The Best Camping Mess Kits in 2021

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In the market for a new camping mess kit, but haven’t a clue on where to start?

We’re here to help. We’ve scoured the market for the best camping mess kits available today and came back with a pretty comprehensive list to help you wade through the dozens of product search results.

There are a few things you should understand about mess kits before making your purchase.

  • Mess kit materials. Stainless steel? plastic? aluminum? Each material has its own set of pros and cons, so pick one that fits best for your camping adventures.
  • Number of utensils needed. Some of these mess kits are designed for solo campers, while others can allow more than four people to cook and eat at the campsite.
  • Size and weight. Obviously this is important for backpackers, but you also want something that’s compact when packing up your car.

Read More : 3 Things to Know Before Buying Camping Mess Kits

So, pack up that cooler and let’s dig into some great food at the campsite.

Our top picks

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For Budget Minded : UCO 6-Piece Mess Kit
“Ultra-durable, super compact and easy to clean, thanks to its dunk-hang-bundle design.”

Best for the Money : Overmont Camping Mess Kit
“For the cost and the amount of utensils, pots and pans that are included, you’ll have everything you need.”

Best for 1 Person : GSI Outdoors Glacier 1-Person Mess Kit
“A solid kit for preparing and eating your camp meals while backpacking.”

Best for 2 Person : MSR 2-Person Mess Kit
“Perfect for couples who camp together.”

Best Lightweight : Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set
“Durable, lightweight mess kit that’s also easy to clean.”

UCO 6-Piece Mess Kit

UCO 6-Piece Mess Kits
Photo Credit : UCO
  • Utensils : 6
  • Material : Polypropylene / Thermoplastic elastomer / Glass-filled Nylon

The UCO 6-Piece Mess Kit is a basic, but perfect camping mess kit for those on a budget who also want something practical.

It’s ultra-durable, super compact and easy to clean, thanks to its dunk-hang-bundle design.

This six-piece kit builds off UCO’s four and five-piece kits. New to this kit is the two-piece extending Switch Spork, which you’ll probably use for most meals. It’s important to note that you won’t get any pots and pans with this kit.

As a bonus, the UCO 6-Piece Mess Kit comes in three really nice color options.

What We Like

  • Budget price. Great for those looking for a quick, cheap solution.
  • Collapsible cup. Don’t worry about your cup taking up a ton of room because it fits in the container.
  • Sturdy utensils. Tackle a juicy steak without worrying about your fork or knife breaking.

What We Don't Like

  • No pots and pans. If you need them, you’ll have to buy them separately.
  • Easy to spill. Some users complained it can be difficult to hang onto the container that doubles as your plate and bowl.

Overmont Camping Mess Kit

Overmont Camping Mess Kits
Photo Credit : Overmont
  • Utensils : 15
  • Material : Aluminum

If you currently don’t own a camping mess kit, you can’t go wrong with the Overmont Camping Mess Kit.

For the cost and the amount of utensils, pots and pans that are included, you’ll have everything you need for your camping meals.

So, what’s included in this kit designed for up to three people? A pot, frying pan, small kettle, three plastic bowls and an indestructible aluminium cutlery set. We especially like the kettle, cooking pot and frying pan. They’re all made of anodized aluminum, which helps heat things up quicker.

There have been some complaints about the set, including how difficult it can be to clean. You may have to let your pans soak overnight in hot, soapy water in order to scrub off food that burnt on.

Other than that, this Overmont mess kit is a winner.

What We Like

  • Best value. You can’t beat the price for this 15-piece set.
  • Includes everything and more. You probably didn’t even know you needed some of the utensils.

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn’t clean well. Especially if you’re using oils to cook.

GSI Outdoors Glacier 1-Person Mess Kit

GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless 1-Person Mess Kit
Photo Credit : GSI
  • Utensils : 4
  • Material : Stainless steel / Silicone / Polypropylene

Designed for the solo camper and backpacker, the GSI Outdoors Glacier mess kit is about as basic as it gets, but that’s not a bad thing.

Made of 18/8 stainless steel, this kit is extremely durable and allows for even cooking.

It’s important to note that some users have complained the pan does take a while to heat up.

We really like how this mess kit folds up together when stowed away. Be careful, though, because there’s no locking mechanism to keep it all together. You can store it in the included mesh bag.

There’s nothing flashy about this GSI Outdoors mess kit. So, if you’re patient with the pan heating up, it’s a solid kit for preparing and eating your camp meals.

