Best camping mess kit
Stanley Base Camp Cooking Set for four
A comprehensive camping mess kit packed with everything you need for a camp kitchen.
Best backpacking mess kit
Sea To Summit Delta Camp 6-Piece Mess Kit
A super lightweight backpacking mess kit built to become every backpacker’s best friend.
Best for families
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set
A sturdy, all-around outdoor mess kit designed with camping families in mind.
Camping is one of the most exciting and rewarding outdoor activities, but it can also be a hassle when mealtime comes. Carrying multiple pots, pans, campfire utensils, plates, and cups can be a real drag, not to mention all the mess and cleaning afterward.
But what if we told you there’s a solution to that? Meet the camping mess kit – the ultimate game-changer for any outdoor dining experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, a camping mess kit is an essential piece of gear that will make your trip more enjoyable, organized, and stress-free.
In this blog post, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about camping mess kits – from what to look for when choosing one to how to use and care for it. And, of course, will show you our favorite picks worth a purchase.
Join us on this culinary camping adventure as we discover the magic of camping mess kits!
- Different types of mess kits
- What to look for in a camping mess kit
- Tips for selecting the right size and number of pieces of a camping mess kit
- Best mess kits to get
- How to use and care for your camping mess kit
- What should be included in a camping mess kit?
- Can I cook in a camping mess kit?
- On a hunt for more camp cookware advice?
Different types of mess kits
When it comes to camping mess kits, there are a few different types available to choose from, each with its own unique features and benefits. One of the first things to consider is the size of your camping group. Here are a few of the main types of camping mess kits available:
- Individual camping mess kits: These mess kits are designed for one person and typically include a plate, bowl, camping mug, and utensils. They are perfect for solo campers or couples who want a compact and lightweight option.
- Group camping mess kits: Designed for larger groups, this type of mess kits typically includes multiple plates, bowls, mugs, and utensils. They are perfect for families or groups of friends who want a more convenient and organized option.
- Backpacking mess kits: These are designed for backpackers and hikers who need to keep the weight and size of their gear to a minimum. These mess kits are typically made from lightweight materials and have a minimal number of pieces.
Ultimately, the type of camping mess kit you choose will depend on your specific needs and the camping you plan. For example, if you’re planning a backpacking trip, a backpacking mess kit would be a better choice than a group mess kit. But a group mess kit would be a better option if you’re planning a camping trip with friends or family.
What to look for in a camping mess kit
We talked about the size and types of mess kits, but that’s not it. If you’re up to the best mess kit, keep these factors on top of your mind:
Look for camping mess kits that are made from high-quality materials that can withstand the rigors of camping. Stainless steel and hard-anodized aluminum mess kits are great options as they are rust-resistant, durable, and lightweight. Make sure the kit is dishwasher-safe (if you aim for a breezy cleanup) and suitable for camping stoves.
Camping mess kits must contain non-toxic, food-grade materials, as this will ensure that your food is safe to eat and that the mess kit is safe for the environment.
Aim for camping mess kits free of BPA, PVC, and other harmful chemicals. Avoid cheap plastic products – a plastic mess kit can release harmful chemicals when heated.
Ease of cleaning
Look for options with simple designs and avoid mess kits with small crevices or hard-to-reach spots where food can get stuck. Opt for dishes that can be easily washed by hand or even in a dishwasher.
If you’re planning a backpacking trip, a mess kit that’s lightweight and easy to pack is your ultimate goal. Titanium or stainless steel mess kits are great options as they are lightweight and durable.
Ease of packing
Look for mess kits with carrying cases or a good packing system, so you can easily fit them in your backpack or camping gear. Avoid options that take up lots of space and are difficult to pack down.
Some mess kits include additional features like a built-in stove or a camping cutting board. These are great for people who want to save space and have less gear to carry. This can be a great feature, just don’t forget to ensure that this doesn’t add unnecessary weight to the kit.
By considering these key features, you’ll be able to choose a camping mess kit that is durable, non-toxic, easy to clean, and easy to pack, ensuring that your outdoor dining experience is as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.
Tips for selecting the right size and number of pieces of a camping mess kit
When choosing a camping mess kit, it’s essential to consider the size and number of pieces that are right for your camping needs. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice:
Size of your group
The size of your camping group will play a significant role in determining the size and number of pieces you need. For example, if you’re a solo camper, an individual camping mess kit with a plate, bowl, mug, and utensils would be sufficient.
However, a group camping mess kit with multiple plates, bowls, mugs, and utensils would be more appropriate if you’re camping with a group of friends or family.
