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Reviews > Cook Gear > Cook Sets > GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper > Test Report by Dawn Larsen

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cookware
Test Report

Initial Report 20 September 2009
Field Report 7 December 2009
Long-Term Report 9 February 2010

Name: Dawn Larsen
Age: 49
Gender: female
Height: 5' 4" (163 cm)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Email address: vicioushillbilly AT yahoo DOT com
Florence, South Carolina USA
 
Backpacking Background:
I used to backpack in college a zillion years ago and just in the last few years have backpacked some private trails in Tennessee, Missouri and most recently South Carolina. I have been an avid car-camper for eleven years and I have kayak/canoe camped for four years, both in South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. I use a lot of the same equipment for both. I hike hilly/rocky trails especially in Missouri (my home state) and Arkansas. I live in South Carolina and am busy checking out the terrain here with my sixteen year-old son.


Initial Report
20 September 2009

Product Information
Manufacturer:  GSI
Year of Manufacture:  unknown
URL: www.gsioutdoors.com 

Listed Manufacturer's dimensions on packaging:  set packed together - 9.1 x 9.1 x 5.8 in (231 x 231 x 147 mm); fry pan – 9 in (229 mm); plates – 7.5 in (191 mm)
Actual measurements: large pot – 9 x 4 in (229 x102 mm); small pot – 8 x 3.25 (203 x 83 mm); mug – 3.5 x 4.25 x 3.75 high in (89 x 108 x 95 mm); fry pan – 9 x 1.25 in (229 x 31.74 mm); plate – 7.5 (191 mm) in diameter.
Listed Volume on packaging:  large pot – 3 L; small pot – 2 L; mugs – 14 fl oz (414 ml)
Actual Volume: large pot – 2.5 L; small pot – 1.5 L; mugs - 12 fl oz (355 ml)

Listed weight: 3 lbs 8 oz (1.59 kg)
Weight as delivered without packaging: 3 lbs 8 oz (1.59 kg)
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: $119.95 US

Made in China

Product description
This multi-piece set came packed together as it should be packed to travel.  It was wrapped in plastic.  Upon taking it apart, the set contains: one fry pan, one 3 L pot, one 2 L pot, two plastic strainer lids, four plates, four mugs with no spill snap-on tops, one handle (gripper), one collapsible sink that the whole set stores in, and a set of instructions in English on one side and in French on the other. 
 
packed

Initial Impressions
It is ingenious the way this entire set fits together.  To put it back together I began with the sink, the big pot fits in that, the small pot fits in the big pot, the gripper fits in a mug, the mugs fit into the bowls into the small pot, the strainer lids fit on the pots, the fry pan acts as a lid, then the sink handles that around the pot with hook and loop closure (see picture above).
 
The colors are not the colors shown on the box or the website.  The set I received is much more dark and muted.  I kind of like the bright colors better as I could see them in low light better.
 
The plastic of the lids and plates is very thin.  I am concerned about breakage. I will be paying particular attention to this when testing.
 
The gripper is interesting. It folds in half for storage. When I opened it, it snapped into place.  The way it hooks on the pot is to slide it into a bracket and then a locking pin locks it in place.  I had a hard time sliding it into the bracket. I wonder what happens when the pot is hot and I can't anchor it with my hand.  Also, I wonder if it will be difficult to switch it from one pot or fry pan to another without burning myself.
 
The set's instructions come with warnings including: My comments are in italics
WARNING: Prior to initial use, always wash with hot water and mild detergent at home and dry immediately. Use only non-abrasive cloths and cleaners. Always allow components to dry completely before storing. Dishwashers may prematurely age components. I am sorry to hear that about not dishwashering as I always throw camping kitchen gear in the dishwasher. nFORM Crossover Cookware and Tableware is not intended for prolonged storage of food or liquids. Should a component become crazed or fractured, discontinue use and please recycle the pieces. I like the fact that GSI asks me to recycle if their cookware breaks.
CAUTION: Gripper may become hot when cooking. Always use caution when grasping handle. Never expose handle to direct flame. This gripper worries me.  It seems a little unwieldy.  Do not attempt to separate mug and bowl while full. This was confusing until I realized that the outside of the mug was a bowl.
 
