Choosing the correct cookware to take with you on a backpacking trip can be a tricky business.
It’s probably not the main thing you’re considering as you pack up to go wandering. But it’s important. Cookware is essential but you don’t want it to get in the way or take up a lot of space.
You might have looked in your kitchen cupboards and wondered how on earth you’re supposed to fit cookware in your backpack without it causing you to topple over backward.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of options available without you having to pack the kitchen sink (literally).
There are a lot of different sets available. Some have everything you need, some don’t have enough, and some just have way too much.
So we’ve sorted through all of the products available and found the best.
To help you find the best for you, we’ve put together a list of the best backpacking cookware available. Read on for some great options, as well as some guidance for the buying process.
Sick of searching and just want to get going on your trip? No problem, stop browsing and check out our top pick for the best backpacking cookware available.
OUR TOP PICK
Our top pick for the best backpacking cookware is this excellent set from Odoland. It is affordable, makes excellent use of space, and has all the essentials you need.
This cookware set has quite a different shape from the other options available. Most backpacking cookware sets are quite wide and flat.
But this set is taller, thinner, and has a canister shape. This is a great extra-space-saving measure.
This and extra height will allow the pans to hold more and they will be easier to use. Taller pans will be easier to carry and move about when filled as they have taller sides.
This cookware set also includes a mini stove. This is great as it makes the set super affordable and you won’t have to shop around to find a cookware set and stove that are compatible with each other.
You know that this set and stove will work perfectly. The stove itself is also very compact and can be packed away inside the canister.
An uncommon but nice addition is the 16oz stainless steel travel cup with a silicone hand protector. This set also includes a fork, spoon, and knife.
All of which can be folded in half to save space when packed away. But don’t worry, they won’t fold over when you’re using them as they lock in place when extended.
- Includes travel cup
- Includes mini stove
- Affordable for items included
- Includes cutlery set
- Good space-saving style
- Limited number of items for the price
As is to be expected from any good quality backpacking cookware, this set makes excellent use of space. This is one of three versions of this set produced by Bisgear.
Although it’s a little pricey, it comes with a range of utensils as well as the cookware itself. This means everything you need is included in this cookware set.
It’s a great option if you’re keen to set off and don’t want to be shopping around for every little item.
Buying all of them at once in this set is both a time-saver and a space-saver. This is because you won’t have to worry about whether or not your utensils can be used with your pans.
You also won’t have to spend time checking the sizes of other items as you can be sure that every additional item in this set can be packed away inside the pans.
As well as cooking utensils, this set also comes with a cutlery set in a separate pouch. You really don’t have to worry about anything because Bisgear has already thought about it for you.
This set is made from anodized aluminum which means that it will be both lightweight and durable. (Read on or scroll down to our Buyers’ Guide for some more information on how to choose the best materials).
As well as all the utensils and pans you will need, this cookware set also includes a mini stove. So, when all of these items are considered, this is actually a very affordable set.
- Wide range of items
- Includes essentials
- Includes mini stove
- Affordable price for the range of items
- Multiple versions available
This is a really affordable set. It has a good range of pans and utensils. It even includes a cleaning sponge!
You might be wondering why a sponge is a good addition as you can surely just take one from your kitchen?
You can but you can’t be 100% sure that it will be okay to use on this cookware set. Some scrubbing brushes and sponges can damage the cookware, so while it’s not essential, a sponge is a nice addition.
One interesting addition to this set is the spork utensil. Some backpacking cookware sets will include various cooking utensils and cutlery.
But most will include a separate cutlery set of a folding fork, spoon, and knife. This set includes a folding spork. Which is a good space-saving measure.
But the spoon section is quite large and the fork prongs are short. So it might not be the most practical addition.
Although this set doesn’t have as many utensils as some other options, it has all the essentials. Because it contains the bare essentials, this set is very affordable.
So, if you don’t go backpacking every often or aren’t going for very long, then this is a great budget option. It is a good quality set that has everything an infrequent backpacker needs.
- Contains essentials
- Contains sponge
- Extra space-saving measures
- Limited cutlery included
This is a very basic but essential cookware set. It’s a great option if you only want to pack the bare essentials and don’t want to risk taking up unnecessary space in your backpack.
Although pretty much every backpacking cookware set is designed to save space and be packed away inside the pans. This cookware set is perhaps the best for making the most of the space available.
Rather than all of the pans and utensils being small enough to fit inside the biggest pan, every piece of this set fits inside another. It’s like a Russian nesting doll of cookware.
Although you can easily boil water in a pan, a nice addition to this cookware set is a kettle. It will make cooking a nicer experience. But it is also a safety feature.
Pouring hot or boiling water from a saucepan is dangerous as you don’t have much control over the flow of the water. This isn’t the case with a kettle.
So, while a kettle might seem like a charming addition (which it is) it’s also a great safety measure.
As well as the kettle, this kit includes two double-layer thermal insulated stainless steel cups. This is a nice addition if you’re only going on a short trip.
- Includes kettle
- Includes cups
- Excellent space-saving style
- Includes carabiner
This cookware set has all the essentials you need and has some great space-saving features. While most cookware sets will include a couple of saucepans, this set also includes a frying pan.
It is a little more expensive than other options available. For this price, you would also expect the addition of something like a stove. But, it is still a good quality set that will be reliable.