Number of pieces
Consider how many pieces of each item you will need. If you’re camping with a group, you might need more plates and bowls than camping alone. If you’re eating food that requires cutting or prepping, in this case, a cutting board would be a nice addition.
Days of camping
Think about how many days you will be camping; if you’re going on a multi-day trip, you might need extra pieces to have a backup in case of any accidents.
Type of camping
If you’re backpacking, weight and packability will be essential factors to consider; therefore, you’ll need to choose a lightweight and compact mess kit with a minimal number of pieces.
Here, your preferences and eating habits take the lead. If you like to eat with a fork and knife and don’t like to get your hands dirty, make sure your mess kit includes those utensils.
If you’re a coffee and tea enthusiast, then a mug is something you can’t miss in your mess kit.
Best mess kits to get
With all the crucial aspects you should aim for in mind, now let’s get straight to our favorite picks.
1. Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for 4 – best camping mess kit
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Weight: 5.7 pounds
- Packed size: 11.06 x 10.9 x 6.1 inches
- Durable products
- Heavy-duty, built to withstand camping use
- Great quality of the metal and polymer, hard to scratch
- Easy to clean and use
- Easy to store away in a small package
- Plates fit perfectly on bowls to act as a cover
- The drying rack acts as a good insulator
- Heats nicely and evenly
- Aluminum can be hard to clean as food sticks a lot
- The dishes are a little small
Stanley products are well-known for their durability, and the Stanley Base Camp Cook Set isn’t an exception. It’s a heavy-duty set that can stand up to rigorous camping use and dishwasher and is full of everything you need to cook for a group of four.
Though it’s not lightweight, it still fits in a backpack and can be an excellent addition to your car camping gear.
This mess kit is made of high-quality metal and polymer that’s hard to scratch, and it’s easy to clean, use and store away in a small package.
The skillet has a heavy bottom for even heating, and the plates fit perfectly on bowls to cover leftovers. The drying rack is a nice touch as it is an excellent insulator to keep hot pots off the table.
The only downside is that the aluminum can be hard to clean as food sticks a lot. But overall, Stanley Base Camp Cook Set is a great option for campers looking for a heavy-duty, high-quality, and easy-to-use cook set for four people.
2. Sea to Summit Delta Camp 6-Piece Dinnerware Mess Kit – best for backpacking
- Material: Polypropylene
- Weight: 0.58 pounds
- Packed size: 10.67 x 9.09 x 4.21 inches
- Very durable
- Versatile and lightweight
- Easy to wash
- Nice mesh bag
- Thick materials perfect for handling hot food
- BPA-free, food-grade materials
- Nice traction on the bottom
- Thumbholes in plates
- Deep spoon
- Measurement lines in the cup
- The knife isn’t suitable for raw foods
- The fork doesn’t serve well
The Sea to Summit Delta Camp 6-Piece Dinnerware Mess Kit is an absolute go-to for every backpacker. It’s an incredibly durable, BPA-free, food-grade dish set with everything a solo camper needs. Above all – it’s still very lightweight and will save space and weight on your shoulders.
One of the best things about this mess kit is how easy it is to wash. The smooth and seamless inside makes cleaning a breeze.
The cup inside this mess kit has graduations for measuring, so you can ensure you’re getting the perfect amount of water or other drinks. The spoon features a deep bowl perfect for scooping up every last bit of your delicious campfire meals.
The Sea to Summit Delta Camp comes in a nice mesh bag. Not only is it convenient for carrying and storing, but it also helps keep the dishes organized.
Excellent traction on the bottom of the dishes helps prevent any spills or unpleasant accidents. Plus, with the thumbhole on the plate, you can easily hold it with one hand.
The only downside is that the knife is not great for chopping raw foods (though it works great for cooked meals), and the fork isn’t unbeatable, too. Still, this mess kit is great for hot food as it’s made of thick materials.
Overall, the Sea to Summit Delta Camp 6-Piece Dinnerware Mess Kit is the best option for an avid or beginner backpacker looking for a durable, easy-to-use, and convenient camping mess kit.
3. GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set – best for families
- Material: Non-Stick Coated, Hard Anodized Aluminum, Clear Polypropylene, Nylon 6-6, Silicone
- Weight: 3.63 Pounds
- Packed size: 9.7 x 9.3 x 5.9 inches
- Very compact for four people
- Decent setup
- Remains non-stick over time
- Pots suitable for camp stoves
- Has sealable internal containers
- Lightweight and very sturdy
- The lid can be used over a fire
- Easy to clean
- Plates might feel too small and food slides on them
- Mugs get very hot outside
- Not the lightest option
- Flimsier than we expected
The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set is built with camping families in mind. It’s compact enough for comfortable storage but still provides everything you need to cook and eat for up to four people.
