The best hiking mess kits for any budget

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 15 December 2017

A warm plate of food and boiling water for your morning cuppa can change everything outdoors – especially your mood. We found three affordable and reliable travel cookware sets.


1. Best DIY kit under R150

Travel with Greenhome cornstarch- based compostable cutlery instead of plastic disposables. These lightweight, waste-free utensils are also affordable. From R19 (pack of 10 spoons),

Aluminium camper mess kit

Volume: 1L and 1,5L
Packed size: 182 x 136 x 60mm
Weight: 358g
Boil time: 500ml water in 6mins
A great starter kit, this set of two deep pots doubles as plates. Made from aluminium, the pots are light and conduct heat evenly; however, their sides are thin so they may scratch and dent, and they rattle a little when packed. The folding side handle is long enough to grab easily and secures in place when squeezed – it doesn’t lock into the side of the pot so careful handling is required. These pots work best on a bigger cooker so that the square surface area is more evenly exposed to the flame. There are no lids so boiling time is longer. Surprisingly, the bottoms didn’t blacken after use, even when heated up very fast for frying, plus they were easy to clean.


Enamel mug and Gidgitz micro locking 8cm carabiner

R20,; and R25,
Lightweight and unbreakable, this large 250ml cup can double as a decent-size cereal bowl. It’s non-stick, easy to wipe clean and can be clipped to your pack with Gidgitz’s carabiner. You can buy cheaper clips, but this one has a screw-gate locking mechanism and is strong enough to carry more than one item at a time.


2. Best solo kit under R300

Kampa Tiffin Saucepan

Volume: 700ml
Packed size: 150 x 70mm
Weight: 300g
Boil time: 500ml water in 5mins

This was my favourite pot. It’s small but effective, with handy features such as a pouring spout (this allows you to easily drain scalding water from the pot) and a secure locking handle. The pot comes with a lid but it doesn’t fit a gas cartridge inside for efficient packing. I found scrambled egg sticks a little to the bottom (you need a scouring sponge to clean it), but it’s a bargain for its high-quality, lightweight aluminium which conducts heat well.


Ecosoulife 3 Pc Cutlery Set

Packed size: 165 x 50mm
Weight: 60g
This biodegradable cutlery set is made from vegetable waste (pressed corn, starch, bamboo and rice husks). The spoon has good depth and the knife cuts softer foods, such as cheese, pretty well. It’s strung together with a carabiner clip so you won’t lose any utensils, but if you happen to leave them behind in nature, they’ll decompose naturally after three years.


3. Best luxury kit under R1000

GSI Bugaboo Mess Kit

Volume: 1L
Packed size: 200 x 80mm
Weight: 475g
Boil time: 500ml water in 4,5mins
This versatile aluminium set has two layers of durable non-stick coating so it’s a breeze to clean. The kit includes a frying pan with a lid (which can double as a pot), cup, bowl, DiamondBack Gripper and mesh bag. The pan capacity is enough for a solo traveller and its nesting design makes it easy to pack. I found it a little shallow for boiling water (technically it takes one litre, but this fills it to the brim so an 850-millilitre capacity is more accurate). However, the water heated up exceptionally fast. When I tested the pan with the gripper attached, it didn’t balance well on a smaller cooker when the contents were light, but it was sturdy enough when filled with water and the gas flames didn’t blacken the bottom of the pan. The plastic cup and bowl are functional but basic. I reckon this set will withstand a few drops and won’t dent easily, but you’ll have to be conscious of not scratching the non-stick coating.


MSR Utensil set

Packed size: 168 x 84mm
Weight: 84g
Take along these lightweight cooking implements. Nylon- coated, they won’t scratch non-stick coating. The set includes a spatula with a sharp edge for cutting softer foods, a sharp grater that can also be used to strain water from a pot, and a ladle which doubles as a measuring cup. All the utensils fold flat for travel, and flip out and lock securely for cooking. They can be bought individually for R129 each.


Three awesome hiking hacks

1. Bottled eggs

Before travelling, break any number of eggs into a used water bottle (a 500ml bottle holds about eight). Then shake and cook up on arrival. Take some spring onions too – they last well, are lightweight and add fantastic flavour. Also pack some herbs and spices, such as basil and cumin – they’ll add interest to an otherwise standard meal.

2. Protein and veggie pot

Scoop enough peanut butter into an old jar to create a layer on the bottom and top up the bottle with celery or apple wedges. You can do this with hummus or cream cheese, too, and top up the jar with carrots or cucumber.

3. DIY filter coffee

Spoon a portion of your favourite ground coffee into a large paper coffee filter bag/cone. Place in an enamel mug and fold the sides over the lip. Gently pour in boiling water. Voila! A delicious brew of outdoor filtered coffee.


This gear test first appeared in the October issue of Getaway magazine.

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