The camping cookware sets we present here nest into compact and lightweight packages you can easily bring along on your camping trips and yet provide everything you need to make and enjoy delicious and nutritious meals on camping grounds.
If you’re going car camping with a large family or group of friends and want to make fancy dishes, there’re elaborate sets that bring the convenience of your home kitchen to the outdoors. If you’re going backpacking or hiking solo and only need to boil water for your dehydrated meals and coffee, there’re also ultralight sets you can stow in your backpack.
If you’re like us and take great pleasure in cooking at campsites, you know that food tastes even better when prepared outdoors. Conventional kitchenware isn’t very practical for camping though. Thankfully, outdoor gear manufacturers offer special cookware that’s both practical and effective and we’ve reviewed the best camping cookware sets below. We’ve also assembled a buying guide to show you how to find out if a certain set is good for you.
How To Choose A Camping Cookware – Buying Guide
Choosing which is the best camping cookware is closely related to the intended use and your needs. If you’re going car camping, you probably won’t mind larger camping cook sets. On the other hand, backpacking cook sets will only come with only the basic pieces. Manufacturers usually list the packed size and weight of their sets so you can evaluate and see if it fits your type of camping.
Think about the capacity of the pots and pans you’re getting and choose a size that will suit the number of people you’ll be cooking for. You should also choose the size of your camping cookware based on the burner size on your camping stove. This way everything will cook quicker and efficiently.
Even though these sets are designed to be lightweight, their weight differs depending on the number of pieces included and the materials they’re made of. Weight ranges from less than one pound to over four pounds for some sets. If you’re base camping, you can afford to get heavier camping cookware. If you’re going backpacking, you want to carry something light in your pack so be sure to check the weight beforehand.
Camping pots and pans are made of metal, but different types are used. They all have their ups and downs in terms of weight, usability, and durability as follows:
Aluminum – Most traditional camping cookware is made from aluminum. It’s inexpensive, weighs next to nothing, and conducts heat very well. On the downside, it’s not particularly strong, so can dent and deform quite easily. It can also leach into foods.
For this reason, the best camping cookware is made of hard-anodized aluminum. A thick oxide layer on the surface makes it much stronger and prevent it from leaching into foods and altering the flavor. Most aluminum camping cookware also has some non-stick capabilities. If you’re looking for a balance between weight and function, then this is the material for you.
Stainless Steel – Steel is very strong so you will get excellent durability. It’s the optimal choice if you use metal utensils and don’t treat your gear very gently. A big plus for steel camping cookware is that it can be safely used over a campfire without risking damage.
However, steel cookware is considerably heavier than aluminum which can make carrying it a problem if you’re backpacking. Food can sometimes stick to the surface so you need to control the heat and add some oil. To prevent hot spots, the best steel and pans have a laminated bottom, which conducts heat more efficiently.
Titanium – It’s extremely lightweight and it offers excellent strength too. It’s very popular among backpackers. On the other hand, titanium is more expensive than both aluminum and steel.
Cast Iron – Cast iron cookware is very reliable and easy to use. It can last forever and has a non-stick coating which you only need to re-season from time to time. It can also safely be used over a campfire. It’s, however, very heavy and burdensome to carry around.
Non-Stick Coating – This is usually either Teflon or ceramic. Teflon is more common, less expensive, and very effective at ensuring food doesn’t stick. However, it can be easily damaged by scraping and the chunks that fall off aren’t good for your health. Ceramic non-stick coating is also very efficient and safe and durable but it’s also more expensive.
Food Grade Plastic and Silicon – Some extra pieces like utensils, mugs, bowls, and others may be made from plastic or silicone. It’s usually pretty strong and heat resistant so it can take usage while camping. For safety, look for utensils made of BPA-free plastic.
How long your new set is going to last mainly depends on the materials it is made of. Stainless steel has fantastic durability, even if you give it rough treatment or expose it to intense flames. Aluminum can show wear signs much quicker, especially if it doesn’t have additional protection.
The non-stick coating won’t be very durable if you don’t treat it right. It’s a good idea to go through reviews and see how well the camping cookware you plan on buying has performed for others.
Portability is certainly one of the key things you should think about, especially if you’re traveling light. Everything should stick together nicely, so the available space is optimally used. We already discussed size and weight but other things influence portability too. Handles that can be folded against the pot save additional space. Most manufacturers also provide a carry bag, which makes carrying much easier.
