Mom Goes Camping

The Best Camping Pots (and the Problem with Most Camping Cooksets)

camping pots

When I first got back into wild camping, I didn’t have a special camp cookware set.  I just used the lightest pot in my kitchen.

Obviously, the pot was heavy to carry.  The pot was also really difficult to pack because of the handle.  This wouldn’t have been such an issue during car camping.  But, it wasn’t fun to lug a heavy, bulky pot up a mountain on my pack.

bad camping pot

This pot was NOT fun to bring backpacking!

After that trip, I immediately bought a camping pot. Even if I were car camping, I’d still want a good camping pot.  Pots made for camping are simply easier to pack and clean.

 

Why I Hate Most Camping Pots

If you are looking for a camping pot set, chances are you are going to find one that looks like this one below:

G4 camping pot set with retractable handles

At first glance, it seems like these camping pots are a good buy.  They are reasonably lightweight, easy to clean, the price is right, and the pieces nest together.

But, as someone who’s done a lot of camping, I personally hate this type of camping pots because of their collapsible handles.  The design might seem cool, but there are some annoying issues with collapsible handles:

Problems with Collapsible Handles:

  1. The Handle Can Get HOT
    The collapsible metal handles on camping pots can get very hot. You’ll need something that can be used as a pot holder (a bandana, towel, sock…). To solve this problem, most camping pot handles are coated in silicon.  Too bad that the silicon can MELT if it gets too close the flame!
  2. You Can’t Cook Over a Campfire
    I personally never cook over a campfire because it’s too hard to regulate the temperature.  However, if you wanted to try campfire cooking, you wouldn’t be able to use one of these camping pots because the handle coating will melt. Even if you never plan on campfire cooking, it’s still good to have a pot which allows it.  If I were ever to run out of fuel, I like knowing that I could just use one of these campfire cooking methods.
  3. It’s Hard to Balance the Pot on Small Stoves
    I use a small portable gas stove for cooking while camping or backpacking (this is the one I use). If my camping pot had a handle, it would make it very hard to balance on top of the stove.  

 

You Need a Camping Pot without a Handle!

Instead of getting a camping pot with a collapsible handle, get one with a detachable handle.  You just clip the handle onto the side of the pot or pan when you want to remove it.

Admittedly, it can be a bit tricky at first to use these handles – especially if the pot is really heavy.  I’ve never spilled any food using the handle, but I am very cautious.

Using a camping pot with a detachable handle solves all of the problems listed above.  You’ll be able to use the pot over a campfire, balance it better, and never worry about hot or melted handles. Additionally, you save weight because you can use the same handle on all of your pots/pans.

You can buy just a pot handle, like this one from from Olicamp.  It costs about $7.50 and weighs just 1.5oz. Buy it here.

 

Best Camping Pots (with Detachable Handles

1. Texsport Aluminum Camping Cookware Set

texsport camping cookware set

This is the camping cook set that I use.  At about $14, it is super cheap (see, you don’t need expensive gear to go camping!).  Part of the reason that it is so cheap is because it’s made from aluminum.  Have no fear – the CDC says there is no need to worry about eating food cooked on aluminum camp pots.

Aluminum means that the set is really lightweight.  The entire set weighs 0.57lbs (258grams).  Just the two pots weigh 0.36lbs.

The set is made for 2 people.  However, I’ve used it with 3 people.  The third person just eats out of the pot.  If all 3 people are really hungry though, you might not be able to cook enough food in 1 pot and need to make a second batch.

The fry pan fits on top of the pot as a lid.  It is a bit difficult to remove the lid. I manage by leaving a gap for the handle gripper when putting on the lid.

There aren’t any cool features of this camping cook set.  However, for $14, it serves its job very well.

Cooking lunch with the pot on the trail.

About to make morning coffee and oatmeal while beach camping

 

Pros:

  • Very lightweight (full set weighs just 0.57lbs)
  • Suitable for 2-3 people
  • Second pot serves as a lid
  • Easy to clean
  • No worries about scratching any coating
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • Very basic
  • Not great for frying
  • Cups are small (I need to drink 2 of these cups of coffee in the morning)
  • Very small plates
  • A bit wide for most backpacking stoves
  • Fry pan is hard to remove when used as a lid

***Buy It Here***

 


2. GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Steel Cook Set

GSI Glacier camping cook set

For those who want something more than just the basic, this is the best camping pot set.  I love that you can order it in 3 different sizes.  The different sizes in each set means you have a lot more versatility (for those times when you go backpacking solo or with friends).

