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MSR Trail Mini Duo Review

A simple pot and basic accessories for ultralight backpacking
msr trail mini duo camping cookware review
MSR Trail Mini Duo
Credit: MSR
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $55 List | $51.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, simple, just the right set of features
Cons:  Not suitable for sophisticated cooking
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Amber King & Jediah Porter  ⋅  Nov 10, 2022
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58
SCORE

RANK
#15
of 19
  • Cooking Performance - 35% 4.0
  • Packability - 10% 8.0
  • Durability - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7.0
  • Features - 15% 3.0

Our Verdict

The MSR Trail Mini Duo is a cook set that is excellent for ultralight backpacking, especially when paired with an ultralight canister-top stove. Camp cookware, as a category, holds a wide range of products, and this one represents one extreme end of the spectrum. It is essentially just a simple pot with a carefully curated set of accessories that optimize your usage without unduly weighing you down. Confine your food choices to those that require no more than hot water for preparation, choose this pot set, choose the rest of your kit with similar attention to weight, and you can end up with a comfortable backpacking set up that easily weighs under ten pounds with very few comfort or usability compromises.

Editor's Note: This review for the MSR Trail Mini Duo was updated on November 4, 2022, with a closer look at value and to offer suggestions for directly comparable products.

Compare Similar Products

 
msr trail mini duo camping cookware review
This Product
MSR Trail Mini Duo
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $51.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$90 List
$90.00 at REI
$50 List
$39.99 at Amazon
$25 List
$24.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
58
79
68
63
Bottom Line A simple pot and basic accessories for ultralight backpackingA high value camping set, optimized for performance and compact carry, at a high weightA budget, one stop shop for basic camping menusA super durable stainless steel cook set designed for the solo traveller
Rating Categories MSR Trail Mini Duo Stanley Adventure B... Winterial 11 Piece Set GSI Outdoors Glacie...
Cooking Performance (35%)
4.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
Packability (10%)
8.0
4.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (15%)
8.0
10.0
6.0
9.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
4.0
9.0
9.0
Ease of Use (15%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
8.0
Features (15%)
3.0
10.0
7.0
5.0
Specs MSR Trail Mini Duo Stanley Adventure B... Winterial 11 Piece Set GSI Outdoors Glacie...
Measured Weight 0.7 lbs 4.8 lbs 1.8 lbs 1.0 lbs
Material Hard-anodized Aluminum Stainless Steel; pot and pan bottoms have additional layers Hard-anodized Aluminum Stainless Steel
Components 1.2L pot, 28 oz. bowl, lid, pot lifter, stuff sack 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 1.9L pot, 6.5" frypan, lid, kettle, ladle, 2 bowls, spatula, scrubbing pad, hot pad 1L pot, 1 folding handle frypan, bowl, 1 cup, 1 stuff sack
Avg Boil Time (mins) 4.02 4.12 3.50 3.05
3L Pot? (>2.4L) 0 1 0 0
2L Pot? (1.5-2.4L) 0 0 1 0
1L Pot? (.5-1.4L) 1 0 0 1
Frying Pan? 0 1 1 1
Frying Pan Lid? N/a No No No
Packed Size 5 x 5.5 in 11 x 6 x 11 in 6.75 x 3.5 in 6.7 x 6.6 x 3.5 in
Weight of Pot Closest to 1.5L (With Lid and Handle) 0.5lbs 1.9 lbs 0.6 lbs 0.74 lbs
Cooking Surfaces Hard Anodized Stainless Steel Non-Stick Teflon 18/8 Stainless Steel

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Duo is nothing more than a tiny pot with just the right set of accessories for ultralight backpacking. This, plus a stove, spoon, and wide-mouth water bottle completes a fast and light kitchen. In the context of lightweight backpacking, a simple "just add water" meals are the easiest and lightest. The Trail Mini excels in packability, simplicity, and weight and suffers for cooking performance and in terms of versatility. This is, essentially, just a pot for boiling water, with a few carefully chosen accessories.

Performance Comparison


msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - light and fast travel requires light and fast food and kitchen...
Light and fast travel requires light and fast food and kitchen supplies. The Trail Mini Duo is just what the doctor ordered. Here our lead test editor Jediah Porter bulks up his ultralight kitchen with a frying pan for night one steak time. Otherwise, his kit is uber light with the Trail Mini Duo.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Cooking Performance


You don't choose the Trail Mini Duo for cooking performance.


The tall, narrow shape is better optimized for packing than it is for cooking. It heats water and boils pasta just fine, but try and simmer rice or fry an egg in there, and you are asking for trouble. The issue is that the narrow bottom and tall sides simultaneously focus on burner heat on the bottom and hinder effective stirring and scraping of the bottom. The good news is that the usage patterns of someone that might choose this sort of specialized equipment lean away from extensive cooking and towards simpler "just add water" meals. For these simpler meals, the Trail Mini is optimized.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - the tall, narrow profile of the trail mini duo is well suited to...
The tall, narrow profile of the Trail Mini Duo is well suited to packing, but means the heat of your burner is further concentrated.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Packability


Here the Trail Mini Duo excels. The dimensions are optimized to serve two people on a lightweight backpack trip, and the interior is sized to fit an eight-ounce fuel canister and a small stove.


