When you love to camp, having a great campfire cookware set will make mealtimes much less stressful.
Unfortunately, finding a quality set of cookware that will last for years isn’t always straightforward. For example, it’s common to buy a campfire cooking set to find out after putting it to the test that it’s of poor quality materials, isn’t the right size for your needs, or is a bear to clean.
Stop wasting money on the wrong cookware for camping. Instead, use our buying guide to find the top cookware sets that will help you efficiently create delicious campground meals season after season!
- Camping Cookware Features to Look For
- 5 Best Camping Cookware Sets
- 1. Snow Peak Al Dente Cookset
- 2. Woods Nootka Anodized 5-pc Camping Cookware Set
- 3. Outdoor Gourmet Cast-Iron 5-Piece Camping Cookware Set
- 4. Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro Cook Set
- 5. MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set
- Camping Cookware Wrap Up
Camping Cookware Features to Look For
Expect to pay around $40 up to $150 or so for these 5 quality camping cookware sets or pieces that offer the best of these features below.
Durable Materials and Construction
There’s nothing more frustrating than forking over for an expensive camp cookware set only to have a pan warp, a pot handle that keeps falling off, or a surface that causes food to stick, leaving you scrubbing away after meals instead of relaxing.
Durability is critical when shopping for cookware for campfire use, as open flames are notorious for hot spots that can warp lesser-quality metals or cause food to burn.
The best material for camping cookware is stainless steel or cast iron for overall strength to deal with hot campfire flames, accidental drops, and the ability to withstand harsh scrubbing when necessary.
For backpack camping, where you’ll be carrying your cookware on your hike, lightweight aluminum may be a better choice. Every ounce matters when you are walking for hours on uneven trails.
If you only need to lug your cookware from the trunk of your car over to your campsite “kitchen,” then the weight of cast iron pots and pans won’t be as big of a concern.
Other materials common in camping cookware are:
- Titanium – extremely durable, lightweight, yet expensive
- Hard-anodized aluminum – a more rugged take on basic aluminum cookware that resists scratches, dents, and acidic foods better
- Plastic or Silicone – lightweight, inexpensive, and can handle moderate heat for cooking
Easy to Clean Surface
Camp cookware sets typically have three types of surfaces:
- Non-stick PTFE
- Seasoned cast iron
Non-stick surfaces help prevent food from sticking to the pan during cooking and lessen the chance of hard-to-clean burnt-on food scraping and scrubbing away later.
With water often a precious commodity at a campsite, the last thing you want to do is waste it to clean your camping cookware.
The most common non-stick surface is polytetrafluoroethylene, better known as Teflon from the company that discovered this compound back in the 1930s.
While this non-stick coating is convenient for cooking and cleaning, the chemicals in the compound can wear off into your food or wastewater, and many are banned entirely from use. These issues have made this surface fall out of favor with camping enthusiasts recently.
Ceramic coatings are the modern version of the Teflon-like PFTE surfaces but don’t use harmful chemicals.
Ceramic-coated campfire cookware sets are more prone to scorching or chipping if you’re not careful but tend to work well for general campground cooking and clean-up needs.
Cast iron is the iconic camping family cookware set material, with amazingly durable pieces passed down through generations.
With proper seasoning and maintenance, the material can be non-stick and move from grill to campfire, to oven, to stovetop without missing a beat.
The Right Size and Type for Your Cooking Style
The size and shape of your cookware must meet your needs.
A smaller set may suffice if you’re only cooking basic meals for one. On the other hand, cooking for a family or group may require the largest backpacking frying pan you can haul along or wide, deep pots for big batches of chili or pork and beans.
Many camping experts find they only need one medium-sized pot with a handle and lid that can work to boil water for coffee, cook a fish filet, or stir up some stew.
Think through what foods you like to cook while camping and how many people you are likely to feed. Then, build a collection of cookware pieces that fit your needs while keeping it as streamlined as possible.
Lids, Inclusive Handles, Grippers, or Pot Lifters
Camping cookware without a lid makes it difficult to prepare many types of food properly. A great pot or pan set for campfire cooking will not only include a well-fitting lid, but it may also take on other roles, such as doubling as a pan or plate, or that will fit other pieces in the cookware set.
Some cookware sets have a detachable handle that will clip onto any pan or pot edges, reducing bulk while also being functional. However, think about how you cook and whether or not moving a single handle to several pots or pans during meals will create a problem.
Also, test how easy it is to clip the handle onto hot cookware pieces and how secure it feels. The last thing to worry about is for a pot of hot food to fall and hurt someone because the interchangeable handle slipped off.
Some cookware sets come with a gripper or pot lifter that will work seamlessly with each item and help prevent burns while handling hot pots and pans. These little extras make cooking safer and add overall value to the campfire cookware.
Packing, hauling, and storing camping cookware sets shouldn’t be a hassle, but using the items must work during meal times. If you prefer cookware with a long handle, get them, even if it means they are bulkier to pack along versus versions with handles built right into the sides.
Cookware sets for camping that stack inside each other are excellent for saving on storage space, while collapsible pots and pans are another option to reduce camping-gear bulk.
Whatever features make a cookware set lighter, smaller, more efficient, or provide cooking flexibility, you’ll be happy to have in your camping supply arsenal.
