When packing your bags for a backpacking adventure, one of the principal rules is to minimize weight as much as possible. Nonetheless, if you are planning on camping outdoors, packing a frying pan may well be considered an essential rather than a luxury.
Traditional cast iron pans are typically heavy and take up a lot of space. Fortunately, there are some lighter, more practical alternatives specifically designed for outdoor purposes.
These pans are created to take up less space and can be used over a jet boil. Read on for our list of the best frying pans for your next backpacking trip.
Best Backpacking Frying Pan of 2020
Jetboil Summit Non-Stick Camping Skillet
If you won’t settle for less than the best, the Jetboil Summit Non-Stick Camping Skillet is the ultimate cooking utensil for your outdoor cooking needs.
The non-stick skillet heats quickly and evenly, allowing you to easily cook things like eggs and pancakes without the risk of sticking. This also makes cleanup quicker and easier.
The skillet is a good size for fitting into a standard backpack and weighs just 10.6 ounces. The handle folds in to save space and comes with an attached spatular for your convenience.
If you plan on doing some gourmet outdoor cooking without adding bulk to your luggage, this is the ideal pan for you.
MSR 7 inch Quick Skillet
The MSR 7 inch skillet is the optimum size and weight for camping. It is constructed from lightweight aluminum and subsequently offers an impressive combination of suitable size, weight, and reliable performance.
The inside of the pan is made from nonstick Duralite DX aluminum which makes it perfect for cooking things like eggs and pancakes on a jetboil. It is slightly deeper than the previous pan which means it is also great for heating up things like beans and rice.
The pan also comes with a foldable handle attached to save space in your backpack.
MSR Ceramic Nonstick Backpacking Skillet
The MSR Ceramic Nonstick skillet is of a similar standard. It is also made from lightweight aluminum and uses premium fusion ceramic nonstick coating to help minimize the cleanup.
The aluminum itself is hard-anodized so that heat disperses evenly for high-quality cooking. It weighs just 6.7 ounces and also features a foldable handle to enhance packing efficiency.
Stansport Stainless Steel Mess Kit
This stainless steel pan from Stansport comes as part of a set but the value for money is still excellent, even if you are just after one pan.
The products are made from high-quality stainless steel with a copper bottom for even heat distribution. The handle folds away and stays cool when the pan is heated.
The pan is just 6.35” wide which means it is slightly on the small side, but perfect for the individual camper. Stansport products are also known for their durability, so you can trust that this is a pan that will last you many years to come.
Ultralight Titanium Frypan Outdoor
If your priority is keeping size and weight to a minimum, this ultralight titanium frypan weighs in at just 50 oz and measures in at 7.9×1.4”.The pan is corrosion-resistant and can be used on an open fire.
The downside is that it does not come with a foldable handle although if you are really trying to cut back on weight and size, this may in fact be a bonus.
Primus Campfire Frying Pan
This next product is a highly-quality heavy-duty pan with a lockable handle. It is made from stainless steel and so if you are used to cooking with this at home, it’s the perfect addition to a camping kitchen.
This does, unfortunately, mean that it is a little heavier than titanium or aluminum pans. If you are planning on a lengthy backpacking trip, this may not be the pan for you.
For short camping trips, however, this is a great quality durable product.
Aneil Outdoor Frying Pan
The Aneil outdoor frying pan is made from anodized aluminum. It heats up quickly and heat distributes evenly across the pan. The foldable handle is well-designed and is covered with a silicone tube for extra insulation.
It still weighs in at approximately 6.3 ounces and is a suitable size for an individual camper. The non-stick alloy surface means it is great for frying up eggs with easy cleanup.
GSI Outdoor Frypan
This outdoor product from GSI is very affordable and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. It is constructed with steel and hardened twice in the kiln to maximize durability.
This means the product can be used on an open campfire. Of course, the steel construction does increase the weight to 12.6 ounces. The handle is also not a folding handle which means the pan takes up more space than the previous products.
Still, if you are going for a weekend camping trip by car, this is a fine product for your camping cooking needs.
Lodge 8 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
The Lodge 8 Skillet is a cast iron product which means it is heavy but can withstand an open flame. The heat is distributed evenly across the pan and your food will stay heated for a long time.
It is great for slow-cooking or cooking on an open campfire. Again, the choice of material means the product is heavier and clunkier than aluminum and titanium models. It also does not have a totally non-stick cover.
Evernew Titanium Non-Stick Fry Pan
This titanium pan from Evernew is lightweight with a non-stick cover. The insulated handle is sturdy and folds in on two sides for a neat stowaway.
The product is of good quality but is a little more expensive than its rival products. For the price, it does not offer any added features or increased durability.
Still, this is a great frying pan for packing light and efficiently.
Best Backpacking Frying Pan Buying Guide
When choosing the best backpacking frying pan for you, the first thing to consider is what you will be using it for.
If you are going on a lengthy backpacking trip where you are not planning on doing much camping, you may be willing to sacrifice a professional-quality pan for something more lightweight and easily transportable.
Alternatively, if outdoor cooking is an important part of your camping trip, the pan’s heat distribution and non-stick features may be more attractive than opting for something super lightweight.
If you are planning on going down the former route, there are still some great choices when it comes to lightweight frying pans that give a gourmet cooking performance.
Typically, these pans are constructed from anodized aluminum. Aluminum is an excellent lightweight material for a frying pan and the anodization disperses the heat evenly for high-quality cooking.
Moreover, many of these products come with a foldable handle so you can save space in your backpack.
Alternatively, if cooking is going to be central to your backpacking trip, you may be willing to compromise on weight if it it means you get more out of your pan.
Cast iron is significantly heavier than aluminum but it can withstand an open flame. These pans also tend to be larger which means they can cater for more people. That said, you can still cook gourmet food with a decent aluminum pan on a jetboil.
With an aluminum or titanium model, you should not have to compromise performance for practicality.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best material for a backpacking frying pan?
This depends on what you are using your pan for. The most common materials for an outdoor frying pan are titanium, aluminum, and cast iron.
Cast iron is much heavier than titanium and aluminum, which are great choices for lightweight backpacking pans.
Can my frying pan be used over a campfire?
This really depends on the material of the pan. If you have opted for a cast iron pan, you can be confident that it can withstand the open flame.
Many of the aluminum and titanium models are designed to be used over a jetboil rather than on a campfire. It does depend on the pan though, so we advise assessing this on a case by case basis.
Is a folding handle safe to use?
Although many backpacking frying pans come with a foldable handle, it can be convenient to travel with a pair of pot grips. Check whether or not your folding handle locks in place.
The last thing you want is the handle buckling as you move your pan of hot water as this can cause an accident. Generally speaking though, folding handles are specially designed for safe and convenient use.
What are the pros and cons of a titanium pan?
You may have noticed that titanium pans tend to be priced higher than aluminum pans. The material is less common and it is very lightweight.
That said, the material is quite thin so uneven heating is more likely to be a problem with a titanium pan. When using a titanium pan, it is best to use lower heat.
What should I use to clean my frying pan?
If you opt for a frying pan with a non-stick lining, you must be careful not to scrub off the protective coat. Only use silicone or soft scrubbers and avoid steel wool.
If you have chosen a non-stick frying pan, however, iron wool and pot scrapers are great tools for scraping the grease from your pan after use.