12 Best Camping Mess Kits

Last Updated December 6, 2023
Top 3 Best Camping Mess Kits
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper 4 Person Camping Cook Set
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Camping Cook Set
  • Compact, well-organized design suitable for a family of four or configurable for two.
  • Includes four plates, insulated mugs with sip lids, bowls, a 2L and 3L pot with strainer lids, a fry pan, and a folding handle.
  • Pots and pan made of anodized aluminum with Teflon Radiance non-stick coating for durability and even heat distribution.
  • Plates, bowls, and mugs crafted from lightweight yet sturdy Infinity Clear Polypropylene.
  • Strainer lids are crushproof, heat-resistant, and have silicone rings for snug fit.
  • Minor cons: shallow lip of the plates and a bit heavy for solo backpacking.
Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set
Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set
  • A combination of camping cookware and basic mess kit for two.
  • Set includes a 2 Qt pot, 1 Qt tea kettle, 1 Qt frying pan, two personal bowls, ladle, spoon, spatula, cleaning sponge, and cutting board.
  • Made from anodized aluminum with scratch-resistant coating and non-stick Teflon layer.
  • Reasonably priced, relatively lightweight, and packs into a portable package.
MSR Trail Mini Duo
MSR Trail Mini Duo
  • Lightweight hiking and camping mess kit designed for two.
  • Consists of an anodized aluminum pot, 28 oz plastic serving bowl, lid, and pot lifter.
  • Available with or without MSR PocketRocket 2 mini stove.
  • Focuses on weight reduction and portability, weighing just 10.2 oz.
  • Suitable for those who prefer to carry minimal gear.
Outdoorsman Toolkit is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

One of the most enjoyable parts of any camping trip is enjoying delicious food out in nature. It’s not exactly easy to bring in plates, forks, spoons, bowls, and cups though. Enter the camping mess kit. These are compact and lightweight flatware and utensil systems designed with the hiker and camper in mind. Today we’re searching for the best camping mess kit available, and presenting a lot of other really nice contenders.

What is a Mess Kit

Camping mess kits, like a lot of modern hiking gear, have their origins in the military. They were created as an effective way for soldiers on the march to eat.

At their most basic they include a bowl or plate and possibly a cup. They’re generally designed to pack down to a very small size and made from durable yet lightweight materials.

Best Camping Mess Kits Reviewed

There are a lot of factors that go into camping mess kits. Some kits are designed with ultralight hikers in mind, others with the needs of car campers and glampers.

Picking out one single best camping mess kit isn’t really possible because of this.

We’ve picked out several great mess kits across a range of prices, sizes, and capabilities. There are solo mess kits, two person mess kits, and kits designed to be used by larger groups.

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper 4 Person Camping Cook Set

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Camping Cook Set
The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

Having been a fervent outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for hiking, camping, and RVing, I’ve always found solace amidst the woods and the whispers of nature. However, the essence of these adventures is often accentuated by the gear you carry along, and one such quintessential addition has been the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper 4 Person Camping Cook Set.

The ensemble arrived at my doorstep right before a planned family camping jaunt. As I unboxed the set, the first notion that struck me was its compact and well-organized design. This cook set is meticulously crafted to cater to a family of four, but its ingenious nesting design can be effortlessly configured for a duo as well, making it a versatile choice.

Included in this comprehensive kit are four plates, four insulated mugs with sip lids and sleeves, four bowls, a 2L pot with a strainer lid, a 3L pot with a strainer lid, a fry pan, and a folding handle. The addition of a stuff sack that doubles as a wash basin is a thoughtful touch, revealing the meticulous attention to detail by GSI Outdoors.

The anodized aluminum construction of the pots and pan, coated with Teflon Radiance non-stick technology, stands as a testament to durability while ensuring an even heat distribution. This feature was particularly noticeable as I cooked a hearty stew over my Coleman stove. The food slid right off, making the cleanup a breeze. The spiral turned base grips the stove arms securely, eliminating any precarious wobbling.

