Although I enjoy cooking when I am at home, I am particularly fond of grilling up some tasty grub beneath the shadow of 12,000’ peak or under a clear blue sky alongside an alpine lake. However, a poorly designed cook-set can quickly take the joy out of cooking in the mountains and turn your culinary masterpiece into a burned up mess.

After many cook-sets where the non-stick really was not so “non-stick” or dumping the contents onto the ground while trying to strain the water out, I still had not found the “perfect” backcountry cook-set. I have always appreciated GSI cookware and upon first inspection the Pinnacle Backpacker appeared to be just what I was looking for.

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One cook-set to rule them all (almost):

On the first time out with the Pinnacle Backpacker cook-set, my wife and I went backpacking with another couple. After a pleasant five mile hike in we set up camp along the bank of a small lake at just over 11,000’ surrounded by scraggly pine trees. The dinner menu consisted of teriyaki tofu stir-fry with olive, cheese, dried fruits and a nice cabernet for appetizers.

The Pinnacle Backpacker was perfect for preparing and cooking the meal. The lid to the GSI pot doubles as a skillet but we used the base as a cutting board while the veggies heated up in the big pot. The cups were perfect for sipping on wine (and they did not taste funny either) as well as post dinner tea.

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Both the pot and skillet have excellent heat convection qualities and cooked up delicious meals with ease and clean up was a breeze. I have not had any issues with hot spots and the non-stick surface is high quality. Even if you overcook eggs, the remnants scrape off easily with a wooden or plastic utensil.

The four cups that come with the set are well-shaped and easy to hold in one hand even with gloves on. However, only two cups come with insulation sleeves and sip lids, so make sure that the slow drinkers get a cup with a lid so that their hot beverage does not get cold too quickly. The cups nestle inside the pot and are the perfect spot to stash condiments, paper towels, matches, or anything else you consider a necessity for your camp kitchen.

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My favorite feature, though, is the kitchen sink, which is basically a large collapsible cloth bucket that the pot rests in. It has two webbing handles that double as the straps that hold the whole kit together. The kitchen sink is great for washing dishes, collecting water from a near by lake, or holding unused kitchen items.

Another great feature is the pots rubber lid that has a built in strainer. No more burned hands from escaping steam or a freshly cooked meal spilled on the ground. The lid fits on snuggly but you will still need to hold it on to prevent heavy items (like a pot full of noodles) from popping the lid off.

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I had two issues with the cook-set and both stem from the removable and collapsible handle. Although the handle is very secure once attached to the pot or skillet, it is difficult to remove. This is particularly noticeable when you are preparing food in both the pot and the skillet at the same time. On one trip I was cooking hash-browns in the pot and eggs with cherry tomatoes and cheese in the skillet. I needed to stir the potatoes but I could not get the handle off the skillet. Rather than risk spilling the eggs on the ground I used one of the cup insulators to hold the pot while I stirred the hash-browns.

The cup insulator sleeve instantly melted upon contact with the hot pot and I ended up using my beanie to hold the pot while I stirred the potatoes instead. If GSI included a second handle with the kit or made the one handle easier to remove this would make keeping the pot/skillet stable while stirring much easier. Also, the cup insulator should be made from a material with a higher melting temperature point.

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Pros

  • Kitchen sink!!
  • Non-stick surface
  • Light
  • Rubber lid with built in strainer

Cons

  • Handle is hard to remove
  • Insulator sleeves melt too easily

Even with these shortcomings, this is now my favorite cook-set due to the quick and even heat dissipation, non-stick surface, the lid with a built in strainer, and the kitchen sink. All of the GSI cookwear that I have owned over the years has stood up to excessive abuse and is still in great shape and I expect the same from this cookset. If you are in the market for a new camp-set for two-four people, and even though it is not perfect it is still a great option.
Click Here to Purchase the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker

Manufacturer: GSI

Date available: Currently available

Manufacturer’s Website: Pinnacle Backpacker – http://www.gsioutdoors.com/products/pdp/pinnacle_backpacker/

MSRP: $89.95

Listed Weight: 28.8 ounces

Actual Weight: 29.7 ounces

Materials: Non-Stick Coated, Hard Anodized Aluminum, Clear Po

Warranty info: No information listed on their website

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