What We Like

  • Compact. Everything fits nicely together and it comes with a mesh carrying case.
  • Perfect for solo camping. Because it’s light and compact, you can’t go wrong with it on solo adventures.

What We Don't Like

  • Slow to heat. The pan takes a while to get hot, so be patient.

MSR 2-Person Mess Kit

MSR 2-Person Mess Kits
Photo Credit : MSR
  • Utensils : 6
  • Material : Polypropylene

If you’re looking for a camping dining set for you and a friend or partner, the MSR 2-Person Mess Kit definitely serves that purpose.

The first thing we noticed was how compact this kit is during storage. It includes a mesh bag that keeps everything, including a large 10oz cup, nicely packed together.

The bowls hold about three cups worth of liquid, which make them perfect for soups.

Some campers aren’t fans of the plastic mug, but that’s more of a personal preference. It’s still durable and can be used for cold water or hot coffee.

For the price, this MSR mess kit is perfect for couples who camp together.

What We Like

  • Lightweight. Especially great for backpacking campers, you’ll forget this is even in your pack.
  • Durable. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This kit can handle the toughest of camping conditions.
  • Large mug. For a small mess kit, it’s nice that it includes a 10oz mug.

What We Don't Like

  • Bowl is small. Experienced campers might be able to handle it, but for newbies, it could be challenging.

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set Mess Kits
Photo Credit : Sea to Summit
  • Utensils : 6
  • Material : Glass-reinforced Polypropylene

A durable, lightweight mess kit that’s also easy to clean, the Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set comes with everything you need to enjoy some fine dining at the campsite.

The first thing we noticed are the two fun color options. You can choose from bright blue and orange. But color is only a nice feature if the mess kit works. Many campers agree that this is a great kit.

The pan doesn’t get hot on the handle, it weighs only 10.5oz. and the plate and bowl are plenty big. The utensils are definitely usable, but don’t expect the knife to be able to cut through a thick steak.

We like how Sea to Summit designed a tall lip on the plate. It’s much more practical and functional.

What We Like

  • Compact. It folds into a compact case that fits in a mesh bag.
  • Dishwasher safe. Always nice for when you return from camping.
  • Comes in two fun colors. Choose from bright orange or blue.

What We Don't Like

  • More expensive. In the same price range as 10 and 12-piece mess kits.

MalloMe Camping Mess Kit

MalloMe Camping Mess Kits
Photo Credit : MalloMe
  • Utensils : 10
  • Material : Aluminum

Sturdy handles, lightweight and tools for cleaning. You can’t really ask for much more out of the MalloMe.

The 10-piece kit, which includes an anodized aluminum non-stick pan, collapses into a compact circular shape that fits into a mesh bag. It weighs a mere 1.6lbs.

What we really like about this kit is that it includes a wooden spoon, which can be used for cooking and cleaning, and a sponge, which is extremely useful. This is minor, but the handle on the spatula is long, which makes it difficult to pack back up.

If you need pans with your mess kit, make sure to consider the MalloMe Camping Mess Kit.

What We Like

  • Incredible value. A 10-piece aluminum set for this price is a great deal.
  • Includes cleaning sponge. It’s pretty rare for a mess kit to also include a cleaning sponge.
  • Extremely durable. Made of non-toxic anodized aluminum that can take a beating.

What We Don't Like

  • On the small side. Some campers complain about this, but mess kits are supposed to be on the small side.

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Mess Kit

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Mess Kits
Photo Credit : GSI
  • Utensils : 4
  • Material : Aluminum / Polypropylene

The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo mess kit has lasted some campers more than 20 years, which is a great testament to its durability and usability.

The pot and pan are coated with two layers of nonstick coating, which helps prevent scratches and ensures they last a long time. The bowl and cup are made of a high-strength plastic.

A big selling point of this mess kit is its weight. At just over 1lbs. it’s extremely light and perfect for backpacking campers. Some campers have said the gripper on the pot handle is poorly designed, but those opinions were few and far between.

Campers have reported the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Mess Kit is easy to clean, which is always nice.

What We Like

  • Ultra lightweight. This four-piece aluminium set weighs in at 1lbs.
  • Large pot. At 1 quart, that’s more than enough for soup and other meals.
  • Innovative design. The pan also doubles as a lid for the pot.

What We Don't Like

  • Awkward handle. Be careful using the pan. The handle takes some getting used to.

Light My Fire MessKit BIO

Light My Fire BIO Mess Kits
Photo Credit : Light My Fire
  • Utensils : 8
  • Material : Bio-based plastics

For those who like to buy eco-friendly products, the Light My Fire MessKit BIO is a great option.

