Best Mess Kits
Chicken Cordon Bleu by the fire, why not? Mess kits were invented to take this issue out of camping, backpacking, or various other outdoor adventures. They are comprised of specific utensils and cookware for you to utilize anywhere you go.
Generally, they are designed to be comfortable and straightforward to carry with their compact nature. Besides being convenient, these kits are also great for the environment. They avoid the use of plastic plates and silverware. Below we have listed the top ten best equipment in the market currently including detailed criteria for each product to help you decide which ones suit your cooking needs best.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Miniature folding stove included
Plenty of accessories
100% money-back guarantee
Top Ten Mess Kits
Miniature folding stove included
Plenty of accessories
100% money-back guarantee
Bowls are very small
Propane not included
With this kit from Bisgear, the only accessories you'll need to supply are the propane tank and the food. You are set up for success with this 16-piece kit that includes a mini-stove, bowls, a pot and pan, and silverware. Everything fits together nicely into the included nylon mesh bag and weighs only 1.46-pounds.Read more
With a total of sixteen accessories, this kit provides you with just about everything but the kitchen sink. In this set, you’ll find a pot, a pan, a lid, folding silverware (fork, spoon, fork, and knife), 2 BPA-free bowls, a soup spoon, a rice ladle, a loofah, and a miniature “stove” and a nylon carrying case with a carabiner. The kit is available in four different colors, but choose carefully, as they offer different items!
Every item has its place here. The silverware pack up together, the pots and pans pack up with items stored inside, and the stove has its small pouch. Afterward, there is a mesh bag to store everything in together. When it’s all packed, the nylon mesh bag and its belongings weigh only 1.46-pounds. You can store this inside your pack or clip it to the outside.
Ease of Use
This set is straightforward to use and to clean up. The pots and pans are non-stick, but should not be put in a dishwasher. The stove is simple to use as long as you purchase the correct propane tank size, which is not included. One frequent customer gripe is that the bowls are too small. While this is annoying, it is just as easy to eat right out of the pot.
The Bisgear set was made for camping and to endure extreme conditions. With proper care and cleaning, you can expect this set to last you for a long time. The pots and pans are made out of FDA-approved aluminum, and the silverware is made from stainless steel.
I don't think that you need any more convincing to see why this kit is at the top of our list. With so many accessories and easy cleanup, we can look past the fact that the bowls are almost uselessly small. Otherwise, this is a great option.
2. MalloMe Camping
Is very lightweight and compact with an incredibly mobile design
If you are dissatisfied, MalloMe backs this with their 100 percent satisfaction guarantee
This kit is built to withstand any outdoor adventure
The included sponge is only useful for one or two cleans
Each cookware kit is going to feature different cookware and dishes, but there may not be one on the planet that offers more content at a higher quality than MalloMe. Even with 10 different pieces to utilize, this still manages to be incredibly compact.Read more
MalloMe provides you with a pot cover, nonstick pan, 2 BPA-free bowls, a BPA-free soup spoon, a wooden spoon, a spatula, a stainless steel spork, and a one-liter nonstick pot.
This entire mess kit will collapse into a small bundle making it easy to transport. Plus, because MalloMe includes a nylon travel drawstring pouch with the order, you can easily place all the contents inside.
Ease of Use
What was not included in the contents section was a cleaning sponge, which is provided for you. While it is only useful for a few cleans, the cookware and dishes are fairly easy to clean.
All the contents that are included in this mess kit are built-to-last. The anodized aluminum, which is non-toxic, manages to conduct heat very quickly while extending the shelf life of the cookware.
If you happen to be displeased, even in the slightest, with this mess kit than MalloMe stands behind their 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and will address any issues that you are experiencing. The manner in which all these dishes are stored is rather ingenious and makes for an incredibly easy transport process. But, it manages to do so while providing you with 10 pieces of high-quality equipment.
3. Terra Hiker
There is thermally insulated plastic on the handles to protect you from burns
The pot boils at an alarming rate of 400ml per two minutes
Is great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Tough to clean
Terra Hiker certainly took their time to craft their kit to be as safe as possible. With heat-resistant handles on the aluminum cookware, you will not burn your hands. But, they should have taken more effort into the cleaning phase. Unfortunately, cleaning it can be a major hassle (but that truly is the only downside).Read more
Everything you need is included here such as a teapot, serving ladle, lid, boiling pot, frying pan, bamboo spoon, and three bowls. Each piece of cookware is useful in its own right here, but the pot conveniently boils 400ml of water in less than three minutes.
