Best Mess Kits
On any type of backpacking or camping trip that you may go on, depending on the extent of the trip, there may come a time where utensils and cookware will come in handy. Obviously, you will not want to pack pots and pans from your home (as you want to keep your load as lightweight as possible).
Thus, mess kits were invented to take this issue out of camping, backpacking, or various other outdoor adventures. Mess kits compile specific utensils and cookware for you to utilize anywhere you go. Generally, they are designed to be easy and simple to carry with their compact nature. If mess kits peak your interest, keep reading as down below are the best versions you will find.
- GSI Outdoors
- Mesh stuff sack
- Diamond Black handle
- Light My Fire
- Ideal for hiking
10 Best Mess Kits
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 Cleaning
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 extended 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.
- 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
- Despite its claim, it does not succeed at being non-stick
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.
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 Cleaning
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 simply soaked paper towel will get the job accomplished.
Just because this kit is super lightweight, it does not mean that it suffers from lack of quality and durability. On the contrary, the hard-anodized aluminum cookware is not cheaply made.
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.
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.
- 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
- The two large pans tend to come apart when traveling
Light My Fire Meal Kit
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. In addition, the cup will expand when you need a drink and collapse when you need to transport it.
Ease of Cleaning
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.
While it does not affect the design or performance of the kit, there are multiple color options that you can select from if you so choose to.
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.
- 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
- The included spork is not durable
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 Cleaning
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 a 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 in your food. That could sure put a damper on your camping trip, huh?
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.
- 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
- The base of the pans does not distribute heat very well
Everything you need is included here such as a teapot, serving ladle, lid, boiling pot, frying pan, bamboo spoon and three bowls.
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 Cleaning
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.
Each piece of cookware is useful in its own right here, but the pot conveniently boils 400ml of water in less than three minutes.
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.
- 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
- Again, prior to the claim, not non-stick
- Cleaning can be a major hassle
This is a mess kit that is centered around pots and pans, as there is a 27-ounce pot, 40.5-ounce pot, and 13.5-ounce frying pan that are included.
Portability is of the essence here as the three pans and pots stack right on top of one another and total a weight of only 9.2 ounces (which is pretty remarkable given their durability).
Ease of Cleaning
When you return home, all the cookware is dishwasher safe and easy to clean. While in use, though, not too many people have complained about the cleaning process.
The titanium construction manages to perfectly combine durability and weight to produce a highly-functional set of cookware. Plus, this construction also is odorless and will not corrode or rust.
You can either use the pan and pots separate or you can form a double boiler with them. This allows you to cook two items simultaneously.
Durable, yet lightweight, these pots and pans make for a tremendous mess kit. Sure, the handles on the cookware could have been stronger which you may notice if you cook heavy meals, but it is still solid all-around.
- The cookware will not corrode or rust
- You can pair the pots with a lid-pan to create a double boiler system
- All the contents are dishwasher safe
- The handles could have been a little stronger
- When using the frying pan, exposed flames may leave burn marks on the surface
The total package is present here and included is a non-stick pot and lid, 2 BPA-free bowls, 2 silicone folding cups, 2 stainless steel sporks, a BPA-free ladle, 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 Cleaning
All the bowls, cups, soup ladle, sporks, and spatula are dishwasher safe. In addition, Gear4U includes a sponge to ensure an easy cleaning. Of course, you can also clean it with your own 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.
- 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
- The lid does not seal tight
Included in this mess kit are 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 sporks and 4 cups. Thus, making this ideal for family picnics and all the dishes you need for backpacking.
In your backpack, you will hardly even notice that this mess kit is inside. That is how lightweight this is and in conjunction with the included mesh bag, portability could not be better than what Barbeqa provides for you.
Ease of Cleaning
All this dinnerware is dishwasher safe and incredibly easy to clean with soap and water. Plus, the utensils are both odor and stain resistant so you should not ever have to concern yourself with that.
Each piece of tableware is crafted from an eco-friendly, BPA-free polypropylene. This makes them all incredibly safe to use and surprisingly durable for the long haul.
