GSI Pinnacle Soloist
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $29 on sale
This kit allows you to carry everything you need for summertime cooking without any wasted space inside your pack.
During the spring of 2011, I went through an exercise where I wanted to reduce the bulk of several pieces of gear. The ultimate goal was to ensure I could carry a 58L pack during a 5-day trip into the mountains and not be compelled to leave something at home that I otherwise normally carry.
Quite by accident, I stumbled across the GSI Outdoors website and started looking at their Pinnacle Soloist. After a few minutes of reading, I quickly realized this little kit would allow me to drop some serious weight and reduce a ton of bulk. Before I purchased the Pinnacle Soloist, I was carrying an MSR Whisperlite Internationale stove, an MSR 1.3L pot, an 11 ounce fuel bottle and a small coffee mug. The total weight of this setup was 40 ounces and since nothing fit inside one another, it took up lots of space in my pack.
The guys at GSI deliberately sized the pot to hold a fuel cylinder, a stove, a bowl/mug and a spoon (the fuel and the stove obviously come separately). Since I didn’t have a canister stove, I picked up an MSR PocketRocket at the same time I picked up the Soloist. When all is assembled from bottom to top, the fuel cylinder (4 oz), the stove, thebowl/mug (upside down so the stove is on the inside of the mug) and then the pot lid fit neatly together into one small package.
GSI also provides a seam sealed nylon sleeve that is intended to be used as a kitchen sink. While I have never used it as a sink, the nylon is thick enough to protect other items in my backpack from the pot. All together, everything weighs in at 20 ounces. Not only did I save a lot space, I lost 20 ounces.
Here is the whole package.
Here is everything spread out.
In addition to the pot and the mug, the Soloist comes with a spoon and a little synthetic pouch for the stove. The pouch saves the Teflon lining from being damaged by the stove. The spoon...personally I think it’s useless. It’s too flimsy and short to be effective while eating a mountain house meal (my typical dinner). I leave the provided spoon at home and carry a full size lexan one in my food bag.
The GSI website doesn’t exactly tell you what stoves fit inside the pot. Since I’m an MSR fan, the PocketRocket was a logical choice. The first time I tried to put everything together, I couldn’t quite make the stove fit. I ended up taking a Dremel Tool and cutting off about 1/4” from each of the 3 wings on the stove. Here is an unmodified picture from MSR’s website.
Here is what I did to it. A little blurry, but you get the idea.
This small change didn’t affect the stove since the pots outer diameter is still smaller than platform provided by the stove. Once I made the 3 cuts, everything fit together just as GSI had intended. With the stove fitting nicely on top of the canister, I also managed to pack away the windproof matches that I normally use.
For added protection, I have a little pack cloth towel that I wrap around the fuel canister before I put it into the pot. I would imagine over time, the metal on metal contact would wear away the Teflon coating on the pot. The towel thickness around the canister makes a snug fit inside the pot and also keeps everything from rattling around when hiking. Plus it’s nice to have a little towel when cooking.
The name says it’s a Soloist, but the 1.1L pot is well sized for 2 people. My typical day is coffee in the morning, graze during the day and then a hot dinner before it gets dark. I’ve used it dozens of times in the mountains and I’ve never wished the pot was any bigger. If you hike with more than 2, I think you will get frustrated with the size.
The GSI Pinnacle Soloist is by far my favorite piece of gear. It’s efficient, inexpensive and packs away everything I need for cooking. For summertime camping for 2, I don’t know how it could get any better.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $40
Nice pot that packs up small and fits your cooking gear inside. But the rest of the set sucks.
- Stuff sack is good for water storage
- Cheap spork
- Cup doesn't insulate
After two years of use, I'm not very impressed by this product. Yes, it looks really cool, and fits together very nicely, but as a set it flat out does not do the job, or hold up with prolonged use.
First off the spork is a complete piece of junk. It's made of plastic and comes apart very easily. If you don't believe me go to REI and pull one out of the box and see for yourself. You might as well take it from the package and throw it in the trash.
The cup is one solid piece of thin plastic so it obviously won't fall apart, but the problem is that it will not keep your hot drinks hot for long. That may not seem like a big deal sitting around the campfire at 9pm, but in the AM when you're running around camp packing things up it really sucks picking up your cup of coffee just to find it warm or even cold.
The pot itself works well. I've boiled water and cooked in it on many occasions. The lid is nice too, and I usually leave it on while boiling water. You can also flip the lid upside down and use it on the cup. The only gripe I have with the pot is the handle. It tends to come loose from the locking mechanism on the pot itself. It's an easy fix, but a pain in the butt because it happens way too often. Apparently it was designed for the handle to come off easy. I personally don't like it because the only reason I could see for removing the handle is if you were cooking over an open fire (as opposed to a controlled burn of a stove) because higher flames could melt the rubber coating.
The other redeeming quality in this set (other than the pot) is the actual stuff sack it comes with, which doubles as a water carrier. I usually fill it up with water and cinch it so I have some extra in camp, and to save trips back and forth from my water source. This sack is durable and does not leak. I would give it 5 stars if I could rate it by itself.
On a side note if you use an MSR Pocket Rocket stove then you might want to reconsider buying this product, as it is just too long to fit inside. Which brings me to another point: All of my kitchen and bathroom kit fits inside this pot (except my stove). I put a small fuel canister at the bottom, followed by the cup upside-down and packed with toothbrush, toothpaste, bear bag kit (I use spectra cord and a mini carabiner) lighter, soap, and TP. My spork then slides into the bag next to the pot. Now that I think about it, this pack-ability is probably my favorite thing about this set.
The problem is that there just isn't enough about this set for me to recommend it to anyone, even though on other websites it's highly reviewed.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35
About all a person needs for meals in the woods.
- food doesn't stick
- boils water easily
I have a 15-year-old 'billy set' made by GSI out of anodized aluminum. It was very similar to this upgraded model except that the top cup/pot was also aluminum (which sets nicely on top of the bottom pot as a lid), it was a little lighter, but the butterfly-wing style handles were a little harder to use. I am still using it to this day, but with this new set, it's nice to be able to mix and match.
This newer pot has a non-stick finish, which works great when cooking your noodle packets in the pot. The pot is also a lot easier to clean. If just boiling water, then either the old or new work about the same. I like the handle on this a lot better, but it does add some weight to the pot.
I used to use the old top pot as my coffee mug, but I find the new lexan cup to be easier to hold and drink from. On the downside, it can't be used to heat water. So sometimes I just carry both.
SO depending on how I'm traveling and who is with me, I find the combination of the old and new GSI sets to be great.
I ditched the folding spork as I found it flimsy.
And oh yeah, fuel canisters do fit inside this but be careful that they don't scratch the Teflon...I put mine inside a sock.
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (keep)
Price Paid: $44
The best thing about this kit is it's modular type design... everything stores in the pot securely and it's very compact. It's probably the all-around best kit out there, but you can find lighter options.
- spork is fragile
This kit fits together nicely and is pretty sturdy. While not the lightest option, it is designed well and is not "heavy."
I like to just take the pot, lid and spork... leave the cup at home to save a little weight. The spork feels quite fragile, but you can always replace it with a titanium one like I did. I like this kit a lot.
See my video review for more details.