GSI OUTDOORS PACK KITCHEN 8
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
July 28, 2013
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
22 in (56 cm)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and trekking poles.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: GSI Outdoors
|Photo courtesy of GSI Outdoors
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gsioutdoors.com
MSRP: $16.95 US
Listed Weight: 3.7 oz (104 g)
Measured Weight: 3.9 oz (110 g)
Spatula: 0.4 oz (11 g)
Spoon: 0.5 oz (14 g)
Towel: 0.5 oz (14 g)
Scrubbing pad: 0.1 oz (3 g)
Salt and Pepper shaker: 0.8 oz (23 g)
Condiment bag: 0.3 oz (8 g) each
Extra flip top: 0.1 oz (3 g) each
Mesh bag: 0.8 oz (23 g)
Made in China
The GSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8 is an 8-piece set (counting the bag) of backpacking kitchen gear.
For cooking, there are a nylon spatula and cooking spoon each with a grip area of orange silicone on the handle. The spoon is 7.4 in x 1.7 in x 1.0 in (19 cm x 4 cm x 3 cm) and the spatula is 7.1 in x 1.9 in x 0.8 in (18 cm x 5 cm x 2 cm). The spoon is deep and holds quite a bit of liquid which I measured as nearly 2 tablespoons or 1 fluid ounce (30 ml). Both utensils have a small hook on the handle presumably for hanging them to dry. The back sides of the handles have ridges for holding onto the rim of a pot. There are pine tree designs in the working ends of the utensils.
For condiment storage there are two collapsible 2 fl oz (60 ml) BPA-free polyethylene bottles with screw tops. Each bottle came with a solid polypropylene lid which is tethered to the bottle with a short string. There are also two screw-on flip top lids that interchange if needed.
The clear copolyester salt and pepper shaker is divided lengthwise into halves making two compartments. There is a plastic cover that snaps over the opening which is solid on one half and has holes on the other half. Hidden under the removable base is another snap-on cover to be used for filling which has one solid half and one open half. The lid is a screw top which is waterproof to keep your salt and pepper dry. The shaker is 1.5 in x 1.5 in x 1.5 in (4 cm x 4 cm x 4 cm).
Finally for clean-up there is a 3 in x 3 in (8 cm x 8 cm) scrubbing pad and a micro-fiber towel of 8 in x 12 in (20 cm x 30 cm).
It all can be contained in the supplied nylon mesh bag with a drawstring cord and cord lock.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There were no instructions included but the spatula, spoon and bottles have symbols indicating that they are safe for contact with food.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My backpacking culinary style involves preparing all of my own meals at home using freeze-dried or dehydrated ingredients. I am particular about having healthy foods all of the time and find it even more important on longer backpacking trips. I'm not a hiker that lives on ramen and candy bars. I prepare separate meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with about half of them being hot meals and half being cold or rehydrated on the trail. Typical breakfasts are hot cereals, eggs or granola; lunches may be wraps with chicken salad, hummus or bean dip and dinner varies widely from jambalaya to split pea soup. Most meals are eaten out of a zip-top bag or in the pot. Between meals we have snacks and occasionally have dessert but usually just a hot drink on cold evenings.
For cooking gear I carry a spork, the occasional mini-spatula and a pot with lid. I sometimes carry a cozy or just use a fleece for keeping things warm while they rehydrate. I don't typically bother to carry clean-up gear since pine needles or pebbles make great scrubbers and things dry so quickly that I don't need a towel.
My initial impression was that the kit was pretty much as anticipated based on the website information. The spoon and spatula were slightly smaller than I had thought which was a relief. All of the items seem well-constructed and there were no flaws found.
I was happy to discover the salt and pepper filling lid hidden under the base before I tried filling the shaker. To have that lid handy under the base and not loose is a great idea. I filled the shaker to get it ready for my first outing and had no problems keeping the salt and pepper separate. I was able to get nearly 1 teaspoon (5 ml) each of salt and pepper into the shaker. I occasionally under-season a meal during my at-home preparation which is a fairly big issue on the trail since I seem to prefer more seasoning when hiking. The extra shaker would eliminate this worry and I could lightly season when making meals at home knowing that it could be added later.
I'm interested in seeing how the spoon serves to complement my spork on the trail. Eating soup with my spork doesn't allow much liquid to get in my mouth at once. In addition the extra length of this spoon looks helpful for stirring meals in my zip-top bags. I'm looking forward to testing that out. I already use a similar spatula for meals where I'm making eggs but this one has a finely feathered edge which looks great for scraping the bottom.
