On the path to smaller, lighter, and less expensive

The camp kitchen set I’d been using for backpacking was mostly a cobbled-together mish-mash of various items I had from car camping, with the exception of the stove. I did purchase an Etekcity backpacking stove for about $10 or so. It’s nice in that it has a piezo ignition that does not require a flint, matches or lighter to get going. And that proved handy two weeks ago when I realized I had forgotten my matches / lighter, and needed to 1) boil water to cook food and 2) light kindling to make a fire.

My old backpacking kitchen set up. Large, bulky, heavy, not efficiently sized.

My old backpacking kitchen set up. Large, bulky, heavy, not efficiently sized. But it worked for a while, as it was all I had while I was focusing on gear like backpacks, tents and sleeping bags.

The other items are a fairly heavy – if somewhat small – car camping pot with lid, an enameled steel coffee cup that would not nest inside the pot, a dual fork / spoon that didn’t fit in the pot, small pack towel, and a 1.3 oz bottle of camp soap. Oh, and the stove didn’t fit in the pot with the fuel in there, so I had to carry it in the coffee cup inside it’s plastic protective case (added weight). All of this was placed inside a mesh bag, that I think came with the pot. It was large. It was noisy. It wasn’t exactly space-saving… or light.

So I’d been searching for something better. I was very interested in the GSI line of backpacking nesting pots, mugs and other accessories. Although I was envisioning something really lightweight as my ultimate goal, I was also trying to think, “What if my wife or younger daughter come with me?” I therefore had my eye on the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Ultralight Cookset.  At $65, it’s not badly priced, but that’s still $65 for what amounts to really small pots, bowls and cups. And I wasn’t even sure I really needed all that stuff, given that I’d mostly be eating Mountain House meals, or rice / mac-n-cheese (or similar) right out of the pot. At most, I really just needed a coffee cup to complement a pot, not so much the bowls and such.

Serendipity at the store

Let me just say upfront, I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart. But my wife and I stopped in there a few days ago to get an inexpensive cat litter box, as our older daughter had just adopted a feline. I naturally headed straight to the camping section. I had picked out a number of Mountain House meals that were under $5 each, when I spotted the Stanley Steel Cooker + Nesting Cups. I realize it’s not aluminum, much less titanium. But it was also all of $14.97. For a $50 savings over the GSI – and really including most of what I needed, it was hard to pass up. Plus, there was an Ozark Trail 18 oz stainless steel cup with handles, into which the Stanley pot nested. That cup was only $4.97.  I surfed on my phone to check weights, and all of this seemed to save me overall. And price-wise? It was under $20 for pretty much all I need.

Yeah, I’ll take that deal.

My new backpacking cookset. Smaller, slightly lighter, and a LOT more compact.

My new backpacking cookset. Smaller, slightly lighter, and a LOT more compact.

After I took out the comparatively heavy plastic cups that were inside the pot, and put everything else back in, it makes my entire kitchen set go from 742 grams to 720 grams. Not a huge savings, but that’s still over 3/4 of an ounce. And if I ever upgrade to a Toaks 550ml 95mm diameter pot (sans lid)? I’ll take another 86 grams – and still have saved me money over the GSI set. I also found that a spork from Taco Bell / KFC only weighs 2 grams over my spoon/fork at 10g.

On top of all that? I can fit my stove, towel, 100g fuel canister, soap, AND spork – all inside the pot, then nest the pot in the shorter, but larger diameter steel cup. So not only does all this save weight, it saves space too. The old pot I was using was some 6″ in diameter; the Stanley pot is only 4″. Granted, the Stanley is taller, but my cup now nests with the pot, instead of having to be next to it.

All in all, a decent option, and saved me a few bucks. I may upgrade to something even lighter in the future, but this is a good start for the time being, given all the other money I’ve put into backpacking in 2015! And it can always serve as a “back up cookset” should I ever upgrade to something lighter later on. Then on the few occasions my wife & daughter may go with me, they’d have a set to bring with them at that time.

But for now, this works. And with any luck (weather!!), I’ll have an opportunity to try it out this coming weekend.

A comparison of my old cookset size (left) versus the new one that nests everything together (right), AND saves me a few grams of weight!

A comparison of my old cookset size (left) versus the new one that nests everything together (right), AND saves me a few grams of weight!

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