The Sea to Summit X-Set 32 is a cookware set designed to maximise cooking volume without putting too much of a dent in your backpack space. How does it achieve this? It collapses down. So while most of the best camping cookware sets compact down into the size of the largest saucepan, this one fits everything into a frying pan that measures 9 x 1.8". In that eminently packable space, Sea to Summit has fitted a 2.8 liter cooking pot, a 1.3L kettle, and of course the frying pan itself.
To achieve this, the pot and kettle have a solid base, but the walls of the vessels are made from silicone, which can be concertinas up when not in use. The set is based on the tech launched in 2015 with the award-winning X-Pot – so here is the X-Pot but also the X-Kettle and X-Pan (although that last one doesn't actually X-up).
The X-Set 32 is designed to suit two campers, and for use with a backpacking stove like any that feature in our best camping stove guide. How do these innovative designs perform in practice? I put this set to the test on my most recent camping trip to see. Read on for my full Sea to Summit X-Set 32 review.
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Sea to Summit X-Set 32: design
Let's take a closer look at the cooking implements included with this cookware set. They all have the same kind of hard anodized aluminum base you'd find on regular pans, but on the pot and kettle, this is paired with sides made from BPA free, food-grade, heat-resistant silicone.
On the upper rim of the kettle are also two handles made from glass-reinforced Nylon (so you can pour easily), while the X-Pan's side handles are wrapped in silicon and can be flipped underneath for storage.
I'm pleased to see that both the kettle and pan have their own lid – this can make a massive difference to how quickly you can get your food hot (and how long you can keep it that way) in cold and windy conditions, and as a result, help you conserve fuel. They're translucent, to give you an idea of what's going on inside while you're cooking, and have an integrated strainer to add versatility.
There are a few things you cannot do with this style of cooking set. The collapsible pot and kettle are for "water-based cooking only" (the frying pan is there for all of your frying needs). Of course, they're meant for camping stoves, but you could also, if needs be, use them on your domestic stove – although none of the bases are magnetic, which rules out induction. You also won't be able to pop them into the dishwasher when you get home.
Sea to Summit X-Set 32: usability
All the individual components of this set work pretty well. The bases heat up and cool down quickly and are easy enough to clean, and the lids are effective (especially the kettle one, which sits securely in place as you pour). The various handle designs all work fine but require a little more care than a standard fixed handle, as you'd expect.
The collapsible components feel surprisingly sturdy and durable, and stay in place well as you're cooking or pouring. In the longer term, I suspect they won't wear as well as a solid design; there are just more points of weakness. You also can't bash them around like you can with solid pots and pans – the spout section on my kettle is already a little bent out of shape.
The method of packing all the pans and pots together works fine but isn't quite as neat or secure as bulkier alternatives. The flattened kettle comes with a stretchy band you can deploy to keep the lid on top. This sits inside the pot, which has flexible silicon handles that flip inwards to attach onto notches on the lid in a way that is both quite awkward and not overly secure. This all sits in the frying pan. One option that works better is to just take the band from the kettle and stick it round the whole set to keep everything together.
What the X-Set 32 provides is a whole load of cooking options for not very much bag space. I would argue that three is an excessive number of pots and pans for a two-person trip, especially if you're backpacking, which I assume is the idea here. Chances are you've only got a single burner, so you'll only be able to use one at once. Each to their own though, and there are plenty of other X-Set configurations to opt for if you don't need all those options.
It's also worth noting that although this set is nice and packable for what you're getting, it's not especially light. And unlike some other camping cookware sets, there's nothing to eat off included within the set, so you'll need to supplement this with a dish and cup / bottle of some kind.
Sea to Summit X-Set 32: specs
- Packed size: 9 x 1.8" / 22.9 x 4.6cm
- Set weight: 29 oz / 836g
- Pot size and weight: 2.8L / 11.5 oz
- Kettle size and weight: 1.3L / 6.6 oz
- Pan size and weight: 8" / 10oz
Sea to Summit X-Set 32: alternatives to consider
There are various other configurations and options in the X-Set range – including a number that have collapsible cups and dishes, so you have some thing to eat off (browse the UK range or US range).
If it's a range of pots and pans for a low weight or small packed size, you could also consider the Alpkit AliPots aluminium pan set. Packed up, it's slightly narrower but a lot deeper than the X-Set 32 (H12.8 x W18.2cm rather than H4.6 x W22.9), but lighter at 596g rather than 836g. The pans aren't as roomy as the X-Sets (1L and 1.7L rather than 2.8L and 1.3L) and here there are two lids that double up as frying pans (the larger of the two is around 4cm smaller than the X-Set's). For more options, head to our best camping cookware guide.
Sea to Summit X-Set 32: verdict
The Sea to Summit X-Set 32 is the only collapsible camping cookware set I've tested, and I was impressed. All the individual elements worked effectively, and the collapsible kettle and pot feel much sturdier and easier to use than you might expect. There are a few down-sides to this style of cookware: it's not quite as easy to use as a standard, solid design, and not quite as robust either. And it's worth pointing out that while this set is ingeniously space-saving, it's not really any lighter than a solid set.
The Sea to Summit X-Set 32 covers almost all the bases when it comes to your catering needs, in one very compact space. I'd say that it might be overkill for a two-person trip, and this particular set would perhaps be better suited to a three-person group (I think you've just about got enough cooking space for it to work). But there are plenty of other configurations in the range to choose from.