-inch cast-iron lid
- 20-inch cast-iron griddle
Best Budget Camping Cookware: Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set
The Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set is a highly affordable, all-in-one camping cook set that covers every base that needs covered and offers comparable quality to many cookware sets that cost almost twice as much.
The kit comprises a total of ten pieces that include a 2-quart pot and lid, a 1-quart frying pan, a 1-quart tea kettle, a serving ladle, 2 bowls, a serving spoon-cum-spatula, a cleaning sponge, a plate-cum-cutting board, and a handy carry bag, all of which makes it an ideal starter kit and suitable for cooking for groups of up to six people.
All of the components in this set are made of lightweight aluminum oxide and have a non-stick Teflon coating that makes the cooking surfaces non-stick and post-dinner cleanups a cinch. What sets this kit apart from other budget cooking kits is that it was designed with the needs of gram-counting, space-starved backpackers in mind. The entire set weighs just 1.5 pounds and also takes up very little space, measuring in at just 3.5 inches tall by 6.75 inches in diameter.
While not quite as robust as other models in our review, the materials used in this set are more than capable of dealing with a little rough treatment and also boast surprisingly impressive scratch-resistance.
All in all, a highly practical, effective set that offers outstanding cooking performance for the price and is the ideal choice for car campers, backcountry campers, thru-hikers, and occasional overnight campers on a budget alike.
Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set Key Features:
- 10-piece set
- Set includes 2-quart pot and lid (3″ x 6.5″), 1-quart frying pan (1.25″ x 6.4″), 1-quart tea kettle and lid, serving ladle, 2 bowls, serving spoon/spatula, cleaning sponge, plate/cutting board, carry bag
- Weighs just 1.5 lbs.
- All components made with lightweight aluminum oxide with a non-stick Teflon coating
- Complete set measures 3.5 x 7.75 inches
Best Stainless Steel Camping Cookware: Stanley Adventure Base 4X Camp Cook Set
The Stanley Adventure Base 4X Camp Cook Set is the ideal pick for those who want to enjoy all the benefits of a stainless steel cookware set without quite so many of the drawbacks.
This all-inclusive set boasts a total of 19 pieces, including a 3.7-quart pot, a large, three-layer frying pan, four plates, four sporks, a serving spoon, and a spatula, four placemats, and even an after-wash drying rack.
This cookware set’s strengths are, without question, its peerless durability, ruggedness, and the convenience that derives from it including everything you could possibly need (with the exception of ingredients, that is) for a group of four campers. Its weaknesses are those you might expect given its 18/8 stainless steel construction—it’s heavy, bulky, and not ideally suited to long-distance backpacking. This being so, we recommend this cookware set to car campers or those who envision doing most of their camping near where they leave their vehicle or are able to distribute the set’s components among members of their team.
Stanley Adventure Base 4X Camp Cook Set Key Features:
- 19 pieces
- 3.7-quart pot, frying pan, four plates, four sporks, a serving spoon and spatula, four placemats, drying rack
- Weighs 4.8 lbs.
- 18/8 stainless steel pot and pan (bottoms have additional layers)
- BPA free
Best Camping Cookware Mess Kit: Gold Armour Camping Cookware Mess Kit
If practicality, convenience, and great value for money are high on your list of priorities, there are few more suitable options out there than the Gold Armour Camping Cookware Mess Kit. This 17-piece mess kit contains just about everything you could possibly need to cook up a gourmet-style feast that’s fit for royalty, never mind the more humble, modest fare you’ll likely be looking forward to and planning on cooking at the end of a day on the trails.
But this set is every bit as much about quality as it is quantity. It’s made with hard-wearing, scratch-resistant anodized aluminum materials that are non-stick, easy to clean, and robust enough to deal with the odd bump or bang inside your pack or around the campsite. In addition to a 5.70 x 3.14-inch pot and a 6-inch-diameter frying pan, this set also includes a folding stainless steel spork, a spoon, fork, and knife, a pan cover, 2 BPA-free bowls, a BPA-free soup spoon, a rice ladle, a loofah sponge, a carabiner, a fire starter, and a nylon carry bag. And, as if that wasn’t enough, makers Gold Armour throw in a bonus mini-stove with Piezo ignition, saving you not only the hassle of hunting down a stove for yourself but also a healthy handful of $.
Weighing in at just 14.4 ounces and with a pack size of only 6 x 5.7 inches, this set is also very portable, making it the ideal pick for solo campers or couples who plan on doing most of their camping in the backcountry as opposed to at established campsites.
