TBT Gear: MSR Alpine cook set

TBT Thursday gear style: The MSR Alpine cookset



Image shamelessly stolen from LL Bean

Not too longer after I bought my first “real” backpacking stove,  I bought a cook set to go with it.

It has been quite a few years, but if I remember correctly, I received a gift card to URE Outfitters in  Hope Valley, RI.  Located in the more rural part of my home state, it is where I bought much of my initial backpacking gear way-back-when.

I remember seeing a photo or two from fellow RIers who wrote URE Outfitters. The accompanying letter thanked the fine people there who helped them get outfitted for their journey from Springer to Katahdin.   To a person who hardly left Rhode Island, never mind New England, it was heady stuff. Something beyond the suburban environment I grew up in.  A long path leading to a life much different from what I knew.

After my initial stumbling around on my first backpacking trips, I started to learn and became more efficient with my backpacking.  Over the following months, I bought the previously mentioned Whisperlite, a Walrus Swift and a genuine backpacking stove set: the venerable MSR Alpine cook set.

At 26 oz, it is rather heavy for the simple act of walking on well-established hiking trails. The kit consists of two pots and a frying pan/lid combo made of stainless steel. An aluminum pot grip is included.

The kit is bomber. Eighteen years later, the kit may be beaten up and scuffed, but it is still intact.

I hauled both pots (!) all over New Hampshire and on my first Long Trail thru-hike.

I was somewhat more intelligent when I did my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I only took the 1.5-liter pot. 🙂

When you see sunset views over the Smokeys, you aren’t really thinking about the cookpot used, however!

Why I still use this gear:  The cook set has become part of my car-camping/road trip gear. The nesting pots are convenient and compact. With the propane stove, I’ve cooked more than one later night meal at a trail head or made a quick breakfast in the AM when I did not want to break out or use the other gear.

Would I recommend buying it? : At this point? No.  At $50, it is rather expensive for making quick boils when doing trailhead area bivies or while on road trips.  The nested pots/frying pan combo is nice and compact. But you can put together a similar kit yourself for less money. Be it a thrift store (remove the handle) or less expensive camping alternatives.    And if you need or want the larger sizes for backpacking, 26 oz total is rather heavy even if you are not a gram-counting weenie! 😉   I like having this MSR kit and make use of it, but I would not buy another set and would instead get a lighter weight and less expensive alternatives.  The very useful pot grip, good for backpacking or camping, can be bought separately.    

If you want a dirbagger version of this famous cook set, the Stanco Greasepot and the Open Country two quart pot works well.  About  10 oz or so for a “cookset” that is only ~$20 total. You are dirt bagging it, so use a bandanna for a pot grip! 🙂

Want something with all the bells and whistles?  Snow Peak sells a Ti version of the MSR set  for the same price and less than a third of the weight. 


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9 years ago

Totally got sucked into getting one of these sets as well. I scored them a couple years ago when Backcountry had them for like 30% off, plus I had some gift card balance left over, so the total came out to like 11 bucks or something to that nature. I must say, I am quite happy with them for car camping!