Mess Kit Tips and Reviews

If you practically live outdoors, you’ve probably considered the possibility of buying a mess kit for yourself. Hiking, camping, and backpacking are all made easier when you have a good, sturdy mess kit to take along with you. Check out these Mess Kit tips and reviews.

Cooking your meals outdoors shouldn’t be stressful. A good mess kit can take a lot of the stress out of being outdoors. Here are some tips on buying your first mess kit, along with some top products to consider.

What is a Mess Kit?

A set of portable and compact dining equipment, a mess kit generally consists of four or five pieces of cookware. This set is perfect for cooking over an open flame as well as for holding tricky liquids like water and soup.

The term “mess kit” is typically used to refer to kits for recreational outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

three swedish stove kits on rocks

Mess kits carry all of your major cooking and eating supplies so what meals can be cooked and eaten properly. Since they’re so small and light, they don’t take up much room and are very easy to transport. Many of the items in your mess kit are multipurpose, designed and specifically engineered to perform a wide variety of tasks.

For example, the metal plate found in a mess kit can not only be used as a lid for the cooking pan, but it can also be eaten off of like a plate. The drinking cup, too, has multiple purposes – it can be used to drink water or to serve food as a ladle.

Even the pot handle is multifaceted. It can be used to handle the pot, or it can be used as a stand for a hot dish. The purpose of a mess kit is to streamline all of your cooking and eating tasks and equipment so that you can better enjoy the great outdoors. The following is our take on the Mess Kit tips and reviews.

What Should Be In a Mess Kit

two girls eating on grass with mess kit

There are thousands of different mess kits out there, each of which offers various benefits and disadvantages. Some might have more unique features, too. However, a typical mess kit comes with five separate pieces.

These pieces might include a frying pan for cooking, a deeper pan for boiling water, and a large cup for drinking. It will also include some kind of plate for eating along with a multipurpose plate.

That being said, each mess kit is manufactured by a different manufacturer and will, therefore, have different components and different metals. Otherwise, there are four major categories of mess kits for you to choose from.

Minimalist Kits

A minimalist kit is, as the name implies, about as basic as it gets. One of these kits will usually come with just a small pot, a pan, and perhaps a cup. It gives you the bare minimum necessary to prepare and consume a meal.

Cooking Kits

As the title suggests, a cook kit is designed to prepare the food. It likely won’t have any dinnerware at all.

Eating Kits

An eating kit is the exact opposite of a cook kit in that it is designed specifically for eating. One of these kits will provide you with the utensils and dishes you need to consume your meal. It’s great for people who intend to purchase a separate cookware set or for those who are camping with groups of people who will be cooking the food for them instead.

All-Inclusive Kits

Finally, an all-inclusive mess kit is like a one-stop-shop for those who are interested in good comprehensive kits. These tend to be large and bulky and are better for car camping than backpacking. However, they also work well for large groups and will contain everything you need to cook and chow down on a meal.

What to Look for in a Good Mess Kit

Outdoor kettle, cup and stove


Mess kits can be made out of various types of materials. Some of the most popular include titanium, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, plastic, and silicone.

Titanium is one of the lightest cookware you can use. It is durable, but also expensive. It also does not conduct heat well, making it the least desirable choice for cooking. Stainless steel, too, isn’t the best at providing even cooking. It’s also quite heavy. However, if you’re accident-prone, it’s a good option – it is super durable.

Anodized aluminum is another lightweight material that is also relatively durable. It conducts heat quickly and easily, with minimal burning and hotspots. Be careful using aluminum cookware, though, as it can burn you. Plastic is generally used for utensils and dinnerware (obviously, it’s not safe for cookware). Look for a kit made out of BPA-free reinforced plastic.

Finally, silicone is a new mess kit material used to make several types of cookware and compressible dinnerware. It has minimal insulation but is lightweight and compact.


Find a mess kit that comes with all the accessories you need and want. Don’t spend extra money on features you don’t need, and remember that some accessories (like cleaning supplies) are often worth the added expense.

