Welcome to T3's guide to the best camping cookware sets. If you're still faffing around trying to fit clunky mismatched pots and pans into your camping bags, it's time to invest in something a little more streamlined and practical. If you've already kitted yourself out with one of the best camping stoves, the next step is to up your cookware game: a camping cookware set will save you space, weight and packing time, and make catering in the great outdoors that much simpler.
The camping cookware market is as broad as you'd expect, with some real gems in amongst the general bog-standard pans from the poundshop. As you'd also expect, there is a perfect camping cookware set for almost every situation and use, from solo mountain bivvys in extreme winter conditions through to family car camping with all the mod cons of home. We've tried to cover off the full range here to provide a camping cookware set for every taste.
The best camping cookware set: Buying advice
As ever, the key to picking the right cookset for you will depend on where on that scale you plan to be operating, as well as budget and usual trip duration.
Weight is always important when you're on the move, but try to focus on pan volume as well as outright weight. While it's theoretically possible to cook all sorts of impressive meals in a tiny, cup-sized pan (with youtube videos to prove it), attempting to do this several days in a row after big days out just isn't any fun, and you'll yearn for a proper roomy pot or pan to just bung things in. Just like cooking at home, the smaller the pan the more effort needs to go into stirring and regulating the heat to get a good result, which can also be a drag when tired.
Also consider pan lids when buying – a lid will save huge amounts of time and fuel when heating stuff up, and is vital in lower temperatures. Ultralight sets will use the mug as a lid, which works in theory, but can be annoying in practice. Constructing your own out of tin foil will seem fine at home, and be completely useless outdoors, so don't be tempted to rely on improvisations.
Although there are some startlingly cheap unbranded pans (and the inevitable army-surplus mess tin) out there, picking from the reliable brands will give you a much better experience overall, and much longer life to your camping cookware. Primus, MSR, Snow Peak and Sea to Summit are key brands here, all offering a wide range of camp cooking hardware that will suit most tastes at varying price points, sizes and weights. If you're looking for the 'ultimate' flexibility, then a lightweight pan set with various sized-pans is ideal, allowing you to pack whatever suits the trip in hand, although family and van camping scenarios are the exception.
Key elements to look for include decent handles (a fully-loaded 2 litre pot of pasta is quite a weighty beast), proper surface coatings to save hours scrubbing in the stream with a brillo pad, and good quality materials. The latter can be a balancing act (the difference between good aluminum pans and bad ones is night and day), but generally titanium is the premium material, conducting heat astonishingly well, leaving no metallic flavour on food, and being as light as possible. Stainless steel is equally (if not more) durable, but tends to be slightly heavier like for like, with aluminium last – but not least – in the pile.
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Our pick for the best camping cookware set overall right now is the Sea to Summit Alpha Pot Set 2.2. There are more specialist options to follow, but this set offers a lot of practicality, a mid-range price and a mid-range weight to boot. Large pan, small pan, two bowls and two cups (there are also four person and solo versions available) sounds like a pretty standard set, but as usual the details here are key.
That larger Hard-Anodised Aluminium pot is a 2.7 litre monster, enough to hold a robust casserole for two, with the smaller 1.2 litre pan still larger than many others here. Each pot has a lid too, making cooking after a long day much easier without having to empty a mug to use as a lid or improvise something else. Both lids have drain holes too, again simplifying the mechanics of chef-ing over a gas stove in a wood, and the handles lock into place too.
The bowls are deep enough to contain food neatly, and the 'insul' mugs are lidded to keep heat in and protect against casual spillage. They're both made from BPA-free, glass reinforced polypropylene, which is pretty indestructible. A final flourish is that the largest pot handle locks the whole stack together in storage.
If there's more of you, check out the Sea to Summit Alpha Pot Set 4.2. Combine with one of the best camping chairs (or, if you're not pushed for space, one of the best camping tables) and you're all set for an evening meal in the great outdoors.
The Japanese minimalist outdoor folk at SnowPeak have been making tiny yet well-formed titanium goodies for years, and the Solo Combo 2.0 is no exception. Heavy on the wallet but ultralight in the rucksack, this tiny cookset will be a dependable friend for decades. A 30 fl oz pot is enough for a decent meal for one, and with a little ingenuity there's plenty of culinary opportunities here. The smaller pot doubles up as a cup, and the lid's silicone tab allows it to be lifted without gloves while hot. Additionally, you'll fit two 110-g fuel canisters into the large pot for super-compact packing – also aided by the fact the pots nest neatly within each other in a very zen-like display.
When you need everything but the kitchen sink, Quechua's Hikers camping SS cooking set is a compact yet generous option. It packs in everything you could possibly need, down to four complete sets of plates, cups and cutlery. Clearly aimed at the car-camping/campervan end of the market, there's a sizeable saucepan and a decent frying pan here, a lid and combined strainer as well as a closure tie that doubles as a trivet – perfect for one-pot dinners beside the campervan and family breakfasts alike.
