September 10, 2021 3 min read

Hey! It's Daniel from Hyke & Byke.

So, we all can agree that cooking is an activity essential to our day-to-day lives. We head into our kitchen each morning and quickly pull out pans and skillets to scramble eggs and fry some bacon.

Great, right?! Agreed, as long as you have all the 
right cookware andknowledge on how to use it. This is not generally a problem at home because we have plenty of space to store our large heavy cast iron skillet that we can cook just about anything in. What about when we are trekking in all our gear on our back!

Who is carrying the 12" Cast Iron Skillet?
Not Me!

Cooking can be incredibly enjoyable, especially when outdoors. However, when you’re out there and you have a lot of other gear to bring, you don’t really get to have the luxury of bringing the entire kitchen with you.

If you’re just hiking on a short solo trip, then you might not need anything more than a titanium cup and a spork. However, if you’re backpacking with a group, you would need more cooking pieces. 

Here Are Two Options On How To Start:

The best place to start is determining how many you are cooking for and how lightweight are you trying to be with cooking gear. Once you have that figured out, then that information will help you decide whether you can bring a cookset or just some individual items.

  • Cooksets are collections of pots, pans and lids intended to nest together. Some sets include extras like cups, mugs or plates that fit inside the pots. Great for larger groups! Come in plenty of sizes and weights.

  • Individual items let you build your set precisely the way you want it. This idea may be the best if you're trying to save weight for backpacking. Nevertheless, it's a great way to add some variety into your cookset. Also, individual items are the right choice for solo backpacking and small groups. 


Cookware Material Options


Aluminum Pros: Lightweight, cheap, and a good conductor of heat. Good for simmering stews without scorching.
Cons: Breaks down gradually when exposed to acidic foods. Dents and scratches easily.

Hard-Anodized Aluminum

Pros: This oxidized material weathers scratches and scrapes and is durable.
Cons: None.

Stainless steel

Pros: Harder, more scratch-resistant than aluminum.
Cons: Heavier than aluminum, doesn't conduct heat as evenly.


Pros: The most lightweight among available options. It is also highly corrosion-resistant, heats up quick
and operates efficiently without too much heat.
Cons: More costly than other options. Conducts heat less evenly than stainless steel. Take care not to overheat it.

Cast Iron

Pros: It's durable and can even be used for baking.
Cons: Very heavy; not for backpacking. Requires proper care.

Nonstick Coatings

Pros: Easy to clean.
Cons: Not scratch and scrape resistant.


Pros: Lightweight, cheap, non-abrasive. Perfect for storing utensils and foods.
Cons: Not for cooking and just for storage. Some plastics can pick up and retain food odor.

Cookware Safety Concerns

Aluminum: Based on reports from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the London-based Alzheimer's Society, no health risks are associated with the use of aluminum pots, pans or skillets. While not a health concern, cooking leafy greens or cauliflower in aluminum cookware is not recommended since it can affect the taste and appearance.

Nonstick coatings: Cookware coated with food-grade fluoropolymer PTFE can release toxic fumes if severely overheated. Inhaling these fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans, and they have been known to kill birds. Be careful when using  nonstick-coated cookware (don't use when broiling food, for example).

Other Considerations

Pot size: The biggest pot in your cook set should hold about 1 pint per backpacker or camper in your group.

Number of pots: This depends on the type of cooking you plan to do and how many campers are in your group. If you plan to cook light foods for 2 campers, then 1 pot is enough. More complicated meals and larger groups need additional pots and pans.

Lids: Lids lessen cooking time through convection, save fuel, and reduce splatter. Some cookware sets feature a lid for every pot, while others have a single lid that can be used on several pots. Others can even double as fry pans. Certain lids can also serve as plates, which can lessen your load.

Pot holders: You don’t want to singe your hand on a hot pot or pan, do you? Make sure you have some way to pick up your pots and pans safely. Most cooksets include 1 potholder for all their pots. Just keep in mind to bring it with you.

I hope some of that information was helpful in deciding what you need and what not to bring on your next trip!

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