The kit includes one lid/plate, one deep-bottomed bowl/plate, one 8oz pack-up-cup and one Light My Fire Spork Original BIO.

There’s also a rubber harness that allows you to keep everything together, which is what we like best about this mess kit.

It can actually double as a lunchbox if you store food in it and then put everything together with the rubber harness. Some campers complained the lock wasn’t tight enough, but for dry foods, it should work just fine.

If sustainability is high on your list, then definitely check out this Light My Fire mess kit.

What We Like

  • Compact. This might be the easiest camping mess kit to carry.
  • Fun colors. Choose from three modern colors, including hazy blue, sandy green and rusty orange.
  • Eco-friendly. This mess kit is made with reusable, bio-based plastics.

What We Don't Like

  • A little heavy. It’s not the best for backpacking.
  • Cup isn’t the best, but it gets the job done.

Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kit

Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kits
Photo Credit : Coleman
  • Utensils : 5
  • Material : Stainless Steel

No camping gear list is complete without a product by Coleman. Say hello to the Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kit.

When you buy Coleman, you know you’re getting an extremely durable piece of gear that will last you several years, and perhaps decades. On the flip side, this isn’t the best looking mess kit, but it’s a tool used to help you eat your food, so no big deal.

Its stainless steel body helps with its durability, but be careful because it can get pretty hot while cooking. That type of durability does mean it’s on the heavier side and definitely geared more toward traditional camping and not backpacking.

Like most mess kits on this list, the Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kit also comes with a mesh bag used for storage and for hang-drying after a cleaning.

What We Like

  • Inexpensive. A great value for this five-piece set.
  • Versatile. Pot turns into a frying pan with a locking handle.
  • Trusted brand. Coleman is the brand for camping in America.

What We Don't Like

  • Tough to clean burnt food. That’s pretty common with a lot of mess kits, though.

Camping Mess Kits Buying Guide

Before you purchase your mess kit and start dining around the campfire, it’s important to understand a few of the more technical specifications around this camping gear.

Use this guide to make a better-informed decision.

Mess kit materials

Mess kits come are made with a variety of materials, each with their own pros and cons.

Here are some of the more common ones.

Anodized aluminum

When it comes to even cooking, you can’t go wrong with anodized aluminum. Because it’s so well-balanced, you don’t have to worry too much about hotspots and burning a portion of your dinner.

From a practical perspective, aluminum mess kits, like the MalloMe Camping Mess Kit, fall right in the middle of other materials when it comes to weight and durability. You likely won’t take it backpacking.

Stainless steel

When it comes to durability and affordability, stainless steel, the material found in the Coleman Stainless Steel Mess Kit, is a great option for first-time and experienced campers alike.

The biggest downside to stainless steel is its weight, so it’s not a good option for backpacking campers. Stainless steel pots and pans are also prone to hot spots while cooking, so make sure it’s placed on the flame evenly.

Thermoplastic (Polypropylene)

Weight is the biggest advantage when it comes to thermoplastic mess kits. Also referred to as polypropylene, mess kits made with this material, like the MSR 2-Person Mess Kit, are extremely light, which is perfect for backpackers.

Durability was likely more of an issue many years ago, but the engineering of this material has greatly improved. Your thermoplastic mess kit might show some serious wear after a few years of camping, but it’s still going to serve its purpose.

Some campers may question if this plastic is safe, especially if it gets hot. Typically, though, polypropylene is non-toxic.

Silicone

Another lightweight material, you’ll typically silicone in only one part of a mess kit and it’s typically the cup. That’s the case with the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless 1-Person Mess Kit.

You’ll also find it used for utensils, but typically never pots and pans that receive direct heat.

Number of people and utensils

Before hitting the purchase button on your mess kit, make sure it’s designed for the right amount of people.

Do you need a mess kit just for yourself?

Or are you looking for the entire family?

If it’s the latter, you’ll want a bigger set like the Overmont Camping Mess Kit, which features 15 individual pieces.

Most kits are designed for one-person. And with prices ranging from $20 to $30 on average, it’s probably best for each camper to own their own mess kit.

Overall size and weight

As mentioned above, the material will dictate the overall weight of a mess kit.

When it comes to packability, though, that comes down to design.

The Light My Fire MessKit BIO is a great example of packability. It was designed to not only stack and compact tightly, but also serve as a lunchbox in case you want to bring a meal you prepared at the campsite with you on a morning hike.

If you like to backpack to various campsites, you’ll want a mess kit made of polypropylene because it’s lightweight.

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.