A journey to the wilderness affords an escape from the hustle, bustle, and troubles of our busy, modern lives.
For the most part, outdooring involves leaving behind most of the gadgets and appliances that are part of our daily routine.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be fraught with needless difficulties.
With the right gear, time spent in the woods, fields, or near water can feel rustic yet still be convenient and without hassle, even when it comes to preparing food.
In fact, with the right set of camping mess kits, it’s easy to expand beyond the basic need for nutrition and prepare sumptuous meals.
As a seasoned camping enthusiast, you may be wondering why you need a mess kit when there’s the option of using a camping grill?
Yes, grilling meat is wonderful, but it’s not always a practical solution because, for starters, you need a grill, and that can be inconvenient to carry, along with several pounds of raw meat or vegetables.
Second, when you’re camping for several days, or perhaps weeks, it’s good to have a proper balance of nutrition, which is challenging, especially if you want to include food other than grilled meat, protein bars, and nuts.
A camping mess kit is not only convenient, but also offers a fantastic way to get creative with your camping meals.
While a mess kit may not replicate the feeling of a true kitchen, it’s the closest thing you can get in the field.
The right option keeps you well-fed, and, more importantly, allows you to prepare and serve a variety of meals, both hot and cold, to fulfill your nutritional needs while keeping your taste buds happy.
In the text below, we’ve compiled a guide for choosing the best camping mess kits and included a review of the market’s top choices.
Table of Contents
The Best Camping Mess Kits For The Money
#1 STANSPORT – Deluxe Tableware - EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Stansport Deluxe Tableware kit is ground-breaking where outdoors mess kits are concerned, and it’s not a surprise why this dinnerware is so popular with campers.
First, the set carries a tag from a renowned brand Stansport. Stansport is a family-run company based in LA. They’ve been specializing in producing quality outdoor equipment for over seventy years, including recreational tents, sleeping bags, and candles.
Stansport Deluxe Tableware is no different as it perfectly combines excellent quality and functionality with value-for-money, making it a real steal for the affordable price listed.
But is the Stansport Deluxe Tableware, along with its features, the right camping mess kit for you?
Features and Benefits
Style can be almost as important as quality and performance, and the Stansport Deluxe Tableware doesn’t fail in this factor.
The place setting for this tableware includes a classic blue, double-coated enamel finish, which not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also makes the set more durable and scratch-resistant.
The ideal camping mess kit should resist any wear and tear, damage from the ruggedness of mother nature or her offspring, people, and this is what Stansport does so well.
The set is made with stainless steel and enamel so it’s a suitably sturdy option, and you can easily take it outdoors without worrying about breaking it.
Additionally, steel is a fantastic insulator, so your food is unlikely to get cold quickly, even in chilly conditions.
Stansport is a comprehensive dinnerware kit; essentially a four-person mess kit.
It includes 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs, and 4 flatware sets (spoon, knife, and fork).
The set might be a little large for solo or couple hikers and backpackers, but it’s the best value tableware for a small group of campers, families, and RV enthusiasts.
Stansport isn’t the lightest option on our list, but still, the weight is reasonable for the number of people it can serve.
The entire pack weighs 4.8 pounds, which is relatively easy on the arm.
Another fantastic feature underlining the overall portability of the set is how easily it packs into a bag. The set travels well, meaning its usage goes beyond the woods but extends to home or even work.
Stansport dinnerware does have some share of cons, and notably, some reviewers mention that the enamel is prone to chipping.
Nevertheless, the Stansport is still a solid kit, and we feel the flaws aren’t sufficient to make you look anywhere else for this size and configuraton of mess kit.
#2 Wealers Complete Messware Kit - Premium Option
If you need a dinnerware set that can be used for all your outdoor adventures, this Wealers Complete Messware kit is a great option.
Aptly named the Complete Messware Kit, the Wealers includes everything you could need for your outdoor dining experience.
Keep in mind that the Wealers is a premium option with the price being a bit on the higher side. For me, it’s worth it, especially considering what you get from the set.
Features and Benefits
The Wealer’s stainless steel construction guarantees a robust, reliable, and long-lasting cookware set.
It’s not easy for the Wealers to be compromised by the elements. Likewise, it shrugs off any hard use or abuse, including falls and dings.
The steel construction is superior to the plastic kits as it doesn’t easily break, damage, or get affected by heat.
Wealers doesn’t feature a smart finish like the Stansport, and while it certainly affects the overall aesthetic, the advantage is it doesn’t result in any chipping.
The Wealers outdoor dish set isn’t only durable but also dishwasher safe. Once you get home from your outdoor excursion, it’s safe to throw the entire set in your dishwasher for a thorough clean for your next outing.
The Wealers Outdoor Kit is safe for the whole family, even kids.
For starters, all of the pieces are crafted with a circular lip and feature no sharp edges, thus guaranteeing safety.
More importantly, the folks at Wealers state the stainless steel used on the set is food-grade quality, free from lead, latex, and BPA.
