How To Buy The Best Backpacking Cookware On A Budget

Having the best backpacking cookware can improve your camping experience. The type of cookware you need depends on what kind of a camper you are, how many people you are camping with, and ease of cleaning among other factors. This comprehensive backpacking guide gives all the insights on the cookware to buy.

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*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

What you should know about backpacking cookware

There is a lot to be considered when it comes to planning your backpacking cookware. Top of the list is whether you will be backpacking with a car or on-foot like backcountry hikers. Other factors to consider include the material of the cookware, number of pieces in the set, and the cookware accessories to include. 

Car camping vs. backcountry hiking

Making coffee or tea on a gas burner on the nature

Car camping offers the advantage of carrying any type of cookware to the campsite. In addition, the more backpackers with cars the easier it is to carry large propane stoves with two or more burners or a portable grill. You also have the liberty of carrying any kind of foods you wish to have in the campsite including perishable products since you may have more space for a cooler in your car.

Backcountry hiking on the other hand involves traveling on foot through the woods or other type of campsite. Weight is one of the major concerns for many backpackers on foot and the lighter you travel the more comfortable it is. Camping experts would recommend a single propane burner and a few utensils like a single plate and spoon. Simple items like food cans can also transform into makeshift beverage containers. 

Cookware material

Camping cooking gear

The type of cookware material you go for will be determined by your cooking needs. Available cookware materials on the market include aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and cast iron. Each of these metals varies in terms of pricing, ease of usage, and durability. 

Aluminum

Aluminum is lightweight and cheap. It is a good conductor of heat, therefore, evenly spreads heat. Aluminum can ensure that you save time on cooking and use less fuel doing so.

On the downside, aluminum dents, warps, and scratches easily. This means that it may not last longer like other high-grade metals. In addition, aluminum is reactive to acid or alkaline foods. This can end up ruining the taste of your food or beverages. Therefore, aluminum is only used when simmering food or cooking meals that only require boiling.

An alternative to basic aluminum is hard-anodized aluminum. This has a thicker coating and does not have the disadvantages of conventional aluminum. Hard-anodized aluminum is more durable and is resistant to scratches, dents, or warping.

It conducts heat evenly, meaning you will you less fuel and clean easily. Hard-anodized aluminum can be used to for different cooking methods including boiling and deep-frying.

Titanium

Like aluminum, titanium is lightweight but is stronger than aluminum. Its thin walls conduct heat faster and save cooking time. Titanium is also resistant to corrosion and durable. The only major drawback of titanium is that it does not spread heat evenly on its surface. This creates hot spots which may end up burning food. Similarly, titanium will also come in handy when preparing meals that only require boiling, simmering, or steaming.

stainless steel

Stainless Steel cookwave
If you tend to be the camper who is rough on their cookware, stainless still can be a good choice for you

Stainless steel can be a good choice if you are looking for heavy and durable cookware. It is also scratch resistant and recommended for cookware that can take lots of use. The cookware does not take much to clean your stainless steel utensils; steel wool and soapy water will suffice in many cases.

Stainless steel has its downside as well. It takes a lot of time for steel to heat up and the heat is not evenly distributed. Not only will you use a lot of fuel to cook, there is also a possibility of burning food especially if you cook with lots of heat. Though stainless steel is easier to clean, food tends to stick on it as well. 

Cast iron

Cast iron is by far the best cookware material of the four mentioned above. It is resistant to scratches, denting, or warping, and has a natural non-stick surface. Although Iron may take a while to heat up, it spreads the heat evenly on its surface once it heats up.

Iron also retains heat longer, which means your food will continue cooking even after the fire has been turned off. Skillets are a perfect example of cookware made of cast iron.

On the downside, cookware made of cast iron tends to be heavy. Iron also needs re-seasoning for it to maintain its natural non-stick properties. Therefore, it is ideal for car camping than backcountry hiking. 

Non-stick cookware

Non-stick cookware has become more popular because of the benefits they bring to camping. They conduct heat better and require less oil for cooking. They are also easier to clean, a great reason why they are preferred by campers.

However, just like cast iron, non-stick cookware requires proper handling to protect the non-stick surface. They scratch easily, and when they do, deteriorate faster. Hiking backpackers or car campers can both utilize non-stick cookware. They can come in handy when you want to save time on cleaning. 

More tips for choosing your cookware

More tips for choosing your cookware

It is advisable that you buy an assortment of cookware to make for the best camping experience. Mix up your cookware material as well, regardless of whether you buy pots, plates, bowls, mugs, or skillets. Your menu and the activities you intend to have while camping should determine the kind of cookware and burners you buy. Only purchase the items you need to avoid having unnecessary items in the woods.

Hiking backpackers can do with a single pot while car camping families can carry an assortment. One other thing to consider is the color of the cooking equipment. Dark colored pots tend to conduct heat efficiently and speed up cooking time. Diameter of the pots also determines how fast the heat is conducted or evenly spread.

