9 Best Camping Mess Kits

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

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

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

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

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

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.