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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > GSI Outdoors Crossover Kitchen Kit > Test Report by Brett Haydin

GSI CROSSOVER KITCHEN KIT
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 04, 2011
FIELD REPORT - July 19, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - September 13, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 38
LOCATION: Salida, CO, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST: 42 in (107 cm)
WAIST: 36 in (91 cm)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

crossover kit
Image courtesy of manufacturer
Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: www.gsioutdoors.com
MSRP: US$ 34.95
Listed Weight: 9.6 oz (270 g)
Measured Weight: 9.5 oz (269 g)
Listed Dimensions: 7.3 x 3.7 x 4.3 in (18.6 x 9.4 x 11.0 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 7 x 3 x 4.5 in (17.8 x 7.6x 11.4 cm)
Material: Co-polyester, Nylon 66 and Polyethylene
Includes (with weights):


  • Compact Scraper - 0.5 oz (14.2 g)
  • Scrubby Pad - 0.1 oz (2.8 g)
  • Cutting Board - 1.3 oz (36.9 g)
  • Pivot Tongs - 1.4 oz (39.7 g)
  • Pivot Spoon - 1.0 oz (28.4 g)
  • Pivot Spatula - 1.2 oz (34.0 g)
  • Spicer (empty) - 1.4 oz (39.7 g)
  • Soap Bottle - 0.1 oz (2.8 g)
  • Oil Bottle - 0.4 oz (11.3 g)
  • Camp Towel - 0.2 oz (5.7 g)
  • Tote - 1.7 oz (48.2 g)

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

The GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit, hereafter referred to as the kit, is a lightweight set of kitchen utensils that I can use to prepare gourmet meals. The kit contains many of the basic tools I have in my personal kitchen that allow me to prepare more elaborate meals than rehydrated foods. GSI has developed several lines of cook sets that have "nesting" components; the nForm crossover system is one of those cook sets for which this kit is designed.

The footprint of the tote is semicircular. The black tote has a zippered top with a simple grey cord tied in a loop for a zipper pull. Opening up the lid, there is a pouch on the inside with a hook and loop closure to hold the towel and scrubber. I didn't notice it at first, but the lid is lined on the outside with mesh to allow for better drying.

Looking into the body of the tote, the cutting board, spatula, spoon and tongs are loosely packed inside. Well actually it is a pretty good fit, but there is space for additional items I will likely pack. In the rear of the tote, there are two 3 in (7.6 cm) wide pouches for additional items. The scraper was placed in one of them upon arrival. There are also three loops of elastic bands sewn into the front of the pouch with the spicer, soap bottle and oil bottle neatly placed inside.

The soap bottle is small and perfect for dripping small amounts of soap during clean up. It reminds me of the shape and size of eye drop medications. The oil bottle has a small spout the flips open on the screw-top lid.

The spice shaker is a little more complex! The spice shaker is configured for four different spice choices. After unscrewing the grey cap, I noticed a plastic cover that is solid on one half and has holes on the other. When I popped this cap off, I found that there were two chambers for spices, so I'll need to rotate the cover to select the spice I want. The spicer then unscrews into two halves revealing another two chambers with a similar cover, except slightly larger holes. When I pop off the bottom cap, I find a cover for that has one large hole on one side and is solid on the other. I could potentially use this to scoop out a spice I bring along, rather than shake it. Overall, very novel idea!

The spatula, spool and tongs are very similar in form and function. Each has a grey half and orange "handle" that pivot around to make the packable size much smaller than the whole. The spatula and spoon are 10.5 in (26.7 cm) long when extended and 7 in (17.8 cm) long when folded for example. When I pivot the tools open, there is a raised bump in the handle that slots into a groove on the tool to lock it in place. To unlock the handle, I just separate the groove and bump to create enough separation to pivot the handle back.

The spatula has smooth sides on two of the three edges, but one side is serrated. This should prove handy in preparing some meals. The tongs are pretty typical of what I have seen in the past as well. There are teeth on the bottom of each side that will provide better grips on slippery-when-oiled foods! The spoon is a normal spoon at first glance. Upon closer inspection, I see that there are measurements in teaspoons, fluid ounces and milliliters. I really appreciate this feature and am anxious to see how much I use it.