Gold Armour Camping Cookware Mess Kit Key Features:
- 17 pieces
- Mini-stove with Piezo ignition
- Anodized aluminum frying pan and pot
- 2 bowls
- Spork, knife, spoon, fork, and ladle included
- 10-year warranty
Who Should Buy a Camping Cookware Set
If you’re headed into the backcountry or even to an established campsite with facilities, bringing along a camping cookware set is likely to be the only way of avoiding a dinner of sandwiches, jerky, trail mix, or any other uncooked eats you may be able to squeeze into Tupperware boxes for the trip. At the end of a long day on the trail, cold foodstuffs such as those mentioned above are unlikely to “fill a hole” in a way that’s anything even approaching satisfying and, most likely, will only leave you cursing your decision not to invest in the cookware that would have allowed you to enjoy a hearty, cooked meal to reward your day’s efforts. Additionally, a cooking kit will allow you eat freshly prepared food even several days into longer-duration trips and help cut down on pack weight by allowing you to pack dried foods like pasta, soups, or freeze-dried meals that can be transformed into just-like-home eats by simply adding water sourced from a stream or creek and then boiled on your stove.
Important Features to Consider
Camping cookware should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting camping cookware for your outdoor adventures:
- Type. Camping cookware sets all fall into one of three broad categories: mess kits, groups set, and solo-camper sets. Mess Kits are typically an all-in-one system that includes pots, pans, cutlery, utensils, and mugs. While highly portable, convenient, and ideal for solo-campers or couples, however, most models have a lower cooking capacity and aren’t the best bet for larger groups. Group sets usually have higher-capacity pots and pans that make them more suitable for teams of 3 or more people. In many cases, however, they don’t include extras like utensils, mugs, or cutlery. Before buying, be sure to check whether or not these items are included in order to better gauge the kit’s overall value for money. Solo-camper sets are usually low-capacity, highly compact sets that are ideal for thru-hikers or those who simply want to shave as many ounces off of their pack weight as possible. While ideal for those doing their camping on their lonesome and for couples, these naturally aren’t the best option for groups of three or more unless each member of the group is carrying their own, personal cookware and stove.
- Material. The materials most commonly used in the construction of camping cookware are aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. Aluminum a lightweight, low-cost option that performs well cooking varying types of food owing to its ability to distribute heat evenly across the cooking surface. On the downside, it’s not the most durable material out there and is unlikely to get through too many backcountry outings without accumulating multiple dings, dents, and scratches unless you take extra care when handling and packing your kits. Stainless Steel sets strike a great balance between durability and affordability but, on the downside, this material doesn’t distribute heat quite so well (which can lead to hot spots and burning) and weighs significantly more than both aluminum and titanium. Titanium cookware usually meets all the criteria for backcountry campers—it’s extremely light, hardwearing, and offers cooking performance on a par with almost any other material out there. The catch? In order to enjoy those benefits, you’ll have to fork out significantly more than you would for a comparably sized steel or aluminum set. Teflon or ceramic coatings are used in many cookware kits to provide a nonstick cooking surface and are highly recommended if you’re averse to lengthy post-cook cleanups.
- Weight. As with most camping gear, getting the best option for your needs often comes down to finding a balance between a lightweight design and a number of other features. In this case, those features include durability, cooking capacity, cooking performance, packability, and, of course, cost. If you’re car camping or pitching your tent near the trailhead, then weight probably isn’t going to be quite so big an issue. If, however, you plan on putting in some serious mileage before pitching your tent, low is the way to go as regards the weight of your cookware. Generally speaking, the lightest options out there are made with titanium and aluminum materials. The drawbacks to both of these options, however, might make you willing to opt for a more robust and cheaper stainless steel alternative, even if it means carrying an extra few ounces: while incredibly light and durable, titanium kits typically cost a small fortune; aluminum kits, on the other hand, are usually light and very affordable, but are far less durable are very easily dented and scratched.
- Packability. Whether you’re car camping or loading up a backpack with everything you’ll need for an overnight or multi-day trip in the backcountry, the amount of space your cookware takes up is a critical consideration. Generally speaking, the best cookware sets in terms of space-saving capacity are those that use a Russian-doll-style design in which all components fit inside one another and leave adequate space in the center of the last item to squeeze in your fuel canister. When buying, be sure to check the product specs for the set’s overall dimensions.
- Group size. The size of your camping group (and their appetites!) will largely determine what size of cookware set you’ll need for your backcountry cooking sessions. While a more compact and lightweight set of pots and pans will likely suffice for groups of up to three, with four or more diners it’s best to have larger capacity pots and pans so as to avoid having to leave some members of your group waiting around while the others are digging into their dinners. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend opting for a pot with at least a 1.2-liter capacity for every three campers in your group and, if camping in a larger group, choosing a multi-piece cookware set with pots, pans, and a kettle.
