Best Backpacking Mess Kit

You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way - Dr. Seuss

It’s in our nature to seek adventure, to aspire to see and do everything that we can, and experience the many wonders of our world.

Emboldened by our thirst for excitement and an unsatiated hunger to explore the places that lie just over the horizon, we are continually looking for ways to escape the mundanity of our everyday lives.

Even though we know that the grass will inevitably be the same shade of green as it is in our own yards, it doesn’t stop us from wanting to make absolutely sure that the green over there is the same as the green over here is. It’s human nature. It’s who we are and who we always will be. 

Best Backpacking Mess Kit

Fulfilling that need to get away doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t need to fly half-way around the globe or sail the seven seas to sample the majesty of nature and everything that it has to offer.

All you need is a backpack, and if you’re planning on venturing a little further or staying out longer, a tent, and a willingness to get out there to discover everything that you can.

Okay, so truthfully you’re going to need a little more than just a backpack, and as we all like, and need, to eat and drink you’re going to need the right kit so you can dine in the style you’re accustomed to wherever you are.

Just because you’re looking to do some communing with nature, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat with your fingers and off the bark of a tree.

That’s why we’ve tracked down five of the best backpacking mess kits you can eat your adventure rations from so that you can just grab whichever one suits you the best, throw it in your backpack and head straight for the wilderness trails. Let’s get messy…

Top 5 Best Backpacking Mess Kit

OUR TOP PICK

GSI Outdoors, Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set for Camping and Backpacking, 2 to 4 Person

When you and your clan, or your buddies, are planning a big escape into the great outdoors, you’re going to want to have enough cooking utensils, plates, bowls, jugs, and cups to make sure that your whole posse is catered for.

That’s where this Camper and Cooking Set from GSI comes in, as this family-sized mess kit has everything you’ll need to dish up meals with, and on, for your entire party. 

With four insulated mugs, four plates, a two-liter jug and a three-liter jug, a frying pan, a couple of pots, and a washing bowl, it's the whole camping cookout enchilada that’ll keep your entire group fed, and help to stave off any mutinous thoughts your expedition might be plagued by.

After all, a well-fed crew is a happy crew and this GSI mess kit has enough equipment to ensure that everyone’s appetites are kept in check. 

It even comes with its own storage bag, so when you’ve eaten your fill and done the washing up, you can just throw everything into the bag until you’re ready to set up camp again.

The only problem you’ll have is deciding which of you is going to carry it. 

Pros

  • It’s an ideal way to cook and serve up the food that your ideal sized camping party will need to flourish wherever you decide to venture and roam. 
  • The GSI is also color-coded, so everyone can have their own plate and mug and no-one will be forced to share. Having your own plate can be important, it’s little things like that that keep up morale and stop spirits flagging when you’re out in the wild, untamed countryside and wilderness. Camping trips have been irredeemably spoiled by far less.

Cons

  • It seems slightly odd that such a comprehensive mess kit doesn’t come with any cutlery. There isn’t a single knife or fork in sight, let alone a spoon. If you’re going to want to eat like a civilized member of society, and not be forced to eat your evening meal with your fingers, you’re going to have to pay extra for some cutlery.

EDITORS CHOICE

Gold Armour 17 Pieces Camping Cookware Mess Kit Backpacking Gear and Hiking Outdoors Bug Out Bag Cooking Equipment Cookset | Lightweight, Compact, Durable Pot Pan Bowls (Green)

When you and your trusty companion in backpacking chicanery want to get away from it all and embrace the rugged rewards of the outdoor life, there’s no better mess kit to do it with than this seventeen piece set from Gold Armour. 

It’s got everything that you’ll need to enjoy a meal around a campfire while discussing the day’s events and trying to figure out a comfortable way of going to the bathroom in the unspoiled majesty of wherever it is that you’ve ended up for the evening. 

This Gold Armour mess kit has it all. Folding stainless steel cutlery, an anodized pot, and frying pan, the plates you’ll need to eat from and it even comes with its own, easy to light, and use mini stove.

Once you’re ready to pack and up and go, you can just load it into the bag it comes in and then attach said mess kit bag to the bottom, or side, of your backpack using the carabiner that comes with the mess kit.

We don’t say this very often, but whoever thought of including that carabiner was a genius. It makes carrying the mess kit so much easier and far less complicated than it would be if you needed to carry it in your backpack.

And Gold Armour is so convinced that you’ll love their mess kit as much as they do, that it comes with a full ten-year warranty. Ten years’ worth of camping and backpacking peace of mind? 

That’s the sort of deal that you can’t put a price on. Well, actually you can and it’s a surprisingly affordable one.  

Pros

  • The inclusion of the mini-stove and the carabiner to make carrying the kit easier is the sort of attention to detail that a lot of bigger camping brands should take note of. It’s the little things that matter and make everything that little bit better.
  • Even with all of the gear that it comes with, the Gold Armour Mess Kit only weighs a pound and a half. It’s so light, it’ll put even more spring in your backpacking step. 
  • It’s astonishingly affordable. We don’t know if it’s some sort of loss leader or some weird offset profit scheme, but we can’t figure out how Gold Armour is making any money off their mess kit when they’re charging the sort of price they are for it.

Cons

  • It is, according to the camping folks in the know, a notoriously difficult mess kit to clean when your dishwashing options are as limited as they are in the wild. So it’s probably not the best suited to long weekends in the woods or any trips that are due to last more than a day.

BEST VALUE

MSR Quick 2 System Cook Set

If there was a backpack mess kit popularity contest, then the MSR Quick 2 System would win it hands down. 

It’s been the mess kit of choice for serious outdoor enthusiasts for years, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be knocked off its top spot anytime soon.