set
Initial Trial
The way this entire set fits together is ingenious .  I took it apart and put it back together without instructions.  To put it back together, I began with the sink; the big pot fits in that; the small pot fits in the big pot; the gripper fits in a mug; the mugs fit in the small pot; the strainer lids fit on the pots; the fry pan acts as a lid; then the sink handles secure the fry pay lid on the big pot with a hook and loop closure (see picture below from instructions).
 
instructions        mug bowl

I removed Teflon stickers, washed and dried the whole set in the collapsible sink. The sink worked very well with the small items.  The pots and fry pan are too big. I tried the strainer lids with cool water. They work very well.  As the instructions state, if I make sure that the strainer part is turned away from my hands, steam should not be a problem.  The mugs were really confusing to me.  I guess the outside is a bowl.  Initially, I thought the mug was a two-part item.  The instructions don't specify that there are bowls, except when they state not to take mug and bowl apart.  I guess if I left the bowl on the mug, it would insulate it more.  I  tried drinking from a mug with the snap on lid without the bowl.  I used hot tea. The insulation seems to work well.  The mugs are a little strange to drink from as they have no handle and they don't fit in my hand very well due to their shape.  When the tea was very hot, I had to use both hands.  The insulation keeps the outside of the mug from getting very hot, however. 
 
I look forward to taking this set out into the field.  I am planning several campouts with just my son and me, and I assume it will provide more than enough options for 2 of us.  I am also planning campouts as faculty sponsor of my university's student camping club.  Those trips should really put this cook set to the test.
 
What I Like:
It all fits together very well.
There are so many components and options.
 
What I Don't Like:
The colors are very muted.
The gripper handle does not slide into the bracket on the pots and fry pan easily.

Field Report
7 December 2009

I was able to test this item during this field period on two trips.  The first was a camping trip at Dreher Island, South Carolina for three days.  The second on private land near Sumter, South Carolina for two days. On the first trip, I cooked for myself and one other person. The second I cooked for myself and 3 other people.   Both were car camping trips.  

The first time I took this set out, my son and I went camping for two days. Though the set is really very compact providing for so many varied options, and it is a really creative idea,  it did not prove to be very durable.

The Steamer Lid: The first night, I tried to cook sausage and potatoes in the fry pan.  I put the lid on it to steam the potatoes and the lid melted to the rim of the pan in about 3 minutes.  I was cooking on a propane one-burner stove.  The flame was not out past the bottom of the pan. It was not a particularly windy day. The only thing I can figure is that the pan got too hot.  I didn't even try the other lid the first trip out because I didn't want to ruin it.  Who can fry potatoes outside without a lid?!  The potatoes have to steam as well as fry.  So, I used the frying pan as a lid on the big pot for the rest of the weekend.  I was really disappointed. There is nothing in the instructions about not using the lid on the fry pan.
lid melt
After we got home, I called GSI customer support and they told me that the lid is plastic and not supposed to be used on the frypan. I asked if the instructions stated that the frypan should not be used with the lid (because I had looked before and they didn't) and he said he didn't know, but that they were "trying to educate people about that." He said the lids were plastic and when used on the frypan it is too close to the fire.  The customer service representative was very nice and shipped me out a new lid.  It arrived in about two and one half weeks.

General Observations
The Set:  I like that this set fits so well together-lots of pieces in one small package.  It really saved room in my kitchen tote.  It took the place of two backpacking cooksets.  

The Pans:  The non-stick surface is very nice.  The first trip, I forgot oil and had to cook eggs and onions in the grease from the sausage.  Nothing stuck to the bottom of either the big pot or the fry pan.  Because the non-stick surface is so good, cleanup was a breeze.  When I used oil on the second trip, the non-stick was even better.  I used a plastic spatula, and metal spoons, but somewhat carefully.  The bottom did not scratch.  When I tried to boil water in the big pan, I filled it half full, it took at least five minutes for it to boil. This may be because of the amount of water that the big pot can hold.