- Durability. Durability is an important criterion for any backcountry equipment, and you cookware is no exception. While it’s easy to think that the metallic construction of cookware should make it nigh-on indestructible, different types of metal provide differing levels of resistance to bumps, drops, and scratches. The most durable and scratch-resistant materials used in camping cook sets are stainless steel, cast iron, and titanium, and the least durable any form of aluminum. It’s also worth noting that any cookware that uses Teflon, ceramic, or any other form of non-stick surface or coating can be easily rendered unusable if these surfaces or coatings are damaged by metal spoons or spatulas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the basic camping cookware essentials?
While this will largely depend on what type and quantity of food you plan on cooking, a well-rounded, complete set should contain the following:
- Cutlery (or one spork per person)
- Frying pan
- Pot(s) with lid(s)
- A separate “brewing” pot or can for hot drinks
- A spatula and/or large spoon for stirring and turning fried foods
- Plates or bowl
Can you use normal pans on a camping stove?
Logistically speaking, there’s no reason why not. Practically speaking, there are plenty of reasons why opting for camping-specific pans is the way to go. The most notable and compelling of these reasons is that pans specially made for camping will be lighter and more compact (and, thus, easier to carry and squeeze into your backpack) and also easier to balance on smaller backcountry camping stoves, meaning you won’t have to hold them over the flame while you’re doing your cooking.
What is a camping cookware mess kit?
Mess kits are collections of cookware and cutlery that mimic those used by the military for cooking and dining while on tour. Though mess kits can vary widely in format, they are, generally speaking, self-contained units that include a skillet, a kettle or pot, a plate, a cup, and a spork or standard cutlery. Most use either folding or detachable handles that can be used with multiple pots and pans.
What’s the most durable material for camping cookware?
As a general rule, stainless steel and titanium pots and pans are the most durable and scratch-resistant cookware materials out there. However, with all of the materials used in the construction of cookware, there is some kind of trade-off with other desirable attributes. In the case of stainless steel, the trade-off for durability is inferior cooking performance (steel doesn’t distribute heat across the surface of the cooking area as well as titanium or aluminum); with titanium, it’s cost, with most titanium cooking sets costing around twice as much as comparable (but less hard-wearing) aluminum models.
Other Camping Cookware We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other camping cookware sets. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best camping cookware sets list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your camping adventures. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
Budget Camping Cookware
This 15-piece, lightweight, anodized aluminum set contains a 1.15-liter pot, a small kettle, a 7-inch frying pan, 3 bowls, as well as all the cutlery and utensils needed for up to three people.
- 15-piece set
- Suitable for 1-3 people
- Contains 1.15-liter pot, kettle, and frying pan
- Weighs 2 lbs.
Weighing just 1.3 pounds and taking up very little room in your pack, this 1 to 2-person kit is ideal for thru-hikers, backcountry campers, and anyone else who’s short on pack space and likes to travel light. This 12-piece set would be well worth the money for its practical design, lightweight and small dimensions alone but, to make it even more of a bargain, makers Bisgear throw in a bonus mini stove with Piezo ignition to seal the deal.
- 12-piece set
- Mini stove included
- Weighs just 1.3 lbs.
- Small pack size
Made with tough, non-stick, anodized aluminum, weighing just 1.1 pounds, and costing less than $2 dollars per piece, this highly practical little cookware set for one or two campers takes value for money to a whole new level.
- 11 pieces
- Weighs just 1.1 lbs.
- Made with anodized aluminum
- 2 serving bowls
- 1-liter capacity pot
This wonderfully practical, lightweight, and packable little 10-piece mess kit is made with tough anodized aluminum, weighs just 1.2 pounds, and is absolutely ideal for solo campers or couples.
- 10-piece set
- 1-liter pot, frying pan, two bowls, ladle, spatula, and carry bag included
- Weighs 1.2 lbs.
- Made with anodized aluminum
This simple, three-piece set includes an anodized aluminum pot and frying pan and a mini stove with Piezo ignition. It weighs in at less than a pound and has a tiny pack size but boasts a large enough capacity to make a meal for two campers in a single cook.
- Weighs 15.2 ounces
- Pot capacity: 800 ml
- Made with anodized aluminum
This ten-piece kit is big enough to cook meals for up to four people but packs away into an impressively small, compact bundle and weighs in at a respectable 2.2 lbs.
- Made with non-stick, anodized aluminum
- Weighs 2.2 lbs
- Includes pot, kettle, 3 bowls, ladle, and mesh carry bag
This frill-free kit is a throwback to cookware sets that preceded the popularization of aluminum and titanium. As with all things old-school, it’s a fraction on the heavy side and a little bit bulky, but makes up for these shortcomings with outstanding durability, a practical design, and is also one of the most reasonably priced stainless steel kits out there.
- Contains 8.5-inch dinner plate, 6-inch bowl, 10-ounce cup, and 7-inch fork, spoon, and knife
- Weighs 15 ounces
- Cups made with 304 stainless steel; plates and bowls with 201 stainless steel
Stainless Steel Camping Cookware
This fifteen-piece set contains everything needed for three diners, is made with tough, durable stainless steel, and is relatively compact and lightweight compared to other stainless steel cook sets.
