Despite the economy, camping is—and always will be—the best value for a vacation. Since food is a necessity, so is a cooking system. One such cooking system is the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker ($95), an integrated pot, pan, bowl, cup and wash basin to feed two campers.
I’m a cooking fiend at home. My kitchen is a test lab of culinary successes and fails. On a typical day one will find various sauces, vegetables and animal parts splattered on the walls and ceilings. An entire trash can will be filled.
When camp cooking, I’m less of a wrecking ball. Ramen noodles, tuna packets and instant oatmeal is so much easier. But after a couple days I’m sick to death of them. Enter the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker. It takes my culinary test lab to the great outdoors!
What I Liked
Opportunity to eat more than ramen noodles and instant oatmeal. The week of Memorial Day found me camping on Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands for six days via sea kayak. As much as I love the simplicity and easy cleanup of ramen noodles, tuna fish and instant oatmeal when camping, six days of it kills the appetite. The GSI Pinnacle Backpacker, with its two-liter pot and strainer lid, skillet, two 14-ounce insulated mugs and two 14-ounce bowls allowed variety. See frying pan below.
The frying pan. Refrigeration is always an issue on these kinds of trips but the first morning I cooked sausage in the frying pan. Every alternating morning I made pancakes. For lunches I made cheese quesadillas. For dinner one night I made a lovely ramen noodle and tuna fish burrito. I was never able to do any of that with my Primus PowerPot.
The bag that doubles as a wash basin. How did I ever live without one? Not only is it priceless for cleaning up dishes, it’s good for general basic bathing, washing one’s face or a good deep-clean of a newly-acquired wound before applying ointment and a bandage.
Well-made, well thought out. The set is made from hard-anodized aluminum and non-stick Teflon coating, making it durable and easy to clean up. It’s also completely self-contained in a neatly stacked system of nesting. I love how the storage bag also doubles as a wash basin and the mugs have sippy lids to keep coffee or tea warm and to mitigate spills around camp or in the tent. They also have cozies to keep your hand from getting hot. Just make sure you pack cooking utensils that won’t scratch the Teflon coating.
Good for sea kayaking. As the name implies, the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker is made for backpacking (or sea kayak touring in my case) because it’s so organized. Although it’s considerably larger than my 2-person Primus PowerPot, it actually takes up the same amount of space in my large dryhatch. When I first eyed the Pinnacle Backpacker I groaned. It’s 8.5 by 4.6 inch size means it would suck up real estate in my dry hatch that was both valuable and limited. And it does–but no more than when packing a 2-person Primus PowerPot, two mugs and two bowls. And I get added bonus of frying pan. Inside the bowls and mugs I stashed my Primus stove, coffee, tea and spices. I see its value for backpacking, too. If you think it’s too heavy and bulky, you could be right. But if you’re with a buddy, it can be divvied up.
Outstanding car-camping set-up. I’ll never go car camping without it again. I’m so over instant oatmeal. Bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes and cheese quesadillas is what I’ll be eating.
What Could be Better
Heavy. If packing the whole sha-bang, it’s 28.8 ounces. But since I carried this in my sea kayak the weight wasn’t noticeable.
My photos of this thing in action. Seriously, when I was in the Apostle Islands the weather was abysmal. When it wasn’t raining it was foggy, windy, blustery and dark. I wished I had the chance to take better pictures because it’s the camp pictures of this in action that really shows its usefulness. I’ll update with photos after my trip to Isle Royale over Labor Day weekend.
Keep things in perspective with the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker. It is not for ultra-lighters, those who wish to be ultra-light or even the solo backpacker. But if you’re hiking with a buddy, car camping, sea kayaking, canoe-tripping I can’t shut up about how well its made and the cooking opportunities you have.
This self-contained cooking system is convenient, well-organized, durable, easy to use and pack and it even comes with a frying pan for things like cheese quesadillas and pancakes for those who need a break from instant oatmeal and ramen noodles. Personally, I never knew I needed or wanted a frying pan until I got this set-up. Now I can’t see camping without it.
I would definitely say that the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker is a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear.