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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cook Sets > GSI Outdoors Explorer Stove Kit > Test Report by Kurt Papke
GSI Explorer Cook Kit
|6' 4" (193 cm)
|230 lbs (105 kg)
|kwpapke (at) gmail (dot) com
|City, State, Country:
|Tucson, Arizona USA
This product is not yet on the market and did not appear on the
GSI website at the time this Initial Report was published, so
there may be some uncertainty as to naming, pricing, claimed
weights, etc. The product I am evaluating includes a pot
with lid, retractable spork and a stove that fits on a gas
|GSI Outdoors Inc.
|Glacier Stainless 1.1 L Boiler + Glacier Camp Stove
|Country of manufacture
|Unknown, product not yet priced
|30 day return policy
|Pot: stainless steel
Stove: unknown, but mix of metal and plastic
I am looking forward to getting this cook kit out into the backcountry and making some meals with it.
Check back in a few months for my report from the field.
|April 4-5, 2019
|Coronado National Forest, Huachuca Mountains
near Sierra Vista, Arizona
|Partly cloudy, windy. Highs around 65 F
(18 C), lows around 44 F (7 C). Very windy.
|May 5-6, 2019
|Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Mountains just North of Tucson, Arizona
Hirabayashi TH to Hutch's Pool
|Mostly sunny, slight breeze. High of around 85 F, low of 46 F (29-8 C)
|May 18-19, 2019
|Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina Mountains just North of Tucson, Arizona
Gulch TH to Lemmon Pools
|Mostly sunny, slight breeze, 36-60 F (2-16 C)
This was a single-night car camping trip to do some reconnaissance for the upcoming Arizona Spring Hammock Hang next month at this campgrounds. I wasn't able to reserve the group campsite, so I wanted to check out the single sites and get an assessment of the winding mountain road leading up to the site. I used the cook kit three times, for some hot broth (photo above upper left), dinner and breakfast the next morning (photo above, upper middle).
As is evident from the photos, I did not use GSI fuel. I substituted a leftover Snow Peak and a Jetboil canister. Both worked just fine.
The challenge was using the stove in high winds. The flame never got blown out, but came close, and it had a pretty big impact on boil times. In all instances I was boiling one pint (470 mL) of water, which seemed to take about 10 minutes to get up to a rolling boil.
Pictured in the second photo above is the collapsible cup I used with this cook kit, since it does not come with a cup, nor is it easy to drink directly from the pot.
Hutch's Pool is an iconic Tucson backpacking destination, and a welcome respite for Arizona Trail through-hikers as it offers a chance to have a dip in a mountain pool. Despite having lived and backpacked here for 10 years, I still had not been there, so packed up and did a short overnight. The trailhead is a memorialized prison camp used to inter Japanese Americans during World War II, and now bears the name of the man who fought so hard against this unnecessary internment.
I used the Explorer cook kit for 3 meals and a mid-morning snack on this backpacking trip. The above right photo shows lunch cooking along the trail. The photo at the bottom left shows the detail of a one of the few meals I made with the cook kit that involved more than boiling water. This is my homemade dehydrated spaghetti with meat sauce. I had to boil water to rehydrate the meat sauce, then cook the noodles (angel hair pasta).
Everything worked pretty well but the burner throws so much heat up the side of the pot that I feel like I singed my fingers a few times while I was stirring or adding ingredients to the pot. I also noticed that the stove stays hot for a long time after dousing the flame. The central stem contains a lot of metal, and was too hot to touch even a few minutes after shutting down the stove. I don't know if the storage sac for the stove is heatproof or not, but I didn't take any chances and allowed the stove to cool down well before stowing it.
I also noticed on this trip that if I tried to throttle back the
stove, it had a mind of its own and tended to return to the
prior/higher setting. I found if I overcompensated the
valve, it would return to a reasonable level of flame
output. There are limits to this technique however, if I
throttle it back too much of course the flame goes out.
I have mixed feelings about the spork. I like how it folds up so small, and the plastic tip allows me to stir and mix contents in a freezer bag without puncturing the bag. On the other hand, food slides off of the tip, and it has a tendency to fold up when I wish it did not.
One additional note from this trip: I used the cook pot to eat my cereal out of in the morning. Works reasonably well, though the pot is a little deep to scoop cereal out of the very bottom.
Another overnight to a stellar but little-known water feature in the Catalina Mountains. There is a reason I am doing so many of these this year: we had great winter & spring rains, and the mountain pools are spectacular.
