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The Best Camping Cookware of 2024

June 6, 2024 - Blog

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There is something undeniably satisfying about a great set of camping cookware. When you’re out in the woods, far from the convenience of takeout or a microwave, the joys of cooking for your family comes into focus. But to make a great meal deserving of the great outdoors you’ll need the right tools for the job. To find the best camping cookware available today, I tested options across a variety of materials and cooking types to find the best options for backcountry chefs.

Best Overall: Stanley Adventure Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset

Best Value: Primus Campfire Cookset

Best Non-Stick: MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set

Best Collapsible: Sea to Summit Detour

Best Budget: Decathlon Quechua Stainless Steel Camp Cookset

Best Cast Iron Skillet for Camping: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Best Camping Grill: Coleman Deluxe Camp Grill

Best Camping Kettle: GSI Glacier Stainless Tea Kettle

How I Tested the Best Camping Cookware 

At the core of every camping cookware set is one thing: the pot. In my initial test of the best camping cookware (which was conducted in the off-season), I looked at camping cookware from Stanley, MSR, GSI, UST, Odoland, Sea to Summit, and Snow Peak. I put the pot from each set through a series of objective tests. First I measured how long each took to boil two cups of water. This is most important if you’re concerned about fuel usage. I then tested to see how difficult it would be to drain water out of each pot, such as when cooking pasta. After that, I tested how the pots handled actual food, using a mixture of white rice, cheddar cheese, and eggs. I cooked the mixture until it was no longer runny, and then peeled it back to see how evenly everything had cooked. After that, I washed each pot by hand to see how difficult they were to clean.

My second test of the best camping cookware took place on a group trip for Memorial Day weekend. I brought an assortment of camping cookware sets from the likes of Primus, Sea to Summit, GSI, Decathlon, and Snow Peak. I asked the people in my group to try out different cookware and to report back on how easy or difficult it was to use. Additional considerations included durability (both tested and inferred) as well as how easily they packed down and their price point.

I have also included the results from my tests of the best cast iron skillet for camping, the best camping grills, and the best camping kettles.

Best Camping Cookware: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Stanley Adventure Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset

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Key Features

Includes 4.5 liter pot, 1.8 liter pot, one 8.5-inch frying pan, and two lids

Also includes a collapsible cutting board, two-piece spatula, two-piece cooking spoon, two trivets, and locking bungee 

Weight: 8 pounds, 3 ounces

Materials: Stainless steel

Pros

Durable

Locking bungee holds everything inside the main pot during travel

Heats food evenly with no hot spots

Useful extras

Cons

Heavy bottom means it takes longer to heat up liquids than other options I’ve tested

This durable Stanely set nests well to save space in your camping box and also had some of the best heat distribution of anything I tested. The first thing you notice when you pick up the Stanley Adventure Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset is its weight. While this is a negative for anyone shopping for a backpacking pot, car campers and overlanders will appreciate this virtually indestructible set. This included the connection between the handle and the pot, which is a weak spot for several other sets in our test. I was unable to make a dent in the Stanley Adventure handles, which bodes well for its long-term durability. There were also no plastic pieces on the pots or frying pans, another common fail point of camping cookware. 

Even among the stainless steel camping cookware I tested, there was a surprising amount of variety in the handle design. Laura Lancaster

Another benefit of the Stanley Adventure’s heavier build is that the cookset distributed the heat well during the cook and burn test. It cooked the mixture of rice, eggs, and cheese evenly across the bottom of the pan. Unfortunately the lack of a non-stick surface made cleaning sticky bits off the bottom of this pan just as much of a chore as the other stainless steel options.

Something else I liked about this set was how it packed away. When nested together, the collapsible handles of the saucepan and frying pan nested inside of the soup pot. This minimizes the likelihood of these moveable parts failing in the future. The only true downside to all this rugged durability is that it increased the amount of time it took to boil water during the boil test.

Best Value: Primus Campfire Cookset

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Key Features

Includes 1.8 liter pot, 1 liter pot, one 8.2-inch frying pan, and two lids

Weight: 2 pounds, 15 ounces

Materials: Stainless steel

Pros

Tabs on lids make it easy to use without a pot holder

Nest together nicely

Sleek look

Reasonably priced

Cons

Lighter material makes it feel flimsier than the Stanley (although there were no problems during testing)

On my Memorial Day testing trip, the Primus Campfire Cookset was one of the first pots that anyone picked up. It was just the right size, and it felt nice to the hand. My tester used it to cook her rice and it came out perfectly, fluffy with no residue stuck to the bottom. She also noted that the tabs, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, meant she didn’t have to grab a pot holder or pull down her sleeve to lift up the lid.

White rice cooked beautifully in the Primus Campfire Cookset (cleaned up easy, too).

