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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cook Sets > MSR Alpine Cookware set > Owner Review by Ryan Ness

Mountain Safety Research Alpine Classic Cookset


Owner Review

April 23, 2007



Reviewer Information


Name:  Ryan Ness

Age: 31

Gender: Male

Height: 5' 10" (1.78 Meters)

Weight: 175 Pounds (80 Kilograms)

Email address:

City: Toronto

Province: Ontario

Country: Canada



Backpacking Background:  I have been backpacking for about 12 years, in my native Ontario, the Adirondacks, the Canadian and American Rockies, South America and New Zealand.  I typically get about 15 backcountry nights per year either on foot or by canoe, mostly in summer but with the occasional fall and winter trip.  In the past I’ve been an over-packer but I’ve seen the light and am slowly converting.



Product Information


Manufacturer:  Mountain Safety Research

Year of manufacture:  1997

Web site:

Listed weight:  26 oz. (750 g)

Actual weight:  26 oz. (750 g)

Dimensions:    7.5” diameter x 3.5” high (19 cm x 9 cm)

MSRP: $49.95



Product Description


The MSR Alpine Classic Cookset comes in a nylon stuff sack that includes 1.5 liter (50 oz.) and 2.0 liter (70 oz.) nesting pots, a lid, and the ‘Panhandler’ pot lifting tool. 


The Alpine Classic is a conventional backcountry cook set, with simple one-piece, uncoated 18-10 stainless steel construction and a nesting design that allows all of the pieces to fit together and stay together in my pack with the aid of the stuff sack.  The pieces all have a rolled lip, which provides better grip for the pot lifter and is claimed by the manufacturer to reduce warping and heat deformation and maintain the fit of the lid.  The pots also have rounded corners which reduce sticking and make cleaning easier, and are claimed to increase cooking efficiency.  The pot lid has a ‘stepped’ rim which allows it to form a tight seal on both sizes of pots.  In a pinch, the lid can be used as a frying pan although this is not explicitly recommended by MSR.



Field Information


I purchased the Alpine Classic set back in 1997 and have used it on innumerable  backpacking and canoeing trips over the past ten years.  I have always transported it in nested configuration in the provided stuff sack and have typically carried my stove inside the smaller of the two pots.  My stoves, formerly a Coleman Peak 1 Apex and now and MSR Whisperlite Internationale, fit perfectly inside the 1.5 liter pot (excluding fuel bottle) with room to spare for a lighter, sporks and the provided pot lifter.  In addition to reducing pack volume this has contributed significantly to the longevity of the stoves by protecting them from most impacts.   Despite the reasonable packed volume the set does weigh over twice as much as some comparable aluminum and titanium sets but as I am a moderate to heavy packer this is generally goes unnoticed. Although climate and terrain wouldn’t have a significant effect on the performance of the Alpine Classic set, I have used it on canoe and backpacking trips from Ontario to Wyoming to Chile and in temperatures between 0 F and 100 F (-25 to 35 C) and have observed no change in performance in any of these conditions.


The pots, lid and lifter have primarily used for cooking over white gas backpacking stoves, although they have also seen duty over propane car camping rigs as well as a couple of occasions on a conventional kitchen range to make Kraft dinner while I was at university.  After ten years of cooking there has been virtually no change in the color of the steel, and no distortion.  Despite extensive use over high heat as well as sometimes unkind treatment both within and outside of my canoe pack or backpack the bottoms of both pots are dead flat and they must still be almost perfectly round because the lid continues to make a great seal.  There are also no dents whatsoever around the outside edge of the large pot, even though I can remember dozens of occasions where it or the entire nested set has been dropped from a substantial height on rocks.  This overall durability may be partly due to the design of the pot bottoms, with a 1.5” (4 cm) wide recessed section around the outside edge and a slightly higher (when looking in the pot from the top) 4.5” (10 cm) central portion, which seems to provide additional structural stability and prevents deformation of any kind.   The only weak point of the entire package seems to be the two small brackets that are tack welded on to the side of the pot lid to provide a gripping surface for the pot lifter; these are constructed of a thinner gauge material that is much more malleable and one of the two has been crushed to the point where it is unusable for lifting.


In general, cooking with the Alpine classic has gone very well.   As noted above the lid provides a tight fit and although I can’t verify that the rounded corners actually increase efficiency compared to non-rounded designs, boil times have always been equal to or less than the stove manufacturer’s claims.  Snow also melts quickly although again I have little basis for comparison.  Despite the relatively thin one piece base and the absence of a separate heat diffusion component, temperature distribution is almost even over the whole bottom of both pots.  However, there is a ‘hot ring’ immediately above the point of contact of the stove flame with the bottom that is somewhat hotter than other areas.  The pots do not have a non-stick coating and therefore it is possible to burn oatmeal to the bottom without temperature moderation and vigilant stirring.  However, when following these rules and using adequate oil or butter I have had few problems, from frying onions to simmering sauces, with food sticking to the pots.   I have used the pot lid on several occasions as a frying pan; it has performed adequately but the heat distribution isn’t great and the middle of my pancakes tended to get burned.  In fairness and as noted previously, MSR does not specifically recommend that the lid be used in this way, and they also produce a fantastic small frying pan that can be purchased separately or as part of upgraded sets.  The pot lifter works very well for both pots and for lifting the lid when used either on top of the pots or as a frying pan.  There is more than enough purchase to lift the 2.0 liter pot when it is full of water and pasta, as long as one has enough wrist strength.  I can’t think of one occasion where I lost grip with the pot lifter and dropped my food.


Clean up is no problem with the Alpine classic set – I use a ScotchBrite scouring pad with some Camp Suds and this is generally more than enough to remove any remnants of food, even the occasional burned-on chunk.  The rounded corners, as claimed, really do make it easier to clean, but although there is no problem in getting into the corners it is sometimes difficult to get stuck-on material out of the abrupt transition between the depressed outside and raised center of the bottom.   I have also stored the pots wet, dirty, greasy, and sooty, yet I have always been able to clean them back to a near-pristine condition and they show no signs of corrosion or rust.  Literally hundreds of cleanings with the scouring pad (and a few with beach sand when I forgot it) have had no effect on the interior surface of the pots beyond some very faint scratch marks and I have seen no increase in the tendency for food to stick.  The polished outside of the pots has experienced somewhat more cosmetic damage from cleaning, in terms of obvious scratches, but again this has had no effect on performance.





The Alpine Classic cook set is by far one of my most reliable and consistently performing pieces of gear and I can easily foresee another decade of use.   It does everything it is intended to do and does it well, and while the absence of a heat diffusion disk and a non-stick coating might turn off the most serious of backcountry gourmets, its simplicity and durability provide more than adequate compensation for the average user.



Things I like:

1.  Durability – this set is absolutely bomb-proof.

2.  Tolerances for nesting design and lid fit are perfect.

3.  Easy to maintain and clean.

4.  Effective and reliable pot-lifter.


Things I don’t like:

1.  On the heavy side.

2.  Food can stick without constant stirring.

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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cook Sets > MSR Alpine Cookware set > Owner Review by Ryan Ness

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