Neat touches include the sliding lock on the frying pan handle, while the tessatating plates and cups will be a dream for the OCD inclined – even the four sets of cutlery have specific slots to lock into for storage. Stainless pans with a non-stick coating should be relatively hassle free to maintain and long pasting too, and all at a keen price point – a campervan classic.
Some camping is about roughing it, but some is a little more luxurious. The Primus Campfire Cookset is for the latter. In super-durable and easy clean stainless steel, this level of build quality will literally last for centuries, and comes with a host of handy design tweaks too. For starters it all stacks neatly into a neat pile for transport, then there are the integrated colanders in the pot lids, the foldable integrated handles, and the leather tabs that let you lift up a hot lid in comfort. The larger pot's cauldron-style handle can be suspended over an open fire for cowboy-style cookups, and at 3l is big enough for all the family. In conjunction with the Primus Campfire Prep set, this is a well designed and beautifully engineered solution to outdoor cooking.
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The Alpkit Mytistax is the slightly more expensive version of the Easycamp (at #10), with a boatload of small but significant design tweaks that are well worth the extra cash. Firstly, it's made of titanium, not only light but very strong, and also leaving less of a metallic tang to food than plain aluminium. The pan sizes are generous for one and reasonable for two, at 1.2 litres, 0.8 litres and 0.4 litres so it's quite a flexible setup overall. If going solo you have the choice of super light and hungry (73grams, 0.4 litres) or carrying another few grams but feasting like a king (108 grams, 1.2 litres), or playing it safe at 92grams, 0.8 litres.
In addition, the frying pan is teflon-coated, making bacon butties a genuinely practical option, while the handles are rubber coated to avoid burns. A final trick is that the rims are curled to accept an optional titanium hanging chain kit, allowing use over an open fire.
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The MSR Trail Lite Duo packs a lot into a pretty lightweight and compact package, essentially nesting two bowls and two double-wall cups into a large pot easily capable of feeding two. The 2 litre pot is not only pretty huge, but also hard anodised to allow easy cleaning, and also sports a locking handle and a clear lid with strainer holes to shift that pasta water. There is unused space still inside the cups when packed down, which will fit folding cutlery or a small stove too, according to MSR. Overall, it's a practical choice for two people doing relatively civilised car-type camping, and the deep dish, BPA-free bowls will be particularly handy for everything from muesli to couscous, but there are lighter options around.
This Vango Hard Anodised 1 Person Cook Kit might be small, but it is mightily wallet friendly, and not too heavy on the trail either. A simple small pot with a lid that doubles as a mug, there's not much to dislike here but plenty to be keen on. As with all similar setups, actually cooking in the mug-sized pot is a dangerous game, but as a lid/mug it'll do the job fine. A non-stick hard anodised coating over the aluminium adds durability and should save you from hours of scraping and washing up, while the inbuilt handles have a rubber layer to save your fingers when in use. As a solo starter kit for DofE trips and the like this offers great bang for buck, and you get a carry bag thrown in too.
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The Robens Frontier Set hits the middle ground right on the head – far from ultralight, but not super heavy, no frills but pretty much everything you need. In fact, for longer trail trips or mini-expeditions this is potentially an ideal set, with enough capacity to cook up pretty much anything for two, and cater for up to four with some ingenuity and juggling.
Hard anodised alloy pans in roomy 1.6 litres and 1.4 litres are relatively lightweight, while stainless handles should be durable enough to last for years. The handles are silicone covered to protect your hands from hot metal, and a mesh storage bag is included.
The Outwell Feast Family Cookset nests neatly into a corner or small winnebago cupboard, but with an enormous non-stick 3 litre casserole pot, 1.5 litre saucepan and a frying pan, this is perfectly capable of turning out most home cooking with aplomb. From one-pot family meals to an epic full English, this has got all the bases covered.
The clever trick here is that both saucepan and frying pan handles unscrew to allow minimum-space packing, but once screwed back in are as solid as traditional home pans – perfect for the long-term van-life cook. Non-stick coatings on all the pans make for easy cleaning in cramped van sinks, while the set also works on induction hobs, for the more high-tech end of the van market.
A proper-old school camping cookware set here, offering no bells or whistles of any kind. Three pans, made from plain lightweight aluminium add up to a mere 160grams, which is pretty light for the set. Foldable handles keep packsize down, the smallest pot makes a good mug and the mid-size a good lid or a secondary pot. The downsides will inevitably involve difficulties cleaning burnt food off, as well as the need to treat the handles relatively carefully as they're plain aluminium and lightly riveted. However, once burned-in at home they'll do the job of solo cooking well, and for lightness on a shoe-string budget, this is a great place to start.