This camping set offers a decent setup for hikers and remains non-stick throughout years of use. The pots that come in the mess kit perfectly fit camping stoves.
Sealable internal containers come in handy for carrying items such as dehydrated food, herbs, nuts, or anything else you might need while cooking. Plus, this camping set is lightweight and sturdy with a Teflon coating that makes cleaning a breeze.
On the downside, the plates may feel too small if you’re used to having lots of space for your food. It’s not the lightest camping set on the market, but if you’re car camping – then it’s a no-brainer.
The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set is nothing short of an excellent camping essentials kit that’ll be a great fit for your campfire cooking gear.
Of course, there are also other camping mess kits with their unique features that might be just the right bet for you.
- Material: Polypropylene
- Weight: 0.77 pounds
- Packed size: 8.23 x 6.65 x 4.06 inches
- Lightweight and durable
- One of the cheapest options
- Plenty of room inside the clamshell
- Great colors
- The knife isn’t too sharp to cut your hand but can still slice most foods
- Clean up and pack up nicely
- Microwavable mess kit
- Can double as a storage for small items
- The bungee tether isn’t very durable and might develop splits
- Rubber connectors can break over time
- Coffee might stain the inside of the cup/spoon
The UCO 6-Piece Camping Mess Kit is a lightweight, durable, and cost-effective cookware kit that features bright, easy-to-spot colors and can be used in a microwave.
This mess kit boasts tons of room for hidden seasonings or other small items inside its clamshell. The knife with this camp mess kit is sharp enough to slice delicate ingredients but not so sharp as to cut your hand.
Cleaning up and packing up is a breeze, and the mess kit can be washed in the dishwasher when you get home. The rubber connectors and bungee tether could use some improvement, but they serve their function well enough.
Another small grip is that the coffee might stain the inside of the cup and spoons, so it would become challenging to keep the kit brand-new looking.
All in all, it’s simply hard to go wrong when choosing it (probably that’s why it’s Amazon Choice, too).
- Material: Polypropylene
- Weight: 0.84 pounds
- Packed size: 6.22 x 5.75 x 5.51 inches
- Holds a decent amount of food in the bowls
- Very easy to clean
- Nice storage bag
- Insulated cups
- Measuring lines in cups
- Doesn’t stain
- Fits nicely and keeps as compact as possible
- Sporks are on the flimsier side
- Bit hard to find a pot where they could all nest together
- Doesn’t pack very small for a backpacking kit
The MSR 2-Person Camping Mess Kit is perfect for camping with a buddy! It holds a decent amount of food in the bowls and is very easy to clean. Plus, it has a nice storage bag and insulated cups that keep things warm. What’s really cool is that the cups have measurement lines on them.
The kit has everything you need for food and drinks and doesn’t stain. It fits nicely and keeps as compact as possible. The only downside is that the spoons are a bit flimsy, and you might want to change them to sturdier alternatives.
Also, it’s hard to find a pot where they could all nest together, and it doesn’t pack very small for a backpacking kit. But overall, the MSR 2-Person Camping Mess Kit is a great option for campers looking for a compact, easy-to-use, and versatile mess kit for two people.
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Weight: 1.56 pounds
- Packed size: 8.94 x 7.36 x 2.87 inches
- Very high-quality mess kit
- Small and fits in a backpack easily
- Heavy-duty, decent thickness
- Good quality camo carry bag with nice seams and easily washable
- Cutlery is of excellent quality and has a neoprene case to hold them all
- Has loops for attaching to the backpack
- Cleans up fairly easily
- The pan itself doesn’t seem to be made from stainless steel, more like aluminum
- A bit of a pain to clean
The MASTIFF GEARS 304 Stainless Steel Mess Kit is compact, well-made, sturdy, and made of high-quality materials. It’s small enough to fit in a backpack yet still heavy-duty with very decent thickness.
It comes with a nice, easily washable camo carry bag with quality seams. The cutlery is excellent and has a neoprene case to hold them all. The loops to attach to a tactical backpack is a nice touch. The kit is not non-stick, but it’s okay and cleans up fairly quickly with oil.
The only downside is that the pan doesn’t seem to be made from stainless steel, more like aluminum and it’s a bit of a pain to clean.
The MASTIFF GEARS 304 Stainless Steel Mess Kit is a great option for campers looking for a compact, high-quality, and heavy-duty mess kit.
