Best 1-2 Person Cookset for under $50

2:14 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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My blue enamel walmart special has seen the end of its days and I've been looking for something to replace it.  Haven't decided between stainless or titanium, but all I require is large enough to cook for 1-2 people and costs less than $50.

 

Comments/Recommendations?

2:33 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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This is the one I have used for years now. I have no reason to even look at a differant set (yet).

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___82425

2:50 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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If I may ask, why stainless steel? I can understand titanium because it’s so light.

Me, I prefer a simple two quart aluminum cooking pail like this one –

http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___82008

  7.38 ounces, under ten bucks from Campmor. Light enough for solo use and holds plenty for a towel bath.

Big enough to cook for two, or even four. I mostly use a stove but the bail makes it work great over a fire as well, and I insist upon that utility

Here is how I use mine -

In Iceland over an optimus 8R -

 

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On my own mountain -



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Backpacking with the wife -

 


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This pot gets around!!

 

The pot shown in these photos is actually the biggest pot from a U.S army surplus “mountain” cook kit.

It has a steel fry pan / lid, and two lightweight aluminum nesting pots with bails.

It’s an excellent set, and you can find ‘em here for under twenty bucks –

http://store.colemans.com/cart/mountain-cook-kit-us-gi-p-1340.html

This set has been around since at least the Korean war, and I highly recommend it.

I have two plastic bowls and palco plastic cups that fit inside.

Car camping or canoeing I’ll take the whole kit and get up to some fancy cooking.

Hiking I’ll take one pot and a lid from an old cooking pail that died years ago.  

4:21 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Kuddo's to both mikemorrow and etdBob to show us and remind us that one need not to spend a lot of money and in fact can spend very little money to do the basic backpacking that many of us do. So very often most of the equipment we (myself included) use is way, way over kill for the kind of foray's we are embarking one. It's nice to see a bit of sanity in this over priced world. Really, how much stuff do you really need to go sleep under the stars. I must also give extended kudos to Gary Palmer as he also is one to remind us quite often not of what is necessary but in fact is unnecessary to buy and or bring into the back country.

Now to the OP's question. All of my cooking gear comes from the Goodwill. There is no reason to spend the exorbitant amounts of money on outdoor cookware unless your really into wasting money. If you can't find what you need at your local second hand stores, then America is full of great deals on all kinds of cookware via Craigslist and or EBay. Stainless will last longer but is heavy while aluminum will not last as long as stainless but is lighter. Titanium is for those who have extra money laying around. In fact I believe that I read that it takes longer to heat titanium than either stainless or aluminum thereby negating the possible weight savings as one would need to bring more fuel if one uses a stove. Not sure I would blacken my expensive titanium pot/cup over an open camp fire.

4:32 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Actually tit heats unevenly, and is best used only to boil water. If thats all you are going to do for food it is a perfect fit. I had a texsport SS set. It was nice but warped abit after a years use. The set I use now is Aluminum and has seen more use than the SS set. Its still looks new.

4:58 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't get out into the backcountry that often (active duty military with wife n kids).  So I was considering options for something that will last for a long time without that much concern to weight (my camping gear is 1/4 the weight of my work ruck).  My only concern is getting something that isn't too big.  As I'm usually the only one carrying the camping gear when the family goes (wife is usualy managing the kids). Everything needs to be relatively smaller in size.

I'm a big fan of open fire cooking (no camp stove for me) so anything with plastic/rubber is out, sorry Mike!  I like both of the options EtdBob suggested, 2 qts is about the right size I wanted.  Of my children only the oldest (4.5 yrs) will eat anything I cook on the trail, so the other two live on fruit and veggie I pack into their little princess "rucks." 

And after reading another article on this site another member named GaryPalmer posted a picture of his little cookware invention, and I have already fashioned one of my own for those rare solo outings. 

No-10-can-Billy-Pot.jpg

I love everything minimal for solo outings and that fit the bill!

5:13 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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No problem. :) Over an open fire I would go with a SS set up.

You know that plastic handle has turned off many people, and did me too. But after a couple of years it has never failed. I'm as suprised as much as the next person.

6:24 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I have one of those aluminum pot sets, and I use it car camping. Too big for backpacking IMHO, but ot works well with one of those cheap propane burners.  However, most of the places I go don't allow open fires - too destructive.

I use a Trangia set, either the one-person mini or the 2-man one, for backpacking, and get everything including stove and fuel in one tidy little package.

9:47 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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titanium will blow your budget right there.

