GSI Minimalist Complete
|200 lb (90.7 kg)
in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have
backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to
offer. I prefer trips on
rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously
strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me.
I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not
including consumables, to under 30 lb (14 kg).
|Cup/pot: Not Listed / 164 g (5.75 oz)
Stove: 68 g (2.4 oz) / 68 g (2.4 oz)
Entire system: 266 g (9.4 oz) / 282 g (10 oz)
|0.6 L (20 oz)
|8768 BTU/h (2210 kca/h)
GSI Minimalist Complete is intended to be a complete minimalist
one-person cooking, eating and drinking system. It consists of their
minimalist cook set combined with a lightweight canister stove and
May 27 2015
For complete disclosure, I purchased a GSI Minimalist pot around 2008 or 2009 and have used it often.
system consists of a lightweight aluminum pot with reversible lid and
insulating sleeve, a “FOON” (aka collapsible spork), a pot gripper, and
a canister stove with windscreen. There is also a small storage pouch
for the stove.
Normally I would not comment on the packaging of
a product but I am rather impressed at the quality of the box it came
in, which appears suitable for storage when the system is not in use.
It also has quite a bit of useful information including specifications
and warnings as well as effective graphics.
Upon unpacking the
product, the first thing I noticed was the FOON. To say that I am not a
fan of sporks in general would be a gross understatement. The FOON is a
spork that is collapsible to help it fit into the pot for storage. The
FOON that came with my original Minimalist pot was a piece of junk and
would fall apart any time I attempted to expand or collapse it, so I
quickly threw it away. This appears to be an updated version and I have
collapsed and expanded it a number of times now with no problems. The
bowl of the FOON is attached to the handle by some recessed rails and
so the handle can be slid down over the top of the bowl portion
reducing its overall length from about 15.5 cm (6 in) to about 10 cm (4
in). The bowl of the FOON seems deep enough that despite the fork tines
it might still be functional as a spoon. The fork tines, like all
sporks I have seen, are quite short and do not look like they would be
very effective as a fork. FYI, for perspective I normally carry just a
spoon and chopsticks for backpacking.
pot is a 0.6 L (20 oz) anodized aluminum pot with no handle. Printed on
the outside of the pot is a diagram indicating the order in which to
pack the fuel canister (not included) stove, pot gripper, and FOON for
storage. The pot has a neoprene insulating sleeve as well as a
reversible lid. The lid when put on one way has a tight fitting seal
and is intended to be used for pouring and drinking. It is intended to
be reversed (seal up) for use as a lid during cooking. The lid includes
a warning label cautioning the user to always use the lid with the seal
up when cooking.
The system comes with a silicone pot griper.
This consists of a small rubber pouch that fits over two fingers and a
flap. This is intended to be a lightweight replacement for a pot
handle. The instructions warn about using this carefully to avoid burns
from hot liquids or steam (I still had to learn the hard way). The pot
gripper has a magnet imbedded in the rubber allowing it to be stuck to
the fuel canister during cooking.
The stove is small and light
(titanium?). It simply screws to the top of a pressurized fuel
canister. The base of the stove has two legs that seat on top of the
stove lip helping to prevent the canister from being over tightened and
possibly putting less stress on the threads. This is a nice detail. The
3 pot support arms utilize two hinges each that allow them to be folded
down for storage. When extended the create a flat surface for the pot.
The radius of this about 7cm (2.5 in) when the arms are extended for
use. When the arms are collapsed for storage the stove top is about 4cm
(1.5 in) in diameter. The height of the stove (without the
canister) is about 8cm (3 in). The included windscreen is a piece of
aluminum. It has cut outs for air vents, 3 notches that match up to the
stove arms, and ridges pressed into it lengthwise for strength.
style of canister top stove can be inherently unstable especially when
used with the smaller size fuel canisters. This stove is shorter than
another similar one I have so it seems a bit more stable. A valve on
the side of the base is used to operate the stove. The handle of the
valve is simple loop of wire that folds back for storage.
washing the pot and FOON before first use, as per the included
instructions, I screwed the stove to a fuel canister, extended the pot
supports, set the windscreen in place. Then I removed the sleeve from
the pot filled it about 3/4th full of water and placed it on the stove.
The stove lit easily with a quarter turn of the valve and a flick of my
lighter. I was immediately impressed with both the range and minute
controllability of the flame. At its lowest setting, the flame looks
suitable simmering while still being quite stable (at least indoors).
At its highest, the intensity of the flame is impressive but still
remained blue (not a very inefficient yellow like other stoves I
have used) and while distinctivly louder, did not sound like a jet
aircraft taking off. I could see using this in camp while others slept.