The plates, bowls, and mugs, crafted from Infinity Clear Polypropylene, are lightweight yet sturdy. They’ve held up well to the rigors of outdoor use, displaying no signs of wear even after numerous camping escapades. The color-coded design is a clever addition, ending any mealtime mix-ups.

Now, onto the lids of this cook set – they’re a camper’s delight! The strainer lids are crushproof and heat-resistant, a feature I found invaluable as I strained pasta for dinner one chilly evening. The silicone rings ensure the lids fit snugly, retaining heat efficiently.

One minor hiccup I encountered was the shallow lip of the plates which made scooping food a tad challenging. However, switching to the bowls for soupy or runny meals solved this minor glitch.

Although it’s touted as lightweight, the set does have a bit of heft to it. It didn’t bother me much as we usually divide the camping gear among the family, but for a solo or duo backpacking adventure, a lighter set might be more apt.

Having an extra GSI Outdoors N-Form Pot Gripper proved handy although not necessary. It facilitated a swift transition between the pots and pan, especially when cooking multiple dishes.

On one of our memorable family camping expeditions to the serene lakeside, the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cook Set proved to be our culinary companion. As the dawn broke, casting a golden hue over the placid waters, I set up my Coleman stove and began brewing coffee in one of the pots. The aroma intertwined with the fresh morning air, creating a picturesque start to our day. Post a hearty breakfast, the foldable handle made switching between the pots and pan seamless as I cooked up a storm for lunch.

The lids with strainer holes were a lifesaver when we made pasta, eliminating the need for an extra piece of equipment. As dusk enveloped the sky, casting silhouettes against the crimson hue, we gathered around the fire, sipping hot cocoa from the insulated mugs. The laughter, stories, and the shared meals, prepared with the GSI cook set, engraved that trip in our memories. It wasn’t merely about the convenience; it was about the experiences that this cook set facilitated, making our outdoor adventure a collage of cherished moments.

The GSI Pinnacle Camper Cook Set has elegantly bridged the gap between functionality and compactness. It’s become an indispensable part of our outdoor sojourns, making meal prep and dining under the stars a delightful experience. Would I recommend it? Without a shadow of a doubt! Whether it’s a family camping expedition or a modest backyard cookout, this cook set is a worthy companion.


  • Four Plates
  • Four Insulated Mugs with Sip Lids and Carry Sleeves
  • Four Bowls
  • 2L Pot with Strainer Lid
  • 3L Pot with Strainer Lid
  • Fry Pan


  • Comprehensive Set: Includes a variety of pots, pan, plates, bowls, and insulated mugs, catering to a family of four or can be configured for two.
  • Durable Construction: Anodized aluminum pots and pan with Teflon Radiance non-stick coating and Infinity Clear Polypropylene dishes ensure longevity.
  • Compact and Nesting Design: All components fit snugly into the 3L pot, making it a space-saver, accompanied by a stuff sack that doubles as a wash basin.
  • Versatile Usage: Performs well on different heat sources like propane stoves and campfires.
  • Functional Lids: Strainer lids with heat-resistant silicone rings make cooking and straining convenient.
  • Color-coded Design: Helps in avoiding mealtime mix-ups, especially in a group setting.


  • Shallow Plate Lips: Scooping food can be a tad challenging due to the low lips of the plates.
  • Weight: Although manageable, the set might feel hefty for solo or duo backpacking adventures.
  • Additional Handle Purchase: Though not necessary, having an extra pot gripper can be convenient for quicker transitions between pots and pan.

Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set

Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set
The Winterial camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The Winterial camping Cookware and Pot Set combines a highly capable set of camping cookware with a basic mess kit for two. It comes with 11 items, including:

  • 2 Qt Large Pot and Lid
  • 1 Qt Tea Kettle and Lid
  • 1 Qt Frying Pan
  • 2 Personal Bowls
  • Serving Ladle, Spoon, and Spatula
  • Cleaning Sponge
  • Cutting Board

Everything but the cutting board fits right into the carry case. It all fits cleverly into the included carry case. The bowls are definitely on the small side but they’re good enough for eating oatmeal and other camping foods.

The cookware is made from anodized aluminum with a scratch resistant coating. The pots also have a non-stick Teflon layer to aid in cooking.

The Winterial Camping Cookware and Pot Set gives you everything you need to cook, serve, and clean up after a meal while in the backcountry. It’s reasonably priced, relatively lightweight, and packs down into a very portable package.

MSR Trail Mini Duo (With or Without Stove Kit)

MSR Trail Mini Duo
The MSR Trail camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The MSR Trail Mini Duo is a lightweight hiking and camping mess kit designed for two. It’s available both with or without the MSR PocketRocket 2 mini stove.

The Duo kit provides you with just what you need to cook and eat without any extras. Weight reduction and portability are clearly at the forefront of its design.

It’s made up of a single anodized aluminum pot, a 28 oz plastic serving bowl, lid, and pot lifter. That’s it.

You share the single serving bowl between the two of you. This doesn’t make for the most convenient serving method but it definitely helps you save on oz. The whole kit weighs just 10.2 oz.

For those looking to carry as little as possible the MSR Trail Mini Duo is one of the best available mess kits.

MSR PocketRocket Stove Kit

MSR PocketRocket Stove Kit
The MSR PocketRocket camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The MSR PocketRocket Stove Kit is a stove, cookware, and mess kit combo. It includes MSR’s wildly popular PocketRocket 2 stove plus an anodized aluminum cook pot and serving plates.

There bowls, insulated mugs, and utensils for two. All the included gear nests securely inside the cook pot. The whole system weighs just 25.8 oz including the stove.

The MSR PocketRocket Stove Kit is a high-quality and reasonably priced stove and camping mess kit set. It has everything needed for two to dine anywhere they find themselves.

Keith Titanium Canteen Mess Kit

Keith Titanium Canteen Mess Kit
The Keith Titanium camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The Keith Titanium Canteen Mess Kit is a simple and incredibly lightweight piece of gear. It’s made up of a titanium canteen and serving bowl that fits snugly around the base of the canteen.

It includes a small carry case and a lid for the serving bowl. It’s definitely on the basic side but its titanium construction allows it to weigh next to nothing.

The canteen and serving bowl together weigh just over 10 oz. The only real downside to this awesome little mess kit is the price. It’s significantly more expensive than most of the other camping mess kits on our list.

If you’re looking for the lightest and strongest camping mess kit the Keith Titanium Canteen Mess Kit is an excellent choice. Just make sure you’re ready to pay for it.

Sea to Summit X Series

Sea to Summit X Series
The Sea to Summit camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The Sea to Summit X Series of camping mess kits and cookware is one of the most innovative lines of gear we’ve seen in a while. They’re made up of several different pots, pans, and serving bowls.

They’re made from heat resistant collapsible silicone with an anodized aluminum base. This allows you to use them to boil water and cook other liquid foods then pack them down into a really tiny space when you’re done.

This design also saves on weight, with similarly sized X series pots weighing noticeably less than their competitors. You can choose from a variety of sizes and packages including those without aluminum bases strictly for serving.

The Sea to Summit X Series provides exceptional flexibility and value for the modern camper, especially if you need a way to save on space without sacrificing capability.

Stanley Camp Cook Set

Stanley Camp Cook Set
The Stanley camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The Stanley Camp Cook Set is a neat little camping mess kit that allows you to quickly cook and serve basic camping food and beverages. It’s made up of a BPA-free stainless steel cookpot and a pair of 10 oz insulated cups that nest inside.

It has a folding handle that doubles as a strap to hold the metal lid in place. It’s great for whipping up coffee, tea, and cocoa while out in the woods or boiling water for other camp foods. Even better, it’s affordably priced and designed to fit in the space of a small water bottle.

