Whenever I go camping, whether alone or with friends, and intend to cook some food during the trip, there’s always one dilemma on my mind – what to bring with me? What’s essential and what’s not? It’s a tough thing to decide. Cookware takes up a lot of space, and you might end up lugging around something heavy that you don’t end up using.
Well, with a good set of camping cookware that has become a thing of the past for me. These sets are made to be compact, with various pieces of cutlery fitting into each other and have many different uses. Most importantly, they are all essentials.
So, today I’m here to run down a list of the best camping cookware sets on the market right now.
What to Consider When Buying Camping Cookware
While I do think camping cookware sets are great, there are bad ones out there, and you have to wary of that when making your purchase. Here are some tips on how you can make sure that you will buy the best product for you.
The first thing you should look at when buying camping cookware is this – what’s it made out of? It’s the most important thing about cookware sets. It determines their usefulness, their durability, the foods you can cook with them and the temperatures they can endure. But what materials can cookware be made out of?
Well, one of the most popular and widely used materials for making cookware is aluminum. It’s lightweight and doesn’t cost a lot, so it’s great for a set of camping cookware. The problem with it is that it doesn’t retain heat as well as other materials so cooking might take longer.
Hard-anodized aluminum is a better choice – it remains as lightweight as aluminum while being far sturdier and dispersing heat much more effectively. It does require more maintenance and cleaning – it also costs more – but it might be worth it.
Titanium is another popular choice. It’s also lightweight and sturdy, more so than aluminum. The heat transmission is also much, much better. However, the heat dispersion is uneven which results in uneven cooking. In addition to that, it’s also one of the priciest options out there.
Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials for cookware out there, but the food could easily stick to it. The uneven heat distribution can also be a problem. The largest problem, however, is that it’s heavy so if you’re planning to travel light, it might overburden you.
Cast iron is another popular choice that’s the middle of the road in almost all regards, though it distributes the heat evenly. It has the same weight problem as stainless steel, though.
Lastly, there’s an option I don’t recommend, and that’s plastic. Sure, it is light, cheap and you don’t have to worry about it getting scratched, but there are huge problems with it. The largest problem is heat resistance – it’s quite low in almost all plastics so cooking in it can be a gamble. It seems enticing, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
With that, I think I have covered all the major options available. I use titanium myself, but I have money to spare – you should weight all the options against your needs and choose accordingly.
2. Stove Type
Most of the camping cookware sets out there contain a mini stove of some sort that you can use to cook your food. However, there are many different types of stoves, and they are mostly differentiated by the type of fuel they run on.
Canister stoves are the most common. They are quite easy to use and run on gas that’s stored in a canister. You screw the stove onto the top of the canister, and you’re ready to go. They are also incredibly light, so if you don’t want to overburden yourself, they are the right option.
Liquid fuel stoves are not much harder to use. You can connect them to fuel bottles which can be refilled as needed and they can run on a wide variety of fuels. This makes them one of the more versatile options. They are also a cheaper option and run better at below-freezing temperatures.
Alcohol stoves used to be the most popular type due to the wide availability of their fuel and their low weight. Their cheapness also helped. However, they have been mostly replaced by canister stoves which have all the same qualities but are safer and burn hotter.
Alternative fuel stoves include basically everything else that doesn’t fit into the top two categories, though it mostly refers to stoves running on some type of solid fuel. This can be wood, fuel pellets or something else. These stoves tend to be simple and light, but their quality can vary.
3. Number of Pots
The number of pots you need while camping is dependent on how many people you intend to cook for and how light you want your pack to be.
If you want to travel super light, you only need one pot but having a few different ones is a good idea if you want to cook smaller meals as well. Having multiple pots is useful if you want to cook multiple dishes as well, or prepare a more complicated dish which requires two or more pots.
Any good cookware set should contain at least two if not three or more standard-sized pots and at least one standard pan.
4. Pot Sizes
Depending on how many people you intend to be cooking for, the maximum pot size you need will differ. However, a good rule of thumb is to have your largest pot able to hold at least one pint per each person in your camping or backpacking group.
Of course, you also don’t want to overburden yourself so you shouldn’t be carrying extremely large pots with you if you’re backpacking.
Other than that, you want to have at least three pots of different sizes – one enough to cover the whole group, one for single-person portions and one somewhere in between. Of course, you can cook smaller portions in larger pots, but that’s inefficient and takes longer. Cooking more than you can eat can be a problem as well.
Of course, most camping cookware sets don’t consist only out of pots and pans. Many contain other things that will help you when cooking outdoors during a camping trip. There are plenty of different extras that can be contained in a camping cookware set, so I’ll run down some of the most common and useful ones.
For starters, you have the eating utensils – a knife, a spoon and a fork, at least. You might get more than one set of utensils in a cookware set, which can be good. Plastic utensils are fine but if you should look for a set with metal ones since that reduces the risk of infection and makes them more useful.
Some cooking utensils might also be included – a spatula and maybe a whisk are the most common ones, and you will want them to be metal if possible. A ladle is also a useful utensil to have.