The more basic sets will only include a pot with a lid, and sometimes a frying pan. Some camping cook sets will contain much more. You can get an additional pot, plates, bowls, or a teapot. Sometimes a spatula and camping utensils are included too. This makes these sets handy because you don’t have to buy a different set of plates, cups, and utensils.
Almost every package comes with at least one lid to fit on both pot and pan. Sometimes you will get more than one, which adds weight but can be handy when using both pots at the same time. Strainer lids are a big plus if you want to make some pasta while camping.
As for the handle, usually, you will get a detachable handle (a grabber) which you use to hold the hot pot. It stays in place as long as you have your grip on it. A nice modification is handled that can be locked into place, so you don’t have to hold them.
Care And Cleaning
Since you won’t be in the comfort of your home, you won’t have a sink nearby to quickly clean everything. For this reason, you should consider the ease of cleaning and maintenance, especially if you are on a longer trip and need to use the cookware over and over again.
Most camp cook sets are designed to be easy to clean. Camping cookware with a non-stick coating is the easiest to clean. As for care, the most important thing is to clean it regularly and be careful not to damage the non-stick surface.
Q: How Should I Clean My Cookware?
It’s easiest to clean the cookware right away, when you’re done with your meal. If your pot or pan has a non-stick coating, you can simply wipe it off with a paper towel or use a gentle sponge or cloth. Hard-anodized aluminum, stainless steel and ceramic coated camping pans and pots can withstand more vigorous scrubbing.
As for steel cookware, you can throw it in a dishwasher when you get home. Your set may come with instructions on how to best maintain it, be sure to follow those. When washing your dishes and cookware outside, it is best to use an environmentally friendly biodegradable soap.
Q: How Many Pieces Of Cookware Do I Really Need?
This depends on the number of people you’ll be serving. If you’re going on a family adventure and camping with kids, you need a set which includes a larger pot or two, a frypan, mugs and plates for everyone. For solo use when backpacking or hiking, a set with a small pot, a mug (or bowl) and some eating utensils will do.
Q: What Is Important For My Cookware To Come With?
If you’re only going to be eating dehydrated meals and preparing soups, coffee and tea, then a pot, one mug and a spoon should suffice. If you want to prepare full meals, you will need a frying pan too. If you don’t have camp utensils, you can go for a set with plates, bowls, and sporks.
Q: Why Do I Need Cookware For Camping (And Not Just Some Pots And Pans From Home)?
The main reason is that home kitchen cookware is often too large and heavy for this purpose. It doesn’t stack neatly so it will be bulky and difficult to pack and carry when going camping. On the other hand, camping cook sets are significantly lighter and designed to nest for portability and ease of use when outside.
Q: Is Ceramic Or Aluminum Cookware Better?
If you want the best camping cookware, ceramic is the superior option and is safe even at high temperatures. Aluminum cookware is not as good at preventing food from sticking. With some cheap aluminum cookware, aluminum can leach into food. A ceramic or a hard-anodized coating can prevent aluminum from getting absorbed into the food.
Q: Are Aluminum Cookware Safe?
Hard anodized aluminum cookware is safe, as the aluminum has been treated to make it stronger and prevent it from leaching into food or reacting with acidic foods such as tomatoes.
Q: What Cookware Lasts The Longest?
Well-made cast iron and stainless steel cookware can last for generations when properly cared for. As for the non-stick coating, a ceramic coating cured into the metal is the most durable.
Q: Which Is Better Stainless Steel Or Aluminum Cookware?
Stainless steel is the better option when it comes to durability and ability to withstand high heat. Aluminum cookware has excellent heat conductivity and is lightweight and easier to carry when camping but stainless steel cookware can take even wood camp fire.
Q: Is Titanium Cookware Better Than Stainless Steel?
Titanium cookware is exceptional strong yet lightweight and ideal for backpacking or hiking in the backcountry. Titanium pots are ideal for boiling water while stainless steel is the way to go if you want to prepare real meals as it conducts heat more evenly.
Globo Surf Overview
Getting a quality camp cooking system set is one of the things to consider when shopping for camping equipment. As you’ve seen, you have many options to choose from – whether you want steel set with many pieces or a lightweight aluminum pot for heating up some water on the trail. We hope we helped you make an informed decision and buy the best camping cookware set for your needs.
More Camping Reviews:
- Backpack Cooler
- Pop Up Tent
- Family Tent
- Multi Tool
- Portable Radio
- 4 Season Tent
- Camping Gear
- Camping Table
- Picnic Backpack
Have you tried a camp cookware set that made it onto our list? Is it easy to prepare food? Can you quickly clean it afterward? How are you satisfied with material quality and durability? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.