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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > GSI Outdoors Crossover Kitchen Kit > Test Report by Ralph Ditton
GSI CROSSOVER KITCHEN KIT
Test Series by Ralph Ditton
Initial Report : 7th May, 2011
Field Report : 16th July, 2011
Long Term Report: 3rd September, 2011
Photo courtesy of GSI Outdoors
My playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track, the Coastal Plain Trail, Darling Scarp and Cape to Cape Track. I lead walks for my bushwalking club and they consist of day walks and overnighters. My pack weight for multi day trips including food and water, tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to six days duration.
GSI Outdoors Crossover Kitchen Kit is one part of a stable of kitchen gear that is designed to fit within "nFORM Crossover System Cooksets".
The giveaway is the shape of the Tote bag. It is in the shape of a half circle.
The raison d'etre is that the kit has every utensil for any gourmet camper and is light enough for backpacking, not just car based camping. With this kit I can cook up, on an overnight trip, my favourite evening meal of meat in some form, tomatoes and onion along with vegetables boiling away in another pot. As an aside, the other big plus is that I do not have to take kitchen utensils from home leaving the spouse angry with me when she goes to use them and can't find them as I have them.
As mentioned above, the Tote bag is semi circular. On the exterior there are two plastic "D" rings attached by short tags to the body. This is to allow a thin strap/belt to pass through so that it can be worn on the outside of my body or attached to some support at a camp.
Entry into the bag is via a zipper that is situated just below the lid. The zipper has a finger pull made of para cord that is generous in length. Immediately above the zipper track there is a mesh section running along the curved section of the bag. This is to allow drying to take place for wet materials such as the scourer and camp towel.
At the rear of the bag is an outside pocket. It is long and deep enough to place the cutting board in there. The pocket is not a dedicated cutting board holder. Any additional article I may include in the future that is slim enough can be lodged there.
Opening up the bag.
Inside the lid there is another pocket that is closed by way of the hook and loop material. To assist in opening this pocket up there is a tag of thin strap material that acts as a finger pull.
In this pocket the manufacturer had installed the camp towel and scourer. This is the "wet" section as mentioned on the packaging.
The main body of the bag has two little pockets on the back wall and in one of these was the 2 sided scraper. The other was empty. At the inside front are three elastic loops that hold the bottles securely in place.
Contents of the Tote bag.
There are three pivot utensils contained in the kit. They are the tongs, spatula and spoon.
Their unique feature is their ability to be shortened for packing purposes. Part of the handle that is of the "burnt orange" colour pivots into a locked position to make a longer utensil for better leverage.
To lock the handle into position, the "burnt orange" section has to ride under the "grey" utensil end and it locks into position with its raised surface into the concave section of the "grey" section.
This raised surface can be seen in the top picture of the tongs "burnt orange" section.
To unlock, I have to pull the "burnt orange" section away from the "grey" section so that the raised section clears the edge of the concave surface. It is then just a matter of rotating the section to shorten it.
Inside the spoon are graduations ranging from 10 to 50 mills in increments of 10 mills. The other graduations are 1 Tablespoon = 0.5 fl oz, 2 Tablespoons =1 fl oz, 3 Tablespoons = 1.5 fl oz.
The tongs have wide serrations on the bottom edge.
The spatula also has serrations along one edge to assist with cutting but they are akin to a knife in closeness. See top picture.
The oil bottle is a slightly opaque plastic bottle that is still transparent. The cap incorporates a spout that can be raised and closed. In the raised position the bottle is open and when the spout is pushed down flush with the rest of the cap it is closed.
The little soap bottle has a screw cap and is also made out of slightly opaque plastic. The little spout is easily removed to allow filling.
The last container is most interesting. It is the 4 chambered spice bottle.
Unscrewing the grey cap at the top of the bottle reveals a cap that has half of one side perforated and the other side solid. To select the chamber required all I have to do is rotate the cap over the appropriate chamber.
The bottle unscrews in the middle revealing another two chamber section with a similar cap. However, the perforations in this cap are larger to allow for much courser spices such as rock salt to pass through.
In the base of the spice bottle under the "burnt orange" base is another spare cap. This cap has one half fully sealed and the other half fully open. This cap is used to fill a spice chamber. It is called the filling cap.
The cutting board is 170 mm (6.5 in) long, 80 mm (3.25 in) wide and 3 mm (0.12 in) thick. The board is white.
A two sided scraper with the two tone colouring rounds out the utensils. The grey section is soft and flexible whilst the burnt orange part is hard. The whole circumference of this oddly shaped parallelogram is beveled like a knife edge.
The camp towel is of a material that I have not seen before. A sort of "felt" that is supposed to be absorbent. It is orange in colour.