The scraper is shaped almost like a parallelogram with one side a hard plastic and the other a firmer rubber material. While the corners are rounded, there are two corners that are more rounded than the others. The towel is orange and reminds me of a chamois cloth. The blue scrubby is a good size; 3 in (7.6 cm) on each side. The cutting board is 6.5 x 3 in (16.5 x 7.6 cm) and is a white plastic material.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit comes with a plastic, recyclable cover that serves to protect and provide information about the kit. The cover has all the information available on the website, and in some cases more. As of the writing of this report, the "specs" tab on the website lacks weight and measurements, but the packaging does. There are helpful diagrams of the product and also information about the nForm Crossover System for cookware and utensils.

I found the quality and attention to detail with the kit to be exemplary. There are no blemishes or other imperfections that I could find. To the contrary, everything is well placed and almost formfitting. Little touches like the measurements marked on the inside of the spoon are great . By itself, the kit is a modest weight and will be helpful for my upcoming trips.

I don't own any of the other nForm Crossover products, but the current pot I use has enough space for the kit to fit inside nicely. Regardless of the pots I choose, the tote is small enough to bring along on all my trips.

SUMMARY

I am looking forward to using the kitchen kit. I just received a great recipe out of a backpacking magazine for a made-from-scratch chicken pot pie. I plan to head out and see if I can pull it off! What I like is that it is lightweight, and has nice touches that will save weight in the long run. I can leave my measuring spoons behind! I am curious to see if the kit can also accommodate some of the other gourmet cooking utensils I like to bring along as well. I have no other concerns going into the test.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since receiving the kitchen kit I have taken the kit along on 3 backpacking and/or car camping trips. The first was a weekend trip to Missouri Mountain in the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado for a gathering of hikers. While we car camped, we also hiked a lot, including a 12 mi (19 km) out and back to the 14,067 ft (4,288 m) summit of Missouri Mountain. Temperatures were pretty mild for the season with daytime temperatures around 50 F (10 C) and sunshine all around.

My next trip was a three day trip to the Goblin Valley State Park area in Utah. While the temperatures were warm and the sun was plentiful, the wind was incredibly outrageous. We ended up hiking in some slot canyons to try and escape the wind, which was successful, but relaxing at our campsite it was again miserable when we were exposed.

My final trip was an overnight to the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to hike Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks. I encountered snow a little earlier along the route than I expected but managed to find a good spot to camp in the trees. Temperatures were from 35 to 50 F (2 to 10 C) and clear skies. Other than the hike in, I was on snow for much of the 12 mi (19 km) hike.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Chicken Pot Pie
Making chicken pot pie
I am really enjoying the Crossover Kitchen Kit! The kit is just the right size for my cooking needs but still has room to spare for other optional items. I have used the kit to help me make burritos, chicken pot pies and scrambled eggs to name a few. What I think I like best is that the shape of the pouch makes it pretty versatile. I can either stow it in my cook set or even in my food bag if needed.

The scrubby and towel are doing just fine after two months. I was a little worried that they would get a little funky after some days on the trail, but the towel still smells fine and the scrubby has not collected food as I thought it would. The towel does a good job of absorbing water and dries fairly quickly in the arid climate here in Colorado. Even after scrubbing the scrambled egg pan, the scrubby was easy to clean. The mesh on the sides of the pouch seems to allow what moisture remains to evaporate.

The oil bottle and soap bottle are both still intact. There have been no accidental openings and I find it easy to control the amount of product flowing out of them. The spice container is one of my favorite elements. I am used to having two chambers, not four, so it is a real treat. I have salt, pepper, garlic powder and green chili powder selected at the moment. I also like that the caps are interchangeable, which I have done several times so far.

The utensils themselves have worked great. They are sturdy, yet compact and reach into all of my pots, pans and sets just fine. The spatula is not showing any signs of melting from cooking scrambled eggs or other uses so far. I haven't needed the tongs yet for any of my meals but I am going to try and plan a use for them soon.

