The best camping mess kits we feature here are stocked with the essential camp cooking and serving utensils organized into lightweight and compact packages that are easy to pack and carry no matter where the trails or roads take you.

Equipped with a camping mess kit, you will be able to prepare tasty and nutritious meals that will refuel you after a tiresome but fun day trekking, hiking, climbing, hunting, or fishing. The good news is that you don’t have to lug along heavy and bulky pots, pans, and utensils.

Below, check out our top ten picks of the best mess kits that are easy to carry and sure to bring the joy, warmth and comfort of a delicious hot meal to your campsites and make your expeditions much more enjoyable.

How To Choose A Camping Mess Kit – Buying Guide

How_To_Choose_A_Camping_Mess_Kit

Cooking Set Up

The best mess kit you go for should suit your camp cooking set up. If you’re car camping, ensure the pots and pans have a flat bottom that will sit well on car camping stoves. For backcountry backpacking adventures, the ideal camp mess kit will work best with backpacking mini stoves. If you plan to cook over a campfire, you will need a campfire mess kit that can withstand open fire. 

Use

The best backpacking mess kit for you will also depend on how you will be traveling, what kinds of meals you will be cooking, how long you will be out there, and how many diners you will be serving. Car camping gives you the freedom to choose the best camp mess kit for the best outdoor cooking and dining experience. When hiking, mountaineering, biking, or backpacking, you will want a lightweight and compact mess kit. 

Material

Aluminum Mess Kits

Most camping mess kits are made from aluminum because it is lightweight, conducts heat extremely well, and is affordable. The downside to aluminum is that it can react with acidic foods and its lightness makes it prone to dents and warps. Anodized aluminum cookware is harder, more durable, non-reactive, and healthy to cook with.  

Titanium Mess Kits

Titanium is ultralight and thin and at the same time incredibly strong and durable. It is also rust and corrosion resistant. Titanium cookware heats up very fast and is ideal for boiling water or melting ice. Its downsides are that it is pricey and prone to hot spots thus not good for real meals.

Stainless Steel Mess Kits

Stainless steel is sturdy, scratch-resistant, and very durable. It is the best material for campers who are hard on their gear. Its negatives are that it is on the heavy side and it tends to develop hot spots. Laminated stainless steel cookware has multiple layers to improve heat conductivity and dispersion.  

Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron is the king of all cookware. It cooks evenly and efficiently, has a naturally non-stick surface, and lasts for generations. It is great for cooking or baking over a stove or campfire. However, it is very heavy and only suits car camping. Its maintenance requirements are also more demanding than other cookware materials.

Non-Stick Coatings

Non-stick cookware is great for healthy cooking as it makes it possible to cook with little oil. It is also easy to clean up. The downside is that non-stick coatings are prone to scratches especially when metal utensils are used. The loose flakes mix with food and there are concerns that Teflon coatings have harmful effects on the body. Ceramic coatings are inert and therefore safe even at high temperatures.

Efficiency

You want a mess kit that doesn’t burn food and one that has efficient fuel consumption. Aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel, and darker pots and pans are fuel-efficient. Wider diameter pots are more efficient than narrow, tall ones. For boiling-water or melting snow, look for a pot with a heat exchanging ring on the outer circumference of its base. This ring promotes efficiency by preventing heat escape.

Number of Pieces

Ensure the kit you choose has the pots, pans, and utensils you will need depending on the kinds of meals you will be preparing, how many people you will be serving, the duration of the expeditions, and how you will be traveling. The typical mess kit comes with a small camp stove, a skillet, a small pot with lid, folding cutlery, bowls, mugs, and wooden ladle.

Extras

Many camping mess kits come with extra accessories that come handy when cooking outdoors. Typical extras include cleaning items, carry bag, and nice to have accessories such as fire starters and bottle openers. If you’re assembling your first camp kitchen, you may find a set with plenty of extras convenient.

Convenience

Camping mess kits are convenient cooking solutions for outdoor fans. Their main benefit is the convenience of having all cooking essentials in a compact and lightweight kit that is easy to pack and carry. Any other feature that adds to this convenience for you is always nice. Some great features for convenience include handy accessories, multi-purpose pieces, warranty, etc. 

Construction

Bes sure to pay attention to how the items in the mess kit you’re considering are constructed.  You want well-made pieces that will hold up well and that are safe to use. The first thing to look at is the material and coating as we’ve discussed above. Choose cookware that is non-toxic and BPA-free. The dishes and utensils should be resistant to high temperatures.

FAQs

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Q: What Is A Mess Kit And Why Do I Need It?

A: 

A mess kit is a set of lightweight camp cookware and utensils designed to nest into each other. When camping, you will need to prepare meals or boil water and a mess kit offers everything you need to cook and serve food in a kit that’s easy to pack and carry.

Q: What Does A Standard Mess Kit Contain?

A: 

A typical mess kit usually contains a small camp stove, a small pot with a lid, a frying pan, utensils such as a spoon and spork with a folding design, bowls, mugs, wooden ladle, a cleaning sponge and a carry bag. 

Q: What Are The Usual Sizes Of Pots Included In The Mess Kit?

A: 

Most pots in mess kits are smaller than standard home kitchen pots. Usual sizes of pots in mess kits are 5.9 inches, 6 inches or 6.5 inches in width and 1.5 – 3 inches in depth. Their typical capacity ranges from 1 – 3 liters.

Q: How Do I Clean My Mess Kit?

A: 

It’s important to clean up and dry your mess kit as soon as you’re done cooking and eating. Most mess kits come with a non-abrasive cleaning sponge to use. You can also use a gentle, biodegradable dishwashing soap.  

Q: Can I Wash My Mess Kit In The Dishwasher?

A: 

Most mess kits are dishwasher safe but some aren’t. Check the manufacturer’s packaging to see whether it’s safe to throw yours in a dishwasher and follow the recommended instructions if it is.

Q: What Is The Best Way To Pack And Carry My Mess Kit?

A: 

Mess kit components are designed to nest inside each other. You will be able to see how the items fit together when unpacking and the manual will also show you how to pack. If you have an external frame, it is best to carry your kit close to your back. If you have a hiking backpack, you can hang or stash your kit towards the top. This will ensure a balanced weight distribution. 

Globo Surf Overview

If your heart belongs in the outdoors and you find yourself spending more and more time out, the best backpacking mess kit is a necessity. We are confident that there is something for you in our camping mess kit reviews. With the ability to prepare and enjoy hearty meals, you will find that you enjoy your excursions even more and can explore as long as you want.   

More Camping Reviews:

Which of the camping mess kits on our list is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the camp cookware we’ve reviewed! Feel free to share in the comment box below!

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!