9:48 p.m. on March 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I have a MSR BlackLite Gourmet Cookset that I pick and choose from and love it.

2:16 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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gotta love the #10 can, only problem is most cans are lined (sprayed on) with something you don't want to heat up and eat like a epoxy resin such as bisphenol. Stick with something made for cooking in. One thing i have learned with titanium or stainless - either use alot of oil, cook it on a low simmer, or poach your food in water. If something sticks to the bottom just add a bit of water to it after you take the food out and put it back on the hot burner to cool, this will help free up any food that was burn on to it. 

2:19 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Titanium cookset on sale for $27 at backcountry.com, listed in the Titanium Pots and Pans section.  I'd paste the link directly to it but won't let me link external web sites.  It looks very tempting...

 

3:21 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Feltz said:

Titanium cookset on sale for $27 at backcountry.com, listed in the Titanium Pots and Pans section.  I'd paste the link directly to it but won't let me link external web sites.  It looks very tempting...

 

 

Here it is I believe.  Lots of other Titanium set avalable there on sale as well.

http://www.backcountry.com/backcountry-titanium-cookset-1100ml

 

Four other sets at just under $50.

http://www.backcountry.com/pots-and-pans-titanium

6:15 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I have an aluminum kit that I have had for years. No idea what it cost, but it looks a lot like this one-same everything in it-

http://www.rei.com/product/401048/open-country-backpacker-2-person-mess-kit

By myself, I leave the plates and cups at home and use the lid for a plate. Cheap, durable and easy to clean. Not non-stick, but I try not to burn anything while cooking.

 

7:40 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Thats a nice little set Tom.

8:30 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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When it comes to cookware I prefer MSR & Snow Peak.

I own, and have used, many cheap sets including Walmart grease pots, Imusa pots, plus stuff from the Kmart & Walmart sporting goods dept . If the cheapo stuff suits your needs fine, but I find the aluminum is cheaper and softer, and many times the edges are rough or lids don't fit well, rivets eventually loosen, etc.  In general I just don't like using stuff that is cheaply made (unless I make it haha).

I have found the better stuff to be more useful, longer lasting, stronger so it retains it's shape longer, cooks better, and in the end seems to be the better bargain.

My favorite solo set is the Snow Peak Mini Solo, I also like the Snow Peak Trek Combo 900 / 1400 nesting set, MSR Titan Kettle, and the MSR Alpine set.

Mike G.

8:53 p.m. on March 22, 2012 (EDT)
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I as well have used cheap cookware, and still do from time to time, though I now primarily use an MSR blacklite and snow peak solo ti set. The first backpacking set I purchased was a GSI bugaboo, but the aluminum is too soft, and the non-stick coating has not worn well. 

There are a number of good quality aluminum sets, made by Brunton, MSR, Optimus, etc. Most can be found in $30 range that would be the perfect size to cook for 2-4 people. 

If you like to do a lot of "gourmet" backcountry cooking, Titanium would not be ideal, as it doesn't disperse heat evenly which makes it easy to burn and scorch food. Stainless sets are very durable, though cleanup can be more work if food gets a bit burnt on. Aluminum provides a nice balance between durability, heat dispersion, and low weight. 

 

10:48 a.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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What do you guys think about Coleman products? Was shopping with the wife at Wal-Mart last night and found their little $25 anodized cookset.  Comes with 2 pans and 2 pots.

1:28 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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I would recommend any Primus ETA or Optimus Terra HE Hard Anodized Aluminum pot/cookset you can find, as they include a heat exchanger, which can drastically increase fuel efficiency/reduce cooking times, can be used with any stove (unlike any other cooksets with heath exchangers), and cook evenly. They can be found in 1L, 1.2, and 1.7 Liter sizes online within your price range (upper range to be sure). These are the most fuel efficient cooksets available.

 

 

2:58 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Vargo Titanium Eagle Spork .5oz on ebay for $8.75 + $1.95 shipping

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/220882690624?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

3:24 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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apeman said:

Vargo Titanium Eagle Spork .5oz on ebay for $8.75 + $1.95 shipping

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/220882690624?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

 stellar deal...

3:31 p.m. on March 23, 2012 (EDT)
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FELTZ said -

"I don't get out into the backcountry that often (active duty military with wife n kids).  So I was considering options for something that will last for a long time without that much concern to weight (my camping gear is 1/4 the weight of my work ruck).  My only concern is getting something that isn't too big.  As I'm usually the only one carrying the camping gear when the family goes (wife is usualy managing the kids). Everything needs to be relatively smaller in size.

