Choosing which cookware set?

Whilst searching for any information on types of cookware I stumbled upon this site, www.rei.com who had a whole page dedicated to this subject.  How handy is that.

I’m leaning towards a stainless steel set myself.

Anyway below is the article from REI.com (I have spell checked it to English.)

Cookware: How to choose

Step #1: Consider the trips you have planned

The basics (per person)

  • Single pot, with a lid that can double as a plate
  • Cup
  • Basic utensils (spoon and knife)
  • Some way to pick the pot up (either a handle, bail or pot-grabber)

Step #2: Decide between a cook set or individual pieces

Collecting your cookware and utensils piece by piece gives you the freedom to choose exactly what you want.  You can use items from home, borrow pieces from friends or even raid garage sales.

But purchasing a backpacking cook set will save you space, weight and time.  Cook sets (specially designed collections of pots, pans and lids) are designed to “nest” together so the entire set takes up only the space of the largest pot.  Many are also designed so stoves (and other utensils) fit inside for even more space efficiency.  Because they’re designed specifically for outdoor uses like backpacking, most cook sets are made of lightweight, durable materials that weigh very little but last season after season.

Step #3: Consider the material options

  • Aluminium Positives: Lightweight, affordable, a good conductor of heat. Good for simmering foods without scorching.  Negatives: Breaks down slowly when exposed to acidic foods. Dents and scratches easily.
  • Stainless steel Positives: Tougher, more scratch-resistant than aluminium. Negatives: Heavier than aluminium, doesn’t conduct heat as uniformly (can cause hot spots that scorch food).
  • Titanium Positives: Super lightweight, extremely tough.  A must if weight is your number one concern.  Negatives: More expensive than other options. Conducts heat less evenly than stainless steel.
  • Non-stick coatings (available on some metal cookware) Positives: Make clean up a breeze.  Negatives: Less durable than regular metal surfaces.  Most can be scratched by metal utensils.
  • Plastic Positives: Lightweight, cheap, non-abrasive. Perfect for utensils and air-tight food containers.  Negatives: Not as durable or heat-resistant as metal. Some plastics can pick up and retain food flavours/odours.

Notes on aluminium

Some people wonder if using aluminium cookware is unhealthy.  Based on reports from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the London-based Alzheimer’s Society, no health risks are associated with the use of aluminium pots, pans or skillets.  States the Alzheimer’s Society: “There is no conclusive medical or scientific evidence of a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.”

An FDA report estimates that a person using uncoated aluminium pans for all cooking would ingest 3.5 mg of aluminium per day.  Meanwhile, a person consuming antacids (at about 50 mg per tablet) may accumulate up to 1,000 mg of aluminium per day.

A fact sheet published by the Alzheimer’s Society states: “Cooking in uncoated aluminium utensils can increase the amount of aluminium in certain foods such as fruits that are high in acid.  [Example: tomatoes.] Cooking foods in coated, non-stick or hard anodised aluminium pans adds almost no aluminium to food.”

While not a health concern, cooking leafy greens in aluminium cookware is not recommended since it can impact the taste and appearance of greens.  In addition, one REI.com reader wrote to us expressing a belief (based on personal experience, he tells us) that greens cooked in aluminium cookware can cause stomach distress.  Cauliflower is another vegetable to keep out of aluminium pots.  Because it has sulphur compounds, cauliflower may turn yellow when cooked in aluminium cookware.

Step #4: Focus on the important variables

  • Pot size: The largest pot in your cook set should hold about one pint per backpacker.  Smaller pots should fit snugly inside the largest one.
  • Number of pots: One pot is usually fine for 1 or 2 people (especially if the lid doubles as a plate).  A three-pot set should be enough for groups up to 5 people, unless you have complex meals planned.
  • Lids: Lids cut down on cooking time and save fuel.  They can also be used as plates or even frying pans.  Make sure your lids fit your pots snugly and that they’re easy to pick up.  You should have one lid for every pot in your set (or one that fits multiple pots).
  • Lifters: Make sure you have some way to pick up your pots and pans.  Wire bails and collapsible handles are convenient, but they can break and/or get too hot to touch.  Pot-grabbers are durable and easy to use.  But you have to remember to pack them!
  • The extras: Some cook sets come complete with “extra” pieces (cups, basic utensils, plates).  Ask yourself if you really need them, and keep in mind that many of these extras can also be purchased separately, often at a lower price.

Notes on utensils

When it comes to utensils, minimalist backpackers often make do with nothing more than a knife, spoon and a pot scrubber for clean up.  But everything from garlic presses to miniature espresso makers are available these days, if you care to treat yourself and bring them along.  The utensils and “extra” cookware you carry with you should match your tastes and your menu.  REI carries a variety of cookware extras to spice up your back-country kitchen, including:

  • Utensils: Spatulas, serving spoons, whisks
  • Extras: Frying pans, coffee/tea pots, back-country ovens, espresso makers, spice containers, squeeze bottles.

Things I plan to do to my bike before I leave

Make sure that I have the matching tool that fits every allen key nut and screw on the bike.  Coming home from work on Wednesday, my left crankarm came loose, I whipped my new bike multi tool to fix the recalcitrant crank arm and discovered that I don’t have a 8mm allen key handy.

Jerryrigging the 6mm and the flat blade of a screwdriver I managed to tighten the crankarm so it was good for another 500m but this got old after the third time and I called the Boss to come get me.