Current Retail: $12.95-$12.99
Historic Range: $6.95-$12.99
Reviewers Paid: $12.95-$13.00
4.70 in x 2.80 in x 1.50 in
Salt + Pepper Shaker, 2 Universal Spicers, Removeable Spice Labels, Large and small screens for different spices, loopable bandolier
Convenient, durable, and waterproof option for storing six spices while backpacking. Not the lightest option, but definitely one of the more elegant. Sure to please those who like to tweak prepackaged food or indulge in their own culinary creations. A comfort option for those willing to sacrifice a few ounces or grams to have more flavorful food.
- Durable construction
- Waterproof containers
- Efficient, two-sided design
- Convenient "loopable bandolier" holds containers together
- Weight: ultralighters will want to avoid this
- Included spice labels come off easily
- A little pricy
I purchased the GSI Outdoors Spice Rack prior to visiting Yellowstone National Park this summer, seeking an option that would allow me to brings some of my own favorite spices as well as a few of my boys' preferred seasonings.
The Spice Rack consists—according to the packaging—of a "Salt+Pepper Shaker and 2 Universal spicers" that "hold six different spices in individual compartments."
Let me decode this for you: the kit basically consists of three hourglass-shaped, double-sided spice holders (two waterproof, screw-top lids per container) held together by what GSI terms a "loopable bandolier." The Spice Rack also includes 18 pre-printed labels and 4 customizable labels.
The bandolier is a clever little addition that holds the containers together while also allowing them to twist and turn about, making them more packable than a more rigid option would have allowed, and allowing individual containers to be removed for more precise seasoning adjustments.
Prior to Yellowstone, I loaded up the Spice Rack with salt and pepper, Greek seasoning, Tandoori seasoning, garlic powder, and a cinnamon-sugar mix. So what does the loaded kit weight? Obviously the weight of the Spice Rack varies depending on choice of seasonings, but in my iteration, it weighed 5.12 oz/ 145 g. Held by the bandolier, the kit is about 4.7 in/ 120 mm long, each container standing 2.8 in/ 71 mm tall and being 1.25 in/ 31.8 mm across. It packed easily for carrying.
There are two styles of sifter caps under the screw-top lids, one with larger holes for flakier sorts of seasonings, and one with finer holes for finer spices. See images, below.
Observations from Use
First, the provided labels did not stay on the containers, or more accurately, some did and some didn't. Not a big deal, though, and certainly this is nothing that affects the utility of the Spice Rack.
Initially I attempted to season foods with the Spice Rack containers still held by the bandolier, but I was quickly disabused of this impulse by the unwieldy feel of this configuration: it was simply too hard to adjust seasonings with any measure of nuance with the weight of the other containers swaying and dangling from the bandolier. Happily, the bandolier is made of what appears to be stretchy rubber, allowing the individual containers to pull free when effort is exerted while retaining them nicely otherwise.
Note: a loop on one end of the bandolier gives one the option of running a small carbine through the loop to attach the Spice Rack to the exterior of a pack or anywhere else one might wish to hang it.
Used separately, the containers were fun to use! No need to endure bland, dehydrated fare when one can custom tailor the seasoning to one's own liking. Sitting in Yellowstone and tapping the side of a Spice Rack container to adjust my seasoning felt truly indulgent! The 5.7 oz of weight seemed well worth the satisfaction of having a mini spice kit with me. The differently sized sifter lids worked well, allowing me to control the flow of my spices easily with the tap of my finger on the side of the containers.
The GSI literature claims that these containers are waterproof. I am not one who risks wet food when camping, so I decided to test this on my kitchen counter by placing the Spice Rack in a bowl and filling the bowl with water. So I did, leaving them for a few minutes. Opened thereafter, the contents were dry, with no evidence of water seepage. So yes, they are also waterproof.
The GSI Spice Rack works as advertised. It is made of good quality materials, and I expect it to last quite some time. I really enjoyed having this task-specific tool when cooking, although I would probably have to give more consideration to the 5.7 oz weight if I were to go on an extended backcountry trek. It is not the lightest option, to be sure: I'm sure ultralighters who crave spices may opt for serving-specific amounts in pieces of clear, heat-sealed drinking straw or some other creative solution to the spice-carrying dilemma.
