The Stanley Adventure Cook Set is one of the most popular budget backpacking cookware options on the market today, and for good reason. It’s not the lightest or most ergonomically shaped, but it’s cheap and durable – what more could you ask for?
Before I purchased my Stanley Adventure Cook Set, I read reviews out the wazoo. There had to be something wrong with it for the price, right? Short answer, yes there are some issues but they’re easily overcome in a way that still makes this cook set worth it.
Because it is stainless steel versus aluminum or titanium, it will work over a wood fire. This is great if you’re using a campfire or a portable wood stove like the Solo Stove Lite or my personal preference, the much cheaper TOMSHOO portable wood stove (saving that review for another day). However, the plastic tab on the lid might melt with wood fire use. But alas the Internet had a solution for me – remove the plastic tab and replace it with the Nite Ize S-Biner, Size #2 in stainless steel.
However, being stainless steel versus aluminum or titanium also means it weighs more than other (more expensive) options. I’m not really an “ounces are pounds” kind of guy, so I just don’t stress over this. I have a titanium Snow Peak cook set that I actually don’t like as much as I like the Stanley, despite weighing less.
The plastic cups that nest within are unnecessarily chonky. They add a lot of weight. I solve this problem by either taking just one of the cups or replacing them altogether with a lighter cup option. This seems to be a common complaint I read before I purchased my cook set, so I know I’m not the only one with this experience.
I think the biggest issue with this cook set is that it’s not really designed well for cooking within the pot. What I mean by that is, it’s best for a set up where you only need to rehydrate things and not cook. I say this for a couple reasons. The pot is deep, so unless you have a long backpacking utensil you may burn your hand on occasion. My humangear gobites uno is too short to effectively stir the pot. Also because the pot is deep, it makes it more difficult to clean. Its narrow depth makes it hard to scrape food bits off the bottom versus something shallower. So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to cook fresh food on the trail this may not be the cook set for you. But if you’re lazy like me and just want to rehydrate food such as for backpacking, then by all means this should work for you.
So now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way, I want to impress upon you that this is a great backpacking cook set. For those of you like me who try to operate on a budget, it can’t be beat for the price. It’s durable and the slim and compact size makes it easy to pack. And it can be used over an open fire – great for when SHTF and you can’t find fuel for a stove. Or if you just like cooking bushcraft style. Sure, there are better options out there – for more money, a lot more money.
Let me stress that this cook set is best for backpacking or solo camping use. If you’re car camping, upgrade to something bigger. I was able to use this cook set to make Easy Mac for me and two of my kids on a recent backpacking trip we took. The ease with which I was able to boil water for our dinner made for more time playing games and catching lightning bugs afterwards.
- Stainless steel allows for use with campfires or wood stoves
- Not great for cooking food in
- Not for ultralighters
- Plastic tab on top may melt over open fires
- Cups are chonky
Rating: 3.5 / 5
The Stanley Adventure Cook Set is a great budget option for a backpacking cook set. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t check everyone’s boxes (I’m looking at you, ultralighters). But if you just want something effective to get you out there backpacking or solo camping without spending a lot of money, then this might be the cook set for you. I’m giving it 3.5 stars because of the imperfections I’ve discussed, but that should not be misperceived as a bad review. If you can overcome those imperfections like I have, you’ve got yourself a sturdy, affordable option for backpacking or solo camping. I must stress that I love this cook set, and would highly recommend purchasing it if it suits your needs like it has mine.
Have you used the Stanley Adventure Cook Set? Or do you have other budget options you’d recommend? Comment below to let me know!