Ah, the world of integrated backpacking cook systems, in which value is determined in ounces and function derives from minimalism. It’s quite impressive, how many cooking tools and utensils can fit into one compact system. Plus, those little cups and sporks are so cute.
However, anyone who’s stood in the aisle of any outdoor store knows how overwhelming the selection can be. How do you know which system you need? Which features are crucial versus the ones are prove useless in the backcountry? Read on for a breakdown of two sets from GSI Outdoors Pinnacle and Halulite systems in both soloist and dualist. You’ll have to make a decision on your spork color all on your own, though.
GSI Halulite MicroDualist:
The Halulite MicroDualist is the most extensive and versatile set in the GSI ultalight category, in my opinion. It comes with a 1.4 L pot, which is large enough to boil water for freeze-dried meals and hot drinks, two 14 ounce mugs, two 14 ounce bowls (these are essentially the same item, with a few tweaks), two collapsible ‘foons’ (sporks), and an envelope-style cloth case for the foons (completely unnecessary, if you abide by the three second rule). The two mugs come with insulated sleeves and lids with sip-valves, and the two bowls nest inside. You also get a carry case with draw string closure that makes packing the system more efficient. GSI suggests using this bag as a kitchen sink too. To this I say…maybe. Because the bag is deep and narrow, I can’t see it replacing my wide, shallow backpacking sink.
While this set is obviously designed for two, we’ve used it for a whole family, adding extra foons and mugs as needed. Provided you’re not in a hurry to boil water for more than one meal at once, and won’t need a pan surface (for cooking things like pancakes), the pot suffices fine.
The Halulite replaced my larger cooking set for the family because of the little style features that greatly increased function while keeping weight to a minimum: the pot has a very lightweight lid with strainer, and both a collapsible pot handle and a collapsible lid handle. This means I can leave the heavier pot grabber at home. The bowls/mugs are just the right size, and because they nest, each backpacker in the family can carry his or her own set of two easily (only two sets will fit into the pot for transport). The set weighs in at 18 ounces even, and if you were wondering, halulite prevents scratches and burn circles while remaining as light as titanium.
Pick up the Halulite MicroDualist for $54.95 at GSI, or look for it on Amazon or Overstock.com for a few bucks less. Want to shave off a few ounces? Try the Pinnacle Dualist for about $10 more direct or from Rock Creek.
GSI Pinnacle Soloist:
Not sure you need all the items in a dualist set, but still want the same form and function? The Pinnacle Sololist set includes a 1.1 L pot (smaller than in the dualist), one 14 ounce mug/bowl combo (not two separate bowls), one foon and foon case, and one carry bag. Like the Dualist sets, the pot lid is lightweight but sturdy nylon, and has a strainer. In the soloist, this lid doubles as the mug lid with sip valve. You still get the insulated sleeve for the mug, and the pot handle. The total weight is 10.9 ounces, a significant savings. We decided the soloist would make for a great first cookware set for our teen son, who backpacks with his friends. At 10 ounces, we also bring it along as an extra pot and mug for family backpacking.
Pick up the Pinnacle Soloist for $44.95 on GSI, or on Amazon, Rock Creek, or Backcountry. If you want the ultimate in minimalism, go with the Halulite Minimalist: the pot doubles as the bowl and cup, and instead of a pot handle, you get a silicon gripper. It weighs in at just 6.3 ounces, but be aware: it’s bare bones.