More on the Lids:  Back to this problem.  I don't know that the set needs two lids with strainers.  I didn't even use the smaller lid, though I used the smaller pan.  When I cook in the field, I generally use a frypan and a couple of pots--the frypan for the meat, one pot for a starch and vegetables, and often I use a pot just for keeping hot water available (tea, sanitizing, etc.).  I  like to serve the food in what it's been cooked in, which cuts down on cleanup time.  So the idea of the set is great that I can have three cooking vessels at my disposal that fit together to pack.  If I have to use the fry pan as a lid, that makes only two pots, none for water.  I would like this set better if it came with one universal strainer lid and one universal metal lid that I could use on the pots or frypan.

The Mugs:  The mugs, especially when I kept the bowl parts and the lids on them, really insulated my hot drink, even when the weather was about 40 degrees and windy.  My chai stayed warm for about 15 minutes.  They take some getting used to, to drink from, however.  Because I drank with the cover on, I had to drink from the corner.  I had to hold the mug with both hands and dribbled a little until I could figure out how to drink without dribbling.  

The Plates:  The plates scratched after one use.  I used regular metal put-together flatware.  I was cutting hotdogs, therefore not pressing down too hard and it still scratched the plate.  This is disappointing.

The Sink:  The sink, either leaks or condenses greatly.  It did not leak when I tried it at home before my trip, but it did leak out in the field.  See the picture below and the water dripping off of the picnic bench.  I could not get it to leak or condense like that when I brought it home to find the problem.
sink leak

What I Like so Far

It saves packing room
There is a lot of variety
The non-stick surface works very well

What I Don't Like so Far
There is no lid for the fry pan
The plastic plates scar very easily
The sink leaks or condenses too much

Long Term Report
9 February 2010


Field Conditions

Car camping base camp along the Buffalo River near Jasper, Arkansas.  Temperatures averaged about 35 degrees F (2 C) during the day and below freezing at night. There was some sleet and snow when we were hiking, but not much.  Mostly, it was just cold.  Because it was so cold, it was very still.  I cooked for myself and one other person.

Car camped on private land 
near Forsyth, Missouri in December.  Temperatures and weather conditions were about the same as in Arkansas.  I cooked for myself and one other person.

General Observations

I continue to really like the way this set packs together.  Because I was driving 1000 miles (1610 km) to see family, backpack, and camp along with Christmas presents and a cat, I appreciated that this set packs together into such a small item.  

The lids and pans:  Once I learned not to use the lid with the frying pan (see the Field Report), the pieces of the set worked very well together. I cooked pasta one night and the lid drains very well, but it gets hot where the hot water touches the lid.  I had to use bandannas as pot holders and had to hold the lid onto the pan when draining the pasta.  I really do miss a lid for the skillet. We fry potatoes and onions every time we camp (I believe that is a car camping requirement!) and potatoes need a lid.  So, I fried the potatoes in a pot using the skillet as the lid.  To do that, I had to take the handle off the pot and put it on the skillet to lift the lid, which is awkward.  Though the handle works well, it doesn't come off the pot as easily as I would need to rapidly transfer it from one vessel to the other. The pans continue to have a very functional non-stick surface.  I cooked eggs and bacon. Sometimes bacon will leave residue that is very hard to clean.  It all slid right off the skillet.

Mugs:  I got better at drinking out of the mugs without dribbling.  I still prefer a mug with a handle, however, as well as one that I can drink from a little more easily.  So I used the mugs as bowls to keep my hot cereal warm.  That is probably the way I will use the mugs (as bowls) in the future.

Plates: The plates are disappointing as they are very scratched up after a few uses, but they are functional.  

Sink: The sink continued to leak in cold temperatures using warm water.  I am sorry about that too.  Even though a camp kitchen is not the most pristine place, having water puddles near the food is annoying.  I wished it worked better.

Cleaning:  Everything cleans very well, both at camp and at home.

Summary

Even with the disappointing plates, no lid for the skillet, and leaky sink, this is something that I will continue to use a lot when car camping because the pans work so well and it packs together in such a unique way.  

What I liked
The nonstick surface on the pans works very well.
I like the way it all packs together.

What I didn't like
The plates scratched.
No lid for the skillet
The sink leaks

This concludes my long term report.  Many thanks to GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Pinnacle Camper Cookset.
 


Read more reviews of GSI Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Dawn Larsen

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