I'm a big fan of open fire cooking (no camp stove for me) so anything with plastic/rubber is out, sorry Mike!  I like both of the options EtdBob suggested, 2 qts is about the right size I wanted.  Of my children only the oldest (4.5 yrs) will eat anything I cook on the trail, so the other two live on fruit and veggie I pack into their little princess "rucks." "

First of all, thank you so much for your service!

I didn't catch the second paragraph, so if you're not using a stove, my recommendations in the post above lose merit. Design wise, if you are cooking over an fire, the spread of the flames is much broader than most any stove, at which point I would say the wider the pot you can get at your desired capacity (1.2 to 1.7 liters?), the better it will take advantage of your fire's wide-flame dispersion. The hot-spots typically associated with Titanium cookware over a stove may not be an issue when the heat is everywhere like it can be with a fire. It depends on how well you build your fires I suppose.

12:32 a.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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So as some of you may know I have been trying to lower my pack weight, and one of the things that was suggested I replace was my cook set, mainly the pot and pan.  They are SS and 1.5l (I think). 

But what I found is that the Titianm sets are very small, one set that looked good on line was so small it could fit in the palm of my hand.  I can't see cooking in that, I would have to make two or three meals every time I ate!  Besides at $70 bucks, that just seams like a lot of money.

I think I will stick with my SS set and save the money.  :)

Wolfman

11:54 a.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Wolfman, I had found the same thing when shopping for Ti cookware until I found the backcountry.com 1650 ml set. It is a 5.75" pot with a 6" frying pan. If you can't find it online, then their modern replacement is the same diameter, but a deeper pot (1950ml total) and is re-branded as a Stoic for $52.50 shipped FAST. Here's the address:

http://m.backcountry.com/stoic-ti-1.6l-pot-fry-pan-set

I'VE ALSO SEEN IT FOR SALE ON STEEPANDCHEAP.COM for about $40-45. a great price.

10:07 a.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks XterroBrando for the link.  I think I have the pot situation figure out for this trip, but will be looking at this when I get back. 

Wolfman

5:26 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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Best wishes on your trip! Sounds awesome!

5:52 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I am fond of my GSI Soloist set.

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For what it is its a decent little set that won't break the bank. Here is a link:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/gsi/pinnacle-soloist/

GSI also makes other sets as well(Dualist, etc.)







6:27 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick I think he wants a larger pot w/frypan because he cooks with fresh  ingrediants. He doesn't eat freezedried from what I remember.. But yay GSI soloist you have is really good.

6:55 p.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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denis daly said:

Rick I think he wants a larger pot w/frypan because he cooks with fresh  ingrediants. He doesn't eat freezedried from what I remember.. But yay GSI soloist you have is really good.

I was going with the 1-2 people/-$50. 

Buy a different GSI set that has a fry pan lol. I have never had much trouble cooking veggies for myself in this set(just cut them up smaller/olive oil :)

One could always add this to the set:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/gsi/hard-anodized-extreme-8-frypan/

I am sure if ya looked around both items could be had for -$50.

Here are a few options on the cheap:

http://www.geartrade.com/browse/pots-and-pans#b

6:49 a.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi Rick,   That set was one I was looking at, it's a nice little set up and although narrow the pan looks like it would hold plenty of water or food.  To bad the bag is not a little bigger, it would be hard to fit a cozy in their with everything else.

How dose the mug work out?  Do you use it mostly for drinks or do you eat out of it too?  It looked ok size wise for coffee but a little on the small side for dinner.

Wolfman

12:51 p.m. on May 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Wolfman said:

Hi Rick,   That set was one I was looking at, it's a nice little set up and although narrow the pan looks like it would hold plenty of water or food.  To bad the bag is not a little bigger, it would be hard to fit a cozy in their with everything else.

How dose the mug work out?  Do you use it mostly for drinks or do you eat out of it too?  It looked ok size wise for coffee but a little on the small side for dinner.

Wolfman

Believe it or not I can't remember really using the mug/bowl as a food bowl but I have used it on more than one occasion for hot drinks(coffee, cider.)

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With the cozy around the bowl it does make a difference in regards to heat retained although I have been in some temps(cold) where nothing short of a dbl wall mug will work.

I just eat out of the cook pot. I mean, its just me(solo all the time) so if I eat out of the pot thats one less thing I have to clean up in the am so I can get on my way(I'm lazy.)