I found the flexibility of double-sided containers useful. One can pair seasonings in a single container based on meals one is cooking, just as the salt and pepper container allows one to use both of these easily without juggling between containers. But the double-sidedness also limits the amount of contents each container can hold. A prolonged trek would require resupplying some of the containers at some point, though I did not run out of seasoning in my tests.
I also found myself wishing I had one more double container—eight seasonings would better suit my own preferences, but the relative priciness of the Spice Rack ($12.95) discourages one from doubling up on containers, a potential drawback for thrifty backcountry gourmets.
However, for those willing to pay for a luxury item and sacrifice weight savings for a more flavorful backcountry meal, the GSI Spice Rack certainly merits consideration as a functional, well-design spice kit option.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: USD $12.95
Expensive and slightly on the heavy side, but a good option for a weekend or 3-day trip.
- Smaller than most other useful means of packing a spice kit, but not too small.
- Slightly heavy
- Does not seal well without the shaker caps
One of my pandemic projects has been assembling a small spice kit to use while backpacking and camping. I settled on a selection of six spices, with salt and sugar to be carried separately: onion powder, garlic powder, ground cayenne pepper, citric acid, ajinomoto (msg), and ground ginger. I can make a lot of tasty things out of that. If I could add one or two more spices, I'd add cinnamon and probably cardamom or parsley.
For now, I decided to go ahead with just six. My first idea was to use the small supermarket spice jars, the type used by McCormick and the store brand at my local market, and that seemed like a reasonable idea until I actually assembled the set and discovered how heavy it was: about 300 grams. Plus, the kit takes up a large amount of volume. I'll save that set for car camping, I guess.
So for my next version, I ordered a bunch of Nalgene 30 mL (about 1 fl oz) HDPE wide-mouth round bottles. When filled, those amounted to 219 grams, and I realised that for a three-day weekend solo or couple's trip, this was probably still too much, both in weight and volume. While I could save weight on shorter trips by simply not filling the bottles fully, they would still take up more volume than I would have preferred. If Nalgene made these bottles half as high, to hold 15 mL, that would have been absolutely perfect, but they don't.
When I saw that the GSI Outdoors set contains three compartments of 0.5 fl oz (about 14 mL) and three compartments of 0.3 fl oz (about 8.5 mL), I decided to splurge. They are substantially heavier than the Nalgene bottles, but the three of them filled weigh only 139 grams, a full 80 grams lighter than the Nalgene set. Even empty, the three GSI containers weigh less than the six Nalgene 30 mL bottles.
I haven't included a picture of them, since you can already see the manufacturer's product image, above, and that tells you almost everything you need to know. (Update) Here they are:
Now, there's one problem with these jars that I hadn't anticipated: they don't fully seal unless you use the inner shaker caps, and I was planning on not using the shaker caps, because I find them annoying. The set comes with two shaker caps with coarse holes, and four with fine holes. If you don't use the shaker caps, spices will leak out of the top into the threads of the sealing caps. This might not be much of an issue for you, but I don't want to deal with it, so I put the shaker caps back on.
The good news is, the shaker caps are not exceedingly difficult to remove when you want to remove them, but the Nalgene bottles of course are designed to seal absolutely with no inner shaker caps.
The included bandolier is cumbersome, so I won't be using it. However, it might actually be useful for something else, maybe a towel hanger attached to a pack or a ridgeline, or something, so I haven't thrown it out. I carry my spices in a quart zip-lock bag, so it's not like I even need the bandolier. And what if I want to take a fourth, anyway?
The included spice labels work for some of my spices, but not all of them, so I won't bother using them. I'll just make labels using my Brother label printer.
Overall, I was pleased enough with the outcome that I ended up ordering a second set. This will allow me to carry one additional unit for two more spices, if I want. It will also allow me to use either two black caps or no black caps in my kit, and give me the option of using four coarse shaker caps, if I want. And then I will have two backup jars, in case I lose one, or in case I want to keep one in my office lunch kit.
Here's a quick recipe for a sweet, sour, and spicy stir-fry seasoning for meat: 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. onion, 1/4 tsp. garlic, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/8 tsp. citric acid, 1/4 tsp. ajinomoto, 1/4 tsp. cayenne
I give the product 3.5 out of 5 stars. The biggest reason I won't rate it higher is the price. $13 USD for three little plastic jars is a bit silly, but there's not a whole lot out there to compete with these. The secondary reason is the fact that the shaker caps must be used.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 13 USD