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Stanley Adventure Base Camp Review

A car camping cook set, optimized for performance and compact carry, at a high weight.
Stanley Adventure Base Camp
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $80 List | $70.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, excellent frying pan for discerning cooks, great lid
Cons:  Heavy, no non-stick coating
Manufacturer:   Stanley
By Amber King & Jediah Porter  ⋅  Nov 27, 2019
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Cooking Performance - 25% 9
  • Packability - 20% 4
  • Durability - 15% 10
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Features - 10% 10

Our Verdict

The Stanley Adventure Base Camp has designed, integrated, and is selling a set of cookware that basically matches the performance and function of your home pot and pan while nesting it all together with functional but small plates, bowls, and sporks. This kit comes fully loaded for any car camping trip and has everything that you need. It features an ultra-durable stainless steel design with average cooking performance. Surprisingly, the skillet offers some of the best meat-browning performances we've ever seen. Given that this set it heavy, its best for those seeking a full camping set, and earns a Top Pick for its unique durable design (that comes fully loaded).


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Pros Durable, excellent frying pan for discerning cooks, great lidComprehensive, high end materialsSturdy construction and efficiency-oriented heat exchanger ring, locking universal pot gripperEnvironmental and health-friendly ceramic construction, lightweight and versatile overall constructionGreat starter set, stable handles, some versatile pieces
Cons Heavy, no non-stick coatingPot handle gets hot, heavyHeavy, especially for a kit that requires addition of other features, heat exchanger ring is a little messyFragile coating and pots dent easily, no features beyond two basic potsSmall bowls, unnecessary accessories
Bottom Line A car camping cook set, optimized for performance and compact carry, at a high weight.A comprehensive set of cookware for all sorts of camping scenarios.A few attributes make this efficiency-oriented cook set an excellent foundation for the practical, hearty-cooking, enthusiastic user.For gourmet and health-conscious campers, this set will form the foundation of a kit that will prepare the best meals possible outside for 3-4 people.A budget, one stop shop for basic camping menus.
Rating Categories Stanley Adventure Base Camp GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set 11 Piece Camping Set
Cooking Performance (25%)
10
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9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Packability (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
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6
10
0
7
10
0
7
Durability (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
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6
10
0
6
10
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6
Weight (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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9
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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6
10
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8
10
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9
10
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9
10
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5
Features (10%)
10
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10
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4
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7
Specs Stanley Adventure... GSI Pinnacle Camper Primus PrimeTech... MSR Ceramic 2-Pot... 11 Piece Camping Set
Measured Weight 4.8 lbs 3.7 lbs 1.6 lbs 1 lbs 1.8 lbs
Material Stainless Steel. Pot and pan bottoms have additional layers. Hard-anodized Aluminum w/Non-Stick Coating Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum Hard-anodized Aluminum
Components 3.5L pot, vented lid, 7" 3ply frying pan, cutting board, spatula with extending handle, serving spoon with extending handle, [4] 6in plates, [4] 22oz bowls, [4] sporks, dish drying rack, heat resistant trivet, locking bungee 2L pot, 8" frypan, strainer lid, 2 mugs, 2 bowls, handle 2 2.3L pots, 1 lid, pot tongs, padded/insulated storage bag 2L pot, 1.5L pot, strainer lid, 2 plates, 2 mugs, handle 1.9L pot, 6.5" frypan, lid, kettle, ladle, 2 bowls, spatula, scrubbing pad, hot pad
Avg Boil Time (mins) 4.12 3.78 3.12 3.58 3.5
3L Pot? (>2.4L) 1 0 0 0 0
2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L) 0 1 2 1 1
1L Pot? (.5-1.4L) 0 0 0 0 0
Frying Pan? 1 1 0 0 1
Frying Pan Lid? No Yes N/a N/a No
Packed Size (inches) 11 x 6 x 11 in 8.5 x 4.6 in 7.9 x 5.3 in 5.3 x 7.8 in 6.75 x 3.5 in
Weight of pot closest to 1.5L, with lid and handle 1.9 lbs 1.0 lbs 0.9 lbs 0.5 lbs 0.6 lbs
Cooking Surfaces Stainless-steel Pot and frypan both have non-stick Teflon coating Non-stick Teflon like coating One (1.5L) non-stick pot, One (2.5L) uncoated pot Non-stick Teflon coating on each piece

Our Analysis and Test Results

Stanley makes a great, fully-nesting, and nearly-comprehensive car camping cook set. All you need to add is a knife for chopping and drinking vessels of your choice. It excels in durability, cooking performance, included features, and value. It suffers a little, given the above, when it comes to weight, portability, and cooking performance. Cooking performance, though, will depend on your diet.