Wider pots are more heat efficient as a larger surface is exposed to fire. Always choose pots or pans with a diameter that is almost similar to your stove burner; it ensures that heat is always evenly distributed. 

Cauldrons over burning campfire with camping tent

The size and number of pots you buy depends on how many people you intend to accommodate while camping

Apart from pots and pans, you also require cooking accessories including lids. Lids are highly versatile cookware accessories for camping. They reduce the amount of heat lost from the pots, which helps water to boil faster or food to take less time to cook. Lids also protect against spillage and overflows helping keep your stoves clean when cooking.

If you do not have enough utensils on your camp, cooking lids can be makeshift plates. They can also serve as trays or quick plates to remove steaming pots from the fire.

Pot grabbers or handles are a second accessory to have while camping. A lot of the older pots and pans come with inbuilt handles. Modern cookware comes with detachable grips. The best pot grabbers lock on the pot firmly. Some cookware feature plastic handles that should be kept away from direct fire to avoid damage.

Top 5 Best Backpacking Cookwares On The Market

Preview
Best Price
Best Choise
Title
Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set 24oz Stainless Steel...
Camping Cookware Mess Kit, Lightweight Aluminum Cookware Cooking Pan......
MalloMe Camping Cookware Kit with Folding Spork, Nylon Bag and Ebook......
Solo Stove Stainless Steel Titan and Solo Pot 1800 Camp Stove...
Stanley Stan Adv 32oz Coff Press ss Cook + Brew, Stainless Steel...
Customer Rating
Customer Reviews
1063 Reviews
95 Reviews
2826 Reviews
216 Reviews
89 Reviews
Prime Benefits
Best Price
Preview
Title
Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set 24oz Stainless Steel...
Customer Rating
Customer Reviews
1063 Reviews
Prime Benefits
Buy Now!
Preview
Title
Camping Cookware Mess Kit, Lightweight Aluminum Cookware Cooking Pan......
Customer Rating
Customer Reviews
95 Reviews
Prime Benefits
Buy Now!
Preview
Title
MalloMe Camping Cookware Kit with Folding Spork, Nylon Bag and Ebook......
Customer Rating
Customer Reviews
2826 Reviews
Prime Benefits
Buy Now!
Best Choise
Preview
Title
Solo Stove Stainless Steel Titan and Solo Pot 1800 Camp Stove...
Customer Rating
Customer Reviews
216 Reviews
Prime Benefits
Buy Now!
Preview
Title
Stanley Stan Adv 32oz Coff Press ss Cook + Brew, Stainless Steel...
Customer Rating
Customer Reviews
89 Reviews
Prime Benefits
Buy Now!

Last update on 2017-09-20 at 09:17 PST - Details

best backpacking cookware

The Stanley Camp Cookset was my first cookware setup and I immediately fell in love with it. This 8-piece set features a non-stick 1.5-liter pot and a hard-anodized 2-liter pot, straining lid, 2 dish plates, 2 mugs (insulated), and a switchable pot handle. The cookware packs together into a single cylindrical setup compact enough to fit in with the rest of your camping gear. The MSR Quick 2 is suited for both backpack hiking and car camping.

Stanley Camp Cookset system can organize your camping moments better. You can carry the 8-piece set on the truck of your car or fasten it to your backpack and cycle to your next hiking location. I also appreciate how lightweight it is, especially when I went mountain hiking with a couple of friends. 

What I Liked


  • Non-stick cooking set.
  • ​Lightweight and portable.
  • ​Compact and fits in snuggly with your camping gear.
  • ​Easy to clean.
  • ​Interchangeable handle clips.
  • ​Ideal for a two burner propane stove.

What I Didn’t Like


  • ​Can be costly for a first time camper.
  • ​Handles may grow faulty with time.
best backpacking cookware

For anyone looking to gear up on a budget, I would suggest getting this cooking setup from BlueLion Camping Cookware. It features an 11-piece set that comprise of 2 quart pots, a 1 quart kettle, and 1 quart frying pan. The large pot and frying pan both come with lids measuring 3 by 6.5 inches, and 1.25 by 6.4 inches. This cooking set also comes with a serving bowl, serving spoon, a spatula, a ladle, cleaning sponge, and bag for carrying the cookware.

BlueLion Camping Cookware stack up together for convenient packing. This cooking setup is ideal for both hikers and car campers, though I recommend it mostly for car campers. To me, this setup would seem too bulky to fit into a backpack. Alternatively, you can hang it on the side of the bag as it only weighs 1.5 pounds. The aluminum oxide coating features Teflon coating to prevent the surface from reacting with acids or alkalines. 

What I Liked


  • ​Conducts heat evenly.
  • ​Easy to clean after cooking.
  • ​Stable collapsible handles.
  • ​Can be taken down to smaller parts for easy parking.
  • ​Deep pan to prevent spillage.
  • ​Inexpensive compared to other cook sets.
  • ​Ideal for backpacking, hiking, car camping, or trekking.

What I Didn’t Like


  • ​Bowls may be too tiny for use.
  • ​Traces of food may stick on the pots after cooking.
best backpacking cookware

I would recommend the G4Free cooking set if you are looking to save space while packing for your next camp. This cookware features a 4-piece set comprising of a two pots (5.5 by 4.2 inches and 4.7 by 4.2 inches) and two pans (5.1 by 2.4 inches and 4.5 by 2.4 inches). MalloMe Camping Cooking Set also comes in two other variations of 2 piece and 12 piece sets.

Both pots and pans are deep enough so I never have to worry about spillage. In addition, the cookware is made from lightweight and durable FDA approved anodized aluminum. The pots and pans heat up quickly reducing cooking time and the need to use a lot of fuel. Speaking of fuel, these pots and pans pair up well with the tiny camping propane burners popular with many backpackers.

When you stack the pots together, there is enough room left to fit in a couple of spoons, forks, matches, spices, and washing sponge. Fit this into the mesh-carrying bag provided and strap it onto your backpack. The MalloMe Camping Cooking Set is ideal for hikers, backpackers, trekkers, or 2 to 4 car campers on a weekend out. 

What I Liked


  • ​Compact when packed.
  • ​Leaves room to fit additional cooking accessories.
  • ​Can be split into two for easy carrying.
  • ​Pans and pots can also double as a serving plates.

What I Didn’t Like


  • ​Not entirely non stick.
  • ​Green silicone lining melts in high heat.
best backpacking cookware

Solo Stove Cook Set is ideal for both backpackers and hikers. I would also recommend it to a car-camping family looking for extra pots to cook with. The cookware set comprises of a stove and a stainless steel titan including a lid made from anodized aluminum.

Solo Stove Cook Set works perfect with its portable propane burner. The pot is Teflon coated to prevent chemical reactions when cooking food. It is also lightweight and will not weigh you down when strapped on to your backpack. This cook set will cook anything from boiling eggs to making a light stir fry meal. The pot is non-stick and easy to clean on the go.

I have to bring my Solo Stove Cook Set as backup whenever I go camping. I feel safe when I am able to cook a meal of five in seconds with a single pot. This cookware eliminates the need to pack an extra propane canister with your pot. Throw in a couple of plates or even a small-sized kettle if you still have extra space. 

What I Liked


  • ​Designed with heat exchanger technology for reduced cook time and fuel usage.
  • ​Can serve up to 5 campers.
  • ​Compact and easy to carry.

What I Didn’t Like


  • ​Aluminum pot gripper maybe uncomfortable to hold.
  • ​Relatively expensive.
  • ​Not suitable for preparing several dishes at once.

Stanley Stan Titanium Cookware is compact and lightweight to carry. It features a pot that you can use to cook different types of meals. I would recommend this cooking setup mainly for the lone backpacker that likes to pack light.

The pot is made of light shiny titanium. This makes it lightweight and yet durable to withstand continuous use and intense heat. You can cook anything in this cooking set ranging from rice to freshly caught salmon while out in the wild.

Each pot and pan comes with long handles to hold the pot when cooking in an open fire. The pot handles can swing to the sides for easy packing and carrying for your next camping trip.

What I Liked


  • ​Strong, durable, and lightweight.
  • ​A four piece set that can serve four campers/backpackers.
  • ​Great for boiling, simmering, or stewing.

What I Didn’t Like


  • ​Quite expensive for a first time camper.
  • ​Too many items for a backpacker traveling alone.
  • ​The flipping handles may create a weak point of hold.

So What Is My Choice?

top pick

Solo Stove Cook Set

  97  

OVERALL

  95  

Quality

   98  

Value

  95  

Brand

Solo Stove Cook Set

 97 

OVERALL

 95 

Quality

 98 

Value

 95 

Brand

Why I Recommend It


  • The pot is deep enough to support both light and heavy cooking.
  • Designed for both backpacking and car camping.
  • It is compact, allows more room for storage.
  • Consists of a versatile pot that can be used for different types of cooking including boiling and frying.

Conclusion

Experienced campers know the importance of having good cookware on their camping trips. It is important to consider durability, material, and number of people you will be accommodating on your campsite when buying backpacking and camping cookware.

In addition, find out if the cookware comes with its own propane gas cylinder or if you will have to get one separately. I hope you found this review and guide useful. 

Please share it with your friends on social media. You may also share your experiences using various backpacking cookware in the comments section.

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Lucas Bryant
 

Hi, I’m Lucas Bryant and fishing is one of the most important parts of my life. I usually go fishing with my friends and have many fishing competition. That why I like to research and create many tips to get more fishes to win a race. I hope my experience will be useful for you.

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