My first use was to boil some water for a cup of tea. Using about a
medium flame I was impressed at how quickly the water came to a boil.
Probably as quick if not quicker than I could do in my microwave! NOTE:
I use this comparison as my personal (and quite unscientific)
measurement of a cooking systems efficiency, and so far it has served
I will note here that the insulating sleeve has a very
distinct neoprene smell, which while I would not describe as
unpleasant, is not pleasant either, and not a smell that I find goes
well with food. My experience with the other Minimalist pot I have is
that this smell can last a long time (years?). I would not consider
this a problem with the product, but more of a distraction.
storage, all the components including a 110g [3.8 oz] fuel canister is
intended to fit inside of the pot. In trying this, I am finding that it
is a very tight fit to get the windscreen and canister in the pot (note
the canister I have at this time is 100g [3.5oz] by Primus). I also am
finding that removing the canister and windscreen once stored this way
is difficult. The windscreen fits to tightly that the edges of the
windscreen scratches along the inside of the pot. I also had quite a
difficult time figuring out how to get the FOON to fit into the pot
along with the canister as described in the documentation. I finally
resorted to forcing it between the canister and the side of the pot and
it seems to fit. There may be some slight differences in the dimensions
of the canisters by different manufacturers. Unfortunately, the
selection in my area for these is quite limited, but I intend to try
different canisters if I can. After getting all the components into the
pot, I found I was also able to fit one of the small lighters I
normally carry. I really like that my entire cook/eating/drinking set
can be stored in such a compact package. In addition, while it might be
a tight fit to get all the parts into the pot, it does ensure the parts
are not rattling around inside the pot like with some of my other
Likes: Lightweight & compact
Concerns: Not a fan of the neoprene smell. Windscreen seems like it will scratch the inside of the pot.
|July 18 2016
- 3 nights Central Cascades (elevation around 3400’/1040m, Temp 40F/4C, rain)
- 3 nights Central Cascades (elevation 3500’/1060m, Temp 40F/4C)
have used this stove on two trail maintenance trips. The first involved
setting up a base camp at the trailhead and daily treks to clear the
fallen trees from two access trails. The second trip involved hiking
about 5 miles (8 km) up an access trail to a base camp and then daily
hikes to clear logs. The majority of this work occurs in designated
wilderness areas so all the work must be done with hand tools, no power
tools allowed. So it is rather hard work and by the time I return to
camp I want a quick, easy and filling meal.
So far I have used
this stove to heat water for hot drinks (Coffee, Tea), as well as cook
oatmeal (not instant), cream of wheat (not instant), soup, ramen, and
dehydrated refried beans.
far as I have been able to tell, this
pot performs exactly like the one I have used for the last few years.
The aluminum conducts heat well, so the contents heat up quickly. In
fact I have been able to boil water as fast or possibly even quicker
than it takes in my microwave at home. It also helps to minimize
spots to reduce the chances of burning food. In addition, the anodized
aluminum helps to reduce sticking. So even when I was cooking some very
thick bean soup and had the flame higher than I should, some of the
food was burnt to the bottom of the pot. I was able to easily scrape
the food off of the bottom using the spork. When done eating I found no
food stuck to the bottom.
pot cozy fits quite snug, so to get it off the pot I find it best to
pinch the bottom of the cozy in order to have something to pull. I
suspect this is what caused my original cozy to tear, but since that
took a few years to occur I intend to continue doing that, but more
As for cleaning the pot in the field, like any
pot it can be a challenge due to limited water and not wanting to use
excessive detergents. I try to use my pots for just heating water, but
sometimes food needs cooking. I don’t like to use soap or at least use
as little as possible when in the field, so food that is thick and/or
contains oil can be difficult to get off the pot. I do carry a small
green scrub pad (cut to fit inside the pot), but the best cleaning
method I have found so far, is to use wet sand (when available) from a
stream or lake. I have done this at least twice with this pot (and many
times with my old pot) and the hard anodized coating of this pot seems
to stand up to this (abuse?) quite well. [Obviously, I properly dispose
of the sand used for this purposes in the same manner as food scraps]
canister and windscreen fit rather snuggly in the pot, and getting them
in/out includes rubbing the metal edges along the inside of the pot. I
was initially concerned about if this would scratch or otherwise damage
the pot but so far, I have seen no evidence of damage.
the FOON (aka spork). As far as sporks go this one is not that bad. I
have found the bowl to be deep enough and the tines short enough that
it is effective as a spoon (best with thick foods such as oatmeal).