Finally, the last item of cleaning is the green scourer. It is teflon safe according to the manufacturer. To me it is just a regular scourer that can be purchased from a shop.
The only surprise that I had was the cutting board. I was looking at the other varieties on GSI's website but this one was not featured individually. I was expecting something completely different and not as thick. I have a much thinner backpacking cutting board of 1 mm (0.04 in) but this thinner cutting board is a bit bigger in area.
The rest of the items matched my expectations as viewed from the website.
The kit came with a recyclable plastic wrap around with lots of information and pictures printed on it. The information is in English and French.
wrap around front wrap around reverse
The finish of the utensils looks first class and I could not find any fault with the pivot aspect of the utensils. The other items are straight forward but I do like the nice touch with the spice bottle and the filler cap stowed away in the base of the bottle. I did not foresee that from the website.
As I do a number of car based camps with my friend and his daughter, we do tend to eat well on these overnight trips. This kit will be a welcome addition as I currently do not have a spice bottle. I use the salt and pepper from KFC that comes in little paper pouches and I have to use my wife's tongs and spatula much to her annoyance. I can see peace and harmony reigning at home now.
I took this kit out on a three day car based camp at Prickly Bark on the Coastal Plain Trail. It was during our winter with temperatures ranging from a minimum of 8 C (46 F) to a maximum of 21 C (70 F).
Rain fell for most of the time so the minimum temperature was higher than normal for this time of the year.
Apart from the Quick-Drying Camp Towel, I used all of the other components that make up the kit.
I like to air dry my gear when I wash them. However, in the next phase I will utilize the said towel. It is an item that I just do not think about due to our warm temperatures especially in our summer.
How did they perform?
Nylon Tote Bag
The Tote Bag did its job very well. All of the items stowed away in a compact manner and the pockets make for a good organization of the items. The bag ensured that I had all of the items to hand in one parcel and I was not scratching around in my box of cooking gear looking for tools.
The zipper still works well and I like the bit of cord that is attached to the zipper pull. It makes for an easy operation of the zip.
The elastic loops that hold the oil bottle, spice bottle and detergent bottle are still good which I would expect it to be after such a short time.
There is no sign of any wear and tear at this stage.
This bottle is very tiny. I would like to see a bigger bottle as I was only able to get two washes of dishes out of it.
I was cooking for two people using two fry pans and two plates with respective cutlery including kitchen items from this kit.
Perhaps a container about half the size of the oil container would be sufficient for multi day car based camping. Fortunately, I took extra detergent as I thought the bottle would not last six washing ups over three days.
This is a good size bottle. I filled the bottle with Olive Oil as this is my oil of choice when cooking.
As I have had experience with this type of bottle cap before, (a flip up spout in the cap) I took the precaution of placing a small piece of cling wrap over the mouth of the bottle and then screwing the cap on to prevent oil from finding its way out through the folded down spout. No oil leaked from the cap.
When I used the oil bottle, it was just a matter of unscrewing the cap, remove the cling wrap, replace the cap, flip up the spout and squeeze out how much oil I require.
At the end of the camp there was a small amount of oil left so I replaced the cling wrap over the mouth of the bottle for the trip back home. I am not a big fan of leaked oil in amongst my camping gear. Once bitten, twice shy.
4 Chamber Spicer
I only used two chambers. The top section I used one chamber for pepper and in the bottom section I used one chamber for salt mainly to see how easy it was to unscrew the sections and then reassemble.
I rotated the solid part of the cap over the spices to prevent them from partially spilling out into the cap and base of its mate. Also to try and keep the moisture of the air out.
As it rained for one and a half days the spices did not appear to be affected by the humidity due to my cap coverage.
The spices shook out through the respective perforations quite easily and I was able to regulate what I wanted on my meals. I did not end up with a pile of salt in one spot. The pepper I used was coarse grained.
I feel at this stage that this item will become my favourite especially when I do day walks and I need pepper and salt at my morning tea/lunch when I invariably have cold boiled eggs.
4 chamber spicer
2 Sided Scraper
This item was used on the fry pan to scrape off the residue fat from cooking bacon and sausages after the pan had cooled down. It worked well.
It was just a matter of pushing the fat into a pile, scooping it up with the scraper and wiping the fat off into a paper towel.
This item was used on all of my kitchen items that needed cleaning. There were no obvious scratches on the fry pans, bowls or other components from the kit.
The pad, after six outings in my kitchen sink at camp shows no sign of wearing thin and going limp.
I have used this many times at home and on camp. I usually prepare meals at home so I am always chopping up vegetables.