Performance Comparison


An animal-supported base camp might be a good place for the Stanley Cook set. You can't go real crazy with weight on these tiny Peruvian donkeys  but they are more accommodating than your human back.
An animal-supported base camp might be a good place for the Stanley Cook set. You can't go real crazy with weight on these tiny Peruvian donkeys, but they are more accommodating than your human back.

Cooking Performance


All cooking surfaces of the various parts of the Base Camp are stainless steel. For cooking performance, steel has its pros and cons. In the main pot, and with a car camping stove, the material doesn't matter a whole ton. Steel doesn't disperse heat as well as aluminum does. On a small-burner backpacking stove, the steel bottom of the main pot risks scorching. However, in its element, on a wider-burner car camping stove (and with sautéing and simmering done on the frying pan, see below), the main pot of the Stanley cooked pasta and rice and reheated soups just fine for us.


The frying pan of the Base Camp deserves special mention. The internal cooking surface is bare stainless steel. Whether in your home kitchen or on the go, frying pan cooking surfaces all have their pros and cons. Stainless steel isn't as non-stick as Teflon or seasoned cast iron. However, there is no better way to pan-sear a steak than in stainless steel, and the cooking performance of this surface will remain constant for your whole life and beyond. The real advantage of this frying pan is in its "3-layer" base construction.

Testing the boil time of the Stanley Adventure Series main pot in a semi-controlled environment  but with a real camp stove.
Testing the boil time of the Stanley Adventure Series main pot in a semi-controlled environment, but with a real camp stove.

Stanley doesn't elaborate on what exactly the three layers are. The inner and outer are stainless steel, somehow bonded together. We can deduce that the inner layer is copper. Copper-cored stainless steel frying pans are a home kitchen staple, and of great value for sensitive cooking. Whether the core is copper or not, this pan cooks very similarly to a copper-cored home frying pan, which is a good thing. The thick, 3-layer construction spreads heat evenly across the pan, dampening the temperature regulation swings of your camp stove and wind effects.

For sautéing vegetables and browning meat, this pan is excellent. Great chefs have figured out how to cook easy-release eggs in a stainless steel pan, but we aren't that good. We have yet to, whether at home with kitchen equipment or on the road with the Stanley, nail the sequence that makes for non-stick stainless eggs. In short, our failed scrambled egg test isn't the pan's fault. It is difficult, but not impossible, to cook non-stick eggs in a frying pan of this sort. Outside of eggs and other super-sensitive foods, the 3-layer Stanley frying pan, with a tight-fitting lid, will serve you very, very well.

For attentive foodies, the Stanley cook set better approximates high-end home kitchen equipment than anything else we tested. If your culinary skill, though leans more toward the practical, you will be challenged at times with the full stainless construction.

Car camping in Utah's Indian Creek rock climbing area. As part of a full car camping kitchen  the Stanley set up can pretty effectively replicate your home kitchen.
Car camping in Utah's Indian Creek rock climbing area. As part of a full car camping kitchen, the Stanley set up can pretty effectively replicate your home kitchen.

Packability


You don't choose the Base Camp for ultimate packability. A set like this, of course, is way, way better than a collection of your home kitchen equipment.


It all nests together and seals with a tight bungee lid keeper. The parts sit tightly enough together, with enough of the plastic parts separating metal parts (provided you pack it in the right order.

Packing instructions  permanently etched inside the lid of the Stanley set. At first this seems gimmicky  but it proves to be real nice when repacking.
Packing instructions, permanently etched inside the lid of the Stanley set. At first this seems gimmicky, but it proves to be real nice when repacking.