However, the short tines make it just about useless as a fork. Unlike
my first FOON that I got years ago, this one does not collapse during
use, nor does it come apart when I attempt to collapse/extend it. So it
does appear to be improved. Overall, I would say the FOON is my least
favorite part of the system. After struggling with getting it to fit
into the pot with all the other items (or removing it once I do), I
have decided while it “can” fit, it really doesn’t. So I have started
storing it separately in a sack with my other small items.
am really happy with the stove. Years ago I decided that I had to
choose between a stove that produces a lot of heat, or one that
simmers. It is nice to see that many of the newer stoves I have used
are able to do both, to various degrees, and this one is no exception.
As mentioned above this stove/pot combination heats water really fast.
And once heated I can turn the flame way down to slowly simmer even
really thick food without it burning. I would note that so far my
outings have been in very calm winds. I have experienced nothing more
than a slight breeze while cooking so I can’t say if wind will cause a
problem with a low flame (e.g. going out). I also can’t tell how
effective the wind screen is. I would note that one of the issues I
have had with canister top stoves like this is during cold weather use.
The canister gets cold (air, contact with the ground/snow, cooling from
the expansion of the gas) and looses pressure. While I have not had the
opportunity to use this in cold weather, I have noticed that the wind
screen combined with the short length of the stove has resulted in a
bit of warming of the canister while I am cooking. I have felt the top
of the canister repeatedly while cooking to confirm this. The top of the
canister gets warm but not hot. Also as expected, the short length of
the stove results in this having a relatively low center of gravity
making it a little more stable. Setting up and lighting the stove has
been quite simple and completely intuitive. While I confirmed I could
light the stove using a spark from a ferrocerium rod, I have been
lighting it with a small lighter from under the windscreen. After being
stored I do need to slightly unbend the windscreen in order to use it.
But I would say this is one of the easiest and most intuitive wind
screens I have ever used.
|October 23 2016
3 days Central Washington Cascades
some of the best weather I have seen in the Pacific North West in 20
years I only managed one completely ‘recreational’ backpacking trip
this season. 3 days at a lake just off of the Pacific Crest Trail. I
left work a little early, grabbed my gear and drove to the trailhead.
Almost immediately it started raining. It was a light rain but it
did not stop until sometime that night. So after the short hike to the
lake, I set up my camp in the rain, did a bit of exploring, and made
dinner. A sample of Patagonia’s Black Bean Soup I received while
at the Outdoor Retailor show this summer with a bit of wild parsley
(the area was covered with parsley and huckleberries).
I set up
the stove on a log a short distance from my camp. It was a bit chilly
(maybe 40F/4C) with only a slight breeze. As before the stove was easy
to set up and light, it boiled the water quickly and I was able to
simmer the soup with no problems. I touched the fuel canister a few
times during cooking to see if the short stove combined with the wind
screen would help to warm the canister. While I would not say it got
“warm” it was clear to me that the canister was staying a bit above
ambient temperatures, so it was getting at least some warming. I am
looking forward to seeing how this performs in temperatures closer to
freezing. The remaining meals (2 breakfasts and 1 dinner) were similar,
heat, simmer, eat. Stove, pot, etc performed to perfection.
Irish oatmeal with fresh huckleberries is a nice way to start the day
no matter where I am, but it is especially nice when waking up on a
chilly & wet morning next to an alpine lake.
This trip I had access to nice fine sand which as stated is my
preferred cleaning method. I scrubbed the pot with sand/water after
each meal with no problems.
I did not use the included
FOON for this last trip. And as far as sporks go, it seems to be
effective and since it folds it is compact. However it really does not
fit inside the pot with the other items (short of really forcing it),
and I still don’t find it has any advantage over a real spoon. So while
I can’t say anything bad about this specific item, as I don't like
sorks in general I have no intent of continuing to use it and will go
back to my preferred utensils: spoon and chop sticks.
the trip I inspected the set. Aside for some minor discoloration of the
stove and pot bottom from the flame the set looks virtually new.
Inserting/removing the wind screen has not left the scratches that I
was originally concerned about. The cozy still fits snug and requires a
bit of effort to remove, but this also prevents it from falling off so
I don’t see that as a bad thing.
Going into this test I
already knew I liked the GSI pot, having used one for years, but the
addition of this stove really makes for a complete system that I really
love. Despite having a box full of stoves and cookware, this has become
my favorite cook system. Compact, lightweight, reliable, and easy to
use… It is hard to ask for more.
my Report. I would like to thank the folks at GSI Outdoors and BackpackGearTest.org
for the opportunity to test this product.