The Stanley Camp Cook Set is a good way to prepare and serve camping food in a pinch. It doesn’t have the same capability as some of the other camping mess kits we’ve reviewed but is a good value for its price.

MSR Quick 2 Cooking System

MSR Quick 2 Cooking System
The MSR Quick camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The MSR Quick 2 Cooking System is a lightweight backcountry mess kit designed for two. It comes with all the gear you need to cook and serve a meal with drinks while out in the woods.

The main body of the set is a 2.5 L cook pot. This holds all the rest of the gear, including a 1.5 L cook pot, a pair of plastic drink cups, two DeepDish plates, and a Talon pot handle.

Everything weighs just 28 oz and takes up about as much space as a Nalgene bottle. This gives you a lot of flexibility for how you pack and use it.

If you’re looking for a lightweight camping mess kit for two, the MSR Quick 2 Cooking System is a very strong contender.

Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four

Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four
The Stanley Base camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four is designed to be the perfect camping mess kit for larger groups. It’s a 19 piece cook set including a large pot and frypan plus plates, bowls, cups, and utensils for four.

Everything fits into the large cook pot and snaps shut with an elastic band. It’s large enough to cook just about anything and has plenty of plates and other serving dishes to go around. Some really neat extras include a cutting board, integrated drying rack, and silicone trivet to protect surfaces.

The pots are made from stainless steel. This helps reduce costs but does make the Base Camp quite heavy compared to similarly sized kits.

The Stanley Base Camp Cook Set for Four is an excellent multi person mess kit, though decidedly on the heavy end of the spectrum.

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker
The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker is a two person camping mess kit. It uses a nesting design with enough cookware and serving dishes for two.

The main pot is 2 L and made from anodized aluminum. The serving bowls and cups have a rounded triangular design. This allows them to fit perfectly inside the main pot. The whole thing slips down into a carry case that doubles as a dish sink.

The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker is a compact and lightweight camping mess kit. It has everything two people need to cook and eat a tasty meal.

MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit

MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit
The MalloMe camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit is a value-priced cook set that has everything needed to prepare a meal in the backcountry. It includes a pot, pan, spatula/spoon, soup spoon, spork, and cleaning sponge.

It’s designed to fit snugly into an included carry case

Light My Fire Meal Kit

Light My Fire Meal Kit
The Light My Fire camping mess kit product picture

Buy from Amazon

The Light My Fire Meal Kit is a comprehensive camping mess kit that includes everything you might want for eating in the woods. It’s made from BPA-free plastic and includes eight different bowls, cups, plates, and utensils.

The main body of the Meal Kit is large triangular plate/bowl combo with a lid and elastic harness. This contains the pair of Snapboxes, pack up cup, a strainer/cutting board combo, and one of Light My Fires iconic spork.

This gives you the flexibility to eat just about any kind of meal comfortably. It weighs just 13.5 oz and packs into a very packable triangle. You can choose from a wide range of different colors and patterns.

Overall the Light My Fire Meal Kit gives you everything you need from a camping mess kit. It’s inexpensive, lightweight, and offers a comprehensive range of bowls, plates, and utensils.

Best Camping Mess Kit Comparison Table

Buyers Guide to Buying the Best Camping Mess Kit

The best camping mess kit for you really comes down to what kind of use you intend to put it to. Ultralight hikers are going to have drastically different needs than glampers or car campers.


Like a lot of hiking and camping gear there’s a fairly broad price range for camping mess kits. You can get serviceable basic or military surplus kits for $10-$20, or spend over a hundred on a top-of-the-line mess kit made from the latest and greatest materials.

You need to balance the features you’re looking for with your budget to pick out the best one.

Intended Use

The most obvious use for a camping mess kit is while on a camping trip. They allow you to serve and eat your meal wherever you find yourself.