Laura Lancaster

In addition to cleaning up easily, I liked that these pieces nested together without the need to attach or detach a handle. While the Primus Campfire Cookset is noticeably less expensive than the Stanley Adventure Even-Heat, it doesn’t come with the extras like a cooking spoon or spatula. But if you’re camping box is already sorted except for a great set of camping cookware, this is a great pick.

Best Non-Stick: MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set

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Key Features

Includes 2.5 liter pot, 1.5 liter pot, one lid, and one handle

Weight: 1 pound

Materials: Ceramic-coated aluminum, aluminum, stainless steel, nylon, rubber

Pros

Non-stick surface makes for a quick and easy cleanup

Distributed heat evenly

Affordably priced

Low weight makes this a reasonable choice for backpacking

Cons

Not as durable as the stainless steel models tested

Only one handle and one lid for two pots

This compact and affordable set cooked food evenly and was the easiest to clean of anything I tried. This two-pot set from MSR was a close runner-up for the best overall slot. It was both great to cook in — a true non-stick surface — and a breeze to clean up afterward. While virtually every other pot needed some elbow grease to clean, all of the food in the MSR Ceramic peeled right off and left almost no residue behind. 

Despite its robust appearance, the aluminum construction of this set means it has some give when pressure is applied, especially compared to the stainless steel pots in my test. I wouldn’t sit on my pack if this was inside. But this slight tradeoff in durability is more than compensated for by its weight. This set is so light that I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on short backpacking trips where I’m planning to do some real cooking. 

The biggest flaw with the MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set is that it comes with one handle and one lid. The lid is meant to be used interchangeably with the two pots. Even in backcountry cooking, where you probably only have a single burner at your disposal, you would at least want two lids. The extra one can keep the food that came off the stove warm. And unlike the clamps used in other MSR cookware, the handle for this pot is somewhat difficult to remove without touching the pot itself. This makes it difficult to toggle back and forth with a two-burner car camping setup. As of this writing, there wasn’t an option available from MSR to purchase a second lid or handle. Hopefully that changes in the future. 

Best Collapsible: Sea to Summit Detour

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Key Features

Includes one pot (available in 3 liters or 5 liters) 

Weight: 1 pound, 15 ounces

Materials: Stainless steel and silicone

Pros

Reasonably compact

Surprisingly stable

Securely drains water

Cons

Excessive heat must be kept away from plastic handles

Comparatively high price for a single piece of cookware

Twice, I have packed myself into a Mini Cooper with three other people to go car camping. Those times, space wasn’t just tight — it was nonexistent. But even if you do choose a more appropriate vehicle for your next car camping trip, you may still find yourself stuffing pillows, snacks, and pots and pans into every last available crevice of your car. If you’re nodding along to any of this, then the collapsible Sea to Summit Detour might catch your attention.

When flattened, the is only 2.5 inches thick, which makes it easy to cram into just about any nook left in your vehicle. It’s also surprisingly stable, given that it’s collapsible. Granted, it doesn’t feel as stable as the other picks on this list, but as long as you’re not planning to slam your pot on the picnic table you should be fine.

Best Budget: Decathlon Quechua Stainless Steel Camp Cookset

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Key Features

Includes 2.1 liter pot, one 8-inch frying pan, and one lid

Also includes two cups, two bowls, utensils, and locking mechanism

Weight: 2 pounds, 9 ounces

Materials: Stainless steel, silicone, PTFE, silicone

Pros

Affordably priced

Includes cups and plates and utensils for individuals who don’t already have those things

Worked fine during testing

Cons

Contains teflon (a form of PFAS)

Plastic handle felt less secure than other options that I tested

Only one pot and one skillet

If you are just starting out building out your camping box, then the Decathlon Quechua Stainless Steel Camp Cookset may be just what you’ve been looking for. Unlike the other options I tested, this set came with two plates, two cups, two spoons all while costing well under a hundred dollars. On the other hand: you only get one pot, which may not be enough.

Adding pork cooked in the Decathlon Quechua to the curry cooked in cast iron.

Laura Lancaster

I was skeptical during testing that the unusual design of the pot handle, which splits down the middle to pack away, would be robust enough to hold up to needs of my camp chef testers. But there were no issues with using it to cook up some pork for a backcountry curry. And when the pot was cleaned up again and put away, it looked like new: something that couldn’t be said for all of the camping cookware in my test.

