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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > GSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8 > Test Report by Gail StaisilGSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
Initial Report - March 22, 2013
Long Term Report - July 28, 2013
March 22, 2013
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 152 lb (69 kg)
Boot Size: Women's 11 US/42 EU
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com
For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan and Canada. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.
Initial Impressions and Product Description
The GSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8 arrived in a mesh bag attached to a plastic folded card which illustrated the contents.
Pack Kitchen 8 Design and Features
The Pack Kitchen 8 is an accessory kit that can be used to supplement basic outdoor cooking. The manufacturer suggests it for ultralight backpacking and gourmet backpacking. An approximately 7.5 in (19 cm) by 5 in (13 cm) black mesh fabric bag holds seven other items. While two of the items are for clean-up purposes (camp towel and scrubby sponge) the others include two utensils, a spicer and two soft-sided bottles. Also included were two extra caps for the bottles.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the size of the cooking utensils. The spatula is uniquely sized to be very usable but also very packable. It measures approximately 7 in (18 cm) long and 2 in (5 cm) wide on the widest area of the spatula. The handle features non-slip silicone grips as well as a hook for hanging. The back side of the handle is notched and has a non-slip feature that is handy for propping the utensil in a bowl without it slipping inside. Also to add some interest there is engraved graphics of three pine trees on the spatula.
The other utensil is a pack spoon that has a larger bowl end than most camp spoons. It measures about 7.5 in (19 cm) long and the spoon holds a full tablespoon (14.79 ml) of food/liquid. Again it has the same non-slip grip on both sides of the handle plus the hanging hook and there are a few pine trees on it as well. A very nice touch indeed.
The two cleaning items in the kit are a 3 in (8 cm) square scrubby for removing crusty food residue and a small microfiber towel in the color of orange that measures about 12 in by 8 in (30 cm by 20 cm). No doubt my cookware will look better in the field than it ever has before as I usually just use snow or sand plus air dry.
The spicer is a clear waterproof container divided into two sections so that two different spices such as salt and pepper could be carried. It has a standard inner lid with holes on one side and closed on the other side. It is easily rotated to open the side that is needed. There is an optional inner lid that can be used instead that has one side totally open. The bottom of the spicer unit has a removable base (orange color) that could be used to mix spices or whatever.
Finally there are two condiment bottles that are small and resemble miniature water flasks (flat soft sides). They each have a lid with an attached hanging cord to help prevent loss. Two additional caps with flip-up lids are included. The bottles have non-see-thru sides but do have a place to write the name of the contents and date. I have mixed feelings already about these bottles as the cleanability of them is in question so I will definitely keep track of how "re-usable" these are.
I must admit that I am rather a minimalist when it comes to carrying any extra kitchen items. I usually get by with just one small spoon for cooking/eating and occasionally a tiny Nalgene for olive oil or similar. I really thought it would be fun to have more options during some of my trips especially those meals that involve more than boiling water. I've already been out with the utensil set on a winter camping trip. While I will keep my written thoughts for the Long Term Report I can say that some of these items were very helpful and made cooking yummy meals in blizzard conditions a lot more fun.
Long Term Report:
July 28, 2013
USA Locations and Conditions
During the long term test period I have used the GSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8 during six different backpacking trips totaling 21 days Locations of all activities ranged from hilly deciduous forest to open non-deciduous communities including ice-covered Lake Superior as well as a wilderness island and lakeshore. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m). Locations of all trips were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan including Lake Superior.
