The GSI Pinnacle Camper is one of the best cook sets we have tested, with a particular affinity towards cooking for larger groups. As a "one-stop-shop" product, made up of high-quality components, this award winner will get you 90% of the way to a gourmet camp kitchen. It provides excellent cooking performance, has many features, and allows you to easily parse out different items to different types of trips. Use the entire set as your camping set-up or grab a pot and cup for your next overnight camping trip. Composed of Teflon, it is not for everybody but offers easy cleaning after even the stickiest meals.Editor's Note: This review for the GSI Pinnacle Camper set was updated on November 4, 2022, to include a hot take on value and directly compare this set to other, similar cookware sets.
GSI Pinnacle Camper Review
Cons: Pot handle gets hot, heavy
Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors
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|Pros||Comprehensive, high end materials||Durable, excellent frying pan for discerning cooks, great lid, great value for the set||Super fast water boiling, very nonstick, dishes and silverware for two, mindfully designed||Environmental and health-friendly ceramic construction, lightweight and versatile overall construction||Super durable, simple design, inexpensive, great for meats, fast boiling time|
|Cons||Pot handle gets hot, heavy||Heavy, no non-stick coating||No frying pan, not ideal for larger groups||Fragile coating and pots dent easily, no features beyond two basic pots||Limited cooking options, hot spots while cooking|
|Bottom Line||A comprehensive set of cookware for all sorts of camping scenarios||A high value camping set, optimized for performance and compact carry, at a high weight||A top-tier backpacking set that heats efficiently and offers enough room for a stove and a fuel canister to fit inside||For gourmet and health-conscious campers, this set will form the foundation or three to four campers||A super durable stainless steel cook set designed for the solo traveller|
|Rating Categories||GSI Pinnacle Camper||Stanley Adventure B...||GSI Outdoors Pinnac...||MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set||GSI Outdoors Glacie...|
|Cooking Performance (35%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||GSI Pinnacle Camper||Stanley Adventure B...||GSI Outdoors Pinnac...||MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set||GSI Outdoors Glacie...|
|Measured Weight||3.7 lbs||4.8 lbs||1.4 lbs||1 lbs||1.0 lbs|
|Material||Hard-anodized Aluminum w/Non-Stick Coating||Stainless Steel; pot and pan bottoms have additional layers||Hard-anodized Aluminum w/Non-Stick Coating||Hard-anodized Aluminum||Stainless Steel|
|Components||3L pot, 2L pot, 9" fry pan, strainer lid, four 14oz mugs, 4 14oz bowls, 4 7.5" plates, folding pot gripper, welded storage bag/sink.||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||1.8 L Pot, Strainer Lid, 2 20 fl. oz. Mugs w/ Insulated Sleeves, 2 20 fl. oz. Bowls, 2 Sip-It Tops, 2 Folding Foons, Welded Sink||2L pot, 1.5L pot, strainer lid, 2 plates, 2 mugs, handle||1L pot, 1 folding handle frypan, bowl, 1 cup, 1 stuff sack|
|Avg Boil Time (mins)||3.78||4.12||1.3||3.58||3.05|
|3L Pot? (>2.4L)||0||1||0||0||0|
|2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L)||1||0||1||1||0|
|1L Pot? (.5-1.4L)||0||0||0||0||1|
|Frying Pan Lid?||Yes||No||N/a||N/a||No|
|Packed Size||8.5 x 4.6 in||11 x 6 x 11 in||5.9 x 6.4 x 5.9 in||5.3 x 7.8 in||6.7 x 6.6 x 3.5 in|
|Weight of Pot Closest to 1.5L (With Lid and Handle)||1.0 lbs||1.9 lbs||0.7 lbs||0.5 lbs||0.74 lbs|
|Cooking Surfaces||Pot and Frypan have Non-Stick Teflon Coating||Stainless Steel||Hard-Anodized, Non-Stick Coating||One Non-Stick Pot (1.5L), One Uncoated Pot (2.5L)||18/8 Stainless Steel|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pinnacle Camper is GSI's top-of-the-line product. It uses a higher-end version of Teflon making its cooking performance superior to other Teflon-based sets. For camping or backpacking (while making relatively involved, gourmet meals), this Editors' Choice winner is the best-integrated set we have used. It has what you need, with only well thought out extras. As with any extra components of a set like this, when space and weight matter more you can leave things at home.