- Material: Aluminum
- Weight: 1.14 pounds
- Packed size: 6.5 x 6.46 x 3.86 inches
- Reasonable quality
- Nice markings inside the pot
- Cooks food evenly
- The pan washes easily
- Light and strong
- Useful for all kinds of cooking
- Solid design, the handles stay in place well
- Comes in a sturdy drawstring carrying sack
- Has room inside for storage
- Small footprint in a back
- Our one small grip is that the lid only fits the pot and not the pan
- The lock mechanism on the handles would be useful
The MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit is the perfect choice for those looking for a lightweight aluminum mess kit. It’s of reasonable quality, cooks food evenly, and the pan washes easily.
Plus, it is light and robust and can last for years to come. It’s a little kit with everything you need for a backpacking trip, and useful for all kinds of cooking.
The kit has a solid design, the handles stay in place well, and it comes in a sturdy drawstring carrying sack. The pot also has room inside for a couple of other small cooking items, and it’s big enough to cook different foods. It’s perfect for avid backpackers as it has a small footprint and is extremely lightweight.
The only downside is that the lid only fits the pot, not the pan, and the lock mechanism on the handles would be useful.
The MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit is an excellent option for the occasional camper or backpacker looking for a compact, lightweight, and versatile cookware.
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Packed size: 7.17 x 7.13 x 2.83 inches
- Compact and lightweight
- Can last for years
- Lots of value for such a budget price
- Very sturdy
- Thoughtful design
- Heat up evenly
- Nice carry bag
- Locking handle
- Packs up neatly
- Extra room for utensils or seasonings storage inside
- Hard to remove the sticker from the bottom of the frying pan
- Handles aren’t detachable, hard to clean
- Quite small bowl and plates
- The bowl doesn’t fit very well on the camp stove
The Stansport Stainless Steel Mess Kit is a great choice for those on a budget. It’s compact, lightweight, and can last for years, especially if you use a non-stick spray for grilling to coat the pan and pot from time to time. The kit is very sturdy and well-made, with a thoughtful design.
The copper coating on the pan and pot allows even heat distribution, making cooking a breeze. The small carry bag is a nice touch and the locking handle is an extra benefit. Plus, it packs up neatly, leaving room for a few items like salt, pepper, sugar, and compact utensils.
The only downside is that it’s hard to remove the sticker from the bottom of the frying pan, and the glue remains after lots of scrubbing. For us, it hasn’t caused any problems yet using on fire even, but that’s still worth being cautious about.
Also, the handles are hard to clean as they aren’t detachable. The bowl and plates are tiny and the bowl doesn’t fit very well on the camp stove.
Overall, the Stansport Stainless Steel Mess Kit is a great option for campers looking for a compact yet durable mess kit for a smaller price.
How to use and care for your camping mess kit
Now that you have your shiny new camping mess kit, it’s time to learn how to use and care for it like a pro. Follow these simple tips:
- Set up: Before using your camping mess kit, give all the pieces a good wash with soap and water.
- Use: Use your camping mess kit as directed by the manufacturer. If you’re using a camping stove or campfire, make sure your mess kit can handle the heat. Avoid using metal utensils on non-stick surfaces to avoid scratches.
- Cleaning: After each meal, give your camping mess kit a good wash with soap and water unless the manufacturer says otherwise (for example, recommends only rinsing it). If your mess kit is dishwasher safe, you can use the dishwasher to clean it.
- Storage: Keep your camping mess kit in a dry place and avoid storing it in damp or humid areas. Storing it in a carrying case or a mesh bag will help keep it organized and prevent damage.
- Maintenance: Check your camping mess kit regularly for any signs of wear and tear, like cracks, dents, or rust. If you notice any damage, replace the piece or take it to a professional for repairs.
What should be included in a camping mess kit?
A typical camping mess kit should include the following items: plates, bowls, mugs, and utensils such as a fork, knife, and spoon. Depending on the type of camping mess kit, additional items such as cutting boards, stoves or pots may also be included.
It’s essential to consider the size of your group and the type of camping you’ll be doing when choosing a mess kit to ensure it has the right number and types of pieces for your needs.
If you’re up for a complete campfire kitchen setup, check this blog post, where we talk about the best campfire cooking kits and extra gadgets for the premium cooking experience.
Can I cook in a camping mess kit?
It depends on the type of camping mess kit you have. Some camping mess kits include pots, pans, and even a stove for cooking, while others are designed for cold food only.
Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions and choose a mess kit that is suitable for the type of cooking you plan to do. Keep in mind that some materials may not be suitable for high-heat cooking, so it’s important to choose a mess kit that is designed for the type of heat source you will be using.
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