Friday, April 12, 2013

Gear Review: Coghlan's Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset and Carbon Steel Family Cookset

While I was covering the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show back in January, I stopped by the Coghlan's exhibit to take look at their new line of 2013 products. I was checking out the exhibit when a Coghlan's rep grabbed me and directed my attention towards two new interesting sets of camp cookware that they were releasing this year -- packable Hard Anodized Aluminum and Carbon Steel Camp Cooksets.

Both cooksets are designed to nest together into very compact packages, and feature handy, steel swing-out handles, as well as lids with strainer holes on one side - convenient for making Pasta, etc.

Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset

The entire Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset weighs in at just 41.2 ounces (2.58 lbs). The complete set nests together and fits inside the nylon carry bag shown in the photo below. Each set also comes with its own pot scrubber and measuring cup.

All the cookware nested together:

The individual pots and frying pan are also light enough to pack for day hikes and backpacking trips. Here's a breakdown of the individual sizes and weights:

  • Large Pot- 2.8 quarts, Weight- 12.8 ounces
  • Medium Pot- 1.8 quarts, Weight- 10.1 ounces
  • Small Pot- 1 quart, Weight- 7.4 ounces
  • Frying Pan- 1.2 Quarts, Weight- 8.8 ounces
  • Total weight (including nylon carrying case, pot scrubber, and measuring cup)2.58 lbs

The smallest 1 quart pot (with lid) comes in at a very packable 7.4 ounces, and the 1.2 quart frying pan at 8.8 ounces. This slim weight range gives the cookset enough flexibility to be used around camp or on the trail. 

Carbon Steel Family Cookset

Coglan's Carbon Steel Family Cookset is essentially a larger, heavier carbon steel version of the Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset. Built to withstand the rigors of heavy camp use, it features non-stick surfaces, lids with convenient strainer holes, a pot scrubber, measuring cup, and swing-out steel handles.

The Carbon Steel set is also sized differently, with the largest pot holding a hefty 4.2 quarts. Here is the breakdown:

  • Large Pot- 4.2 quarts, Weight- 37.3 ounces
  • Medium Pot- 2.4 quarts, Weight- 27.5 ounces
  • Small Pot- 1.4 Quarts, Weight- 20.8 ounces
  • Frying Pan- 1.2 Quarts, Weight- 14.5 ounces
  • Total weight (including nylon carrying case, pot scrubber, and measuring cup)- 6.39 lbs

Just like its lightweight aluminum counterpart, the carbon steel set nests together to fit neatly inside a nylon carrying case.

 The cookset nested together:

Field Testing

I wasn't able to test both cooksets in time for this review, but I did take the large 2.8 quart pot from the Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset on a recent field trip, and used it to cook up some Ramen noodles. The pot heated evenly, strained well, and the surfaces were non-sticking.

Even without extensive field testing, my impression is that these pots are sturdy and well built. Of course, it will take a few months out in the field to see how well they'll hold up, so as summer approaches and I get to use them more, I'll post an update.

In the meantime, you can check out SectionHiker's recent review of the Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset, which contains a more thorough field review.

Overall Impression

Both the Aluminum and Carbon Steel cooksets offer a surprising level of fit and finish, and the swing-out handles are both convenient and easy to use. Since the handles are permanently attached with heavy rivets, they can't be lost or misplaced, as is the case with camp pots that have removable handles.

The ability to pack down into such a compact size is a great space-saver, and especially important for people headed off on camping trips with tightly packed vehicles.

One major advantage of the Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset is that it is light enough to take individual components on hiking and backpacking trips, yet large enough to use as a set around camp, which makes it a flexible option for people who want a cookware set that's a "Jack of all Trades."

The Carbon Steel Family Cookset, due to its heavier weight, is pretty much relegated to camp-only chores, but its larger size and sturdier construction make it a better choice for heavier use and cooking larger meals.

One important thing to note is that these cooksets are primarily designed for use on camping and backpacking stoves, so even though they are metal and can be used on an open campfire if needed, they are not the best option for this role. Pots with handles that allow them to hang over a fire, like Open Country Cookware sells, are better suited if open campfire cooking is your primary goal. 

If you cook mainly over liquid fuel or pressurized gas stoves, wood-gas stoves, or over wood fires contained in metal stoves like the Firebox, then the Coghlan's design should work quite well (check out SectionHiker's review showing the pots being used over a wood fire in an open metal stove).


The street price on these sets should be in the $60 to $80 range, and they are available through online retailers at the time of this posting. Traditional brick and mortar outdoor retailers should also have them in stock by summer.

Though a bit pricey for a Coghlan's product, the Hard Anodized Aluminum and Carbon Steel Cooksets are competitively priced when compared to similar offerings from other manufacturers. Both sets are well designed, compact, flexible, and sturdy. The Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookset, in particular, is highly recommended if you want cookware that's great for camping trips, yet  light enough to be used on backpacking excursions.

5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

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About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)

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