A reliable camping mess kit is something every backpacker needs. But these cookware sets aren’t just for people who trek the trails and have to carry all their gear. A camping mess kit makes sense for car campers, road trippers, and vanlifers too.
What is a camping mess kit? It’s a compact set of cookware that usually includes pots or pans, along with cooking utensils like spoons and spatulas. The type of mess kit you’ll want depends a lot on how you plan to use it and personal preferences. (There are also mess kits that have plates, cups, and eating utensils but no cookware. We’ve included some of those at the end of this post!)
When choosing a camping mess kit, here are some things to consider:
- Contents: Mess kits can range from incredibly basic—with just a couple pots and a spoon—to more robust offerings. For instance, many mess kits include serving ware like bowls in addition to cookware. Think about what you plan to cook (and how), and that’ll help determine what items your kit will need.
- Packability: A camping mess kit is designed to be compact but some pack up smaller—and more efficiently—than others. If space-saving is important to you, look for a kit that packs up well. Some will even pack up into a single pot or pan.
- Weight: If you plan to take your mess kit backpacking, you’ll want to choose a set made from lightweight materials. Most of the time, you can find the kit’s total weight in its product description.
Now that you know what to look for, here are the best camping mess kits we could find.
Best Camping Mess Kits
This cook set from Stanley is perfect for car campers, especially those with a family to feed. The set has an incredible 21 pieces including: a pot, vented lid, frying pan with folding handle, cutting board, spatula, serving spoon, 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 sporks, dish drying rack, heat-resistant trivet, and a locking bungee.
The pot, lid, and frying pan are all made from scratch- and rust-resistant stainless steel, and the rest of the items in the kit are made from BPA-free plastic. When you’re ready to pack up, everything stacks neatly into the lidded pot and can be secured with the included bungee.
Number of items: 21
Total weight: 5.7 lbs
Best for: car camping, families
- 21 NESTED COMPONENTS: (1) 3 5L pot, vented lid, (1) 7" 3-ply frying pan, (1) cutting board, (1) spatula, (1) serving spoon, (4) 6" plates, (4) 22oz bowls, (4) sporks, (1) dish drying rack, (1) heat resistant trivet, (1) locking bungee
- TOUGH AND DURABLE: Manufactured using 18/8 stainless steel this cooking set is strong, scratch proof and rustproof No maintenance other than washing is required, making this cookware easy-to-use and reliable for every trip
- SPACE SAVING: This comes fully loaded with 21 different pieces that can cook meals for small or large groups without taking up too much space The kit all nests together (instructions are engraved in the lid), making this compact and easy to transport
- EASY TO CLEAN: You should spend your time adventuring, not cleaning – that’s why we’ve made our cookware easy to clean A basic clean needs just soap and warm water or a paper towel while steel wool can be used for deeper cleans
GSI Outdoors is a leader in camping cookware with several sets to choose from. Their Pinnacle Camper cook set is designed to serve four people and is packed with high-performance kitchen items. The two pots and frying pan are made from scratch-proof anodized aluminum that’s guaranteed to deliver even heating, and the insides are coated with Teflon for nonstick cooking and easy clean-up.
The kit also includes 4 insulated mugs with lids, 4 bowls, 4 plates, pot gripper, 2 strainer lids, and storage bag. Everything nests together and fits inside the included storage bag—and as an added bonus, the storage bag can be used as a camp sink!
Number of items: 23
Total weight: 3.63 lbs
Best for: backpacking, car camping
- Cooking & mess kit: The Pinnacle Camper is a complete solution for cooking and eating while camping and backpacking; Its compact, nesting design can be configured for 2 or 4 people
- All in one: Includes 4 plates, 4 insulated mugs and sip-it tops and sleeves, 4 bowls, 2L pot with strainer lid, 3L pot with strainer lid, fry pan, folding handle and stuff sack/wash basin
- Non-stick cookware: The durable, anodized aluminum pots and pan are coated with Teflon Radiance non-stick technology; Spiral turned base grips stove/grill arms securely
- Durable dish set: Plates, bowls and mugs made from durable Infinity Clear Polypropylene that’ll last for many adventures to come; Color-coded for each person
- Smart design: Folding, removable handle locks securely onto exterior brackets of pots and pan; Crushproof, heat-resistant strainer lids and silicone rings won’t deform when packed
If lightweight and efficient is what you’re after, consider this backpacking cook set from MSR. It’s incredibly light (weighing under 2 pounds) yet includes (almost) all you need to cook and serve a meal for two. For cooking, the set includes two anodized aluminum pots—one nonstick and one uncoated—an aluminum strainer lid, and pot gripper.