Heat Retention

Heat retention is important when it comes to finding the best mess kit. The variability of materials used to make mess kits will impact their heat retention, but so will other factors, like the thickness and build of the components. Take these into consideration before you buy.

The 5 Best Mess Kits to Consider

1. GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper

If you plan on traveling in a group, the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Mess Kit is one of the best you can buy. It comes with two pots and a generous kit. The pot holds p to three liters, which is more than enough for cooking for all of your family and friends.

It has a ton of bonus features, too. It has dinnerware including bowls, mugs, and plates. The mugs are insulated and the bowls are nestled over the mugs to save some space. The pots, too, come with an included pot gripper to make it easier to use in a variety of settings.

One of the most comprehensive kits you can buy, this expansive option is one that is sure to wow your fellow campers.

What We Liked

  • Serves four people
  • Made out of lightweight anodized aluminum
  • Comes with tons of cookware

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bowls are not insulated

2. Stanley Adventure Base Camp Cooking Set

The Stanley Adventure Base Camp Cooking Set comes with a rustproof stainless steel pot, vented lid, and frying pan. It also comes with silicone trivets to protect table surfaces and a prep kit to facilitate easy prep work before you cook.

This set comes with all kinds of features, including dish drying rack facilities! The cookware is scratch-resistant, too, making this one of the most durable mess kits you will find.

What We Liked

  • Comes with all kinds of bonus accessories
  • Serves four people
  • Weighs less than 6 lbs

What We Didn’t Like

  • Comes with more gear than you might actually need

3. MSR 2 Person Mess Kit

If it’s just you and your best friend or spouse headed out into the wilderness, then this two-person mess kit will likely do the trick for you. It comes with two insulated mugs, two folding sporks, two deep dish bowls, and a mesh bag. Everything is color-coded, too, so you have a clear idea of what you are doing at all times.

Although this mess kit doesn’t come with any cookware, it’s a good option for backpacking since it is lightweight and easy to pack.

What We Liked

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Color-coded design
  • Serves two people

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bowls do not nest

4. Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kit

Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kit comes with everything you need to prepare and eat dinner at your campsite. The whole kit nest inside the large stockpot, making it easy to transport and store. Both the mug and BPA-free bowl are microwave and dishwasher safe, and the cooking pot is made out of durable stainless steel.

Need to clean your gear quickly in the brook? Not a problem. This inclusive mess kit even comes with a black mesh drawstring bag for quick dip-cleaning.

What We Liked

  • 5” pot lid turns into a frying pan
  • Has a mesh bag for storage and cleaning
  • Everything nests into one stockpot

What We Didn’t Like

  • Can be a bit bulky

5. Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

The Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set is another great mess kit for you to consider. This kit comes with a large bowl and plate that are easy to hold, even when they are loaded up with piping hot food. It also comes with a convention and durable set of fork, spoon, and knife – something you don’t usually find in camp sets since they tend to come with sporks.

The kit also comes with a cup. Unfortunately, it does not come with cookware, but it’s still a good option for people who know how they will cook their food and just need a way to eat it.

What We Liked

  • Made out of BPA-free polypropylene
  • Fork, spoon, and knife are separate units
  • Easy to eat out of

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only serves one person

How to Find the Best Mess Kit for Your Needs

Before you buy, think carefully about how you intend to use your mess kit. Will you be taking it on a lakeside boating excursion by yourself? Or will you be headed out on a backwoods hike with friends?

Deciding how and where you are going to use your mess kit will give you a good idea of the features you need – and which ones you can ditch in favor of a better-fitting kit. We hope this helps your Mess Kit tips and reviews.


About The Author

Brian Voytovich is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking, camping outdoors, and exploring new scenic areas. He has traveled across the country in his RV for the last 20 years and has visited hundreds of camping and RV spots. His love for everything camping and outdoors resonates in his articles and reviews for various camping products and RV camping sites.

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