I cooked lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning on the stove. I brought three partially filled gas canisters to make sure I didn't run out, but this stove uses a lot of gas. I used two of the three.
The stove is shown in action at our campsite near the pools in the photo above at lower right.
I nearly burned my fingers on the handle cooking dinner.
The handle is far enough away, I didn't expect it to get hot, but
the burner throws so much heat up the side of the pot that my
expectations were dashed.
There seems to be a fundamental mismatch between the design of
the stove and the pot. The burner is wide enough for a
frying pan. Either the pot should be wider, or the burner
should be narrower.
|June 22-23, 2019
|Mount Baldy Wilderness, near Pinetop, Arizona
|Mount Baldy Loop
|20 miles (32 km)
|Sunny, breezy, temperatures 30-68 F (-1-20 C)
|July 6-7, 2019
|Tonto National forest, Pinal Peak just south
of Globe, Arizona
|Partly cloudy, 55-70 F
|July 20-21, 2019
|Chiricahua Wilderness, Southeast Arizona
|Sunny, breezy, 50-70 F
I have lived in Tucson, Arizona for 10 years, and never visited, much less hiked, Arizona's White Mountains. Mount Baldy, Arizona's second-highest peak is located there, and I needed some high-altitude training. I drove 5 hours to the trailhead early Saturday morning, hiked until I could no more, then got up the next morning and completed the loop before driving back. I was pretty beat that night when I arrived home.I was too bone-tired when after setting up camp on Saturday night to cook a hot meal. I just had some jerky and a trail bar and called it a night. Needless to say, I was starving when I awoke the morning and made myself a huge pot of oatmeal, cooked directly in the stainless pot. Oatmeal can be nasty to clean out of a pot. I dry camped that night, so I had to make good use of my water and could not afford to waste it needlessly on pot cleaning. Fortunately the Explorer pot cleaned up nicely with a splash of clean water and liberal use of my fingers as a scrubber. I used my bandanna to complete the task, and the pot was sparkling clean! Glad to see this cleans up so easily.
This was an overnight car-camping trip to a campground I had never been to before, despite being less than 3 hours from my house by car. I cooked two meals in the GSI cook kit: spaghetti for dinner and oatmeal the next morning.
I tried to capture in the above left photo the issue with the burner being too wide for the pot. The bubbles from the boil are visible around the outer edge of the pot, but there are fewer and smaller bubbles towards the middle.
I've found that the spork that came with the cook kit can be difficult to clean. On the above photo, upper right, is a close-up of the spork AFTER being cleaned as thoroughly as I could with the utensils I had with me. I think a toothpick would be required to get the bits of oatmeal out of the hinge area. This makes the spork a likely source of mold and/or bacteria growth. I've become increasingly frustrated with the way it often folds up on me, despite my best efforts at locking it in place.
I was anxious for breakfast in the morning and turned the gas up pretty good on the stove to get my water boiling for the oatmeal. When I went to take the pot off the stove I nearly burned my hand, and had to use the stove stuff sack as a hot pad to avoid a nasty burn. This is clearly a safety issue.
This was a high-altitude hike to acclimate for my upcoming Colorado hiking week. I had lunch at the Rustler Park trailhead campground (see photo at upper middle position in the collage above). I made up some potato soup that was enhanced with some jerky meat. It reminded me that another thing I dislike about this spork is that it is pretty useless for eating soup. Unfortunately, soup is one of my favorite trail lunches. The spork holds so little liquid that way too many spoonfuls are required to eat my lunch. On this occasion I got so frustrated I just picked up the pot and drank directly from it, of course pouring half of it down the front of my shirt.
I used the cook kit on the trail again for dinner, though I just boiled water. It was pretty windy in my campsite at dinner time, and the burner almost blew out a few times. I made a makeshift windbreak from a big rock and my food bag, and that helped a little bit.
I made hot instant coffee for breakfast the next morning with the
cook kit with no issues.
The positive things I can add to my Field Report Summary is that the stainless pot cleans up easily and to a spotless condition, and that as expected this is a durable piece of gear. Four months later and many meals cooked in it, and it looks brand new, although the burner has the typical "heat exposure" look to the metal.
On the downside, I will not use this spork again. It folds up when I try to use it, has too small capacity for liquids and is impossible to clean. Also, the pot handle getting hot can be pretty serious if the burner is cranked up.
Many of the issues with this cook kit could be corrected if the
manufacturer simply made the burner smaller in diameter. It
would be a more fuel efficient stove, simmer better, and would
prevent the handle from getting burning hot.