5 Best Camping Cookware Sets
If you camp as much as we do, you understand the importance of using the best camping cookware for open fire that withstands the rigors of travel, use, and clean-up.
The following are the five best-performing camping cookware sets with features and price details to help you comparison shop.
1. Snow Peak Al Dente Cookset
Material: Stainless steel and wood
Weight: 4 lbs 6 oz
The Snow Peak Al Dente Cookset provides an excellent starting point for all camp cooking, with two pots (4.5 and 6.9 quarts) with lids, a strainer and a mesh storage sack.
With a heat-proof wooden handle grip on the lids, and a sizeable fold-down bail handle on the pots, carrying a heavy load of food or liquid or checking on the status of your meal will be efficient and safe.`
The pot walls are thin and conduct heat very well, allowing you to boil water quickly. A minor sticking point is that the bottom of the pots don’t distribute the heat evenly, so you need to take care to avoid burns from hot spots.
While the stainless steel makes the set a bit heavier than others, the superb construction, sleek styling, and functional sizes of the cooking vessels make this set ideal for campfire or grill cooking.
2. Woods Nootka Anodized 5-pc Camping Cookware Set
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum
Weight: 1 lbs 9 oz
The Woods Nootka Anodized Camping Cook Set is an ideal package for couples adventures, with not only two pots (61-ounce and 54-ounce) and an 8-inch frying pan, but also two 10-ounce cups, a universal gripper, and a dishcloth for clean-up duties.
We find the set has excellent scratch resistance and can withstand heat up to 428°F, so it’s easy to transport, cook in, and wash up without worrying about surface damage.
Everything stacks together and fits neatly inside the included mesh carry bag for convenience. With this campfire cooking set made to hold up against the extremes of Canadian outdoor adventures, you can rest assured you’re making a good investment.
3. Outdoor Gourmet Cast-Iron 5-Piece Camping Cookware Set
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum
Weight: 30 lbs 3 oz
The Outdoor Gourmet Cast-Iron Cookware Set is a tried-and-true way to create campsite meals for decades to come. The kit comes with two deep skillets (8-inch and 10.5-inch), a Dutch oven, a lid and a griddle, which will cover an array of cooking needs.
The set comes pre-seasoned, saving time prepping the cast iron for use. While this cookware set will be the heaviest of our recommendations, the other kits can’t beat the durability no matter what heat source you cook over.
Making stews, cornbread, and other delicious foods in the Dutch oven expands this set’s flexibility, which customers note in their great reviews. However, the weight means you won’t easily take it all on a backpacking trip, and the group of pieces is bulky for storage or transport.
Clean-up requires only a rinse and wipe, with no scrubbing or detergent necessary, saving you time while being better for the environment. You only need to allow the metal to dry and then apply a light coat of vegetable oil before storage to keep the iron in great shape and prevent rusting.
4. Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro Cook Set
Material: 18/8 Stainless Steel
Weight: 8 lbs 2 oz
The Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset is ideal for group meals. The kit comes with a 4.75-quart lidded stock pot, a 9-quart lidded saucepan, an 8.5-inch frying pan, and extras like a collapsible cutting board, spoon, trivets, spatula, and bungee that locks around the nesting pieces for transport.
The commercial-grade stainless steel construction distributes heat evenly across the thick, multi-layered bottom to avoid annoying hot spots and burning, so your food cooks perfectly.
We agree with the superb customer ratings that this kit is worth the investment if you do overland or car camping, as the weight may be too much for backpack trips. The set works wonderfully across all cooking options, from open fires to grills to ovens to stovetops.
The collapsible and locking handles on the pan and pot are surprisingly strong, even after seasons of use. The only real downfall of this set is that it doesn’t have a non-stick surface, but using a cooking spray before adding food helps tremendously to combat any problems with stuck-on food.
5. MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set
Material: Hard-anodized aluminum
Weight: 15.6 oz
The MSR Cookware Set is super lightweight at under a pound, yet maintains its shape through the rigors of camping trips and hot flames. The trim kit features 1.5-liter and 2.5-liter nesting pots with a single interchangeable lid and handle and is compact enough to fit into a backpack for meal-making during hiking trips.
The aluminum pots feature the ultra-durable Fusion ceramic coating that keeps food from sticking no matter the temperature and is also free of harmful PFOA and PTFE chemicals used in other non-stick coatings.
The Talon pot handle design uses a pushbutton to attach/detach onto the piece and can fold over the pot top to keep the set secure during transport. On the downside, the single handle may be a hassle when using both pots for cooking, so consider buying an extra handle from the company.
We found this pot the easiest to clean, and the cost of the set reasonable for the quality, especially if a lightweight camping cookware set is your top priority.
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Camping Cookware Wrap Up
Starting your next camping season off with one of the 5 best camping cookware sets for open fire ready in your supply stash will allow you to create incredible meals no matter when you set up camp.
If you need a lightweight cookware set for backpacking trips, a non-stick option to reduce clean-up efforts, or stainless steel or cast iron set that will last through years of adventures, the kits from our list above will perform reliably.
When you purchase a camping-specific cookware set, you’ll enjoy the compact, durable and functional combination that will make every mealtime at campfires less stressful!
"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
-- John Muir