The range of items in this set is very good. The kettle is a good safety measure as it will make pouring water a lot easier.
The deep saucepan with a lid is super useful and, although it might appear to be quite tall, doesn’t take up as much space as you might expect.
The frying pan is a really great addition as not every backpacking cookware set includes one.
It will barely take up space in your backpack as it is the same width as the saucepan which simply slots into the frying pan.
The depth of the frying pan is useful for storage. But also for cooking and for safety. When backpacking, you will spend a lot of time cooking over low fires or stoves.
So you are more likely to knock the pan or even kick it over. If the pan is as shallow as a normal frying pan, then it will likely spill the food and oil.
With a pan this deep, you won’t waste food and won’t risk spilling hot oil on yourself.
- Includes frying pan
- Includes kettle
- Good range of utensils
- Includes essential items
- Expensive for basic items
Best Backpacking Cookware Buying Guide
As with any product, there are plenty of backpacking cookware sets that have a lot more than you need.
There will be a lot of manufacturers shouting about just how many items their sets include.
But they often have more than you actually need. Some include items that look cool and impressive but are actually unnecessary and even impractical.
So, here are the real essentials that you should look for in a backpacking cookware set:
- Saucepan (at least one but 2 of different sizes is best)
- Storage bag
These are the essentials. Of course, you can add more if you think you need something specific for your trip. One of the main things to consider is the space in your backpack.
If you’re backpacking with someone else or a group, you won’t need much more cookware. So you will be able to spread it out amongst your group.
But, if you’re traveling alone, it’s a good idea to take the bare minimum. This will save space and also make your backpack easier to carry.
Once you have determined exactly what items you will need, you need to decide what they should be made from.
Most backpacking cookware sets will be made from aluminum, stainless steel, or titanium. Here’s the lowdown on what’s different, what’s the same, and which is the best choice.
Aluminum is a very common material for cookware. Especially hard-anodized aluminum. Aluminum is strong and durable and relatively lightweight.
Although no cookware is going to be very light, if your backpack being weighed down is a concern then hard-anodized aluminum is a great choice.
Although it won’t be able to take as much banging about as something like stainless steel or titanium, aluminum is still a relatively strong material.
It will still be pretty durable. This is especially true of hard-anodized aluminum.
Hard-anodized aluminum has been specially treated to be more durable. This is because aluminum is quite a soft metal. So, if you choose to go with aluminum, hard-anodized is your best bet.
Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for cookware, both for outdoor and indoor cooking. This is because it is a strong metal that is very durable.
As well as choosing cookware that will cook your food well, you also need something that can withstand being bashed around in your backpack.
Stainless steel is great for durability and longevity but one of the downsides is this strength is that stainless steel is pretty weighty. So you’ll need to work out your priorities.
If you don’t take much with you in your backpack and don’t want to be concerned about your essential cookware being damaged, then stainless steel is an ideal choice.
But, if you’re looking for something lightweight that won’t weigh you down, stainless steel might not be the best for you.
Another downside to stainless steel is that it doesn’t conduct heat very well. Definitely not as well as aluminum. This means that it takes a while to heat up and the heat won’t be spread evenly across your pans.
So, stainless steel is the best choice if you need something sturdy and durable. But not the best option for cooking in general.
Titanium isn’t a material that many people would automatically associate with cookware.
Titanium is known for being an incredibly strong and durable material, more suited to machines than cookery equipment.
But, if you’re going backpacking and need something sturdy, what better material could there be?
Although it is strong, titanium is still lightweight. It will also be scratch-resistant. Titanium cookware will be able to withstand whatever you put it through and won’t cause your back or shoulders any trouble.
It sounds ideal but the one downside is the price. Titanium cookware is more expensive than more cookware of other materials.
Of course, the price of a backpacking cookware set will depend on a range of other factors, but overall titanium will be more expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is aluminum camping cookware safe?
There are a lot of strange stories and rumors about aluminum cookware. Many believe that it poses health risks and is dangerous to use in cooking.
One of the main rumors is that aluminum cookware is banned in Europe. While there is general guidance around using certain materials for cookware, aluminum is definitely not banned across the entire continent of Europe.
It is often said that cooking on aluminum causes parts of the metal and toxins within it to be absorbed into the food. This generally happens if you use very old and very damaged cookware.
If you’re using an old pan that has started to chip and peel, then there is a chance that some of the metal will end up in your food. This won’t be great for you but it won’t do any harm. (Although you should definitely buy some new cookware if this is the case).
Aluminum cookware is fine for backpacking and everyday consumption. So, if aluminum cookware sounds as though it has all the factors and features that you need, go ahead and buy it.
Which is better titanium or aluminum?
This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on what you’re looking for. As mentioned in the Buyers’ Guide, titanium and aluminum both have their pros and cons.
If you want good quality and durability then titanium is the best. But, if you want something cheap and cheerful that you won’t worry about breaking or losing, then aluminum is your best bet.
Can you put stainless steel on an open fire?
This isn’t a great idea. Stainless steel (and aluminum) aren’t tough enough to properly resist an open flame. So, if you’re cooking outside it’s a good idea to use a portable grill, rather than a campfire.
This doesn’t have to be a propane gas grill. Something as simple as a metal stand that will support your pans and lift them away from the flame will work as well.
This is why it’s a good idea to buy a cookware set with a stove included. So you can be sure that the pots and pans are safe to use on the stove.