The condiment bottles are the most intriguing item to me. I love to have honey or jam for eating with nut butters on tortillas but they make a mess since their packets often break and the trash is messy. I can think of several items that I'd like to try in these little bottles like maple syrup, honey and jam. But since they are quite sticky I'm curious how well I'll be able to clean them out between trips. I appreciate the optional flip-top lids for use with items that I'll prefer to squeeze out.
I don't like to carry extra items on the trail with me so I'll likely try to fit as many of the items into my cook set as possible rather than use the mesh storage bag. However the utensils are just slightly too long to fit in my pot so I may end up using the bag for carrying those. It'll be interesting to see how much value I find in having these items with me.
The GSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8 is a basic backpacking set for carrying spices and condiments, cooking and cleaning up on the trail for those who do more than the minimal amount of cooking.
Roomy spoon to complement my spork
Secure condiment bottles for messy sauces
How useful will the mesh bag and cleaning gear be?
Will it be hard to clean the condiment bottles?
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I used the GSI Kitchen set on a three-day camping trip and three backpacking trips for a total of thirteen days. I also used some of the items on day hikes.
Pinnacles National Park, California: 2 nights; 1,260 to 2,100 ft (384 to 640 m) elevation; 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C).
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 days; 10 mi (16 km); 6,327 to 6,500 (1,928 to 1,981 m); 34 to 59 F (1 to 15 C).
Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National Park, California: 4 days; 32 miles (52 km); 3,900 to 7,400 ft (1,189 to 2,256 m).
Emigrant Wilderness, California: 4 days; 24 miles (39 km); 7,160 to 8,930 ft (2,182 to 2,722 m).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I took all of the items in the kitchen set along on every trip and used all of them. But I found a few to be my favorites and worth carrying, and a few to be 'nice to have' when I'm not all that concerned with pack weight. My favorite things are the condiment bottles because I can easily carry liquids and refill them for each trip. The next most useful items to me are the pot scrubber and dish towel. The spatula, large spoon and salt & pepper shaker are great for camping but have limited use for me for backpacking.
I filled one of the condiment bottles with olive oil and was able to get slightly over 2 ounces (60 ml) inside. I weighed the full bottle in at 2.2 oz (60 g). On trips I often use individual packets of olive oil, which come in 0.5 oz (15 ml). I weighed four of these packets which are approximately equivalent to the condiment bottle and found them to weigh 2.3 oz (64 g). I was happy to see this since I find the individual packets to contain a little too much oil for my individual uses and I end up wasting some of it each time. I discovered that I need to be careful not to fill the bottles too full since at altitude the liquid wants to evacuate as soon as I open it. I managed to get oil all over the bottle and my hands the first time.
I filled the other condiment bottle with agave nectar and the full bottle weighed 2.5 oz (71 g). For both of these liquids I decided to use the flip top instead of the attached screw top. It was easy to untie the leash from the screw top and remove it.
Over the testing period I occasionally used the agave bottle for honey but kept it on the same line since I found it difficult to get the small bottle completely cleaned out. The same strategy goes for the oil bottle. I used it for various oils but never for anything totally different.
I used the spatula for cooking eggs and was surprised that the fine edge didn't melt. I have another very similar spatula that I've used in the past where the edge got too hot during cooking and melted that edge. I'm not sure what's different with this one but it has lasted longer under the same conditions. I gave it an unfair test in camp and flipped burgers with it. It did great! That heat was too much and the hot grill slightly melted the edge but it held up remarkably and was quite sturdy.
The spoon was nice for stirring food in my cook pot and in zip-top bags since it's longer than my spork and could reach in farther. I tried to use it for eating soup since it holds a nice portion of liquid but with the deep side walls it is not conducive at all to eating with it. This fact relegates it to the car camping gear since it can only be used as a cooking spoon.
The scrubber did a great job for clean-up even when part of the job meant scrubbing soot off my pot from a wood fire. It got completely filthy but cleaned up pretty well in the dishwasher at home. I usually use sand or a piece of pine bough for scrubbing but I liked having this around.
The towel is a nice size and was very absorbent. I don't normally carry a towel for drying dishes but got hooked on this little beauty. I'll likely continue to carry it. The towel really got filthy on the Yosemite trip after I made gingerbread over a wood fire. I machine-washed it with the laundry though and it looks nearly like new.
I used the mesh storage bag for keeping things organized in my pack and since the spatula and spoon are too long to fit in my pot. On some trips I stored the utensils, salt shaker and condiments in the bear canister and the scrubber and towel in my pot.
Salt & Pepper Shaker:
Surprisingly the last thing that I used was this shaker. I expected to really love having it but I rarely used it and won't carry it on backpacking trips. It will end up in the car camping bag.
I found some of the items in the GSI Pack Kitchen 8 to be really useful and some to be not worth carrying for backpacking.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
Things that made the cut:
Things that I'll save for car camping:
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith