The Best Cookware for Camping

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There is nothing like the feeling of camping amongst nature’s greatest works of art.

Mother Nature really out did herself with the epic shades of reds and yellows as the sun sets over the Sierra Nevada, the massive Granite peaks of the Presidential Mountains, and just the hum of the birds and insects signing their hearts out.

Mother Nature is awesome and how can you not want to be quietly camping next to her on a beautiful August night? While camping often seems like a peaceful dream, it can be a complete nightmare if you don’t properly prepare yourself for the elements.

Why Cookware is Important for Camping

We all need to eat. And, after a long day hiking the trails, your stomach is going to tell you to eat as soon as you get to camp. Bringing the right cookware on your backpacking trip is essential. It could even be life or death.

As backpackers you need to travel light and with all the vital essentials to keep you alive and happy. While you could certainly bring the kitchen sink with you, I doubt you’ll want to carry that with you up the Cascades.

Thankfully, camping cookware has come a long way since the days of heavy cast-iron skillets. Today’s cookware is lightweight, versatile, and packs down to a small size.

If you’re heading to the mountains for a weekend trip or longer, you’ll definitely need a stove, some pans, and utensils. Maybe even a grill.

Our Top 3 Best Camping Cookware Items to Bring On Your Next Backpacking Trip

MSR Windburner Stove

The MSR Windburner stove is one of the best backpacking stoves and it’s a relatively new stove to the marketplace. MSR decided to take the best features of its Reactor and Jetboil stoves and combined them to create the Windburner.

As its name implies, the Windburner is one of the best wind resistance stoves so you’ll finally be able to cook your dinner in the wind without the flame blowing out.

Like other integrated canister stoves, the Windburner is solely for boiling water. The stove is great for cooking Ramen noodles or boiling water for freeze dried food, but don’t except to cook eggs or other complex meals with this stove.

The Windburner is fast. It can boil water in about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Just remember it might take a little longer if it’s windy, but the Windburner is built to handle inclement weather.

The MSR Windburner is one of the most fuel efficient backpacking stoves. It has an insulated pot which interfaces well with the radiant burner to make it extremely fast at boiling water.

Two of the downfalls of the Windburner are that you need a lighter to light the stove and the Windburner does not have a piezo ignitor integrated into the stove.

The Windburner is one of the heaviest integrated canister stoves on the market. It weighs approximately 14.8 ounces and is rather tall compared to other similar stoves. The Windburner comes with a canister stand to help keep the stove stable, but if you’re trying to save weight in the pack, leave it behind. Just make sure the Windburner doesn’t fall over when cooking.

While the MSR Windburner may seem to have some major pitfalls, it has a lot of great features. MSR installed a really important safety feature to protect both you and your stove.

If the stove starts to overheat, the Thermal Trip Mechanism will shut down the stove to prevent any harmful explosions of the canister. Just make sure you know how to reset the mechanism after it goes off.

The MSR Windburner is a good value at $129.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here). The Windburner is a great stove for cold adventures and quick excursions where you generally eat only freeze dried food that just needs hot water.

MSR Windburner at a Glance

Type:Integrated canister
Weight:14.8 oz
Average Boil Time:2:30
Burn time at Max Flame:8 oz lasts about 1 hr 35 min.
Pros
  • Windproof
  • Fuel efficient
  • Fast
  • Thermal Trip Mechanism safety feature
Cons
  • Heavy for backpacking
  • Cozy disconnects from the pot
  • No Piezo ignitor
  • Need a lighter

How does MSR WindBurner compare against other stoves like JetBoil MiniMo? Read here!

Optimus Terra HE Cook Set

If you’re not looking to just boil water for prepackaged meals and carry a stove that allows you to use pots and pans, you’ll need a quality set that is both light and versatile. The Optimus Terra HE cook set is a versatile three-pot combo that is great for any serious backcountry chef who would rather eat real food versus dehydrated backpacker meals.

The set includes three hard-anodized aluminum pans of various sizes. One pot is an uncoated 1.75-liter pot with an integrated heat exchanger that is great for boiling water or melting snow. Both the 1.7-liter pot and the 8.5-inch fry pan have a nonstick coating making cleanup a bit easier.

Reviewers found the large pot great for boiling water in record time because of the integrated heat exchanger that boosts efficiency. The smaller nonstick pot and fry pan are truly nonstick as they can handle some serious backcountry cheesy mac-n-cheese.

It’s best to clean these pots and pans with a paper towel or cloth towel, as metal utensils will scratch the nonstick coating damaging the pans.

To keep the overall weight of the cookware light, the fry pan doubles as a lid for both pots. While this is a creative way to keep the cookware lightweight for backpacking, the fry pan doesn’t seal tightly and packs slightly awkward in the neoprene storage bag.

Additionally the aluminum pot gripper is clunky and uncomfortable in the hand. The Terra HE cook set is rather heavy for a solo backpacker, but if you’re cooking a meal for 2-3 people the Terra HE is a great option for $59.99 For the latest prices and discounts, check here.

Optimus Terra HE Cook Set at a Glance

Kit includes:1.75-liter heat exchange pot

1.7-liter nonstick coated pot

8.5-inch nonstick fry pan

Aluminum pot handle

Neoprene Bag

Weight:25.4 oz.
Retail Price:$59.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)
Pros:
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Packs into itself
  • Nonstick coating
  • Large pot has integrated heat exchanger
Cons:
  • Pot gripper is awkward and uncomfortable to hold
  • The fry pan “lid” does not seal well
  • Weighty for a solo backpacker

Hario V60 Plastic Dripper

Can you make it through the day without coffee? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Some people can camp with instant coffee and be happy, however, don’t think you have to settle for a mediocre cup of Joe.

The Hario V60 is a simple and lightweight coffee maker that makes a great cup of coffee and fits in your pack.

The V60 has a unique design, but its cone shape allows for the coffee grounds to stack thicker which extends the time the water has contact with the grounds and allows it to extract more flavor.

Hario suggests using a small spout kettle to pour water through the cone, but any vessel containing hot water should work. The taste of the coffee just may vary and be on the weaker side. Reviewers found the V60 produced a rich coffee taste with less bitterness than other similar pour-over models.

The V60 can be as easy as scooping coffee in the filter and pouring in hot water or you can the ultimate barista and weigh out the grounds, measure the temperature of water and time the flow through to make the best cup of coffee you can find in the backcountry.

The V60 is super light weighing in at 2.94 ounces, but due to its cone shape, makes the V60 a little difficult to pack in a backpack. However, you can clip it through the handle to the outside of your pack. The V60 retails for $12 For the latest prices and discounts, check here. You’ll need to purchase the special filters for an additional $4 for a pack of 40.

Dimensions:4.5” diameter; 4” high
Weight:2.94 oz.
Retail Price:$12.00 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)
Pros:
  • Gourmet flavor
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • Special filters can be hard to find
  • Expensive for a plastic dripper
  • Can be awkward to pack in a backpack

Other Options to Try

The Verdict – Final Take

It’s easy to over pack for a backpacking or camping trip, especially when it comes to food and cooking. It’s important to pack only the necessary essentials as carrying a heavy pack full of things you don’t need is never fun.

If you’re only packing dehydrated backpacker meals then the MSR Windburner is a great lightweight stove; however, if you’re looking to make more gourmet meals, you’ll want a more versatile stove.

The Optimus Terra HE cook set is a great versatile and durable set of pots and fry pan that even the pickiest chef will enjoy.

Of course, you can’t leave the house without a quality and easy to use coffee maker. The V60 Plastic Dripper is the perfect lightweight solutition.

Further read: