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After a long day pounding trail, the one luxury every backpacker can agree on is a warm, tasty meal.
Whether it be freeze-dried or freezer bag, anything that even remotely resembles home cooking in the backcountry will taste like the best meal you’ve ever had. Of course, you won’t be able to enjoy said meal without proper cookware, and we recommend investing in a backpacking cookset.
The advantage of choosing a cookset versus individually piecing together your mess kit is packability. Backpacking cooksets are designed to pack down inside themselves, whereas an individual set may not nest so nicely with mix-match pieces.
Having tested a slew, we’re partial to a few cream-of-the-crop backpacking cooksets. If you’re in the market for a new set, take a look at the top seven we’ve deemed trail-worthy.
Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact Cookset
The name Snow Peak is an homage to the majestic mountain in Japan, Mount Tanigawa. Claiming more lives than Everest, this treacherous beauty was the prime force Snow Peak founder Yukio Yamai chose to test his strengths with time and time again. It was these trials and tribulations from which Snow Peak was born.
Ask an ultralight backpacker or thru-hiker what they use for cookware and you’re likely to hear their name. If you’re looking to go ultralight, we recommend their Titanium Multi Compact Cookset. This modular four-piece set only weighs 0.7-pounds, making it by far one of the lightest options.
Included in the titanium cookset are a 1-liter pot, .8-liter pot, and two lids which can double as a frying pan. Each item comes with an attached folding handle, turning this into a viable compact option.
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Cookset
GSI is a small family company offering a technical line of cooking products designed to feed and fuel you in the outdoors. Founded in San Diego, California in 1985, the company has since made the trek up north and now calls the foothills of Spokane, Washington home.
For the backpacking couple, their Pinnacle Dualist Cookset is specially designed to feed a hungry pair.
This 20.7-ounce scratch-proof and heat-resistant cookset comes with a slew of amenities. This includes a 1.8-liter pot with strainer lid, two bowls, two mugs with matching insulated sleeves, two sippy lids, a stuff sack doubling as a wash bin, and the most interesting feature, the foon — aka folding spork.
Boasting three-layers of non-stick coating, its Teflon with Radiance Technology eliminates hotspots and distributes heat evenly allowing you to do more than just boil water. It won’t absorb food odors and is durable enough to take a beating in your pack.
GSI Outdoors Halulite Microdualist
For the couple who chooses to shed ounces over amenities, there’s the GSI Outdoors Halulite Microdualist. This cookset takes the perks of the Pinnacle Dualist and boils them down to a single pound.
This ultralight set comes equipped with a 1.4-liter stovetop pot with a strainer lid making it ideal for prepping meals that needs to boil water and drain. Once your dinner is ready, you can pour it into a bowl and scarf it down with a foon all while enjoying a tasty warm beverage in a mug with a matching sippy lid.
And your partner? They can do the same because this set comes with two of everything – minus the 1.4-liter pot.
Speaking of which, the stovetop pot and accompanying lid ditch titanium for GSI’s proprietary Halulite — hence the name. This right here is an aluminum alloy that conducts heat better, reducing your chances of a disappointing burned meal.
And when you’re ready for the long haul, this compact set fits one item after another inside itself until everything can be stored safe and snug in its own stuff sack.
Be advised, this was indeed made for stovetop cooking so open flames should be left to the cast iron cooking car camper.
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist Cookset
GSI brother and sister founder trio Don, Ian, and Kathy Scott have come a long way since their days of producing solely blue enamel tableware. In the 30-plus years they’ve been in business, they’ve turned their thriving company into a worldwide recognizable brand and a favorite amongst the backpacking community.
Cooking for one? Not a problem. They also make a version of the Pinnacle for the solo hiker, the Pinnacle Soloist Cookset.
This set has virtually the same goods as the Pinnacle Dualist, but for one. There’s the insulated mug, bowl, sippy lid, telescoping foon, and waterproof sack that dubs as a washbin.
The pot is a tad smaller at 1.1-liters but features the same Teflon with Radiance Technology. This means you can heat your meal 25-percent faster than standard non-stick cookware, allowing more time for some quality shut-eye.
All stacked into one, this compact cookset will only cost you 10.8-ounces of weight at an affordable price.
Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo Cookset
When Snow Peak began, they relied on the metal processing technology of nearby town Tsubame Sanjo to create their mountaineering equipment. While their focus has since shifted to camping gear, their standard of quality has not.
For the solo hiker who prefers durable goods with minimal frills, there’s the 6.4-ounce Titanium Mini Solo Cookset. This lightweight, compact cookset gets down to the bare essentials of what you need, a pot for cooking and a mug for eating.
The 28-ounce pot and 10-ounce mug pack snuggly together, while still allowing enough room to store a 110-gram fuel canister and Snow Peak GigaPower Stove — or one of comparable size. The interior of the mug has handy volume markings while both have attached folding handles.
Made from titanium, you can heat food fast without experiencing an odd aftertaste from the cookware itself.
For anyone looking to turn their freeze dried Mountain House or freezer bag goods into a rewarding warm meal at the end of the day, this would be a good buy to consider.
MSR Alpine 2 Pot Set
Another popular brand among the backpacking crowd is MSR — aka Mountain Safety Research.
MSR didn’t get its start selling outdoor equipment right off the bat. Quite the contrary, it began in 1969 when mountaineer and engineer founder Larry Penberthy decided to release a newsletter dedicated to mountaineering safety.
Testing product after product for the newsletter, Penberthy decided “if no one was making it he’d come up with it himself.” Thus, MSR gear production was born. How’s that for quality gear testing?
Their Alpine 2 Pot Set is a classic. Any backpacker looking to get down to the basics can easily appreciate the simplicity of its design.
Built for two, this nesting set heats fast and feeds the ultra-hungry. The pot duo is one of the larger cooksets on the list, boasting a 2-liter and 1.5-liter pot. It comes with a single lid doubling as a frying pan/plate along with a PanHandler for gripping safety.
Made from stainless steel, it’s rugged enough to withstand heavy use while still meeting its weight class at 1-pound 10-ounces.
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset
For the gourmet campers who don’t mind the extra weight, there’s the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset. Being part of the Pinnacle series, this two hiker set has similar features to the Dualist and Soloist, with some considerable difference.
The first being the pot. The 8-liter non-stick pot is much wider than the other sets, giving it the feel of traditional cookware. This backpacking cookset also takes it a step further with the addition of an 8-inch frypan. Bonus points for the foldable detachable handle that locks onto both with the help exterior brackets lids.
The insulated mug and bowl sip through lid duo are also both included, but in this Pinnacle set they take on a rather unique triangular shape for easy gripping. Stack it all together and place it in the waterproof welded stuff sack/washbin when you’re ready to get trekking.
While the 1.8-pound weight isn’t the lightest on the list, it offers more options for the couple looking for more than a reheated meal. Plus between the two of you, splitting up the extra weight between packs shouldn’t be an issue.