Camping Cookware and Cooksets for the Backpacker

Backpacker Pots, Pans, Skillets, Utensils and Cutlery

MSR Duralite Cookware
••• MSR Duralite Cookset.


If you're going to cook from a backpack, you'll need an outdoor cookset. Plenty of camping cook ware exists - which is right for you? Do you need a simple pot or a full blown set of nested pots and pans? Take a look at this guide.

You've got some material choices:


  • Stainless steel
  • Non-stick Aluminum
  • Hard Anodized Aluminum
  • Titanium

    MSR (Mountain Safety Research) has some advice for you on these choices. Remember that storing wet aluminum in your cupboard between trips will result in pitted cookware.

    Let's look at the best backpacker cookset - the MSR Duralite Mini Cookset. This cookset includes 1 and 1.5 liter pots, lid which doubles a plate, and a stuffsack; weighs 16.9 ounces. The PanHandler, which can be bought separately if you decide on another cookware set, is, according to MSR's website: "A whisper-light pot lifter that works perfectly with all MSR cookware. Safely supports up to 10 pounds/4.5kg?ch is a lot of stew." The pots nest together so as not to take up precious backpack space.

    You may want to consider adding a skillet to this minimalist cookset - the frying pan can double as a second lid or bowl.

    Check out some other nesting cooksets here.

    Just need a pot? The Alpine Stowaway series is great - handles fold over the lid, which doubles as a plate, to hook the lid in place for stowage - and the Primus Vari-Fuel Stove will nest in the pot.

    Utensils and Cutlery

    Utensils - go deluxe with something like Alpine Folding Utensils - folding spatula, strainer and spoon - or buy an all-purpose wooden spoon and saw off most of the handle; sand the sawed end and rub it with vegetable oil to prevent the spoon from cracking or giving you splinters. The question is: will you just be stirring stew or will you need a spatula for flipping crepes?

    Cutlery - Tekk Lexan cutlery sets are a great way to go. These plastic utensils are made of some space age material that is practically indestructible. A loop keeps the knife, which has a serrated edge, fork and spoon together - keep the cutlery (thoroughly dry) in a Ziploc bag because a moderate amount of use will eventually break the loop, even though Tekk means well. Read a review from Backpacker magazine here.

    Purists say cutlery needs consist only of a Lexan spoon and a pocket knife, which every backpacker needs to carry in a front pocket anyway.

    Cleanliness is next to...something - a last thought about cookware - I don't bring along a sponge or scrubber for cleaning; they take forever to dry and are bacteria magnets to boot. Consider the MSR Packtowl for cleaning (you can use it on your body, too) - dries fast.

    The non-stick cookware above can be cleaned with plain water; bring along a tiny bottle of dishwashing liquid and you're set. I don't use dish soap on wooden spoons as it shortens the spoon's life - follow your own germ consciousness there. :-) Oh, yeah - try to find clean water - if you can't, boil water in your cookset pot for dishwashing.