Current Retail: $29.95-$31.95
Historic Range: $22.46-$31.95
Reviewers Paid: $29.95
4.2 x 4.2 x 4.6 in
Hard Anodized Aluminum, Nylon 6-6, Silicone
0.6 L Pot/Mug, Sip-It Top, Insulated Sleeve, Silicone Gripper, Folding Foon
The GSI Minimalist II cook kit provides a high-value…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $29.95
The GSI Minimalist II cook kit provides a high-value cook set for boiling water or heating simple meals. This compact, inexpensive set also allows one to nest a fuel canister and stove inside the pot, meaning the cozy-wrapped pot/mug with lid can hold fuel, stove, utensil, and pot gripper in one convenient package. Great for those who want a lightweight option for a warm meal or drink without the fuss of a more complicated kit.
- Quick and easy to use
- Awkward pouring with pot gripper
- Insulating sleeve is the same color as pot
According to GSI, “The Halulite Minimalist II Cookset integrates everything you need for making hot meals and warm drinks when backpacking to the extreme.” By “extreme,” GSI seems to mean simple, lightweight, and compact, a kit that comes (as GSI describes it) in “an impossibly small footprint.”
The contents of this cook kit are simple:
A 20 oz/ .6L pot.mug made of hard-anodized aluminum
A dual purpose lid for covering the pot or sipping from it
An insulating cozy sleeve that protects the hand from the hot pot and keeps the pot’s contents warm
A magnetized silicone pot gripper
A folding “foon”
The weights of each item can be seen in the image, below. Total weight is 6.5 oz/184 g.
The original Minimalist was a popular option with hikers owing to its functionality, simplicity, and economical price point. At a MSRP USD $29.95, the Minimalist II retains the attractive price point while offering a couple of substantive improvements over the original set.
The original set was popular but a handful of criticisms were often raised:
The foon broke too easily or was too short.
GSI claimed that the pot was as light as a titanium pot but it wasn’t.
The insulating cozy sleeve was hard to get off and easy to forget it’s on due to color.
Have these been addressed in what GSI calls "the redefinition of ultralight cooking + eating"? Some of them have been. For instance, GSI has basically dropped comparisons to titanium from their product descriptions.
Let’s take a closer look at the pieces of the kit.
The new foon inspires confidence as a folding foon. The original, allegedly fragile model weighed a mere .4 oz/12 g whereas the new model now weighs .6 oz/17 g. The weight difference can be attributed to stouter construction: there is now a steel handle and a revised locking mechanism (a tough nylon sleeve that snaps into position to lock the foon open). The steel and nylon construction feel solid and durable in the hand. This is a solid improvement.
However, the foon’s length remains short. At 6.1 in/ 15.5 cm long fully extended, knuckles will still get dirty digging into the bottoms of meal pouches. It is clear that the foon is intended for use with this pot, where it is long enough to reach the bottom while still sticking out over the top of the pot.
The shortness of the foon can be a bonus, though. The mere 3.7 in/ 9.4 cm folded length nests easily in the pot/mug, ensuring that one will always have a utensil with the kit.
I wondered if the joints in the foon would collect food. They can, but the materials used release food easily and the foon is therefore easily washed. However, the “fork” part of this utensil seems unnecessary. How often does the ultralight minimalist camper (GSI’s professed target user) require somewhat dull, .25 in/ .6 cm fork tines to stab food? They also hamper scraping the last remains of a meal out of pouch or pot—the food slips through the tines in an exercise in frustration. At best I suppose they shave off a tiny fraction of weight from the utensil and contribute alliterative charm to the utensil’s name, the folding foon.
The Minimalist II pot/mug stands 4.0625 in/ 10.3 cm tall without the cozy and measures 3.875 in/ 9.84 cm rim to rim at the top.There is nothing fancy about this pot. No handles, just a pot with a slight outward flair at the rim. Halulite is simply GSI’s name for its proprietary aluminum alloy that receives hard anodizing treatment to provide improved wear, heat resistance, and corrosion resistance. Yet the Minimalist II pot does exactly what it needs to do, which is heat water quickly (or food, if that is one’s wish).
It also benefits from an upgrade over the original Minimalist pot: this new pot features very legible standard and metric volumetric measurements on the interior of the pot, making it easy to boil just the right amount of water for a meal or hot beverage.
The pot heats quickly and efficiently. I was actually taken aback the first time I boiled a cup of water for coffee in it because it was boiling before I had expected it to be. The Minimalist II pot also stays warm longer than a titanium pot would, and this means it requires care in handling when hot or when it contains hot food. The cozy slips up to the rim of the pot; there the pot lid takes over shielding flesh from hot metal so there is no risk of burning your skin when using these implements.
The pot is readily cleaned if one uses it with food. For instance, a really thick lentil-vegetable stew left a few patches of dried food on the upper sides of the pot after I heated it, but washing afterwards was a breeze. The hard-anodized aluminum seems to release the food readily with warm water and a little elbow grease. That said, most users will likely opt to use this only for boiling water owing to the simplicity of the kit.
The pot lid is heavy, perhaps too heavy for something billed as part of an ultralight kit. However, it serves two purposes and serves both well. First, it functions in upside down mode as a pot cover to make heating the contents more efficient. The material is heat-resistant, and that means that it can be safely lifted from the pot to check on the heating status of food or water.