But I have to say its a decent little set. I am quite pleased with it. It's durable, doesn't weigh much, heat transfer seems good, you actually can make a fair amount of food in it(dependent upon what you are preparing of course,) and food doesn't really stick to it. I'd purchase it again. If I were going to utilize it for multiple people I would just pick up some add ons like a pan, etc. 

The spork that comes with it is junk and seems to be more of a toy than an actual utensil. It snapped on me by my 2nd trip.

The lid has a built in strainer/sipper. If you use the lid on the pot it doesn't melt under heat and when ya flip it upside down it actually snaps onto the top of the bowl for sipping hot drinks. 

I can put 4 cups of water in the pot and this will take you an inch short of the top just for an idea in regards to pot capacity. 

1:16 p.m. on May 3, 2012 (EDT)
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I like that GSI soloist set

10:05 a.m. on May 25, 2012 (EDT)
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I put together this cook set for for my best friend . He usually has the same taste in gear , but has little or no time to pick out or test gear .

It is stanley adveture series camp cook set at $15 bucks at target

Snow peak ti spork $6.50 on line i think on amazon

I'm including the the stove . Academy sports brand  No-limits  compact butane stove $19.99 


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The stanley set comes with 2 cups which i leave at home . So if you like the the small solo sets for soup ,stews , and dehydrated all in one meals this is a steal. The pot holds 24 oz. I'm going to switch to a folding spork. This all fits inside the pot . Only the small butane canisters  fit inside . Don't worry about warpage or burning food on it . You won't hurt this pot. My scouts can't tare em up. This hole system weights is 1 lb 2.9 oz with fuel. ty people  

8:48 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I use the GSI backpacker set, it is made for two, and normally is about $80, but I got it on amazon for $45

http://www.amazon.com/GSI-44215-Outdoors-Bugaboo-Backpacker/dp/B001LF3HYO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1338425101&sr=8-4

9:00 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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As for utensils, i have never been a spork fan I use sea to summit Alpha set made from 7075-T6 aluminum aircraft grade alloy

http://www.rei.com/product/782238/sea-to-summit-alpha-utensil-set

Weighs about 1.3 oz for a seperate fork, spoon, and knife. It is nice to have a seperate knife to eat with from my pocket knife so it dulls less quickly and it was on clearance at a local sports store for $8, as a bonus they each have hex wrenchs built in to thier handles, althoug I have yet to use them, they could prove useful.

9:15 p.m. on May 30, 2012 (EDT)
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I usually take a full size fork and spoon from a coleman family set . i dont' know how much they weight. I have been trying to get used to the spork. just isn't the same . I do have to cut the wt. of my pack down.

4:38 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
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me being CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP and a NOVICE, reading the reminiscings of some of the veterans on various sites lead me to the stanco grease pot and the imusa mugs and i see why they were a big hit with those guys, i love em both. if your cooking big meals or car camping it aint for you but for simple meals there great. a couple of weekends ago my wife and i took my oldest grandson camping from the canoe and we had no problem making enough spaghetti in the stanco. i hate to pack or unpack anymore than i have to and only cook out of need so i can see how someone who enjoys cooking would shy away from this but being a simple guy with simple tastes it suits me fine. we didnt put the stanco on the fire we just raked out a bed of coals and if it warped you cant see it with the naked eye though i am sure over time it will.

 

earl

2:10 p.m. on July 4, 2012 (EDT)
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texsport black ice hard anodized the scouter,triple teflon 1qt.,1.5qt.,7"fry w/covers(no sticks,seeds or needles)excellent dissipation.black sucks heat up.<30 w/free shipping amazon.

2:21 p.m. on July 4, 2012 (EDT)
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feltz,if you need something slightly larger,texsport black ice hard anodized the hiker,triple teflon 1.5qt.,2.5qt.,7.5"fry approximately $41

2:37 p.m. on July 4, 2012 (EDT)
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feltz didnt tell us what stove or what food,with that many variables lets go hard anodized.will work on jetboil torch even w/out radiant ring.titanium insane,stainless not much better unless just boiling water.lets assume(ass)he is trying to actually cook food not boil water.and he has to clean afterwards.scorching creates less time sleeping or hiking and more time cleaning.

4:24 p.m. on July 4, 2012 (EDT)
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You can get several Optimus 8R stoves off ebay for less than $50.00 right now. These are near bulletproof but a little on the heavy side backpacking. Mine is ten years old and still cooking.

You may want to avoid the new remake as they have some plastic parts. I can't vouch for the reliability of the new units.

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