Do you remember the first time you went to the store as a youngster and picked up one of those $8.00 aluminum cook sets from your local major chain store and just couldn’t wait to go camping and try it out? I fondly remember that day and the camping trip that followed. While I was able to “cook” my meal as my father watched with a smile, the frying pan warped, the food stuck the pan and the cleanup was a nightmare. Now granted I was a kid at the time and learning as I went along, but from that point on I was turned off to what I call “cookie-cutter cookware.”
As the years have gone by, I have bought several different cook sets and have my own opinions on each brand and model. There are so many different companies to choose from, materials to pick, packing options and so on. One of the more popular methods for carrying your cooking set is to go light, or in the case of this review “ultra-light”. While a lot of folks are just as happy to load up their pack with heavy cast iron cookware and haul it out, I’ve been working on the ultra-light mentality for a while now and one of the main items that can weigh you down is your cook ware. This is definitely not the case with the GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist cook set that I have had the pleasure to review.
To appreciate the product, you need to hear a little about the company itself. Starting all the back in 1985 by making blue enamelware for outdoor needs and sets of camping accessories, GSI has since grown to a worldwide provider of fine outdoor products that combine innovation, portability, and cost efficiency. One thing I like about them is that they listen to their customers’ needs and desires, making customer service one of their top priorities. This is a big plus in my book and, along with their great products, keeps me coming back when I need something for my ultra-light setup.
The GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist arrived to me in a timely fashion and packaged well for shipping. The first thing you notice about any GSI product is the always informative packaging that every one of their products comes in. If you haven’t already done your research ahead of time, you can usually find the information you may need on the carton or packaging. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve lost track of time more than once looking at GSI’s outdoor equipment and my wife had to find me and drag me out of the store.
Upon opening the box and removing the stuff sack, you immediately wonder to yourself how everything you saw on the box can fit into this small package. On the outside, the stuff sack is composed of a durable nylon shell, while on the inside you have a fully rubberized lining that is sealed. I’ll touch more on this great stuff sack and its multiple purposes later.
Pulling open the cord lock and loosening the stuff sack allows you to easily pull out the entire unit. The stainless steel lid is held firmly into place with a locking handle that unfolds to releases the lid and become the handle to the 1.8 liter pot. A VERY nice feature that this lid is that it doubles as a strainer so that you can easily drain your meals if needed, or pour your hot water into another meal that is ready to go in one of the two provided bowls, or one of the two 20fl. oz. insulated mugs. The lid is listed as crushproof Glacier Stainless that will prevent deformation of both the pot and the lid.
Since this is a “Dualist” cook set, it is designed with the idea that two people can eat comfortably using it, and my initial impressions are that you can easily feed two people. If you’re backpacking with the ultra-light philosophy in mind, you already know that you’re not going to be eating like a king, but at the same time, this stainless steel pot does provide you with 1.8 liters of cooking space. This means that one person can eat very well and two people can get by just fine.
When you first take the lid off, you are presented with the remaining components of this compact cook set. Within the Glacier Stainless Dualist, you are provided two 20oz clear polypropylene bowls meant for eating and two 20oz insulted drinking “mugs” made of the same material. The mugs are basically the same as the eating bowls, but with slightly larger lips that allows the insulated cover to rest up tight at the top of the mug, and allow the provided “sip-it top” to snap into place. When in place, the lids are nice and tight and I found that with the insulated covers of the mugs, your hands did indeed stay cool. So you have two bowls, two insulated mugs with sip-it lids and you are provided with two of GSI’s patented “Foons”. These are basically two sporks that are collapsible, making them very easy to store within belly of the kit when it is put together and in its stuff sack. The Foons are sturdy enough for basic Raman and other loose foods, but I wouldn’t use them with anything thicker than soft serve ice cream. They will certainly serve their purpose and will work fine for basic trail and camp eating needs.
Another notable feature that this kit provides is just enough room for a compact stove to fit between the stacked bowls and mugs. Since the bottom two items are resting with the opening toward the top and the top items with the opening at the bottom, you have ample room for a small stove to rest in this kit. GSI is even nice enough to provide you with a small stove cover to help keep the rest of your kit clean. This is a nice little perk that comes with this kit making it that much more enjoyable.
Cooking with the GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist was a snap. The 1.8 liter pot stood firm on my little stove with no movement. As the water began to boil, you can see the steam coming out of the strainer holes. I like this because it took the guess work out of “is the water boiling or not” when you are using a lid. I made a simple Raman dinner with a few added extras and it came out great. When all was said and done, I was eating in about 15-20 minutes. Just remember to wash everything when you first pull it out of the packaging (like the detailed included instructions tell you too)
Now, remember the stuff stack I talked about earlier? Well, it also doubles as a sink for your dirty dishes! I thought this was very slick and it’s nice that GSI thought to line the sack with a sealed rubber coating making it the perfect little wash basin. Once finished cleaning up, just dry out the sack and return everything to the pot the same way you pulled it out (there is a little diagram on the side of the pot showing you how if you forgot). The stainless design is crushproof, tough and made to last a long time. Fold the handle back up to lock the lid in place, place it all in the stuff sack and you’re back on the trail. Oh, did I mention that both sets are color coded? I can see this helping out in the dark or anytime of the day so you can keep your meals separate.
GSI also provided their Microgripper silicone pot gripper for this review and it made a great edition to the kit. It works as advertised and keeps the hot surface away from your hand while allowing you to hold a hot pot or lid securely without the worry of anything slipping out of your grasp. This gripper will also work for any cooking set, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.
In closing, I find this to be a great cook set that if cared for can last an entire generation or two. It will feed two people fine and one person could eat like a king. The footprint is small in my pack and while titanium is definitely lighter, and that’s not by much, it would not come close to holding up like the GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist. While the MSRP is listed at $62.95, you can find it cheaper if you do a quick search on the web. The Microgipper is a very reasonable $4.95. GSI has a winner here in my book and you would be hard pressed to find anything on the market to match its quality and features.
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