Many of the newest camping mess kits combine a cook pot with the serving dishes or pack other dishes into a central pot.


For decades stainless steel was the only choice when picking out a camping mess kit. Nowadays though you can choose from a massive variety of different materials.

Plastic, silicone, wood, aluminum, copper, and titanium are some of the most common. Plastic kits are by far the most popular.

They combine light weight, low cost, and high durability for a really nice mess kit. For the vast majority of hikers and campers a plastic camping mess kit is the way to go.

For those who want the lightest and best of everything titanium is the material of the day. Titanium cook pots have long been the standard for ultralight hikers, with featherweight titanium mess kits growing in popularity despite their noticeably higher price.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of your camping mess kit varies tremendously based on how you intend to camp. If you’re a car camper to the core you can pick up really nice plate and utensils sets that are very similar to home use ones, just in camping friendly colors and patterns.

For those who have to pack all their gear in reducing the weight and making it more packable is a major concern. Old school military surplus mess kits were generally made from stainless steel, bulky, and quite heavy.

New models are designed to take up as little space as possible and weigh next to nothing. They aren’t capable of serving as many types of food as larger models are, so figure out the balance you’re willing to accept between functionality and portability.

Number of Pieces

The most basic camping mess kits are little more than a plate with raised edges to double as a bowl. These are great for ultralight hikers and those looking to get the best possible value, but they don’t offer nearly as much utility as more comprehensive kits.

As you move up the price and weigh spectrum you have kits that include a plate, bowl, hot/cold drink glass, trivets for cook pots and kettles, as well as utensils and even spice storage.

If you’re looking for a complete mess kit with everything you could need there are plenty of options out there.

Does It Include Cutlery?

One of the biggest choices you need to make when picking out a camping mess kit is cutlery or no cutlery. More comprehensive mess kits usually include a spork or similar utensil designed to fit into the body of the kit.

This is great if you want to get everything at once. If you already have some camping cookware and utensils though they aren’t nearly as useful.

Ease of Cleaning and Repacking

When you’re out in the backcountry cleaning and packing your mess kit can be a major chore. Check and see how difficult it’s going to be to properly clean, dry, and pack your mess kit before you buy.

Smooth materials designed to resist stains and scratches are a great place to start.

Bonus Items

Some bonus items you’ll often see in camping mess kits include:

  • Cleaning Tools
  • Chopsticks
  • Sink Pouches
  • Pot Grabbers
  • Towels/Napkins
  • Salt/Pepper Shaker

These definitely aren’t essentials but they are nice to have.

Durability and Construction

The materials used is the biggest factor in how durable your camping mess kit will be. Plastic kits are the least expensive and most widely available but are also the ones most likely to be damaged.

If you aren’t careful you can actually melt plastic plates and utensils whole out camping. This is especially true if you’re cooking with an open fire.

Titanium camping mess kits are the lightest and most durable. They’re also by far the most expensive.

If you’re looking for a value priced yet highly durable mess kit old school stainless steel is still the way to go.

Other things to keep in mind are folding or collapsible mess kits, mess kits that contain multiple parts or mess kits designed to double as cookware.

Carry Case

How your camping mess kit packs down is almost as important as how it works. You want to be able to securely stow your cookware and utensils in as compact and convenient a space as possible.

Common methods of packing mess kits include drawstring punches, small plastic cases, and our personal favorite, the flatware/bowl itself.

Some of the best camping mess kits are designed to snap together to create their own carry case when you’re finished eating.

Top Camping Mess Kits Video

FAQ – Best Camping Mess Kits

If you’re planning a camping trip or embarking on outdoor adventures, having the right equipment is essential. One item that should be at the top of your checklist is a camping mess kit. To help you make an informed decision and address any lingering questions you may have, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about camping mess kits. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the outdoor experience, these answers will provide valuable insights into choosing the best camping mess kit for your needs. So, let’s dive into the FAQs and discover everything you need to know before investing in this essential camping gear.

