Most camping cookware set reviews online focus on backpacking. Because ultralight backpacking cookware isn’t a requirement for most adventure travellers, we decided to recommend a few of our favorites. First, we’ll give you our recommendation for a full cookset that does not eat up storage space. Then, a classic way to get gourmet results. Both are great options we think you’ll enjoy. So, without further adieu; check out our favorite camp cookware set ups.
Stanley Basecamp 4 Person Cookset
The picture above shows the pot and fry pan from Stanley’s nesting stainless cookset. If you’re not trying to go ultralight and have a sturdy cooking platform, these are worth a look. They’re well built and surprisingly affordable. We especially like that the pans have a three ply construction that adds heft and helps keep heat nice and even.
It’s also cool that you get sporks, plates, bowls, cutting board, and more. Nineteen pieces in all, and the set is backed by Stanley’s lifetime warranty. We’re pretty impressed by the way everything nests together too. Overall it’s a good set for a good price. Everything included does add up to about 5.5 lbs… so if lightweight cooking gear is on your list, look elsewhere.
MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set
Another great option that’s really affordable compared to high-end backpacking cookware is MSR’s Alpine series. They’re probably some of the best looking pots you can buy. We love the look of the polished stainless. It’s also pretty easy to clean.
The set in the photo is the two pan set (also includes a carry bag and a pot handle). They work great and the lids double as plates. They nest well, but we added microfiber washcloths to keep them from banging around in transit. The duo weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces, and there’s plenty of room inside the smaller pot for storing some spices and such when they’re packed into the bag.
MSR makes great stuff and you can get this set in other configurations… like a 4 piece set or individual pans.
Old School Gourmet Cookware – Cast Iron
Camping cookware set reviews typically skip cast iron. That makes us a little sad. Aside from fire alone and a few primitive roasting methods, it doesn’t get much more old school than the classic Dutch oven. Constructed from cast iron this portable piece of cookware is excellent at retaining heat. Because the heavy, thick-walled pots handle heat so well they continue to be regarded as a backcountry cooking staple. They are perhaps the easiest and most consistent means of creating gourmet meals in the middle of nowhere. Not bad for a 300 plus year old pot from the Netherlands.
These days cast-iron varieties typically arrive at your door pre-seasoned, making life with cast iron much easier. If you’re looking to save a little weight consider an aluminum version like GSI’s 10 inch aluminum model. With aluminum seasoning is unnecessary and rust will not be a problem. However, aluminum is more conductive so it falls short of classic cast iron in the even heating department. While the iron version is heavier and a little more maintenance intensive, we still think it’s the way to go. In fact we can’t think of a better way to feed six to eight people than Lodge’s five quart cast iron Dutch oven. Add a 10.5″ cast iron skillet and you have a heck of a classic cookset.
If you car camped a few decades ago you probably remember enamelware. Well, it’s still alive and kicking. So you can still take a classic pot on your “overland” adventures. This pot is from GSI Outdoors. We love their stuff. And, this is a pretty good pot that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The downside is that enamelware has a tendency to chip and expose the steal it’s designed to protect. Unfortunately ours lasted about a week before it’s first chip. Granted we were using it a lot; once or twice a day on our 6,400 mile road trip from Bend to Overland Expo East. The chip in ours is not small, but the pan still works just fine and we haven’t noticed any corrosion.
We also picked up some enamelware bowls and cups for the trip. They’re cool from a nostalgia perspective, but they definitely are not our favorite. But, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to bring pots and pans from home… these are worth a look.
Full Size Nesting Cookware Set
Carrying a full size cookset from your house doesn’t work. Even an Earth Roamer owner would think twice about burning through that much storage space. But, that doesn’t mean a tiny titanium backpacking cookset is the only option. Boiling just a few ounces of water at a time sucks when you have an awesome overland camp stove on hand. Fortunately you can get a bit of help from the yacht and RV industry. To be more specific, you can turn to Magma’s 10 piece, full-size cookset that packs down to less than a half of a cubic foot of space.
Seeing a 9.5 inch frying pan, a five quart stock pot and three saucepans wrapped up in such a small package is pretty impressive. But, the quality is what really impressed us. These things are nice, and they’re not too expensive. Also, if you’re more of a non stick fan Magma offers a set of those as well. The non-stick Creamica cookset is a bit more expensive, but not unreasonably so. Magma even makes some handy protectors to keep things quiet and reduce wear while in transit. If you are cooking for a group or family this is probably the best solution.
If you’re traveling light, you can definitely get by on backpacking cookware. It’s small, usually nests, and like the backpacking stove you’ll pair it with… backpacking cookware is ultralight weight.
The downside is that most gear made for backpacking is fairly expensive. But, then again anything made from Titanium typically carries a heavy weight price tag. There are some slightly more affordable Titanium options available, but we recommend coughing up a little extra to support awesome companies like Snow Peak. But, if you can’t afford it consider a slightly heavier stainless or aluminum version from MSR or GSI. They’re also great companies… and you’re in a vehicle so an ounce or two won’t slow you down too much.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to backpacking cookware is versatility. The higher cost might be a little hard to swallow, but if you backpack, bikepack, kayak, or canoe camp you’re set. Beyond multi activity versatility they’re good for emergencies and impromptu camping. We actually keep a tiny backpacking stove and the Snow Peak set (in the photograph) in our car at all times, just in case we need a little more coffee before we wade into the river for some fly fishing.
Don’t Forget the Camping Kettle
Camp cookware typically focuses on pots and pans, but we actually value a good camp kettle a little more. Sure you can’t effectively fry and egg or make a grilled cheese sandwich in one. However, for most people, the main thing heated in camp and on the trail is water.
And if you have a baby who drinks formula they work great for turning clean cold water into luke warm baby formula. In fact, we picked up a kettle with a built in thermometer to make things even easier. It was a great travel bottle warmer until “somebody” left it on the stove a little too long and the thermometer melted into kettle’s lid. But, hey new parents mess up… right? We’ll probably buy another (it worked awesome for perfect french press coffee), if you’re interested we bought it from Barebones Living. For now though… the GSI in the photo and a meat thermometer are working just fine.