The Best Backpacking Cookware Reviews 2021

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It’s true. You could bring nothing more than freeze dried meals and turkey jerky when you backpack. And you’d survive. But it’s gonna get real old, real quick. To keep your tastebuds and stomach interested in your camping endeavor, cook yourself some food.

Now obviously that doesn’t mean raiding your mom’s kitchen and coming away with her cast-iron dutch oven. You need something light, something compact and something that actually cooks and holds food like the best backpacking cookware that will be presenting now.

For my money, I’d go with the Optimus Terra HE cookset. It’s made by the same people who make the Optimus Svea camp stove, which has been a backpacking favorite for 70 years.

Optimus itself is a company founded in Stockholm in 1899. By now it’s a safe bet they know what they’re doing. Why do I pick this cookset above the myriad other cook choices out there? I’m so glad you asked.

The Best Backpacking Cookware – Optimus Terra HE Cookset

Solid Materials

The set is made from anodized aluminum. Good for two reasons. Aluminum equals light. However, just plain aluminum can make you feel like you’re cooking in a cut-open soda can. And they feel just as sturdy. Anodized aluminum tends to be more rugged and sturdy so your cookware doesn’t come out the pack all dented and deformed.

One of the two pots and the one fry pan are non-stick. Very important for quick clean up. The other pot, while not non-stick, is set up with what Optimus calls a heat exchanger (the HE in the name). Basically a ring of corrugated metal that manages to cut boiling time by 20%. So I’d suggest using the HE pot to boil your water and the other two for food cooking.

Neoprene Cover

Not generally do I care what a thing is packaged in. It’s what’s inside that matters. In this case, however, the case serves two fairly awesome purposes.

One, it reduces pack clanking. I hate pack clanking. One goes out into the wilds to enjoy the sounds of birds and leaves in the trees and the quietude. NOT the incessant clanking of your cookware every time you take a step. In the Optimus Terra HE set, the two pots nest together, the neoprene cover goes over that, the pot handle goes in the pouch and the pan goes over the top of the cover, held tight by the straps. No clatter whatsoever, my friends.

Second thing the cover does, it insulates like a pro. So well, in fact that you could start cooking pasta or rice on your stove, take it off before it’s finished, stick it in the neoprene cover and let it finish cooking in there while you prepare your sauce. Genius.

Space- and Weight-Saving

As I mentioned, the three cook pieces, the cover, and the pot-grabber handle all nest together neatly with the cover. A really awesome bonus is that inside the inner pot, there’s enough extra room to fit a cookstove, either the backpacking stove that Optimus makes or other brands.

Or you could put your eating utensils in there (wrapped in something, please, lest you get the dreaded pack clank). The set comes in at 1 pound 7 ounces. Much better than your ma’s cast iron.

Features and Specifications

  • 3 piece set (1.65L Teflon pot, 1.7L HE pot, Teflon fry pan)
  • Includes neoprene storage sack and pot grabber
  • Weight: 23 oz.
  • Measurements: 8.1in x 4in
  • Hard anodized aluminum
  • One pot features Heat Exchange technology

What people say about it

Optimus is pretty well known in the outdoor enthusiast world. This set is a favorite because it packs well and cooks well—the two things you want from your camp cookware. People love how sturdy it is, how compact it gets and that it can hold a stove inside. The HE pot is impressing folks with how quickly it gets water to a boil. Key if you need morning coffee, stat.

The main complaint about this set is that it’s a bit too big. Possibly unnecessarily large for simple cooking. True, if you’re only ever boiling water or heating a can of beans, maybe it’s overkill. But if you want to actually cook something decent, you need this. For me, the only thing better than a meal out on the trail is a good meal out on the trail. For a great camp cooking experience, this is the set I recommend.

Who I Think Should Buy the Optimus Terra HE Cookset

People who love the outdoors and also love food. This set is generous enough for car camping and packable enough for backpacking. It’ll easily do enough food for 3-4 people, or a feast for the solo packer.

Who Shouldn’t Buy It?

The serious ounce hound might not like the slightly heavier weight of this set. If weight is all that matters, you’d be better off going with a titanium set, just be prepared to pay for that feature.


Superior features like the HE tech and the Teflon coating plus the neoprene storage cover make this cookset a real pleasure to use at the campsite. The very fair price and the generous size of the pots and pan make for a satisfying backpacking purchase.

Plus, very importantly, no pack clank! You won’t be disappointed with this set because it is the best backpacking cookware.


Do you need help choosing a backpacking chair? Read about our favorite one here.

Looking for the best water filter for your trip? Check out this one here.

Need a sleeping bag? Read about our top 3 best sleeping bags for your backpacking trip.

Meet the Author

'Mountain Man' John

'Mountain Man' John is a Survival and Preparedness enthusiast who loves everything outdoors. He has a passion for learning anything and everything to help sustain his and his families way of life post SHTF. He frequently shares his knowledge on a variety of topics from his hands on DIY projects, learning new skills such as hunting and trapping along with reviews on his Survival related purchases - Prepping has been in his family for generations, it's in his blood.