When it’s time to eat, there are two mugs with lids and two plates that are deep enough to double as bowls. The only thing this set is missing is cooking and eating utensils but they can be easily added and stored inside the pots. The whole set packs up into the largest pot and is secured by its locking lid.
Number of items: 8
Total weight: 1.75 lbs
Best for: backpacking, 1-2 people
- Two-person backpacking cookset is lightweight (1 pound 12 ounces), compact (packed size 7.75 x 5 inches), and efficient for backcountry trips
- Includes 1.5L hard-anodized non-stick aluminum pot, 2.5L hard-anodized aluminum pot, strainer lid, 2 deep dish plates, 2 insulated mugs, pot handle
- Camp cookware features a smaller non-stick coated pot for sauces and simmers, and a larger uncoated pot for boiling water and meal prep
- Polypropylene deep-dish plates can accommodate any meal, and 12.5-ounce mugs are insulated with sip-thru lids; plates and mugs are color-coded
- All cook set components nest within the 2.5L pot for easy packing; set can be adapted to size of group and length of trip
This compact, budget-friendly kit from Coleman is perfect for solo travelers or any trip that requires each camper to bring their own gear. It’s truly a minimalist kit with only six pieces and no utensils and includes: a pot, a lid that can also be used as a frying pan, a pot gripper, a cup, a plate, and a mesh storage bag.
The cookware is made from stainless steel which means it’s durable, easy to clean, and can easily withstand high heat. The cup and plate are made from BPA-free plastic.
Number of items: 6
Total weight: 1.3
Best for: solo travelers, car camping
- Made of the highest quality materials
- Camping cooking supplies cookware
- Another quality Coleman product
The weight and price of this cook set is hard to beat if you’re looking for a one-person camping mess kit. The Glacier Stainless Minimalist II set has all the dishes and utensils that one person needs to cook and eat a meal. The stainless steel pot can be turned into a mug by using the insulated sleeve and lid. The set also includes a silicone pot gripper and a folding foon (aka spork).
And it’s perfect for backpacking—when everything is packed up, the cook set is the size of a grapefruit and weighs just 7.4 ounces! (Stove and fuel canister not included—although they’re shown in many of the product photos.)
Number of items: 5
Total weight: 7.4 ounces
Best for: solo backpackers
- FEAST IN THE FOREST: The Glacier Stainless Minimalist includes a 0.6 L pot/mug, sip-it top, insulated sleeve, silicone gripper, and a telescoping foon, all the essentials you need on your outdoor excursions. Note: Micro stove/ fuel canister not included.
- INNOVATIVE DESIGN: An insulating silicone pot gripper attaches magnetically to fuel the pot, which can transform into an insulated mug while the pot lid becomes a sip top. Everything you need for hot meals and warm drinks are combined into one ultralight design.
- CONVENIENT AND COMPACT: Weighing 0.47 pounds and measuring 4.1 x 4.1 x 4.7 inches, the Glacier Stainless Minimalist can easily be slipped into a backpack or pouch to take on all your adventures.
- DURABLE DESIGN: Made up of tough stainless steel, the Glacier Stainless Minimalist will last for many years.
- LIFETIME PROMISE: GSI Outdoors spent over 30 years building quality, performance products and stands behind them 100%. GSI Outdoors warranties all products for the original owner against manufacturing defects for the lifetime of the product.
Minimalist Camping Mess Kits
These kits are for eating only—cookware must be purchased separately.
Made from BPA-free plastic, this kit includes a plate, bowl, and spork that can be packed into one secure package and tied with a tether (included).
HumanGear’s well-designed GoKit Deluxe includes a bowl, plate, eating utensil, and a cup that can be used as a single insulated mug or two single-walled cups. Even better, it all snaps securely together for easy packing.
This compact set includes all the basics: a plate, bowl, cup, spoon, knife, and fork. It’s lightweight, easy to clean, and packs up in a handy mesh bag.
This nesting mess kit includes a surprising number of items in a small package: a lid/plate, bowl/plate, cup with lid, spork, 2 food storage boxes, and a cutting board that doubles as a strainer. It’s available in 6 colors.