In this configuration, your entire kitchen takes up not much more space than a night of freeze-dried food. This is our top choice for ultralight missions where you need a small pot that'll keep you healthy.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - msr gives thought to overall packability. their pocket rocket 2...
MSR gives thought to overall packability. Their Pocket Rocket 2 stove and an eight ounce fuel canister fit right inside the Trail Mini Duo pot, along with the pot gripper and maybe a couple of oatmeal packets.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Durability


Anodized aluminum isn't necessarily the most durable construction, but it comes close. Stainless steel and titanium construction are both more durable than aluminum.


However, when you consider cooking performance, the minor durability compromise of aluminum is worth it. The pot will dent with great force, and the anodizing will scratch off with time. Be careful about the metal stuff you put inside the pot (basically, pad the fuel canister and stove with a piece of dishcloth), and don't worry about scratches on the outside.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - teflon construction is susceptible to scratches. if you look closely...
Teflon construction is susceptible to scratches. If you look closely you'll see one from storing the handle (at the bottom) inside the cook set. Be sure to only use plastic utensils to maintain longevity.
Credit: Amber King

Weight


We granted this our Top Pick award for its serviceability in lightweight backpacking. Weight is a big part of that consideration. For what is included, and the functionality of the components (not to mention the packability), the weight is great.


msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - the bowl is a nice touch and we appreciate that the lid fits on both...
The bowl is a nice touch and we appreciate that the lid fits on both it and the cook set.
Credit: Amber King

It can be stripped down to just under a half-pound. In its full configuration, it is 0.7 pounds. If you're seeking a pot that'll keep your carried weight down on the trail, this is one to consider. That said, because it doesn't boil water as fast as other designs, it does require more resources than others in the long run.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - a mid-route bivouac high on wyoming's mount moran. in this context...
A mid-route bivouac high on Wyoming's Mount Moran. In this context, an ultralight cooking set up is paramount.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Ease of Use


The Trail Duo is a well-thought-out setup and includes what you need, and nothing more, for preparing food for two on an ultralight backpacking mission. When we select ultralight backpacking supplies, we immediately investigate how we can make it lighter. It is a testament to the ease of use of the MSR that we would leave little to nothing behind on even the rowdiest of ultralight missions. We especially appreciate the rubber ring around the top of the pot that allows for the gloveless and handle-less pouring of all but the hottest of pot-fulls.


It is for ease of use that the MSR edges ahead of other ultralight offerings. For ultralight food prep, there is no set that we have found that does better than the Trail Mini Duo. Of course, for more elaborate food preparation, the MSR will surely suffer. For more "standard" backpacking meal prep, we recommend other options with better overall performance and features.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - that textured rubber ring allows you to, at least briefly, hold the...
That textured rubber ring allows you to, at least briefly, hold the Trail Mini Duo even when full of hot water. Here, of course, the contents are not yet hot.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Features


This cook set includes a basic but thorough set of features for backpacking food preparation. The set is built around a 1-liter pot (filled to the brim it holds 1.5L; effectively, the capacity is 1L) with a nice, plastic lid. The lid features a cut out for pliers gripping and a set of holes through which to strain your pasta water. Around the bottom of the pot, nests a 600ml Lexan plastic bowl. The pot can be moved, even when quite hot, with either the rubber ring (removable for ultralight use) around the pot rim or by using the included ridiculously light pot gripping pliers. The whole package slides into a mesh stuff sack.


For its intended purpose, no product we tested has a better set of features than the Trail Mini Duo. Of course, for more sophisticated camping, whether backpacking or car camping, you will want more features.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - all the components of the trail mini duo set. just what you need...
All the components of the Trail Mini Duo set. Just what you need, and nothing extra.
Credit: Jediah Porter

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - the trail mini duo, packed up with stove and fuel inside, all inside...
The Trail Mini Duo, packed up with stove and fuel inside, all inside its lightweight stuff sack. Note the plastic "bowl" nested around the bottom of the pot and inside the bag.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Should You Buy the MSR Trail Mini Duo?


The MSR Trail Mini Duo is the right choice for someone who needs a super light and compact pot and bowl for ultralight backpacking. There is not much else to the set other than a lid, a handle, and a sack. If you decide to go with this set, be sure you're okay with your cookware being limited to boiling water and preparing the simplest of meals.

msr trail mini duo camping cookware review - the msr trail mini duo is at home on backpacking trips like these in...
The MSR Trail Mini Duo is at home on backpacking trips like these in Iceland.
Credit: Amber King

What Other Camping Cookware Should You Consider?


If you're looking for a one-person backpacking set that's very budget-friendly, the GSI Outdoors Glacier 1-Person includes a pot, a bowl, a frying pan, and a mug. If you want top-tier cooking performance and more functionality out of a backpacking cookware set, we can't say enough good things about the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist HS.

Amber King & Jediah Porter

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