Light camping pan

7 camping pots in the test

An overview table with all seven brands tested (Outwell, Rosenstein and Sons, Ballarini, Beaver Brand, Brunner, Carbest GSI Pinnacle) and test results can be found in the PDF download for a fee.

Cooking, frying and washing up are the disciplines of the triathlon that cookware has to master. The water should bubble as quickly as possible, the omelette shouldn't burn and everything should be easy to clean. Cooking is no fun even when camping with pans and pots that don't guarantee this. Cookware for campers with their thin bases does not seem to be optimally equipped for cooking. That is why CARAVANING sent five pot sets and two silicone pots into the competition.

Experienced chefs are alarmed by the choice of materials

For example, only the base of the foldable pots is made of thin stainless steel. The pot sets, on the other hand, are almost all made entirely of aluminum. It heats up quickly, which is good for frying pans. When cooking in a pot, however, it is annoying that aluminum does not store heat and distributes it relatively unevenly.

It is clear why the manufacturers still rely on aluminum. The metal is relatively light. The stackable pot sets all weigh around two to two and a half kilos - apart from the three Click & Cook pots from Ballarini, which weigh almost four kilos with the pan. Since aluminum deforms more easily when exposed to heat and impacts than other metals, the pot walls of four out of five manufacturers are relatively thick. GSI, on the other hand, uses anodized dishes. During the process, the surface of the aluminum is hardened and made less sensitive. What protects against scratches, however, does not prevent the largest pot from being bent very easily. In terms of quality, this gives GSI its first point deduction.

Otherwise the outdoor specialist shows very clever approaches. As long as the pot is still round, the plastic lid with the rubber seal sits very well, for example. There are also small holes in the edge of the lid through which pasta water can be poured out. The foldable handles on the pot and lid are also good. They are thin and should be opened before cooking so as not to get hot, but they bear the weight easily. Only Ballarini is better at this point, which uses somewhat more robust folding handles for its Click & Cook dishes.

Handles on the pots and pans

The other manufacturers firmly attach the handles to the largest pots and pans. That is stable and robust. Nevertheless, Carbest and Beaver Brand do not get the maximum number of points. Because on the saucepan of both brands, the handles near the base of the saucepan are clearly too hot. They all adhere to the relevant standard for pots (DIN EN 12983), but it places the measuring point relatively far outwards. Anyone who empties pasta water from a full pot, however, grabs the whole handle of the pot courageously. That is why CARAVANING measures the handle temperature on the very inside at the base of the plastic.

Brunner works better on this point, at least on the pot, than the competitors with firm grip. However, this does not apply to the largest pan in the set, which, like Beaver Brand and Carbest, is equipped with two handles. They sit so close to the gas flame during roasting that they themselves become hot on the outside. Touching is extremely dangerous!

Therefore, despite the handles, all three manufacturers use the handles that are actually intended for the saucepans. By far the best work here was again Brunner. The detachable grip pliers have a click mechanism and hold the pan in place without the need for physical strength. Campers, on the other hand, receive a handle mechanism from the competition that always has to be pressed shut in order to be able to lift the pan.

How good is the workmanship?

When used on the stove, the impression that results from the processing quality is confirmed: Ballarini's cookware beats the competition in almost all respects. 18 minutes is the best time to heat three liters of water from 20 to 95 degrees. The omelette also has the perfect consistency after three minutes. This is due to the fact that Ballarini guarantees the best heat distribution on the floor and is ahead of the curve when it comes to the most important properties of pans and pots. The powdered sugar test (see box below) with the Ballarini pan takes the longest before the reaction starts. The powdered sugar melts away in a very short time. Only the outer droplets shimmer slightly brown at the end, which signals the onset of caramelization on the edge of the pan.

But this is no comparison to the pans by Beaver Brand and Brunner, in which parts of the powdered sugar almost burn before the rest of the melt begins to melt. The worst results in the boiling test, however, were the two silicone pots that were also tested for comparison. It took both of them over 25 minutes to heat the three liters to 95 degrees. In addition, the stew burns noticeably after eight minutes at the same heat as in the aluminum pots. Without a firm scrubbing, it cannot be cleaned while rinsing.

Which coating proves itself in the test?

At one point Ballarini has to back off a little. It is much easier to remove the baked omelette from the Brunner pan. The reason: Brunner covers its Cosmic series with several layers of ceramic on the inside. Coatings made from this material show a significantly better non-stick effect than the PTFE coatings (Teflon) that are used by the four pot set competitors.

Brunner's ceramic coating also looks unharmed even after being poked with a knife and fork. With Carbest and Beaver Brand, on the other hand, the cook has to be careful with the corners and edges of plastic spatulas.
Ceramic also shows its advantages when it comes to washing up. Coarse leftovers can easily be swiveled out here with the water jet. With Ballarini and Carbest, on the other hand, a quick wipe with a hand brush is required for pre-rinsing, and with Beaver Brand and GSI, a little rubbing is called for.

However, experts have meanwhile also proven that ceramic coatings lose their non-stick properties over time, even if they are optimally cared for. Teflon is considered to be more durable if handled carefully.

That's how we tested

Cooking and measuring. In the largest pot of each set, three liters of water were heated from 20 degrees to 95 degrees, the time was recorded and the temperature of the handles was measured. Then there were about 400 milliliters of stew in each pot, which simmered for eight minutes to see how easily the food burns. The two silicone pots passed the same test. The pans first went through the powdered sugar test (see picture gallery) and had to prove themselves while baking an omelette that stayed in the pan for three minutes. We also checked the heat distribution with a thermography camera. All parts were washed several times by hand.

Sugar sweet science

It sounds unbelievable that a touch of powdered sugar is the basis of a scientific test, but it's true. The process was developed by scientists from the Household Technology Department at the University of Bonn, who became aware of the properties of the sweetener in the mid-1990s. Icing sugar starts to melt at 200 degrees Celsius and caramelises at 270 degrees. Through tests, the researchers knew that food begins to burn at around 200 degrees, but that burning can be prevented as long as the temperature fluctuations at the bottom of the pot do not exceed a difference of 70 degrees. This makes powdered sugar a perfect indicator for checking the heat distribution - which is now also recorded in DIN EN 12983. The faster the powdered sugar melts, the better the heat conduction. If it caramelizes prematurely at one point, that is not a good sign of heat conduction in the bottom of the pot.

In the end, there is the realization that the Ballarini pots and pans are also good for campers thanks to their Click & Cook handles. They are a little more expensive and heavier. The extra weight of around two kilos is only worth mentioning for campers who have to pay extreme attention to the payload. For them the pot set from Brunner with the ceramic coating is ideal. With its smart and space-saving ideas, GSI is more of a classic choice for tent campers on trekking tours.