Although I’m not much of a back-pack/hiking girl, I do camp. I suppose you more rugged types would describe it as “glamping”-a term I only became aware of this week. (Glamping-glamorous camping. Though not “hotel camping”, it’s basically camping with most of the niceties of indoors) Tents and showers and cooking food more involved than “hot-dog-on-stick” or MRE.
Yep, totally me. I like to eat and I like to cook and I like to camp. Unfortunately, lugging my kitchen to campsites is not an option and what I have lugged in the past was not easily packed. I have assorted tubs of pots, pans, bowls, plates, etc that don’t fit anywhere particularly well. Thanks to the good folks at GSI (GSIoutdoors.com) and the nForm Crossover Technology Bugaboo Camper Cook Set, that has been rectified.
GSI describes this wonder as, “…compact design fully equipped for the gourmet needs of campers.”. I’ll say! This beauty takes up less room than a picnic basket with dimensions of 9.1”x9.1”x5.8” and a weight of 58.1 oz (that’s 3.5ish lbs. ). The set includes a 3L(liter) pot, 2L pot, 2 strainer lids (which are crush proof, heat resistant and have silicone rings that won’t deform in your pack) – one of which fits the 9” fry pan, 4-14 oz. Mugs, 4-14oz Bowls, 4 7.5” plates, 4 sip-it lids, 1 folding pot/pan gripper and a carry sack that doubles as a wash basin. The pots and pan have a Teflon® coating that resist sticking. This made for the perfect compact camp cook ware set that suited my needs. You still need other items such as cooking utensils (nylon/silicone/wooden so the Teflon® coating isn’t scratched), and ingredients; but you’re covered for cookware and table settings for 4 (again-sans utensils). A word on the pot gripper: I found it to be uncomfortable. It dug into my palm when I lifted the pot and it got REALLY hot when I left it on while cooking. So be careful (read: take potholders and use them) when using the handle. As my husband says, “Hot metal looks like cold metal”. Duly noted: pot holders. Two will do nicely and I stuck them in the bottom of the stuff sack. No extra appreciable room was taken up by their addition. Also, the mugs are inside the bowls; they have to be separated. I didn’t actually read all the instructions when I got this kit (I was excited, OK?) and couldn’t find the mugs the first time I used this kit. After reading the instructions, I found the mugs nest nicely (and snugly) inside the bowls.
Something else I thought of while pondering the mugs/bowls was that you could store your spices/other dry ingredients in them (maybe in plastic baggies) saving even more room while packing. These 14 oz mugs (4 for an total storage capacity of 56 oz – which would work out to 7 8oz spice bottles) can certainly hold all of your spices-even if you fill one with flour (or sugar) and one with salt. This wasn’t included in the description, but I think it’s a brilliant feature!
I was so excited to try this gear out that I immediately stated thinking about the recipes that used all the components. The kids actually provided the answer- Mac n’ cheese! (not the blue box!) It used both pots, the strainer and the fry pan. We ate off of the plates and the kids ate out of the mug/bowl combo since we hadn’t yet realized they separated. I used the 3L pot to boil 16 oz of elbow noodles in 8c of water and had plenty of room to add 13 oz of broccoli florets at the end. The strainer/lid took all the weight of the food and water with no sagging. You have to hold the lid on, of course and I was concerned the lid would get hot. While the lid did get warm, it never got hot. Also, the lids have a tab that folds down for storage and up so you can lift the lid off of the pot. In the 2L pot, I made the sauce which consisted of: 4c milk, 8 ounces of cheese, ½ stick of butter and some flour. This pot easily accommodated these ingredients and I probably could have made a double batch of sauce in here, though it might have come right to the top of the pot. The 9” fry pan got chopped ham (16 oz) to fry up. I want to note that I used no extra oil/nonstick spray for any of the pots/pan. The pan heated very nicely and browned the ham with ease. When the time came to mix all the parts together, I wondered if everything would fit. Well, after straining the noodles and broccoli, the rest of the ingredients did indeed fit. Quite nicely in fact and there was enough room to mix it about with no spilling over the sides. (This happens frequently in my kitchen)
So big thumbs up on capacity. Clean up-oh dreaded task of all who cook- is no longer a chore. The pots and pan are coated with a non-stick coating and even the cheese sauce slid right out of the pot. A quick wipe with a damp rag took care of any remaining food bits. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t read the instructions (I blame my husband directly for corrupting me with his ability to flagrantly disregard any instructions) so I wasn’t aware that the carrying sack doubled as a wash basin, so sadly, it wasn’t tested. The cookware trekked into my home kitchen for it’s inaugural wash. Some hot water and a tiny bit of soap and -bada-bing, all clean. The Teflon® coating on the pots and pan really was great-but remember (I almost didn’t because I’m used to cooking with cast iron exclusively) to use wooden or silicone cooking utensils or these pans will get scratched. This will ruin your pans. Not good!
I did one more impromptu test on the fry pan, which if you cook you will understand the wow factor involved. I accidentally cracked an egg that I thought was hard boiled. It was not.. My 9” fry pan from this set was nearby. I threw it on the heat and with no extra oil or spray, dropped the egg into the pan. It didn’t stick which is inconceivable in cast iron. This was huge for me on the “impress-o-meter”. I will be using this for cooking eggs from now on. Even if I’m not camping!
Overall, the nForm Bugaboo Camper Cookware Set from GSI outdoors is an extremely well thought out cookware set. It’s stackable, compact, packable, and easy to store and clean. These features make it a complete must have if you’re in the market for new or replacement gear. Maybe even if you don’t need new gear, they are still extremely cool and solidly useful at camp and in the home. At a MSRP of $99.95 and online prices as low as $75.00, this set also adds economical to their long list of “pros”. I might still bring my cast iron along on my next camping adventure, but I have a feeling it will be my Bugaboo gear that steals the show.
As seen in Issue #9 of Self Reliance Illustrated!
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