Not only is a nylon mesh bag provided for a feasible means of transport but Terra Hiker designed this in a way to pack up as tiny as physically possible.
Ease of Use
While they advertise this to be non-stick which would ease cleaning, many have stated otherwise. As such, cleaning these pans can be a major hassle especially if you make messy dishes.
While the boiling pot, frying pan, and teapot are all constructed from a non-toxic aluminum, the bowls and serving lade are made from non-toxic food-grade plastic. Plus, there are thermally insulated plastic handles that protect your fingers from burning.
It is funny, it seems like every time you see a product dubbed as non-stick it does not hold up to its moniker very well. If you simply spray the pan, this issue will be resolved and you can begin to enjoy the luxuries that this kit delivers to you.
Easy to pack
Tool card and survival bracelet included
Handles are flammable
Not as non-stick as advertised
The Redcamp is a great option for one person. Besides the food and the fire, you're all set. Overall, customers have been pleased with this set and amazed by its light weight. However, the silicon handles must be kept away from the flame, as they will (and have) catch on fire.Read more
This set is available in multiple sizes including 9, 12, 13, or 23 pieces. However, for this review, we are going to focus on the 9-piece set. This is a great set for one person. It includes a 1,000ml pot, a pan, two bowls, a folding spoon, a loofah, a mesh bag, a survival bracelet, and a tool card.
As you would assume, the less amount of items, the more portable it is. This set is very lightweight and portable. It weighs only .57 pounds and when packed up, it measures only 6.7” x 5” x 5”. There is also a little bit of room left in the pot to slightly customize the kit as well. However, keep in mind that customization will change the weight.
Ease of Use
As the trend goes, these “non-stick” pots and pans aren’t as simple to clean as it sounds- the food sticks sometimes. The handles of the pot and pan are plastic, so you will need to remember to keep them away from the fire. Overall, it’s a simple system, easy to use, and pack. The contents should only be hand washed.
The pot and pan are both made from FDA-approved aluminum. Even though this kit weighs less than one pound, it is quite durable! Additionally, this set comes with a one-year warranty. Just don’t forget to keep the handles away from the fire- they will catch on fire.
The tool card and safety bracelet are two welcomed additions that we don't often see in these kits. The kit is relatively easy to clean and has just about every accessory that you need. As long as you are cautious when cooking over an open flame, you'll be set.
The bowls, cups, sporks, spatula and soup ladle are all dishwasher safe
It is FDA approved
Includes all you need for your next outdoor adventure
Some may feel that all the cookware is too small
This kit succeeds in all areas you would expect and unfortunately, fails in common areas, as well. With the combination of its compact and lightweight nature, anodized aluminum construction, and FDA approved cookware, it is worth the money spent.Read more
The total package is present here and included is a non-stick pot and lid, 2 BPA-free bowls, two silicone folding cups, two stainless steel sporks, a BPA-free spoon, a bamboo spatula, and a non-stick frying pan.
All the items in this kit stack together and store as compactly as you could imagine. For even more convenience, there is an included nylon bag that you can utilize for carrying.
Ease of Use
All the bowls, cups, soup ladle, sporks, and spatula, are dishwasher safe. Also, Gear4U includes a sponge to ensure easy cleaning. Of course, you can also clean it with your sponge.
Made from the highest quality anodized aluminum on the planet (which is both durable and non-toxic) and being FDA-approved, this kit is both safe and built-to-last.
Gear4U, just as a few other manufacturers, backs this mess kit with their 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. In the instance where you are not satisfied with the kit, simply inform them about it. No doubt, what is more convenient and handy than anything is the manner in which this compacts down. As there are a lot of cookware and dishes included, this is key to prevent transport from being a pain.
6. Light My Fire Meal Kit
The cutting board can also be used as a strainer
The contents will not soften at high temperatures
It is ideal to use for all sorts of outdoor activities including camping and hiking
The elastic strap that secures the load will not last very long
Does this kit feature cookware craft from stainless steel or aluminum? No, but the polypropylene construction is beneficial in a couple of ways. One, it does not soften at high temperatures and it is BPA-free.Read more
8-pieces of cookware and dishes are included. This features one plate, one bowl, one SnapBox, one cup, one cutting board (which also works as a strainer), one SnapBox oval, one spork, and a harness.
To make the kit as portable as humanly possible, all the pieces store inside of the bowl and the lid. Also, the cup will expand when you need a drink and collapse when you need to transport it.