Location of Trip #1 (March 18-19): Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail/Bushwhack
Distance: 10.5 mi (16.9 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Sled Weight: Approx 40 lb (18 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, snowstorms
Precipitation: 0.58 in (1.47 cm) which was more than 11 in (28 cm) of new snow at camp
Temperature Range: 34 F to 9 F (1 C to -13 C )
Location of Trip #2 (March 25-26): Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Beaver Basin Wilderness), Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail/Frozen Lake
Distance: 14 mi (23 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Sled Weight: Approx 45 lb (20.4 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy
Precipitation: 0.02 in (0.05 cm) Snow
Temperature Range: 34 F to 20 F (1 C to -7 C)
Location of Trip #3 (June 3-5): Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 22 mi (35.5 km) backpacking plus 3.5 mi (5.6 km) day hiking
Length of Trip: 3 days/2nights
Pack Weight: Approx 26 lb (12 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy and sunny
Temperature Range: 32 F to 57 F (0 C to 14 C)
Location of Trip #4 (June 7-9): Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 18.8 mi (30 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: Approx 25 lb (11 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, cloudy
Temperature Range: 39 F to 61 F (4 C to 16 C)
Location of Trip #5 (June 14-22): Isle Royale National Park
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 61 mi (98 km)
Length of Trip: 8 days/8 nights
Pack Weight: Approx 30 lb (13.6 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Clouds, sun, rain and heavy fog
Precipitation: Estimated: 0.50 in (1.27 cm)
Temperature Range: 39 F to 69 F (4 C to 21 C)
Location of Trip #6 (July 17-19): Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 19.2 mi (31 km)
Length of Trip: 3 days/2 nights
Pack Weight: Approx 24 lb (11 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and a ton of rain
Precipitation: 3.51 in (8.92 cm)
Temperature Range: 63 F to 90 F (17 C to 32 C)
My first two trips during the testing period were in winter camping conditions. I had no problems using the kit in cold weather (9 F/-13 C). The grips on the utensils were especially nice to hold with cold hands. During the rest of the test period temperatures were still unseasonably low for spring and summer except for one hot day.
I found the spatula to be my favorite of the items in the Pack Kitchen 8 Set. Its small size does an amazing job to keep the contents of my fry pan from sticking or burning. I continuously used it while making a number of egg dishes and other foods in the backcountry. As aforementioned, the grip on the handle worked great in all conditions including cooking in the middle of a huge snowstorm. I also found the built-in notch on the handle to be handy for resting on the pan edge if I had to grab something quickly or once I completed cooking.
I found the larger-than-normal spoon to be great for mixing items and I even ate dinner with it several times instead of using my smaller spoon (I do prefer a smaller spoon though). The hooks on top of both utensils were not used as I really couldn't see any advantage to hanging them on anything.
I found the condiment bottles to be especially great for transporting olive oil and maple syrup. I have tried many other types of containers for oil in the past and most every one leaked at some point. Due to past experience I put the condiment bottles inside of a freezer bag in case there was a leak. I am happy to report that they worked flawlessly. I left the regular caps on the bottles. I did try using one of the caps with a flip-up lid at camp but I really felt that pouring the product was fine with just taking the regular cap off totally. The flip-up lids are useful for thinner liquids though.
I have taken the salt and pepper shakers on all of my backpacking trips but found that I didn't use them as much as I thought. I don't often add extra seasoning to food on the trail as I prefer my food to not be too spicy or salty. The shakers performed well when needed and the cap kept them from leaking seasoning into other items. As a side note on one of my trips I kept the salt shaker on stand by at camp in case I needed to remove a leech from my skin (thankfully that didn't happen but I would have been ready!)
The scrubby was used sparsely at camp except for the meals where I used a fry pan (I did use it a lot at home for post trail clean-up). The fry pan has a non-stick coating so I could lightly swipe with the scrubby to get the remaining food off. The microfiber towel was used to dry ...really a luxury! It also came in handy as a pot holder to lift the lid of my titanium pot.
The mesh bag was great for keeping the items together. I just placed it inside my cook bag which contained a pot, sometimes a fry pan, stove and fuel and matches.
Care and Durability
The products have been mostly easy to care for. In the field I just dipped both the spoon and spatula in snow or water and wiped them off with the towel. After each trip I hand washed the utensils along with other camp items. I find the condiment bottles hard to clean at home so I have not done so in the field. Since I have used them mostly for olive oil rinsing them out just doesn't work. I purchased a set of very small bottle brushes so that I could attempt to clean the inside of them. I'm still not sure that cleans them totally but I have come to the conclusion that they are clean enough! I store the condiment bottles without closing the caps.
The scrubby can just be cleaned with water and dish soap. I did get it thoroughly dirty every time I used Esbit tabs for my stove as they leave a sticky film on the bottom of the pot. Since I don't clean the outside of the pot every time I cook during any given backpacking trip, the film becomes black and harder to remove but the scrubby made it easy. I washed the pack towel after every trip with my regular laundry.
I really liked testing the GSI Pack Kitchen 8. I will definitely take some pieces of the kit with me on every trip, most likely the condiment containers, spatula and pack towel which were my favorites. Although the rest of the items are very packable (not taking up much space), I probably will leave them at home if weight is an issue.
Thanks to GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Pack Kitchen 8. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.
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