I used the cutting board for my burritos dinner, opting to bring along some fresh veggies to add some flavor. It worked great as well and just like the other utensils has been easy to clean. I really haven't needed to use the scraper yet since i haven't burned any meals (yet, I say). In all seriousness, I am sure I will need it for at least on dish coming up.

SUMMARY

Thing I like:


  • Compact size that fits utilizes shape will inside of a pot
  • Four chamber spice container is awesome!
  • Has room for personal utensils and other small optional items
  • Easy to clean and keep clean so far.

Things I don't care for:

  • Tongs are a bit overkill for me so far


I have a number of trips coming up with friends and family so I will be using the kit more in the backcountry. In order to shed weight, I will plan my utensil needs a little more judiciously than I have, but overall I will maintain most of the items on each trip. This concludes my Field Report for the GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since my last report I have taken the GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit along on three more camping and backpacking trips. This has resulted in an additional eight nights of backpacking/camping use for a total of twelve nights over 18 days.

First, I took a three-day hike in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in southern Colorado. I set up a base camp at 11,700 ft (3,570 m) and hiked a couple of peaks from there. My total mileage for the weekend was 25 mi (40 km) along a mix of snow (crampons used), scree, tundra and subalpine terrain. There was a lot of class 3 scrambling as well. Temperatures were between 35 and 75 F (2 and 24 C). It was sunny with small amounts of rain at times.

My next trip was a five night car camping trip in Salt Lake City, Utah. My family attended a trade show in town but camped at a campground. Temperatures were quite warm; 55 to 90 F (13 to 32 C) and with only one rain storm (overnight), the weather stayed great.

Finally, I took an overnight trip to the Mt Massive Wilderness in Colorado to hike to the top of this 14,421 ft (4,396 m) peak. Conditions were below average for the summer with overnight lows of 40 F (4 C) and highs at about 65 F (18 C). It was quite windy at times, and there was also a slow drizzle for most of my hike down to camp and then out to my car.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Every once in a while I come across a piece of gear that transforms my backcountry experience. The GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit has forever made my backcountry cooking a delightful culinary journey! For years I have struggled to find the right balance between hauling a full kitchen and trimming down weight, but this catch-all has it all. That it is so compact yet functional is just icing on the proverbial cake.

Pasta
Cooking pasta is a breeze
My favorite characteristic of the kit is the folding utensils. I have found them to be sturdy, functional and able to withstand heat and volume. The image to the right shows me precariously cooking tortellini. While the heavy pasta was close to boiling over, the spoon made it easy to keep everything contained. I have used other utensils that become malleable when stirring boiling water but this one held up great. I was initially concerned that the joint would break, but so far I see no such cause for alarm.

I really like the smart design of the case as well. Not only is it easy to organize with the provided items, I have been able to add more to it while not sacrificing the ease of use. The mesh overlay on the lid was a smart design feature as well. It allows me to ensure that my scrubby and towel dry adequately and stink-free. In fact both those items are doing quite well after four months and over two dozen uses.

The cutting board has come in handy as I have created some more fancy dishes. It is a problem trying to find a clean surface to cut veggies on. Not so much for the sanitation but to keep off unwanted grit. The cutting board is a great solution. Yes, I took fresh veggies to sauté into some pasta dishes. Zucchini holds up quite well in a backpack, by the way!

Finally, the spice container is a true innovation. Having four compact chambers has been a dream. I swapped out some of the spices for some trips, opting for Italian seasoning over the green chili for Italian themed adventures. On a whim I decided to check and see if this could be purchased separately. While it cannot, GSI does sell a similar stand alone product that holds 6 spices! Many of the components can also be purchased by themselves as well.

I struggle to find fault with this kitchen kit. Frankly I haven't needed the tongs or the scraper too much. The spatula works well at getting all the chunks out of my pots. It is nice to get gooey messes out, such as rice puddings (that one was a hit with my friends!).

SUMMARY

Things I Like:


  • Spice container is absolutely brilliant.
  • The utensils are sturdy and easy to use.
  • Case design is efficient and thoughtful.


Things I Would Change:

  • I may leave out the tongs on future trips.


This kit has become a staple on my backpacking trips. I plan to keep it safe and sound and will definitely use it in the future. I would like to take this opportunity to thank GSI Outdoors for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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