Camping Cookware and Cooksets for the Backpacker

Backpacker Pots, Pans, Skillets, Utensils and Cutlery

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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
  • TitaniumMSR (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.
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