Thankfully there are packing instructions etched into the inside of the lid - brilliant) that rattling is virtually eliminated, even in the back of a jostling Jeep.

The Stanley kit  all packed up with the contents and lid secured by this black and green elastic. It is secure and quiet this way.
The Stanley kit, all packed up with the contents and lid secured by this black and green elastic. It is secure and quiet this way.

Durability


Stanley comes to the camp cooking market from the sturdy insulated drink container business. Rugged is part of the deal.


The Base Camp Cook Set, in full stainless steel construction, is very durable. The cooking performance is tough to nail down, but the good news is that the performance will remain constant for its entire lifespan. No maintenance other than washing is required, and you can scrub with steel wool or sand or anything else. The plastic parts are rigid enough to work but soft enough to deflect damage without cracking. In our testing, we weren't able to break or crack any of the plastic parts with rigorous effort. The cooking surfaces of the Stanley pot and pan are quite robust and durable. Expect it to last for many, many years.

The spatula and serving spoon snap together with a joint that is kind of similar to a backpack strap buckle. The result is a secure and simple connection.
The spatula and serving spoon snap together with a joint that is kind of similar to a backpack strap buckle. The result is a secure and simple connection.

Weight


We speak highly of many attributes of the Stanley, but weight is not an attribute where the Stanley excels. This is too heavy for human-powered adventures.


The large size, stainless construction, and three-layer frying pan construction add up to a weighty package. Its heavy weight makes it best for car camping missions. While you could probably borrow a few components for a lightweight mission, even the pots themselves are quite heavy.

The Stanley pairs well with a car camping stove like our Top Pick grill/stove Eureka Gonzo.
The Stanley pairs well with a car camping stove like our Top Pick grill/stove Eureka Gonzo.

Ease of Use


With nearly full-size components and a carefully designed integration, the Stanley is quite easy to use. We like that the frying pan handle locks, that the one lid is easily interchanged between the pot and pan, and that the dual handles on the main pot are rigid, symmetrical, and positive to grip. The lid serves as a pasta strainer. The "drying rack" is an interesting addition that, at first, seems a little gimmicky. When, however, you are trying to air dry slippery little plastic plates, having something to stand them on does indeed help.


The use of the Stanley set is entirely different from that of others we test. The other products we tested seem to be designed with some sort of weight compromise in mind. With that weight, compromise comes usability disadvantages. Hinged or removable handles are inherently less useful than the rigid ones on the main pot of the Stanley. Overall, this is a well-crafted set that is quite easy to use.

Cooking in a wild setting with the beefy pot and pan of the Stanley Adventure Series set is a joy.
Cooking in a wild setting with the beefy pot and pan of the Stanley Adventure Series set is a joy.

Features


Many features come with this set. The "4x" qualifier suggests that this is designed for four people to cook and eat with.


The frying pan capacity is a little small for most four-person car camping meals; otherwise, it seems like an appropriate estimation. There are four bowls, four plates, and four sporks. The two-part spatula and serving spoon work almost as well as the versions you use at home.

All the components of the Stanley Adventure Series 4x. The green circle with the sporks in it is the "dish drying rack".
All the components of the Stanley Adventure Series 4x. The green circle with the sporks in it is the "dish drying rack".

Value


Many sets we tested are more expensive and don't perform as well. The beauty of stainless steel construction is that it is both inexpensive and durable. Other cookware materials are more expensive and less durable. Value is a Stanley strong suit. Those that will find the most value in this product is looking for a durable and rugged complete kitchen that they'll be using at a base camp or straight from their car.

The Stanley cook set is well-suited to something like a van kitchen. Where space is at a premium  but users are likely to make nicer food and weight is not a huge issue.
The Stanley cook set is well-suited to something like a van kitchen. Where space is at a premium, but users are likely to make nicer food and weight is not a huge issue.

Conclusion


There are few dedicated car camping cook sets on the market. Many people choose to just use regular kitchen supplies for car camping; this works well but takes up a ton of space. The Stanley approximates home kitchen equipment performance and weight with the space-savings cleverness of dedicated camping equipment.


Amber King & Jediah Porter