Like most well-designed camping pots, the set is designed so the fry pan acts as a lid.  The lid actually fits really well and is easy to remove.

  • Small size: a 1-quart pot, a 1.5-quart pot, a 6.5-inch fry pan/lid, and a 7.5-inch fry pan/lid; measures 7x7x4.8” when packed; weighs 2lbs total
  • Medium: a 1.5-quart pot, 2.5-quart pot, a 7.5-inch fry pan/lid, a 8.9-inch fry pan/lid; measures 8.5×8.5×5.2” when packed, weighs 2lbs 4oz
  • Large: a 2.5-quart pot, a 4-quart pot, a 8.9-inch fry pan/lid, 9.75-inch fry pan/lid; measures 10.8×10.5×5.8”; weighs 2lbs 6oz

I like that the camping pot has a loop handle, which actually is useful if you want to cook over a campfire.

However, you’ll need to keep the pots at a safe distance from the open flame.  Some users reported that the pan deformed when used for frying! This is an issue whenever cooking with stainless steel though.

Pros:

  • Really well designed
  • Good weight
  • Handle attaches securely to pots

Cons:

  • Pricier option
  • Not good for frying
  • Stainless steel can warp if you don’t know how to cook with it (more on that here)
  • Plates and cups not included

***Buy It Here***

 


3. MSR Quick 2 Pot Set

MSR 2 person quick cook set

If you don’t mind spending nearly $100 for a backpacking cookware set, this one is beautifully designed.  It comes with:

  • 5 liter anodized aluminum non-stick pot
  • 5 liter anodized aluminum pot (not coated)
  • Strainer lid
  • 2 insulated mugs with sip-through lids
  • Two deep-dish plates
  • Pot handle

The entire set clocks in at 1lb 12oz and packs to 7.75×5”.  It is designed for two people but you could just take one of the pots if you are backpacking solo.

I love all the little details with this set.  Like how the lid has a strainer.  And how the handle can fold upwards to lock the lid in place (great for when you are pre-soaking dehydrated camp meals).  The color-coding system is a nice touch, even if I wouldn’t care whose plate I eat off of. 🙂

The only major issue is with the handle.  It is hard to remove, especially when you are cooking – which kind of defeats the purpose of a removable handle.  I’d recommend getting a gripper-type handle to use with the set, though it might scratch the non-stick coating.

Pros:

  • Good weight for backpacking
  • One pot has non-stick coating
  • Anodized aluminum won’t warp in high heat

Cons:

  • Really difficult to remove handle while cooking
  • Liquid pools at top of sippy cup lids due to bad design
  • Pricy

***Buy It Here***

 


4. Stansport Stainless Steel Camping Cook Set

Stansport car camping cook set

This camping cook set is good for car camping or RV camping when weight isn’t such an issue.  It comes with four pots (4 quart, 3 quart, 2 quart, 1 quart), one fry pan (10 inch), and a lid plus a detachable handle.

The camping pots are made from stainless steel, so you do need to be careful that they don’t get too hot. However, unlike the lightweight stainless pot by GSI, these ones have heavy bottoms.  They won’t warp and food doesn’t burn easily.

Note that this set comes with a lifter-type handle, not a gripper-type handle. It can be tricky to use, and is difficult to move from one pot to another while cooking.  The set is still a really good deal though.  If you cook with more than one pot at a time, I’d recommend buying a gripper handle to use with the other pots.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Heavy bottoms won’t warp
  • Handle locks in place
  • Nests really well
  • Pots can also serve as mixing bowls

Cons:

  • It takes some practice to get used to the handle
  • Handle is hard to remove while cooking
  • Wish it came with a second handle
  • Too heavy for backpacking
  • Need to supply your own bungee for securing the set together
  • No plates or cups included

***Buy It Here***


 

 

About the author /


Diane Vukovic is an avid traveler, outdoor enthusiast, beetle lover, sometimes sculptress, couchsurfer, and loves finding ways to explain complex topics to her 6-year old daughter. Follow MomGoesCamping on Facebook and Twitter @MomGoesCamping to stay in touch!

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