Eating bowls are also a common extra that comes with a cookware set. They’re usually made out of plastic, so they’re light and easy to clean. Cups can also be included.
Other possible extras could be cleaning utensils, bags or recipe books. All of these can be good to have, but shouldn’t be expected as a matter of course.
Top 5 Best Camping Cookware Sets
#1 MalloMe 10 Piece Camping Campfire Cookware Mess Kit
Here we have quite a compact set of camping cookware made from anodized aluminum and containing ten pieces. This includes a pot with a cover, a pan, two bowls, a spork, a soup spoon, a wooden spatula, a cleaning sponge, pouch and a recipe book. The pot included in the set has a capacity of 1 liter.Overall, this is not a bad set; it’s quite light and compact so you don’t need a lot of space for it and it won’t burden you too much. It fits together quite well and doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s also quite cheap, and it’s a good deal for the price.
However, it does have some notable omission. There’s no stove included, for example, something that most camping cookware sets have.
Another issue is that the handles of the pot and pan are quite poor and can break off on a whim, so be careful when cooking. The pot and pan are also smaller than you would expect and this set is well-suited for one person and no more than that.
#2 Gold Armour 17Pcs Camping Cookware Mess Kit
This set contains 17 pieces in total, which includes – a pot, a frying pan with a cover, 2 bowls, a spork, a fork, a spoon, a knife, a soup spoon, a rice ladle, a sponge, a carabiner, a nylon bag, a fire starter, and a mini stove with piezo ignition. The cutlery is stainless steel, the pots are anodized aluminum, and the bowls are BPA-free plastic.
You get a lot in this set, more than in most and it doesn’t cost any extra, so it seems to be well-worth the price in that regard. Everything is lightweight and compact as well so it’s not a chore to carry it. Lots of extras are present as well, and they are all useful.
However, there are a couple of issues. The pot and pan are quite small, only good when cooking for one person. The stove is poor and igniting it is difficult. Also, everything is quite flimsy so don’t expect it to last long.
Still, it’s more than decent for the asking price.
#3 Gear4U: Best BPA-FREE Camping Cookware Set - Mess Kit
Here we have an anodized aluminum set that contains quite a bit of stuff. It has a pot, a pan, two sporks, two bowls, two cups with lids, a soup ladle, a spatula and a sponge. However, it noticeably lacks a stove of any kind or a knife which is a bit of an oversight, to say the least.
However, the pan and pot are good at first glance, they don’t take up a lot of space, the handles are sturdy and not prone to breaking or melting, and everything is quite lightweight.
The main issue with this set is that everything in it is quite prone to rust. You might find rust on your pan or spork after the first use, which is not acceptable. The pot and pan are also quite small and suitable when cooking for one person but no more.
#4 Bisgear 16pcs Camping Cookware Set
You will find that this is one of the largest sets out there. It contains one pot and one pan with a cover, all made from anodized aluminum, all essential stainless steel cutlery, a mini stove with piezo ignition and tons of extras. It contains everything you would expect.
It is a cheap set, but it is surprisingly durable, despite being made from anodized aluminum instead of something harder. Also, it’s quite compact, and it takes up a surprisingly small amount of space even though it contains a lot of stuff.
However, there are some issues with it – the non-stick coating, for example, simply does nothing. It’s like it’s not even there. The plastic bowls that come with this set are also poor and will break easily.
In addition to all that, the pan is a bit poor at distributing heat, making for some uneven cooking.
Still, it’s a good set, and the stove is particularly good, so you will probably get a lot of use out of it.
#5 G4Free Outdoor Camping Cookware Set
Unlike the other sets presented here, this is a set that’s made with a group in mind, rather than a single camper. It contains two rather large anodized aluminum pots that can easily be used to cook for two or three people at a time. It also comes with all relevant tableware, includes three plastic bowls and a mini stove with piezo ignition.Overall, this set contains a lot of stuff, and the price is quite reasonable despite that. The lack of a pan in this set is a problem, but it is still fine. There are a lot of extras included as well, and it was made with multiple people in mind.
The durability is decent when it comes to the pots but their handles are another story, and they might break or melt if you’re not careful. The coating can also get scratcher off so keep an eye out for that when using metal cutlery.
The largest issue is that this set takes up a lot of space, but if you need a multi-person set this is the one to get.
So, there you have it. Those are the best cookware sets you can buy right now, in my opinion. You are free to disagree of course, and different people have different needs when it comes to these things, which is why I included a wide selection.
If you disagree with my choices or just have some opinions on the matter, feel free to sound off in the comments. I hope you found this article useful and that you will have a good camping trip!
- How To Pick The Right Camping Tent – Let’s Find The Best Outdoor Shelter!
- Choose the Best Eight Person Tent and Enjoy Your Camping With Friends and Family
- Tired of Time Consuming Tent Setups? Take a Look at 5 of the Best Pop-Up/Instant Tents
- The 5 Best Single-Person Tents To Have When Backpacking
- The 5 Best 4-person Tents You Can Buy Right Now
- Going On A Camping Trip With Your Family? Take A Look At The Best 12 Person Tents On The Market First