- 15 pieces
- Weighs 3 lbs.
- Ideal for 3 people
This very elegant and remarkably well-made set of pots and pans might be a touch on the heavy and pricey side but offers a huge upgrade in terms of quality and durability compared to the vast majority of aluminum competitors.
- 4-piece set
- Tote transportation bag
- Compact (pots stack vertically inside one another)
- Weighs 7 lbs.
This 7-piece set tips the scales at a relatively lightweight 2.5 pounds, packs down into a fairly small and portable bundle and includes two pots with lids, two small cups, one pan, and a practical carry bag.
- 7-piece set
- Weighs 2.5 lbs.
- Measures 7.1 x 6.7 x 3.9 inches
This superbly sleek, well-designed pot is made with durable stainless steel, boasts a hinged, easy-lift handle that flips over the fitted lid to lock it in place, and leaves plenty of storage space inside for fuel canisters or mini stoves.
- 1.6-liter capacity
- Weighs 19.6 ounces
- Locking lid makes it ideal for storing other cookware safely
This 8-piece cookware set includes 2 pots, 1 frying pan, 2 plates, 2 lids, 2 mugs, and a carry bag. It also weighs in at a reasonably lightweight 1.8 lbs, making it one of the most portable stainless steel sets out there and a great choice for solo campers or couples.
- 10-piece set
- Made with 410 stainless steel
- Weighs 1.8 lbs.
This four-person cookware set includes two high-capacity cooking pots, a frying pan, and an assortment of plates, mugs, and bowls. It might be pricey, but it offers far superior quality to almost any other cookware set out there that’s geared towards large groups.
- 13-piece set
- Includes: 3-liter pot, 2-liter pot, 2 strainer lids, 9-inch frying pan, 4 bowls, 4 plates, stuff sack
- Weighs 3.55 lbs.
This 6-piece set is made with superbly robust 18/8 stainless steel with rolled rims and is the ideal choice for backpackers or car campers who place ruggedness and durability higher on their list of priorities than weight savings.
- 5-piece set
- Made with 18/8 stainless steel
- Includes: 2 pots, 2 dual-use frying pans/lids, 2 cutting boards, and a folding pot handle
- Weighs 3.75 lbs.
Camping Cookware Mess Kits
This lightweight, all-in-one 17-piece set is made with rugged, durable anodized aluminum and weighs in at a very portable 3.3 pounds, making it ideal for backpacking or overnight trips in the backcountry.
- 17-piece set
- Made with tough, durable hard-anodized aluminum
- Weighs 3.3 lbs.
- Ideal for groups of up to 5 campers
Lightweight, highly packable, and big enough to cook up a feast for 2 or 3 campers, this 15-piece, all-in-one mess kit is one of the most convenient and functional options out there for backcountry adventurers.
- 15-piece set includes pot, frying pan, plates, sporks, cups, a cleaning sponge, spatula, ladle and carry bag
- Mini stove included
- Weighs 1.85 lbs
This incredibly compact, lightweight little kit combines gourmet-like performance with impressive ruggedness to provide the ideal solution for gram-counting backcountry minimalists.
- 6-piece set
- Includes a 1-quart pot, 7.5″ dual-use frypan/lid, 6″ Cascadian cup, 12 fl. oz. Cascadian bowl, a DiamondBack Gripper handle, and a mesh stuff sack
- Weighs 1.2 lbs.
Weighing in at just 0.57 pounds and containing everything a solo camper could need to cook up basic backcountry meals, this highly functional, compact little kit is ideal for those who like to keep pack weight and bulk to a minimum.
- 9-piece set
- Made with anodized aluminum
- Pack size: 6.7″ x 5″ x 5″
This three to four-person version of the Redcamp solo set featured above is every bit as convenient and practical as its smaller sibling and is one of the most lightweight and reasonably priced high-capacity cookware sets out there.
- 18-piece set
- Weighs 1.6 lbs
- Made with anodized aluminum
- Pot capacity: 1.6 liters and 1 liter
As with all things GSI, this 10-piece kit is outstandingly well made and is designed with the backcountry minimalist in mind, using ultralight materials, packing down to a tiny bundle, and providing storage space inside the pot to “nest” a 230g fuel canister for further space savings in your pack.
- Weighs 1.3 lbs.
- Coated with conduction-enhancing, scratch- and abrasion-resistant, non-stick Teflon Radiance Technology for fast, even cooking and easy cleaning
- Includes 1.8-liter pot, strainer lid, 2 x 20 fl. oz. mugs with insulated sleeves, 2 x 20 fl. oz. bowls, 2 sip-it lids, 2 folding spoons, and a welded sink