Ease of Use
For those who have one installed in their home, the cookware and dishes present in this kit are dishwasher safe meaning you do not have to hand-wash them.
All the SnapBoxes feature snap-lock lids and are waterproof. Conveniently, the cutting board is also designed to be a strainer. Also, the spork is designed in a way that will not scratch the cookware.
One thing to note is that the elastic strap that is included to secure the kit is not durable and will not last you very long. If you can live with eventually needing to design a new way to secure it, nothing else should be a concern. There are multiple color options available.
7. Texsport Outdoor
The handle for the frying pans is interchangeable
Combines a perfect amount of weight and compactness
The large frying pan features polished stainless steel, copper bottom
Cookware can rattle when transporting
What more could be said that has not already been said? You know what to expect at this point, so nothing the Texsport Outdoor Kit provides is going to shock you. But, is this really a bad thing when you stop and think about it for a second?Read more
The bare essentials are included here to deliver meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This includes two frying pans, a boiling pot with a lid and one plastic cup. For both of the frying pans, the handle is interchangeable, which saves space as you do not have to store multiple handles.
All the pieces nest together, and you can store them in the included sack.
Ease of Use
Texsport claims that all dinnerware is “easy to clean” and for the most part, soap and water tends to suffice.
The large frying pan is coated with polished stainless steel and a copper bottom. Though, it would have been nice for the other cookware to feature this.
Nothing but quality here, with nothing but minor gripes to concern yourself with. But, nothing could prevent this from being a high recommendation.
Constructed of high-quality 18/8 stainless steel
It will easily fit inside of a small pouch
Has an incredible amount of sturdiness
The plastic cup should have been crafted from steel
While this kit may not necessarily be enough for you on a long camping trip, it still provides you with enough cookware for basic cooking necessities. But, this does make it incredibly easy to store and clean.Read more
You receive a pot, pan, and a measuring cup/bowl. Again, this does not seem like a lot, but with these three dishes, you can create just about anything you can think of.
The amount of cookware alone makes this ideal for portability, but the clamshell design with a folding wire handle and lightweight steel also aid in its compact nature.
Ease of Use
As this is stainless steel, all three pieces of cookware/dishes are incredibly easy to clean. Only the cup/bowl is not made of stainless steel, but it is also easy to wash.
Indeed, for long-lasting shelf life, the cookware is crafted from stainless steel which has a natural high-tolerance against rust. Because this is crafted from stainless steel, you need not worry about potential toxins entering your food.
Clearly, the combination of its lightweight nature and stainless steel construction make this a high recommendation. Sure, it is not perfect as it would have been nice for the plastic cup to be made from stainless steel, but it will still suffice.
9. GSI Outdoors
Includes a mesh stuff sack for transport
Features a Diamond Back handle that you can clamp on the pot and frying pan
The clean-up process is user-friendly
Should have been a way to latch the cookware together
Even though it does not land at number one on this list, this mess kit from GSI Outdoors is practically just as amazing (hence the same rating). A feasible way to latch the contents together would have been nice, but you can DIY that issue.Read more
Included in this kit for you is a frying pan and lid (that has multiple uses), a Diamond Back handle, a cup, a bowl, and a cooking pot. To provide a secure handle while you are cooking, the Diamond Back handle will come into play. As this can clamp onto the exterior brackets of both the pot and frying pan, you can utilize it for a far more convenient experience.
Unbelievably enough, the total weight of this kit is only 19.2 ounces. If that was not enough, the manufacturer includes a mesh stuff sack for you to carry all the dishes in.
Ease of Use
This section will always depend on what you are creating, but, overall, the clean-up process should not give you any hassle. Most of the time, a soaked paper towel will get the job accomplished.
Just because this kit is super lightweight, it does not mean that it suffers from a lack of quality and durability. On the contrary, the hard-anodized aluminum cookware is not cheaply made.
Truthfully, the only real drawbacks to this kit are revolved around transporting it. The mesh bag is great, but there is no way to latch the cookware together, and the pans tend to rattle around. But, performance-wise, not too many complaints are present.
10. Coleman Stainless Steel
Can not use the pot and pan at the same time because there is only one handle
No utensils included
This stainless steel kit is missing a few necessities, but it's a great starter kit. Luckily, there is a little bit of extra room inside the two-quart stockpot to add in a couple of spices or a utensil. The most alluring feature of this kit is its durability.Read more
This six-piece kit is great for one to two people. It comes with a two-quart stockpot, a lid which can also be used as a frying pan, one bowl, one mug, a detachable handle, and a black mesh carrying bag.
