Tag Archives: GSI

Solo backpacking cook sets: light or ultralight?

It’s a cold damp November morning and beyond enjoying the fire and watching the snow, I thought it would be a good time to compare a couple solo cook sets. This could considered to be a comparison between a light and an ultralight option. Specifically, I’m evaluating the GSI Pinnacle Soloist (light) and the Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo (Ultralight).

GSI (left) and Snow Peak cook sets

I’ve used a version of the GSI soloist for several years and several through hikes. It’s definitely held up well. My only issue was a late night dinner when I forgot to remove the plastic bowl before setting it on the stove. The non-stick surface worked well when I had to remove the melted plastic.

The insulated bowl nests inside the pot

My older version does not have any volume markings so I would typically bring a “heavy” Nalgene bottle along to measure out water for cooking. The new version is made with volume markings to help with measuring water, a plus. The new model also includes GSI’s Foon, their take on the spork. (The foon is no reason to buy this kit.) The rest appears to be the same as my outfit. It weighs 10.2 oz with the included stuff sack/sink. Since the handle locks everything together, I’ve never understood the point of the sack/sink so what I carry weighs an ounce less.

The kit nests together well with a fuel canister, small stove, folding spoon and lighter. The pot holds approximately 37 oz. The lid fits well and can also be used as a strainer. The bowl is insulated and keeps oatmeal warm for a surprisingly long amount of time on a cold morning. If having a cup of coffee is important to you, you need to bring a cup. Otherwise it’s a bowl of coffee.

The aluminum construction and coatings are designed to disburse heat and eliminate hot spots. It’s better than others I’ve used in that regard, but you still need to be careful when creating meals more complicated than boiling water. The updated kit is now at REI for $54.95

A more Ultralight option is the Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo. I’ve used this kit on a few trips now. This also packs up pretty well, though it may rattle a bit in its mesh bag. A small canister, stove and lighter also nest in the kit, though my spoon has needed to find a new home. The pot holds 30 oz. The cup can be used for either oatmeal or coffee and is well marked with volume graduations. It’s also sized pretty well, holding over 18 oz. The real selling point of this kit is weight, coming in at 6 ¾ oz. The kit is selling for $75.95 at REI.

Handy volume markings on the Snow Peak cup

In actual use, the GSI  brings water to a boil faster. The GSI took two minutes to boil 16 oz of room temperature water compared to nearly 2 ½ minutes in the Snow Peak. My only thought was the larger diameter of the GSI meant the water was shallower and thus easier to quickly heat. No big deal on a short trip, but longer trips may require carrying extra fuel, negating the Snow Peak’s weight advantage. Once the water is boiling, grabbing the handle on the GSI pot is also less risky than the Snow Peak; as it’s longer and better insulated.

Here’s my full comparison on YouTube.

Which kit is better for you? It depends on your priorities. If you’re counting every gram and resupply often enough to make sure fuel isn’t an issue, then the Snow Peak may be the best choice. On the other hand, if saving a few bucks are important, you worry about running out of fuel, you cook meals that require some time on simmer, or if you really want to use a “Foon,” go with the GSI.

Luckily, I own both kits so I can switch depending upon the trip. Actually though, My “go to” kit may just be the GSI pot with the Snow Peak cup nestled inside. The best of both worlds?