We lined up the lightest, most versatile, longest-lasting outdoor skillets for your portable MSR stove.
No time to read it all? Check out our top picks:
- Winner: Stanley Adventure All-in-One Pan Set
- Runner-up: GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Frypan
- No-brainer: MSR Ceramic Skillet
If you like backpacking or camping, Mountain Safety Research (MSR) stove systems are a real boon. Compact and lightweight, they fit in your backpack without taking up too much space. They also give you the flexibility to stay in nature without giving up your beloved cup of jo or a hearty meal after a long hike.
Buying a camping stove is difficult, you already know that. And yet, finding a skillet that delivers on your outdoor cooking needs can be even harder. It needs to be easy to pack up and carry around, all while providing enough cooking surface to prepare breakfast, lunch, or dinner for more than one person.
However you look at it, that’s no easy set of criteria for any frying pan to meet. To make matters more complicated, sniffing out the well-marketed junk from the well-constructed cookware can be quite the challenge, especially when ordering online.
For your convenience, my team and I spent days putting together a selection of our favorite skillets for MSR’s canister and liquid-fuel stoves, so you won’t have to.
What to Look For
Depth. Most camping skillets are at 8 to 10 inches in diameter. They’re made small precisely because they’re meant for camping. Of them, the taller and deeper pans are much more versatile. They allow you to stir food or flip it without worrying about spillage, which can be an issue with shallow pans.
Even heating. A good camping skillet can distribute the heat of your portable MSR stove more evenly than its counterparts, helping you cook foods to perfection and without burning. For this to happen, the cooking vessel must have a heavy bottom and thick walls.
Folding handle. It’s difficult to pack all the necessary supplies when you have a piece of bulky cookware taking up so much space in your bag. Thus, a folding handle is a must-have feature that makes the skillet more compact and packable.
Durability. When it comes to metals and coatings, nothing beats the durability of stainless steel. But stainless steel is sticky, which is why quite a few hikers opt for skillets with ceramic or non-stick coatings instead. Whichever you prefer, we’ve lined up the cream of the crop for you below.
Winner: Stanley Adventure All-in-One Pan Set
There are a number of reasons that the 9-piece Stanley Adventure All-in-One Pan Set is at the top of our list.
To begin with, outdoors cooking has never been easier thanks to the fact that this set includes everything you need—and more. It has a frying pan, a folding spatula, a cutting board, a prepping trivet, and plates and forks for two.
The 8-inch frying pan is made of tri-ply stainless steel with cladding that goes all the way to the edges. It heats evenly, holds on to heat for a long time, and, once you’re back in civilization, can safely be loaded in the dishwasher.
The Stanley Adventure cooking set is perfect for trips our in the wilderness. It packs well and you don’t need anything else (other than your MSR stove system, of course) to prep, cook, and eat food with it.
The Washington-based company behind it, Stanley, is known for making reliable outdoor gear for a while now. It’s been since 1913, when its founder invented the all-steel vacuum bottle. Generations of hikers, my wife and I included, swear by their products.
Runner-Up: GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Frypan
If you’re looking for a non-stick camping skillet, the GSI Pinnacle Frypan is one of the best in its category. These 8-inch and 10-inch frypans are made of hard-anodized aluminum that’s been coated in Teflon with a special technique that makes it extra durable for outdoor use.
The anodizing helps the body stay strong and not react with your food. The three-layered Teflon coating gives you a slick surface that lets eggs slide across, making clean-up quick and easy, no matter where in the mountains you are.
The convince of non-stick cooking, however, comes at the expense of two important traits: durability and utility.
Above all, it’s important for you to keep in mind that Teflon—and non-stick coatings as a whole—don’t last forever. Under the heat of cooking and outdoor use, the coating will wear off in a few years, and, sooner or later, you will have to replace the pan.
To maximize the lifespan of your skillet, fry with fat or oil and don’t let liquids boil dry. Don’t overheat your skillet; non-stick coatings don’t do well over high heat. If heated past 500°F (260°C), they can emit toxic fumes and the coating can get damaged.
As long as you understand the points above and how to get the most out of a good Teflon coating, chances are you will love this frying pan. GSI Outdoors, the Wyoming-based company that makes it, has been producing outdoor gear since its founding in 1985.
No-Brainer: MSR Ceramic Skillet
If you’re not a fan of stainless steel and don’t want to cook in a non-stick, you can also opt for the MSR Ceramic Skillet. This 8-inch skillet features a foldable handle with a sturdy mechanism, and a coating that can withstand the wear and tear of cooking in the wilderness.
Contrary to what you may think, we didn’t call this pick a “no-brainer” just because the cooking system and cooking vessel are made by the same company. This skillet is made out of an aluminum body coated with ceramic, which many consider to be the best alternative to PTFE coatings.
Ceramic coatings are heat resistant and don’t scratch as easily as PTFE surfaces. This makes them a little easier to use, although you still have to cook with a silicone or wooden spatula, and just as easy to clean after you’re done cooking.
Like Teflon, ceramic coatings wear out over time. After about a year or two, cooking with this skillet probably won’t be non-stick anymore. Unlike Teflon, you can still use the skillet, even if the coating has worn out. You just need to cook in it with butter, fat, or oil, like you would do in a “regular” pan.Buy the MSR Ceramic Skillet →
Can’t Make Up Your Mind? Here’s How to Choose
If all our of our picks look good to you and you’re not 100% sure which one to get, here’s how to make up your mind.
It’s easy, actually. If you’re looking for a set, a frying pan that will last you a lifetime, or one that you can use over a campfire just as easily as you can over your MSR cooking system, then go for the Stanley Adventure All-in-One Set.
The other skillets we have for sale are not made of stainless steel and have a ceramic or Teflon surface. If you’re after hassle-free cooking and cleaning, they are your best options. Just keep in mind that you can’t use them over an open fire.
Ceramic and non-stick frying pans have a smooth surface that makes it easy release foods. They also make clean-up easy: just wipe down the surface and you’re done. If you choose one or the other, you will have to compromise:
- The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Frypan will remain non-stick for 3-5 years, but will need to be discarded and replaced when the Teflon coating wears off;
- The MSR Ceramic Skillet will lose its non-stick properties within 1 to 2 years, but can be used as a regular pan from that point on.
Whichever of the two you choose, you can hardly go wrong. When in doubt, trust us on our best pick and stick to stainless steel.