A cook set is for cooking. But how will you cook? Are you preparing simple, "just-add-water" meals? In that case, it is likely overkill. However, if you aim to prepare food in the backcountry that approximates that which you can make at home, you have to be very discerning in your selection of cookware. For these more involved "glamping" meals, it has all that you need, and each piece is well made and optimized for cooking performance. The aluminum construction, with pot and pan walls thicker than average, distributes heat effectively and evenly. The top-of-the-line Teflon Radiance coating on both pots and the frying pan sheds all but the stickiest of foods. The lids fit tightly, hold their shape, lift easily, and have strainer holes for draining pasta and steamed vegetables.
What we do know, now, is that the Pinnacle Camper set is made with an excellent non-stick coating, that offers great performance while cooking up scrambled eggs or making some the stickiest meals out there.
For boiling water in the wild, the GSI Pinnacle pots do okay. It offers about an average boiling time at 3:47. While this isn't as fast as those with heat exchangers, it's a good enough time to keep you happy and healthy in all sorts of backcountry environments.
Straight "out of the box", this is among the bulkier sets in our review. It takes up as much space in your backpack as a compressed winter down sleeping bag, for instance.
There are a few ways, though, to look at this. First, most will choose this sort of set for gourmet "glamping". In that context, bulk and weight are secondary to convenience and cooking performance. Next, this is a set of cookware for a group of four. In that group, all the shared equipment can be divided for packing. Additionally, many will never even carry this cook set on their backs. It is well suited to camping and boat-supported trips. Finally, for the more weight-conscious trips you may take, or for a smaller subset of your group, you can strip down to fewer parts.
The positive, flip side of the packability equation with this cook set is that it is quiet and fully self-contained. The components all nest together such that "metal-on-metal" contact is virtually eliminated, and then it is all held snugly together by the included storage bag/water reservoir/dish basin. GSI products are cleverly packable.
The durability of a cook set is a function of its main material, and of its non-stick coating if any. The aluminum structure is, thankfully, quite thick.
This makes it heavier than a thinner construct would, but it makes it both cook better and be more resistant to denting and bending. The Teflon non-stick coating requires careful treatment to remain intact. You must use only plastic or wooden utensils and cleaning materials on the pots and pan. Anything metal (or, for cleaning, sand, and gravel) will scratch and permanently degrade the coating.
On the surface, this set of cookware is super heavy. However, when you correct for size and components, the difference isn't as profound. For camping and other trips with mechanized or animal or boat support, the weight of the entire set is justifiable.
For groups of exactly four, cooking together and aiming for excellent backcountry food and drink, the entire set is suitable for backpacking use. For lighter trips and smaller groups, leave some of the components behind. For absolute ultralight trips, other choices are more appropriate.
Ease of Use
GSI does a good job of optimizing the usability of all its cook sets. The parts all nest together well, do their individual tasks efficiently and smoothly and complement each other in use.
We like the insulated mugs and the tight-sealing frying pan lid the best. The proprietary pot gripper is light, compact, and secure, but gets hotter than others and cannot be used with non-GSI pots and pans.
It has exactly the features you want and need, and nothing more. No set we have ever tested is fully comprehensive, but this set comes close.
You will have to add eating and cooking utensils, but otherwise, you are fully equipped.
Should You Buy the GSI Pinnacle Camper?
The GSI Pinnacle Camper is for the avid base camper that wants an extensive camping cookware set that can certainly fill most of the needs for cooking and dining for four people. Compared to other base camping sets, this one is compact and light. It's ideal for car camping, but we would definitely haul this set along on a river trip or for larger mountaineering groups.
What Other Camping Cookware Should You Consider?
If the price of the GSI Pinnacle Camper is a bit daunting, the Stanley Adventure Base Camp is a fantastic bargain for a base camping set that weighs a bit more than this one. For backpacking, it's hard to top the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS. The pot included with the Dualist HS set has a heat exchanger ring on the bottom that practically zaps water. If you're planning a solo backcountry adventure, the MSR Trail Mini Duo weighs next to nothing and is ideal for boiling water and preparing basic dehydrated meals.
— Amber King & Jediah Porter
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