Toting this along is quite simple. However, the two-quart stockpot is bigger than most pots that are included in a camping cookware kit. All of the included accessories fit comfortably inside the stockpot. Reviewers say that there is even some extra room to add utensils or salt and pepper. With everything packed and in the mesh bag, the overall weight is 1.35-pounds.
Ease of Use
Unfortunately, many reviewers have noted that this kit is not very easy to clean because it doesn’t feature non-stick surfaces. However, the BPA-free bowl and mug can be machine washed when you get home. Additionally, Coleman suggests that you can use the mesh bag for dip-cleaning. That won’t sufficiently clean the pot, but it’s a good way to dust off the set.
The pot and lid/pan of this kit are made from stainless steel, making them very durable. This is a kit that you will be traveling and camping with for many years.
This is an excellent basics kit. It needs a bit of customization and extra accessories to make a full meal, but it's an excellent place to start. The stainless steel construction of the pot and pan are what makes this kit shine.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
As you quickly realized throughout the entirety of this list, not every single kit holds the same essentials. On the contrary, each one is different, and you need to know what exactly you will need on your next trip (or whenever you want to use it). You may already have the dishes (such as plastic plates, cups, and silverware) covered.
But, need to account for pots, pans, and various other cookware. Or, perhaps you have absolutely nothing and need everything. In these instances, you may need to invest in more than one kit. With how portable they are (which will be addressed in a minute), this is not a bad idea.
While you do not necessarily have to use these mess kits outdoors, that is their typical use. Why else would designers focus an ideal amount of time in making their kits as portable as physically possible?
Some key design elements to look for to ensure that it will be easy for you to transport is if there is an included stuff sack if the contents will fit inside one another and the overall weight of everything combined. The stuff sack is pretty self-explanatory as it gives you a feasible way to store the kit.
But, arguably, more important is how compact it is. Most of the time, with kits that include pots and pans, they will be designed in a way where the smaller dishes can be stored inside of the bigger cookware. Sometimes, they will do so to be stored in a circular contraption, and this ensures it takes up as little space as possible.
Then, there is the weight which comes into play for backpackers. Every backpacking aficionado knows that they must restrict the number of contents that they bring along (or manage the weight properly). Thus, lower weight means that you can bring more items.
Ease of Use
This may not be a matter of life and death, but it is still an important factor to consider. Whatever activity you are partaking in while using your kit, there is a high probability that you do not want to spend excess time cleaning every inch of it. It is sort of ironic that designers state that their kits are dishwasher safe as who on earth will have a dishwasher outdoors?
Obviously, this comes into play when you are washing the kit after your journey has ended. But, depending on the extent of your trip, you may need to utilize the kit more than once. As such, you will need to clean the contents (unless you enjoy using dirty cookware).
Dishes are usually never a problem, as polypropylene is not very difficult to clean. But, stainless steel and aluminum pots and pans can be more of an issue. Typically, if you see “nonstick” the cookware should be easier to clean. However, most of the time, this claim is exaggerated and you still need to spray the pan. If you do, the cleaning process will be much easier.
This is pretty straight-forward as you would like your kit to last as long as possible. But, different types of cookware and dishes will have different types of materials. It is hard to say that there is one dominant material over another, but you will often see stainless steel, aluminum, and polypropylene utilized.
For pots and pans, you will generally either see them constructed from aluminum or stainless steel and each has their advantages.
Aluminum is a very lightweight material that has an incredible amount of strength and resistance to corrosion. Also, it conducts heat exceptionally well. On the other hand, stainless steel is terrific because of its resistant to chemical damage, heat damage, and corrosion. Also, it has a superb strength grade making it ultra-durable.
Polypropylene will come into play with dishes and utensils. This type of material, which is a thermoplastic polymer, is an ideal substance as it has great resistance to fatigue, a low coefficient of friction, and a high amount of strength.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
These kits are great when you understand their limitations as, yes, they are limited. Not all of them are going to include every single dish and cookware that you need, and they may not be large enough to cook everything you want in one sitting, but they are a terrific tool, made to be as compact as possible while providing you with the essentials for cooking.
With these mess kits, you can get away with not having everything. For example, you can use plates for foods that you would typically place in bowls (not counting soups and anything extremely runny). This could include chips, fruit, dips, side dishes, etc. Also, you could cook everything in the covered pans and pots.