The material used on the Wealers Cookware doesn’t leach any toxic chemicals into your meals as some plastics and metals do.
So, yes, this cookware is both robust and eco-friendly.
Wealers Messware kit could be the perfect option for solo or couple backpackers or hikers. With only six pieces, the kit is perfect for two or four people.
With such few pieces, Wealers is highly portable as it only weighs a mere 1.9 pounds, which is nearly half the weight of the Stansport set.
The Wealers Complete Messware Kit also comes with a smart mesh bag made from sustainable, eco-friendly material. The drawstring offers a hassle-free and convenient way to carry your kit during your outdoor adventures.
Usage for the Wealers goes beyond the outdoor and it can be used just about anywhere, including at home.
Plus, it’s a versatile and lightweight option, meaning you can easily bring it along on your next road trip, BBQ, picnic, long trek, and beach outing.
#3 MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit - Budget Option
The MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit is a lightweight and compact kit, offering everything you need to prepare tasty meals in the wild.
It’s a budget option, and for the price you would be hard-pressed to find other such practical and durable dinnerware.
But, is it right for you?
Features and Benefits
MalloMe employs an anodized aluminum build; it’s a non-toxic material, which heats up pretty fast to make your cooking stress-free and convenient.
Aluminum isn’t only laudable for its non-stick attributes, but it also enhances the overall durability while keeping the weight to a minimum.
Size and weight
Regarding size and weight, we’re more than willing to admit that MalloMe is among the lightest and most compact options on our list.
It’s such a compact unit that it easily collapses into a mini-bundle for transport and storage. Again, it’s so lightweight that you’ll hardly feel its weight on your back. It won’t tire you at all, even when carrying it for extended periods.
A winning feature of the MalloMe is the superb heat conductivity on the part of the aluminum construction.
The anodized aluminum excels at an even distribution of heat, thus giving you the flexibility of preparing your favorite dishes in super quick time.
Additionally, the aluminum handles allow for slightly more involved cooking, although we found baking and frying pretty challenging.
Ease of use
Sporting a sturdy handle, holding the MalloMe cookware is a doddle, regardless of how hot the set becomes.
The no-stick coating on the aluminum doesn’t stick to food; instead, it releases food seamlessly, also making it easy to clean after use.
What we like most about this kit is that it offers everything you need and more to make your outdoorsy adventure hassle-free.
Further, the BPA-free bowl offers a great portion size for camp meals, while the included soup spoons and forks are similar to what is included in more expensive mess kits.
#4 Gold Armour 17 Piece Camping Cookware Mess Kit - Lightest Option
The Gold Armour 17-Piece Camping Cookware Mess Kit is, like the MalloMe, an aluminum-made cookware set, featuring, in a practical package, everything you would need to prepare and serve wholesome, healthy meals in the wild.
It’s an inexpensive model too, and it would be hard to imagine that you could get other such practical cookware on a budget.
Though it’s primarily designed for solo campers, it should be just as sufficient for two light eating campers.
Features and Benefits
The overall design for this cookware consists of a mix of wood, metal, and plastic.
To be exact, the two eating bowls are BPA-free plastic, the frying pan and pan are aluminum, the spoons are stainless steel, and the cooking spoon is wooden.
Nevertheless, all the construction materials are heavy-duty and aren’t easily compromised by rugged conditions.
But, of course, the plastic construction might not be as heavy-duty as metal, and easily warps when subjected to heat.
At first glance, it’s easy to brush off the mini stove with Piezo ignition. After all, how could such a tiny thing heat a pan? Only when you light it up do you realize it can do wonders.
Looking at the aluminum pots, we also loved the fantastic heat conduction and even distribution. For light cooking, the pots and pan should tick the box for you as aluminum conducts heat at a much faster rate than steel.
Finally, you’ll also appreciate the non-stick cooking surface for two reasons. First, it allows faster cooking of meals, readying your favorite dish in less than 30 seconds. Second, the non-stick surface doesn’t allow the food to stick, so cleaning is a cinch.
Ease of use
Gold Amour is an easy to use cookware, with the folding plastic handles allowing you to hold the pan in position during cooking and storage.
The entire set is easy to fold down when not in use. It’s also lightweight enough to allow for excellent portability without tiring you out.
#5 GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker, Nesting Cooking Set - Most Inclusive Kit
No list of the best camping kit can be complete without a GSI Outdoors product.
For a long time, GSI has been at the forefront of producing quality outdoor gear, and, true to form, the Pinnacle Backpacker doesn’t disappoint.
While it has a steep price, it makes up for it by incorporating everything you need for your backpacking while maintaining a reasonable weight.
Features and Benefits
With aluminum construction, the GSI Pinnacle is as sturdy as it gets.
It’s a durable option, easily standing up to the ruggedness of mother nature and people too.
Unlike the plastic option, the aluminum construction isn’t affected by heat either, and the temperature is nicely, evenly spread.
Sure, the strength might not match that of steel, but it still offers a reliable sturdiness and will serve you for several seasons without fail.
