The Ultimate Backcountry Kitchen
Pinnacle Camper: Gourmet Kitchen on the Go [photo: GSI]
One of the perks of car camping or river-tripping with kids is that—unlike backpacking—you don’t have to count ounces. If there’s room in the car or boat, go ahead and throw in the beach bocce ball set, the camp chairs, and the squirt guns. Same goes for your backcountry kitchen: There’s no reason to limit yourself to one-pot meals when you can pack a lightweight, super-efficient cook set and table ware designed for “gourmet camping” (code for “splurge and bring the good stuff.”)
We put this approach to the test last week on our maiden voyage in our 1961 Safari Airstream. Rather than try to dredge up all our battered and scattered pots and tin plates from our camping box, we consolidated with GSI Outdoor’s new Pinnacle Camper cook set. Unpacking the “integrated cooking and eating solution,” as the company calls it, is a little like watching a few dozen clowns climb out of a VW bug. It is shockingly compact but crammed with tons of useful stuff: two anodized aluminum pots (3 liter and 2 liter), a fry pan, two rubber lids, a pot gripper, four plates, four insulated mugs, four color-coded bowls, and a welded stuff sack that doubles as a wash basin (and, in a pinch, an Easter basket).
According to the company, the specially-designed Radiance nonstick Teflon pots heat up 25% faster than regular nonstick pots “while withstanding absurd levels of abuse.” I can’t say that I tested either claim, but I was impressed with how fast we got breakfast of soft-boiled eggs and steel-cut oats (which seem so tediously slow at home) on the table, given the miniscule size of the Airstream’s burners. The rubber lids are tricked out with silicone rings that seal nicely to the pots, tiny holes—voila, they’re strainers, too!—and small, orange, rubber, heat-resistant tabs that enable you to peek inside without burning your fingers. The clear, color-coded polypropylene plates and triangular, nesting bowls/mugs help little people keep tabs on their food—perfect for a family of four. (I prefer the color-coded tableware in GSI’s Infinity Four-Person Tableset; the mugs and cups are easier on the hands, and the bowls have their own plastic lids, genius for storing leftovers.)
The whole Pinnacle Camper kit weighs 3 pounds ten ounces and nests inside the stuff sack, which closes with a handy hook clasp for easy toting (the 28.8 ounce Pinnacle Backpacker is pared down for fast and light backpacking or bike-packing). Best of all, it's so orderly and organized, you can focus on enjoying your food rather than fishing around for your gear. Except for utensils and the all-important coffee press, it’s the perfect all-inclusive kitchen-on-the-go.
Pinnacle Camper, $129.95; Infinity Deluxe Four-Person tableset, $59.95. www.gsioutdoors.com