If you plan to bring a cooler on a multi-day hiking and camping trip, using frozen water bottles instead of ice is a great space-saving plan. Eventually, the ice will melt, obviously, but if it slowly melts in a water bottle you can easily grab the bottle before a hike and have cold water with you. I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of drinking the melted ice that we threw on the ground before putting in the cooler.
Other Factors to Consider
If we are honest for a second, convenience is such a broad term that every single design element could be considered as such. However, this section is devoted to any design features that have not been previously documented.
This could include when a manufacturer backs their product with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, if they design their kit in a way where you can utilize interchangeable handles, a double boiler system, etc., or if they make their kit in different colors. Anything where you say “that would be convenient,” is an excellent feature as convenience is bliss.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can you expose these kits to large open fires?
As a quick note, this question is being asked in the general sense. As such, it can be a little difficult to give a straight-up answer for every single kit that people will be using. However, as most kits are designed similarly, it probably is not the best idea to expose your cookware to open flames. This is mainly due to their compact size and that the pans could end up warping and changing color as a result. Then, your food would be affected in a negative way, as well.
If an open fire is your only heat source, then you could probably get away with heating your food granted that the fire is kept under control. Sure, it will slow down the process but these kits were generally not designed to withstand excessive flames.
q: Is aluminum cookware really harmful?
You have probably heard it from someone that cooking food on aluminum cookware is bad for your health. Well, they are full of it. It just so happens that aluminum is a perfectly safe material that will not cause detriment to your physical well-being. Most of the aluminum that you see that is crafted for mess kits are treated with either a nonstick surface or another coating for another purpose.
Don’t you think that aluminum would not be as popular if it were a health issue? Plus, even when you see cookware that is constructed of stainless steel, most of them have an aluminum bottom as it does a superior job of distributing the heat evenly to ensure a better meal. Next time someone has you convinced that their aluminum pan made them sick or ill, refer them to this and assure them that aluminum is not the cause.
q: Is it safe to microwave plastic?
The reason why this is an important question is that you may feel the need to heat food on your plastic dishes within your mess kit. This would not come into play if you were backpacking and hiking, but you may keep a microwave in your camper. A lot of the dishes that are included in these mess kits are crafted from plastic (such as a thermoplastic polymer like polypropylene). As such, sometimes the only feasible way for you to microwave food is to place the food on these types of dishes. However, this should never be done to microwave your food.
Here is the reality of the situation; plastic is not meant to be placed in a heated environment such as a microwave. What happens is plastic ends up releasing disrupting chemicals when it heats up. Also, if heated for too long, any plates, cups, etc., can end up either warping or melting altogether. Err on the side of caution and try not to microwave plastic. But, if you must, do so in small increments to prevent the plastic from getting too hot.
q: Are silicone cups safe for hot liquids?
Just as you often see plastic dishes with mess kits, you will also tend to see silicone cups. A question that got brought up a few times was whether or not these types of cups could handle hot liquids. Well, if you know anything about silicone (which is fine if you do not as it is not like the average person will be knowledgeable of its properties) than you should be able to answer this question without even testing it.
Generally, silicone is meant to be heat-resistant. As the polymer is used in sealants, adhesives, and for thermal insulation, it is designed to withstand heat. So, yes, with silicone cups, you are perfectly safe to drink coffee, hot chocolate, or any other hot liquid that you would like to place inside.
q: Are these kits good for everyday use?
There is nowhere in the camping cookware “rulebook,” if there is such a thing, that you must utilize it when you are camping, hiking, backpacking, or on any outdoor adventure. The reality is, you could use it as a household item. But would you want to? This depends on your preferences.
Because these kits are designed to be compact and easy for transport, the cookware that is included may not be as large as your household cookware. So, if you intend to use this kit to feed your family of four every single night, you will be in the kitchen for hours on end. Let’s face it; people are too busy for that kind of dedication.
Instead, you could probably use one of these kits in your home for yourself or maybe two people. As far as their durability, they will hold up for you, but they may wear down faster than some of your higher-quality household dinnerware.
q: Can you wash the cookware with steel wool?
There are specific ways for you to clean aluminum and stainless steel (which are the most common types of cookware that you will find in these kits) but using steel wool may not be one of them. Steel wool is a very abrasive substance that is a little too intense for these types of materials. If you do so with either stainless steel or aluminum, the wool will scratch the surface.
Not only will this not look good, but you also risk compromising the effectiveness of the cookware. Also, specifically with stainless steel, if you scratch the surface with steel wool than it becomes more susceptible to stains and rust. Just stick with a sponge and your two haymakers to clean the cookware!
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