It’s a compact easy to use mess kit that anyone who has ever played Tetris or spent endless hours stacking Russian Dolls will take to like a duck to water.

Everything that comes as standard with the MSR, the two DeepDish plates, two stainless steel mugs, stainer, and one-point five-liter pot is stored in an even bigger two and a half liter pot.

It’s an efficient way of carrying almost everything that you’ll need to prepare, and enjoy your meals when out and about on your backpacking expeditions and hiking trips. 

It’s also, given how robust and durable the MSR is, surprisingly light, and when fully packed up, weighs just over one and a half pounds.

So it won’t break your back when you’re strolling to the next destination on your vacation.

In fact, you probably won’t even notice you’re carrying it. 

Pros

  • Easy to use, simple to stack, and even easier to clean, it’s fairly obvious why the MSR is so popular with the camping set. Because it helps to keep your outdoor life stress free. 
  • We kind of like the efficient way it fits together before, and after you use it and have to admit that fitting the pieces of the MSR mess kit puzzle together is sort of fun. 
  • MSR makes their mess kits tough and this one is built to last and last and last. Which given its price tag, will make you exceedingly happy.

Cons

  • Again, there’s no cutlery. What is it with these mess kits that don’t come with knives forks or spoons? Looks like cutlery is going to be an extra expense if you decide to take the MSR with you on your backpacking trips.

RUNNER UP

Light My Fire 8-Piece BPA-Free Meal Kit 2.0 with Plate, Bowl, Cup, Cutting Board, Spork and More, Black

If someone else is going to be doing all of the cooking, or you’re going to be taking ready prepared meals and MRE’s with you, then this lightweight, durable, easy to carry and simple to use and clean eight-piece mess kit is all that you’ll need for any backpacking excursion. 

Fashioned from polypropylene, which is an incredibly hard-wearing plastic that won’t bend or buckle with heat,  Light My Fire’s mess kit includes a bowl, a plate, a mug, a strainer and cutting board, and an all in one spork, that’s an incredible, futuristic utensil that completely eliminates the need for separate items of cutlery.

And it also comes with a harness that you use to attach the mess kit to your backpack, which makes it nearly indispensable for the backpacker who doesn’t have the time to sit back and watch the world go by, but instead just wants to eat and go. 

It’s a light, straightforward and simple mess kit that’s been designed for the more serious-minded and focused backpacker and camper. When you want to cut the excess that you’re taking with you to an absolute minimum, Light My Fire is the only way to go.

Pros

It’s a seriously light bit of backpacking kit and weighs in at just over 12 ounces. The Light My Fire is a remarkably well-engineered and thought out mess kit.

Seriously though, the spork? It’s worth getting the Light My Fire mess kit for that alone. It’ll improve every aspect of your outdoor life, even if you leave the rest of this mess kit behind, you need the spork.

Cons

There’s no cooking equipment or stove. Just some plates, a cup, and a spork. But if that’s all you need, then this mess kit is perfect. 

RUNNER UP

MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit Gear – Camp Accessories Equipment Pots and Pans Set 1L

Okay, what we said about the spork with the Light My Fire mess kit?

Forget it, as the MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit includes a spork.  And a soup spoon. And everything that you’ll need to cook and prepare your food while you’re backpacking.

It isn’t exactly a secret that this budget camping mess kit is insanely popular and it’s easy to see why.

It includes a couple of anodized pans (the larger of which everything else is packed into) the aforementioned spork and soup spoon, a wooden spatula, two bowls, and a nylon drawstring sack to carry it all in. 

That’s an awful lot of mess kit that should see anyone through any, and all, camping vacations

Truthfully, we hadn’t heard of MalloMe either, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing, as brand recognition can be seriously overrated. Especially when a mess kit is as pocketbook-friendly as the MalloMe is. 

Pros

  • The MalloMe is a whole lot of mess kit for a staggeringly low price. We figured out why it was so popular, and it’s all about basic economics. You get far more for your money with MalloMe.

Cons

  • First, there was the mess kit that didn’t come with any cutlery, then there was a mess kit that didn’t have any cooking apparatus and finally, there’s one that doesn’t include a mug. That’s right folks, the MalloMe doesn’t include a mug. It might not be a deal-breaker for most backpackers, but if you enjoy your morning coffee as much as we do, it should certainly give you pause for thought.

Best Backpacking Mess Kit Buying Guide

What Is Backpacking? 

Backpacking is an inexpensive way to travel that’s usually inextricably linked to camping and involves a lot of hiking in, and on mountains and forests.

In most people’s minds, backpacking and camping are one and the same, as, if you’re going backpacking, you’ll usually be carrying a tent with you.

That said, in Europe, it also refers to a form of travel in which the backpacker stays in low-cost accommodation such as youth hostels and bed and breakfast establishments.

What Is A Mess Kit? 

A mess kit is a portable collection of dinnerware and cookware that’s usually associated with and used by people who enjoy camping, backpacking, and hiking.

First used by armies during long military campaigns,  mess kits were later adopted by organizations such as the scouts for their camping trips before passing into common usage by backpackers and campers. 

Which Backpacking Mess Kit Is Right For Me? 

That all depends on how much equipment you want, need your mess kit to include, how light and easy to carry you want it to be, and what your budget is.

There’s a mess kit for every backpacking and camping eventuality on our list, and one designed to suit every budget. You just have to choose which one is right for you.

However, if you were asking us which backpacking mess kit we’d recommend, then quick as a flash, we’d always choose Gold Armour. It’s durable, light has more cooking and dining ware than you’re likely to need, and is also astonishingly easy to carry.

But if you do go with our choice, just remember to buy some cutlery. You’re going to need it out there. 

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