In right-side up mode, it snaps snugly onto the pot, serving as a sipping lid or simply as a secure top to stow fuel, stove, foon, pot gripper, and perhaps something else within the pot. In this mode, the cozy sleeve protects the hands form a hot pot and the lid protects the lips.
The lid is secure. Indeed, it is even a little tricky to get off. That means there is no need to worry about whether or not the contents of your pot will spill out in your pack. However, because the lid is inserted in the pot and because the sipping hole is away from the edge of the lid, there is always a little liquid left in the pot when you have finished your drink, something to be aware of.
Insulating Cozy Sleeve
The original insulating cozy sleeve was evidently scorched on quite a few stove as when weary backpackers desperate for food placed pot and matching gray cozy on the burner. The new version drops the flashy orange graphics of the old in favor of minimalistic white line drawings that indicated how to stow the pieces of the Minimalist II kit in the pot.
As intended, the cozy sleeve keeps beverages or food warm while protecting one’s hand from the heat. This added insulation is a boon in cold weather or when one wishes to let food rehydrate in an insulated container.
The insulating cozy sleeve remains tight-fitting (a first generation complaint), but I found that with practice it slides off easily after getting it started. I really like the compact form it assumes and the ability to use the pot as first pot then mug through the use of the cozy sleeve and lid. This “minimalist” touch appealed to my keep-it-simple side.
The cozy has been durable in my use. If it degrades substantially, I will upgrade this review to note that.
The Pot Gripper
The handleless pot requires GSI to come up with a clever concept to allow a user to move the hot pot from the heat. Their solution is a molded silicone pot gripper, a lightweight, compressible tool that, with practice, works reasonably well.
Imbedded in the silicone is a magnet designed to allow one to attach the pot gripper to a fuel canister so it isn’t misplaced (the bright orange color also helps one keep track of it). At first I thought the magnet was just a gimmick, but I soon found myself using it to attach the pot gripper to the fuel canister. I liked the simple routine of having it in a set location.
Pouring from the Minimalist II pot with the pot gripper is initially awkward. I found myself using my dominant hand to move the pot off the heat, but the most natural way to pour the boiling water from the pot was to pour it away from my body, something of a blind pour. Compounding this is the risk of scalding steam. The optimal grip seems to be halfway between the water as it flows from the pot and the the top of the pot, which is shrouded in steam as one tilts the pot to pour. With practice this becomes a more natural motion, but it is still a bit awkward.
Food in the pot may also slop onto the pot gripper during use, something to be alert to when restowing the kit later.
A more dangerous enterprise is removing the Minimalist II pot from the flame of an alcohol stove. In additional to the daylight invisibility of alcohol flames, the nature of many of these stoves is to have flames lick up the sides of the pot. When using the Minimalist II pot on my homemade “Fancee Feest” style stove (a Zelph-inspired design), I found that the unpredictability of alcohol flames in the breeze made removing the pot with the GSI pot gripper a bit iffy.
Once one has dialed in the amount of fuel required to boil a set amount of water in the Minimalist II pot, this issue can largely be avoided by letting the fuel burn out as the pot reaches a boil, but it is definitely something to be aware of.
Despite the drawbacks, the lightweight and simple but effective design makes the pot gripper a useful piece of gear.
It is possible to nest a complete cook kit in the Minimalist pot. I carried a small fuel canister inside the pot as well as the pot gripper, the foon, my BRS 3000T stove, and a mini Bic lighter.
I also sometimes nested the entire Minimalist kit inside my Optimus Clip-On Windshield when I was expected breezy conditions. Or, for nesters of a different sort, the pot will wrap neatly around a Nalgene.
The nesting capability is one I really like about the Minimalist II. It simplifies the trail cooking routine by storing all that is needed in one place without need for a stuff sack.
The two major upgrades from the first generation of Minimalist kits were well done: the foon is now certainly robust, and the volumetric markings in the pot allow one greater precision (and thus greater efficiency) when boiling water. Neither takes up more space in the kit.
Potential inconveniences of going light with the Minimalist II include the novel pot gripper and the tight insulating cozy sleeve that is reluctant to slip free of the pot. Neither was a deal breaker for me. Both became familiar and more efficient with sufficient use.
For all that I have plenty of titanium and stainless steel pots, I found I really liked the Minimalist II kit. I found myself tossing its neatly self-contained kit into my REI Flash 22 for coffee on day hikes or for breaks when hitting MTB trails. Based on my experiences with it, it is currently at the top of my list to be my cook kit on an upcoming seven-day thru-hike of a trail.
The Minimalist II would make an excellent starter kit for scouts or new backpackers or a minimalist option for backpackers seeking a simpler or lighter cook kit than what they presently have.
Its charm is its simple, inexpensive but reliable efficiency. There is no need to waste time or effort in preparing a meal with this kit. It is cleverly designed and well executed for a reasonable price. I'm sure I will continue to reach for it often.
Note: For those wondering about similar kits, a similar sort of product is the MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit, another hard-anodized aluminum pot kit that also comes with a stove and a bowl, albeit for twice the price of the Minimalist II.
In the weeks since I purchased this product, I have used it on several day hikes and mountain biking excursions to boil water and to heat meals. I have also used it extensively at home for many morning coffees (pairing it with different stoves, fuels, etc. as part of my new gear integration fun) and to make hot meals when work has kept me from the wilderness. I have decades of experience with camp cook kits, having used and abused many through the years, and thus my experience with the Minimalist is informed by this experience, too.