GSI Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75
Everything two backpackers could ask for in a smartly-designed package (whose storage tub even serves a dual purpose). After camping with tubs full of kitchen gear taking up entire seats of the car? We're more than thrilled with the small size and high level of functionality this cookset offers.
- Easy to clean
- Only one folding pot/pan handle
- Handle conducts heat
Back when I was out with my girlfriend on our very first car camping trip, we lugged-in an entire Rubbermaid tub full of kitchen cookware and utensils. It was large enough to take up a car seat, heavy enough to throw out a healthy back, and cumbersome enough to make the simplest meal frustrating. Something had to change.
When you look for a good cookset, you want something that solves the aforementioned problems.
Now — for context — we still are car campers. But we resolved ourselves to making things as simple and problem-free as possible after that first experience. That said, most of our gear is backpacking gear. We try to stick to the smallest and lightest things possible. That way it all fits in one bag we can toss in the car. When we want to go camping, we toss the bag in the car, and we're packed and ready in less than a minute.
It is pictured above with my Crossover Kitchen Kit and a couple LMF sporks. They may not be included, but they do fill the empty space in the set nicely.
Here's what is included in the Pinnacle Backpacker set, and we'll go through the components in the same order you would, disassembling the kit:
-Storage Sack/Sink (with welded seams to hold water for dishwashing, etc.)
-2 Bowls (the mugs nest inside these)
-2 Insulated Mugs w/ "Sip-It" Lids
-Pot Gripper (Yep...only one, folks. More on this later.)
I don't think any criticism is merited here as far as size in concerned, unless this cookset is overkill for a solo hiker or a short hike. If you want to do more than rehydrate meals and boil water, this set allows you to do anything you'd do at home with a frying pan and small pot, hence the appeal to a couple of car campers like ourselves. If you don't need that, pick up a MicroDualist or the kettle set.
As far as weight (1 lb. 12.8 oz.) goes, well, no comparison to lugging in all the wares piecemeal. 'Nuff said.
Size? About the same as a small bundt cake (8.2" x 5.4"). The folding handle nests inside one mug, the mugs nest into the bowls, bowls into the pot, pot into the "sink," and the lid goes atop that, with the pan crowning the set off. Simply hook the nylon straps together, cinch down, and you've a tightly packed cookset. The nesting ability of this set is well designed, too, in that there isn't a lot or rattling around. One piece fits snugly into the next.
Quality is pretty darn good. You're paying more than you would for the Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset for the hard-anodized, aluminum "Teflon Radiance" coating. The benefits of this are two-fold: not only does it add durability (scratch and dent-resistance), but makes cooking easier and simpler (non-stick, with a more even distribution than standard aluminum sets). I clean mine on the trail with baby wipes. No need to make an appointment with Dr. Bronner! As far as the polypro bowls and mugs go, they're equally solid: not only heat and impact-resistant, but additionally, designed not to retain food odors.
Thought I said I wash my dishes with baby wipes on the trail, when I get home, I pop 'em in the dishwasher, because these are all dishwasher-safe.
The organization makes sense, and it's literally impossible to lose anything in this kit.
The mugs/bowls only take up half of the pot, leaving the other half open for food, a stove, what have you. When I used an MSR PocketRocket, I was able to easily fit it inside one of the mugs (sans MSR case). Personally, I chose to purchase GSI's Crossover Kitchen Kit, and that fills the extra space. Between the cookset and accessory kit, it's a full kitchen.
I love this thing, but I've only a couple problems with it. Otherwise I'd have given a solid 5 stars.
If GSI finally decided to provide a second folding handle? I'd consider it perfect. Then again, you can purchase a second handle for thirteen bucks, and problem solved. I place both my handles inside the mugs to keep things in the same place.
I've read other reviews that've complained the handle doesn't snugly fit the pot/pan, or is difficult to attach while the cookware is hot.
Buy that second handle. Solves having to swap-out in the middle of cooking.
And as for it being loose? It has a little play, but that comes with your choice to not use clamps or grips that scratch and clamp onto your cookware. Small price to pay, I'd say, to extend the life of your cookset.
Another catch-22 is the fact the handle is made entirely from metal. It conducts heat, and rather well, and if you're not careful, you'll find it a little warm to the touch if you're not using a potholder or mitt to handle it while your stove is burning on full.
Another note, while I'm at it? The strainer lid vents steam, so while you're straining, be careful where you point those drainage holes in the lid. To help you out, they've added a flip-top tab atop the lid to remove and replace it without burning yourself.
For the money? You can't beat this set.
Writing this with the hope someone who made the same mistake we did reads it, and spare themselves the trouble.
Price Paid: $59
This is our cook set when the whole family goes backpacking. Has everything the three of us needs. It can boil water for our Mountain House Meals, or make mac and cheese or hamburgers or what ever we pack in. And if we're lucky enough to catch a fish or two, its more than capable of frying them up.
The insulated cups are great for coffee or hot chocolate in the mornings. I have read that the lid warps over time but have not encountered that problem.
Washes up is easy and quick in the field and when we get home just pop it into the dishwasher and its good to go. I like the stuff sack that it all fits into, another plus is I use it to let dirty water sit in before filtering.
At a little over a pound and a half its not the lightest but it handles all our needs. I can even put my Snow peak stove in one of the cups, along with some food.
Price Paid: $55
I purchased this kit to replace my mess kit from when I was a 12 year old scout. Naturally, this kit is a monster upgrade over that.
I was torn between this kit or a 1 person, lighter, GSI microlist. I finally decided on the 2 person kit, figuring I will be cooking for more than just me, more often than I would be concerned with weight.
I opted for the GSI backpacker kit, over the GSI hiker kit, because I wanted the frying pan for frying up fish I may happen to catch. I selected the Pinnacle over the Bugaboo versions, basically because I had a coupon that brought the pinnacle down to the same price as the bugaboo. That and I knew I would be hard on this kit and hoped the pinnacle finish would hold up and last longer.
The kit is extremely well thought out. A place for everything, and everything in its place. The sink/ carrying case is handy and did not leak. The cups fit in my hand nice. The sipping lids are great. The frying pan doubled as a plate when needed. I could pack all my kitchen supplies, lighter, utensils, condiments, stove, down into this package.
I had no issues with the lid melting/ warping. The velcro latch on the sink, could be slightly longer, I figure over prolonged use, the straps will stretch to where I want them. The finish seemed very nice. A second folding handle would be nice so the pot and pan each had one.