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The Best Backpacking Cookware Sets

Want to rustle up some tasty grub during your hiking expedition? We set out to find the best backpacking cookware sets to make trailside cooking easy.


Published Oct. 27, 2021.

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

After testing a variety of backpacking cookware sets, we picked the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset as our top choice because of its supereasy-to-clean nonstick surfaces, stability, and versatility. These qualities were essential when cooking a variety of lightweight backpacking fare. 

What You Need to Know

Unlike the Lord of the Rings character Samwise Gamgee, who hauled cast-iron cookware across Middle-earth on his trip to Mount Doom, most backpackers prefer to travel a little more lightly. Enter backpacking cookware sets, which are lighter and more compact: Handles fold in or detach completely, and the cookware can be nested together for ultimate portability. In some sets, skillets double as pot lids to really keep extras to a minimum. This minimalist style of cookware is ideal for using with backpacking stoves, which aren’t sturdy enough to support the weight of standard kitchen pots and pans. In contrast, car camping stoves can be used with heavier cookware and are often used to cook more complex meals. 

For this testing, we focused on backpacking cookware sets that included at least one pot and one skillet and that weighed less than 3 pounds. Sets that weigh more than 3 pounds are too heavy to carry on long treks. 

The cookware sets we tested came in all shapes and sizes, with the lightest weighing a mere 10.4 ounces. They were also made from various materials, including titanium, hard-anodized aluminium, and stainless steel; one set featured a pot and kettle with collapsible silicone sides that were supported by aluminum bases. Three sets claimed to have some sort of nonstick capability, but only one lived up to that claim. 

What to Look For

  • Lightweight Sets: We suggest choosing a cookware set that weighs less than 3 pounds. All the sets we tested met this metric and were easy to carry, even while hiking over varied terrain. 
  • Compact Sets: A compact cookware set is essential when cramming your backpack full of gear for a backpacking trip. In general, we found that cookware sets that were clearly labeled for backpacking tended to be the smallest and lightest on the market (as opposed to those labeled “basecamp,” which generally were larger and heavier). The sets we tested ranged from about the size of a fat Frisbee to the size of a small birthday cake, and all of them fit nicely into our backpack with other gear. 
  • Nonstick Cookware: When you’re roughing it in the backcountry, the last thing you want to do is have to cook for days in a pot or pan that isn’t fully clean; dirty cookware attracts bugs, and it’s also just kind of gross. The nonstick hard-anodized aluminum GSI Outdoors set ...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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