Best Cast Iron Skillet for Camping: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

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Key Features

Available sizes: 3.5, 5, 6.5, 8, 9, 10.25, 12, 13.25, and 15 inches

Pre-seasoned

Tested Weight of a 12-inch Pan: 7 pounds, 7.6 ounces

Pros

Affordably priced

Cooks evenly

Comes in a wide variety of sizes

Cons

Stuck slightly during the egg and bacon test

The classic Lodge Cast Iron Skillet has been a staple of my home kitchen for years, often serving double duty whenever I head out camping with the family. And after testing the competition, I’ll be sticking with it: this no-frills affordable skillet gets the job done. It had a very even cook (on par with the Barebones All In One) with the tortilla test and barely stuck at all on the egg test. 

Because I had been using a 10-inch version of the Lodge skillet at home for so many years, I tested a 12-inch version of this frying pan to see how that size compared to the 10-inch in different contexts. While the 12-inch version was easier to balance over the campfire, it took up a disproportionate amount of space on the camp stove. It fit, but you might have to wait until you’re done cooking with it to add anything to the second burner. For that reason, I’m recommending the 10-inch version as a better all-round option. 

Read Next: Best Cast Iron Skillets for Camping

I also liked that the Lodge skillets are manufactured as a single piece of cast iron, and that it comes in a wide variety of sizes, from 3.5 inches all the way out to 15 inches. Whatever your needs, whatever your plans, Lodge has got a skillet that will work for you at a reasonable price.

Best Camping Grill: Coleman Deluxe Camp Grill

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Key Features

Price: $25

Packed Size: 24 x 12 x 0.6 inches

Weight: 3.3 pounds

Height off the Ground: 6.3 inches

Pros

Taller than other foldable grills I looked at

Lower price than other options

Cons

Larger packed size can be a bit clunky

This is the camping grill that gets the job done at the price point you’re looking for. It’s tall enough to get a healthy bed of coals underneath. It packs up small. While it isn’t the sturdiest piece of gear I’ve ever tested, it handled one of the Best Cast Iron Skillets for Camping just fine. But most importantly, it’s the most affordable option I tested. If you’re looking to get into grilling on your next camping trip but want to steer clear of the established campfire pit’s grate this is a great choice. 

Read Next: The Best Camping Grills

Best Camping Kettle: GSI Glacier Stainless Tea Kettle

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Key Features

Materials: stainless steel

Manufacturer weight: 9.3 ounces; measured weight: 9.5 ounces

Manufacturer total volume: 32.1 fluid ounces; measured total volume: 37 fluid ounces 

Safe fill volume: 28 fluid ounces

Boiled 20 fluid ounces of water in 7 minutes, 20 seconds 

Can be used over open fire

Pros

Smooth pour

Fastest boil time of the stainless steel models tested

Cons

Lid can fall off during pour

If you’re looking to round out your car camping setup with a dedicated camping kettle, the GSI Glacier Tea Kettle is probably what you had in mind. Its stainless steel construction feels solid in the hand when filled with water without adding unnecessary weight or bulk to your camping box. Since it doesn’t incorporate any plastic or silicone parts, you can boil it just as well over an open flame.

If I could, I would change the lid on the GSI Glacier. It lacked the sturdiness of the other products I tested and started to fall off when tilted at more than a 90-degree angle. Still, all the other features on this kettle make it a must-have for your car camping setup. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Camping Cookware

Non-Stick Surfaces on the Best Camping Cookware

Cleaning up food stuck to the bottom of a pan is enough of a chore at home, where you have access to virtually endless hot water, a dishwasher, and any scrub brush imaginable. But in the backcountry, it’s usually just a collapsible camp sink, some biodegradable soap, and a sponge that’s on its last legs. Given that, it’s no surprise that so many people prioritize non-stick surfaces when looking for camping cookware.

Three of the most common types are seasoned cast-iron, ceramic coatings, and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coatings, generally known by the brand name Teflon. While extremely popular in the past, PTFE coating has somewhat fallen out of favor due to the now-banned chemicals it contains. Cast iron, a classic for outdoor cookware, is both inexpensive to purchase and maintain, though it can take some practice to maintain for first-time users. Ceramic coatings are similar in function to PFTE coatings but without the negative history attached. 

Durability of the Best Camping Cookware

Most car camping and overlanding cookware sets are made from stainless steel for good reason—it’s extremely durable. Backpacking or base camp sets, like our Best Non-Stick, Best Collapsible, and Best for Backpacking options, are typically made out of either aluminum (less durable) or titanium (more expensive).

Size of the Best Camping Cookware

Cookware size can range from barely a liter to the brim to well over six. Choose the size that best fits the number of people in your group as well as the types of dishes you prefer to make while camping. Some of the best camping meals only require boiling water to prepare, while other elaborate meals might require more space. 

Extras on the Best Camping Cookware

While this isn’t a deciding factor by any means, several of the sets in our test came with extras. This included things like trivets, a strainer, and even a tiny wooden spoon. Depending on where you are in outfitting your camp kitchen and if you already have some of the best camping utensils, these extras may be useful additions or little more than trash to discard with the cardboard box. 