One feature that I like is the thickness of the board. It is 3 mm (0.12 in) thick. This helps when I cut into a produce. The portion of the knife blade that hangs over the board does not come into contact with the underlying surface which in a campsite is usually a very grubby picnic style table.
What I have to be careful about is not chop too vigorously as this tends to scatter the food off the cutting board. I do not want my food landing on unhygienic surfaces. I resorted to placing a piece of paper towel under the board to catch such errant food particles.
I am not very happy with this tool. I found that it was a bit of a struggle to pick up certain foods to turn over when cooking, especially steak. It was fine for bacon. The grip edge did not seem to be able to handle heavy food items. I had to use the tip of the tongs. In addition, the tip has been slightly affected by heat from the base of the fry pan. It has a slight spot where it has melted.
On one occasion, I had to use both hands to give the handle a very strong squeeze to pick up a bunch of bacon to turn over so as to force the teeth of the tongs to come closer together.
The scourer did clean up the tongs quite well but it took a lot of scrubbing to get some of the burnt residue from the pan base off the teeth.
I had limited use of this tool as my style of cooking does not normally call for such a tool. I did use it to stir up the mushroom sauce that I prepared and then used the spoon as a ladle to spread the mushroom sauce over the steak. It makes a very good ladle.
This tool had a very good workout flipping eggs and mushrooms. As a tool that slides under food to be lifted it performed very well. Where it failed dismally was trying to use the serrated edge to cut through the white of a fried egg. It started to tear the egg white instead of cutting, then the handle collapsed. It became unlocked when I put pressure on it to cut. The handle cannot withstand any force being applied when used as a cutting tool.
The serrations do not cut, just tear.
The kit is a bit like a curate's egg. Some good tools and some not too flash. The Tongs and Spatula that require pressure at times for task do not stand up well.
Overall, the contents of the kit did a limited job in food preparation. I would have liked a slightly larger cutting board to avoid food from scooting off the small surface. As this kit is in my opinion designed for car based camping weight should not be an issue.
Things I like
During this phase I spent two nights out camping in the Melaleuca Park north of Perth.
Although it is winter, temperatures have been unusually very mild. The minimum temperature was 5 C (41 F) ranging up to a maximum of 22 C (72 F). I also used the equipment at home to give them a good workout.
The items that were used the most were the cutting board, spicer bottle, spoon, tongs and scourer in that order.
As promised, I did use the camp towel but found it took a number of wipes before articles were dried. I put it down to the newness of the towel. It was a tad reluctant to absorb moisture. Perhaps after a good wash the surface would lose some of that "shine" and become much more absorbent. I did not really persevere with it. I am more of an air drier anyway in our warmer climate.
The cutting board was used religiously. I tended to place a piece of paper (Scot Towel) under the board to protect food from the suspect hygiene surfaces that the board was used on and falling between the planks. Invariably, when cutting up food, some of it would fall off the edge of the board. By having the paper there, the food did not come into contact with the grubby surfaces. I even used it at home when my other wood cutting boards were dirty or being used for other purposed such as placing hot pots on them to protect the bench top. It is by far my favourite piece in the kit.
My next favourite is the spicer bottle. I took it on all of my 5 day hikes. I used it at morning tea and lunch to sprinkle the condiments on my food. Fellow hikers in my group were all intrigued by the 4 chambers and the twisting tops when selecting what spice to use. One even wanted to know if it was waterproof. She was thinking along the lines of a pack float when water gets inside the pack as happened to her. I did not know the answer as I have not done a pack float. However, a test at home when I submerged the bottle in water for over a minute passed with flying colours. No water got inside the bottle or the base cap.
The spoon was used to stir my food when cooking and then to spoon it out onto my plate. I had only one occasion to use the measurements inside the spoon to calculate how much water was required to be boiled to rehydrate my evening meal. I needed 475 ml (2 cups). I took it to 500 ml (2.1 cups). That was 10 spoonfuls.
The tongs had their usual workout with meal cooking when using a frypan to cook bacon, steak, sausages and chopped onion. I have not noticed any further melting of the tongs.
When cleaning up I used the scourer in my collapsible kitchen sink and the scraper to remove food stuck to the base and sides of the frypan. All worked very well. The scraper has found a home in my own kitchen.
This kit is not for the Ultra Light backpacker as it has luxuries. It is in my opinion designed for the car based camper or the person who does not mind a bit of weight to enjoy luxuries.
There are some items that I will cherry pick from the kit that will have a home in my backpack when I am not doing a car base camp. When I am doing a car base camp I will take the whole kit. However, I will not be using the spatula to cut food as the handle collapses under pressure. My knife will do that job.
Thanks to GSI Outdoors and BackPackGearTest for allowing me to test this interesting kit.
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