At 1.8 pounds, the GSI Pinnacle is a great lightweight option, and you will hardly feel the load in your carrying gear.
The GSI Pinnacle is made up of eleven pieces and designed for use by two people.
The eleven pieces consist of a two-liter pot with lid, frying pan, two insulated mugs, two nesting bowls, two sip-through lids, a pot grip and a waterproof sack to put it all in. A stove and utensils will also nest into the pot and are sold separately.
Easy to Use
The GSI Pinnacle lacks the sophistication of some of the models on our list, but it’s good for overall ease of use.
For instance, the pot folding handle of the pot ensures it’s easy to stash the cookware for transport or storage.
The cookware also fits into its waterproof sack for greater portability. And when unpacked, the waterproof sack can double up as a sink for cleaning up after eating.
Additionally, the cookware features exterior brackets, allowing gripper locks on the folding handle to lock on for secure handling during cooking. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting burned while preparing meals.
Performance is equally excellent with Teflon non-stick coating on both the pot and the pan, facilitating even heat distribution and easy cleaning.
Even better, the coating is triple-layered to promote sturdiness and resistance to demanding conditions.
Best Camping Mess Buying Guide
With so many options, choosing the right camping mess kit can feel a bit intimidating.
However, it doesn’t need to because, in the guide below, we will share with you some of the crucial camping mess kit purchase tips.
But before I share the tips with you, let’s first look at the different camping mess kit types:
Types of Camping Mess Kits
The minimalist kits, as their name suggests, are about as basic as it gets.
Typically, a minimalist kit comes with a small pot, a pan, and a cup. The kit gives you the bare necessity for preparing and consuming a meal.
True to their name, cooking kits are for preparing meals.
With a cooking kit, it’s unlikely they’ll incorporate any dinnerware.
An eating kit is for facilitating eating. Normally, the eating kits feature the utensils and dishes you need to consume your meals.
Eating kits are perfect for those who plan to purchase a separate cookware set, or are camping with a group of people cooking for them instead and just want their own eating ware.
The all-inclusive kits are a one-stop-shop for those interested in having everything in one kit.
They tend to be bulky, but they incorporate everything you need to prepare, cook, serve, and savor your meal.
They can be used from one person upwarsd, but all-inclusive kits generally work best for larger groups.
How to choose a camping mess kit: Factors to consider
Now that we’ve seen the different types of camping mess kits, let’s look at the critical factors to consider when selecting the perfect mess kit for your camping needs.
The purpose of purchasing a camping mess kit will determine the type to choose.
We’ve already looked at the different types of kits, and your choice should be inspired by what you plan to do with the kit.
For instance, if you already have separate camping dinnerware and need a cooking kit, a cookware mess kit should be perfect for you.
On the other hand, if you have a cookware set and need a kit for serving your meals, an eating kit could serve your needs better.
Like any other camping gear, the right camping mess kit should be sturdy and robust, and handle all the ruggedness of mother nature and a bunch of outdoor humans.
Ideally, the right camping mess kit should feature an all-metal construction.
Metal is strong and resilient, easily shrugging off any outdoor abuse.
It’s also durable and will resist wear from the outdoor elements.
Sure, metal is also bulky, but for backpackers, the choice of metal will determine your gear’s overall weight.
For instance, titanium, though a bit expensive, is more lightweight than other metals, yet just as sturdy.
Size and weight
Both weight and size influence the overall portability of your camping mess kit.
Old school military mess kits were generally made from stainless steel, thus bulky and heavy.
Modern mess kits, constructed from lighter materials such as aluminum and titanium, aren’t only lightweight but take up as little space as possible.
They’re not capable of serving as many types of foods as the larger, heavier models, so you should 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 doubling as a bowl. They’re perfect for ultra-light backpackers who need the best possible value and the smallest kit. Unfortunately, they offer alot less usefulness than comprehensive kits.
As you increase the price bracket, you’ll come across more comprehensive kits, including everything you need to prepare and serve a meal from plates with drinking glasses, cooking pots, and kettles.
Ease of cleaning and repacking
When out in the backcountry, cleaning and packing your mess kit can be a major chore.
It would help to check and see how easy or difficult it is to clean, dry, and pack properly.
Take care to look at how a mess kit packs down and whether it comes with a carry case for portability reasons.
Ideally, a cookware kit should be easy to securely stow in a compact and convenient space.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
If you’re still unsure of what camping mess to pick, we recommend the STANSPORT – Deluxe.
Aptly named, the STANSPORT – Deluxe is luxurious and of a superior kind.
Sure, it’s the heaviest of all the products, but it seemingly features everything you could possibly need for eating while on your camping adventure.
More importantly, it has a generous capacity and can satiate up to four users, so is the perfect option for average families.
It’s also aesthetically appealing, and the only option on our list with an enameled finish.
However, what won us over is the stainless steel construction. Unlike the aluminum options, steel is more durable and rugged, so it will stand up to whatever the outdoor throws at it. It’s also long-lasting and will serve you for several seasons without fail.