A couple of squeezes to the Odoland—or is it Bisgear?—cooking pot produced some telling results. Laura Lancaster

Camping Cookware that Didn’t Make the Cut

I was initially impressed by the GSI Glacier Base Camper, which was easy to cook with. But I soon found that the exposed connection points between the handle and the body of the pots were less durable than they appeared. They needed to be re-bent at one point to close the lid back. I also checked out two other Stanley sets: the Adventure Cook Set for Four and the Adventure Even-Heat Essential Pot Set. While both of these performed the same as our best overall rec, they lacked the space-saving functionality that made the Camp Pro Cookset a stand out. I was somewhat less impressed by the UST Solo Cook Kit. While fairly cheap, it had similar durability issues to the Odoland and Bisgear sets mentioned above. It is also likely to be considered too small by all but the most dedicated minimalists.

Snow Peak makes some of my favorite cookware in the backpacking space, but thus far I haven’t come away as impressed with their products in the camp space. I’ve tested the Field Cooker Pro Set, which, while beautiful, was ultimately too large to fit in my camping box and felt strangely flimsy given the price point and size. More recently I tested the small version of the Aluminum Non-Stick Cooker 1000. While I appreciated the low price point and compact size, the non-stick surface scratched surprisingly easily.

A problem with PTFE (Teflon) coatings is that they scratch easily, including on camping cookware, such as this Snow Peak pot.

Laura Lancaster

One set that wasn’t tested during my most recent outing was the GSI Ceramic Basecamper. I plan on taking that set out over this summer and will report back as to how it holds up.

FAQs

Q: How much does camping cookware cost?

Camping cookware typically costs between $50 and $150, depending on the size and number of pieces in your set.

Q: Is the camping cookware from Bisgear and Odoland any good?

If you run a search for “camping cookware” on Amazon, you’ll find a number of variety packs that include everything from a pot to a tea kettle to a tiny wooden spatula to child-sized stainless steel cups. These variety packs are sold under a number of different names, including Bisgear, Odoland, Mallome, RedCamp, Winterial, swiftrans, Ouryoyo, Overmont, Gutsdoor, G4Free, Bulin, Terra Hiker…you get the idea. Most of these have no other website than their Amazon store and certainly no customer service number you can call. If this sounds fishy to you, well it does to me too. 

After purchasing a couple of these I feel confident saying that while each of these variety packs include one or two items that are useful, the majority of what is packed inside is not high enough quality to use long-term (or at all) in the backcountry. I’m talking metal that bends and warps easily, plastic that breaks, and utensils that make the spork look high-end. If you’re looking for a steal on some camping cookware, this is not it. Save your money for higher quality gear. 

Q: What is the best budget camping cookware?

I didn’t include a budget pick on this list for one simple reason: you probably already own it. When I was first planning my own car camping trips in college, I routinely raided my shared kitchen for pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, knives, you name it. Everything we owned had already been purchased on a tight budget, so there was no need to purchase a new budget pot just for car camping. (And if you are somehow that rare bird that owns only Le Creusets, then try Goodwill, they’ve got plenty of options.) Until you’re able to afford a high-quality camping cookware set, this will do just fine. 

Q: How do you store pots and pans when camping?

While camping, it’s good practice to store your pots and pans in your vehicle at night. The reason for this is simple: unwanted smells can attract a variety of wildlife to your campsite, from field mice to raccoons to black bears, though my personal nemesis is the gray jay, which, once accustomed to human food, will dive bomb you mid bite to steal a potato chip out of your hand. But wild animals that get a whiff of food from your pots and pans doesn’t just create a nuisance for you, it’s also dangerous to the animals, who are more likely to be put down when they focus on human food sources over wild ones. 

Final Thoughts

To find the best camping cookware available today, I tested sets from some of the most reputable brands in the business. This includes Snow Peak, GSI, Stanley, Sea to Summit, MSR, Decathlon, and Primus. I also tested some sets from a few brands that are a bit more opaque, such as Odoland and Bisgear. The Stanley Even-Heat Pro Camp Set came out on top. Though I was more than impressed with every set I on my best-of list. They would be an excellent addition to just about any camp kitchen. 

Best Overall: Stanley Adventure Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset

Best Value: Primus Campfire Cookset

Best Non-Stick: MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set

Best Collapsible: Sea to Summit Detour

Best Budget: Decathlon Quechua Stainless Steel Camp Cookset

Best Cast Iron Skillet for Camping: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Best Camping Grill: Coleman Deluxe Camp Grill

Best Camping Kettle: GSI Glacier Stainless Tea Kettle

The post The Best Camping Cookware of 2024 appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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