How to Pick a Cookset

CooksetSome folks are content eating nothing but dried fruit, jerky, and peanut butter for days and days on the trail. For others, going a day without a hot meal sounds like torture. But if you’re going to be the ultimate camp fire cook you need to have the right equipment. Here’s a little information on how to pick a cookset.

Cooksets usually come bundles in some combination of pots, pans, plates, mugs, etc. Some sets come with more than others, so it’s important to know what you need as well as what you’re getting. You can buy a cookset that has everything you need to cook for and and feed four people, our you can buy one that is basically a tiny mug and skillet for one.

Soloist cooksets are designed for a single person. They are typically going to be small, lightweight, and compact, which makes them ideal for long backpacking trips. The most basic soloist cookset is a tiny pot with a lid. The pot doubles as a mug and the lid doubles as a pan. These set ups are for the true minimalist. However, you can find single person cooksets that come with extras like a dish and eating utensil.

Dualist cooks sets are for those who would like a little companionship on the trail. Two person cooksets come with a larger pot than the soloist cooksets, and will at least come with a couple of dishes. It’s not uncommon to see sets that come with a couple of cups and eating utensils as well. These are still small enough to take backpacking especially if you split them between two people.

If you’re car camping with your entire family, get a full size four person cookset. These sets often come with multiple pots and pans for cooking large amounts or different dishes. Some sets stop at just the cookware, yet others will come with plates, bowls, mugs, and utensils as well. Four person cooksets are larger and less compact than two and one person cooksets, which makes them harder to carry on the trail.

What your cookset is made of is important as well.

Anodized cooksets are becoming increasingly popular. Anodizing is a process that beefs up basic metals. It’s scratch and abrasion resistant, resists corrosion and rust,  it’s easy to clean,  and heats evenly. Most anodized cooksets are made of anodized aluminum, but many other metals can be anodized including titanium. Unlike non-stick coated cookware, anodized cookware hasn’t been associated with an health risks.

Aluminum is lightweight, cheap, it’s a good conductor of heat, and it cools fast. On the other hand, it scratches, dents, and bends easily, and can break down over time if exposed to acidic foods. This is a good option if you’re hard on your gear and you don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Cooksets made from titanium are going to be the lightest and strongest option out there. However with those advantages comes the big honking price tag. In addition to being expensive, titanium doesn’t distribute heat as evenly as other metals so you have to be careful with it.

Stainless steel cooksets are going to be burlier than aluminum cooksets, however they are going to be much heavier than aluminum as well. Stainless steel doesn’t heat as evenly as aluminum, so you have to be careful to avoid hotspots that can burn food.

Of course, you can always skip buying an entire set and buy the exact pots and pans that suit you best. This saves you from wasting money on buying things that you don’t intend on using. It can end up being more expensive to build up your cookset this way, but you end up with exactly what you want.

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