Even if it may not be too big of a deal for some people, all the dishes come in four different colors (red, orange, blue and green). Who knows, your children may appreciate this.
You are not going to be able to cook any meals with this mess kit, but dishes are essential so it is more than worth your money. This is a great kit if you do not mind investing in more than one.
- All the dishes come in four different colors
- The polypropylene delivers dishes that are surprisingly durable
- Comes with a mesh bag for easy transport
- Would have been nice if the cups could stack into one another for storage purposes
This is an all-in-one mess kit, that is for sure. With this kit, you get 2 dishes, 2 cups, a folding soup spoon, a folding fork, an oil bottle, 2 cruets, a wooden spoon spatula, a nonstick frying pan, a pot cover, a nonstick small pot and a nonstick large pot
Though this kit is huge with 16 pieces of equipment, they all collapse into a small bundle and can be stuffed into the included nylon travel drawstring pouch.
Ease of Cleaning
iGoPeaks includes their cleaning sponge with this kit to aid in cleaning. Overall, most of the dishes and cookware are user-friendly in terms of washing.
The cookware that is constructed from stainless steel will conduct heat quickly and the anti-slip pot handles to protect your hands from accidental injury thanks to slipping.
Again, this manufacturer backs their mess kit with their 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
Yes, there are a ton of dishes and cookware present in this kit. However, some feel that the pots and pans are too small to cook anything substantial. For those who have large stomachs, this may not be what you are looking for.
- To protect your hands from injury, the cookware has anti-slip handles
- All the contents can be stored in the included mesh bag
- This comes with the manufacturer’s 100 percent satisfaction guarantee
- The pots and pans are very small; almost to the point of being laughable
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.
All the pieces nest together and you can store them in the included sack.
Ease of Cleaning
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 a polished stainless steel and a copper bottom. Though, it would have been nice for the other cookware to feature this.
For both of the frying pans, the handle is interchangeable which saves space as you do not have to store multiple handles.
Nothing but quality here, with nothing but minor gripes to concern yourself with. But, nothing could prevent this from being a high recommendation.
- The handle for the frying pans is interchangeable
- Combines a perfect amount of weight and compactness
- The large frying pan features a polished stainless steel, copper bottom
- Unfortunately, the large frying pan is the only dish with the special coating
- When you are carrying this mess kit, the cookware does not fit tightly together and tends to rattle around
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
What’s Included in the Kit
As you quickly realized throughout the entirety of this list, not every single mess kit holds the same essentials. On the contrary, each one is different and it is important for you 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.
However, with all this being said, 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 included pans/pots. Basically, do not be as meticulous as you are in your home kitchen.
How Compact and Portable They Are
While you do not necessarily have to use mess kits outdoors, that is their typical use. Why else would designers focus an ideal amount of time in making their mess 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 amount of contents that they bring along (or manage the weight properly). Thus, a lower weight means that you can bring more items.
How Easy the Dishes and Cookware Are to Clean
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 mess kit, there is a high probability that you do not want to spend excess time cleaning the snot out of your kit. It is sort of ironic that designers state that their mess 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 mess 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.
The Construction of the Kit
This is pretty straight-forward as you would like your mess 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. In addition, it conducts heat extremely 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.
Any Other Convenient Features that Are Provided
If we are being 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 mess kit 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. Basically, anything where you say “that would be convenient”, is a great feature as convenience is bliss.
Q: Can You Expose Mess 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 mess kit that people will be using. However, as most mess 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 really was 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 up food on your plastic dishes within your mess kit. Clearly, 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. In addition, 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 Mess Kits Good for Everyday Use?
There is nowhere in the mess kit “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 really want to? Really, this depends on your preferences. Because mess 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 a mess 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 mess 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 certain ways for you to clean aluminum and stainless steel (which are the most common types of cookware that you will find in mess 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, you 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!
Mess 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 that are made to be as compact as possible while providing you with the essentials for cooking.