What is a camping mess kit?

A camping mess kit is a set of cookware and eating utensils specifically designed for outdoor use. It typically includes pots, pans, plates, bowls, cups, and utensils, all of which are lightweight, durable, and compact for easy transport during camping trips.

Why do I need a camping mess kit?

A camping mess kit is essential for any outdoor enthusiast. It provides you with the necessary tools to cook and eat meals while camping, hiking, or backpacking. These kits are designed to withstand rugged conditions, making them ideal for outdoor adventures.

What should I consider when buying a camping mess kit?

When choosing a camping mess kit, consider factors such as weight, durability, size, and the number of people it can serve. Look for mess kits made of lightweight materials like aluminum or stainless steel that are easy to clean and pack. Also, consider the number of pieces included and whether it suits your specific camping needs.

What are the different types of camping mess kits available?

There are various types of camping mess kits available, including basic sets with minimal items like a pot, pan, and utensils, as well as comprehensive sets that include plates, bowls, cups, and other accessories. Additionally, you can find mess kits designed for solo campers, couples, or larger groups, depending on your requirements.

Can I use regular kitchen utensils and cookware for camping?

While it is possible to use regular kitchen utensils and cookware for camping, it is not recommended. Regular kitchen items are often bulkier, heavier, and less durable, making them inconvenient for outdoor use. Camping mess kits are specifically designed to be lightweight, compact, and able to withstand the rigors of camping.

How do I clean a camping mess kit?

Cleaning a camping mess kit is relatively simple. Most mess kits are dishwasher-safe, but it’s best to check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure. If you don’t have access to a dishwasher, you can hand wash the items using warm water and mild soap. Avoid using abrasive sponges or harsh cleaning agents that could damage the kit’s non-stick coating or finish.

Can I use a camping mess kit for other outdoor activities besides camping?

Absolutely! While camping mess kits are primarily designed for camping, they can be used for various other outdoor activities such as backpacking, hiking, fishing trips, picnics, and even backyard barbecues. Their portable and lightweight nature makes them versatile for any outdoor dining situation.

Are camping mess kits safe to use with campfires?

Camping mess kits are generally safe to use with campfires, but it’s essential to check the specific instructions for the mess kit you own. Some mess kits may have temperature limits or restrictions on open-flame use. Always exercise caution and follow safety guidelines when cooking over an open fire.

Are camping mess kits suitable for all types of camping stoves?

Most camping mess kits are compatible with various types of camping stoves, including propane, butane, and liquid fuel stoves. However, it’s advisable to verify the compatibility of your mess kit with your specific stove before making a purchase, as some stoves may require certain pot sizes or have specific attachment mechanisms.

How do I pack a camping mess kit efficiently?

To pack a camping mess kit efficiently, make sure all the items are clean and dry before storing them. Nesting the items together can save space, and consider using a carrying bag or stuff sack to keep everything organized. Some mess kits even come with dedicated storage bags or straps to secure the items together for easy transport.

Remember, when choosing a camping mess kit, it’s important to assess your specific needs, consider the durability and functionality of the kit, and select the right size and weight for your camping adventures.

Best Camping Mess Kits Recap

Final Thoughts

With the vast range of camping meal kits to choose from picking a single best one is pretty much impossible. Balance what you’re willing to spend with the level of capability you need.

If you’re okay making do with a single bowl/plate and prize low weight, go for one of the hiking style meal kits.

If you want to be able to eat hearty meals in comfort you should check out the more comprehensive camping meal kits.

2 thoughts on “12 Best Camping Mess Kits”

  1. I recently purchased the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker for my hiking trips. The nesting design is ingenious, making it super compact and easy to carry. It’s perfect for two people and the cookware quality is top-notch. The triangular bowls and cups fit perfectly inside the pot, which is a nice touch. However, I wish the cup was a bit larger. Overall, it’s a great buy for couples who love to hike!


Leave a Comment