BEST VALUE

best lightweight frying pan for backpacking
GSI Outdoors Bugaboo

EDITORS CHOICE

best skillet for backpacking
MSR Quick Skillet

PREMIUM CHOICE

best fryiing pan for backpacking
Sea to Summit X-Pan
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Best Backpacking Frying Pans Reviewed & Compared

We all love a nice hot meal after a long day on the trail… 

But to make your own backcountry haute cuisine, you’ll need a reliable frying pan! But with all the options out there, it would take some seriously outdoor-loving people to actually take the time to find the best ones. Well, that’s us. 

We’ve gone through pans from several of the leading outdoor brands and pulled together the best backpacking frying pans right here for you to look over. 

We’ve also compiled an in-depth buying guide to make sure you know exactly what to look for. So let’s get started and build your backpacking kitchen!

Best Backpacking Frying Pans

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frying Pan

best backpacking frying pan
  • Size Options: 8 in. 
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Nonstick Surface: Nonstick Teflon Coating 
  • Weight: 12.8 oz.

We’ll start our list with this solid frying pan from GSI Outdoors. While not the lightest option out there, this frying pan provides an excellent cooking surface along with an effective nonstick coating. 

At 8 inches, this pan has ample space to cook a tasty backcountry meal. It also has a foldable, or removable, handle for easy packing in your pack – a must-have feature for the best backpacking frying pan. 

Overall, this is an excellent option. However, I wish GSI Outdoors had managed to trim the weight down just a little bit more. At nearly 13 oz., this is a hefty piece of equipment for backpacking, and I’d recommend turning your attention towards lighter options if you’re eyeing an intense, ultralight adventure. 

PROS

CONS

Sea to Summit X-Pan 8

best backpacking frying pan
  • Size Options: 8 in. 
  • Material: Aluminum 
  • Nonstick Surface: None 
  • Weight: 10.0 oz. 

Our next frying pan is the Sea to Summit X-Pan. This 8-inch pan incorporates two smaller side handles along with a standard, no-frills aluminum body. 

The aluminum pan body shaves a couple of ounces off the overall weight, bringing it in at 10.0 oz. However, this particular pan doesn’t have a special nonstick cooking surface, which can be a pain for cleanup after cooking. 

The tough, stainless steel handles are robust and sure to hold up to plenty of backpacking and provide more control than the single handle design found on most pans. However, those of you who enjoy the convenience of the traditional single handle for one-handed operations, or fancy stir-frying techniques, may find that the X-Pan isn’t quite for you.

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CONS

MSR Quick Skillet 

best backpacking frying pan
  • Size Options: 8 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Nonstick Surface: Yes – Ceramic Nonstick
  • Weight: 6.8 oz. 

There’s a lot to like about this frying pan from MSR. From its surprisingly large capacity to the equally surprising low weight, this is definitely one of the best frying pans for backpacking. 

Let’s start with the size. While it’s the same 8-inch diameter that we’re so used to, MSR has added higher sides for much more capacity. In terms of numbers, this frying pan offers 50 fluid ounces worth of capacity, as opposed to the 35 to 38 fluid ounces that we often see. 

But for the increased space, this pan comes in at only 6.8 ounces, which is the second lightest option on our list. The only possible drawback that I can see is that the higher sides mean you have less free space to get a spatula under your food – as your utensil will be at a much steeper angle due to the high pan sides.

PROS

CONS

Jetboil Summit Skillet

  • Size Options: 7 in. 
  • Material: Aluminum 
  • Nonstick Surface: Ceramic nonstick coating 
  • Weight: 10.6 oz.

I personally love the Summit Skillet from Jetboil in no small part due to the snazzy color that adds a certain flair to your camp kitchen. But flashy color aside, this is a fully functional backcountry frying pan that is robust and comes with several very cool features. 

Unlike many other options, the Summit Skillet comes with a heavy-duty spatula to make your cooking experience as easy as possible. The spatula also nests directly into the pan’s handle for transportation, very handy! Lastly, the nonstick ceramic coating is incredibly effective and makes clean up a breeze, just make sure to look after your pan so it stays that way! 

While more expensive than much of the competition, the Jetboil Summit Skillet is a phenomenal pan that you won’t regret adding to your backpacking gear list!

PROS

CONS

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Fry Pan

  • Size Options: 8 in. 
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Nonstick Surface: Yes – Teflon Nonstick Coating
  • Weight: 13.2 oz. 

While undeniably a hefty option, the Pinnacle Fry Pan from GSI Outdoors is as reliable as they come. GSI Outdoors invested a lot of time into perfecting this pan’s thermal performance, and it certainly seems to have paid off. 

The Teflon Radiance perfectly distributes heat throughout the entire pan button, eliminating hotspots and making for a seamless cooking experience. Teflon is also behind the pan’s nonstick surface, further adding to its frying prowess. 

These features come at a weight cost, however, and the Pinnacle comes in at over 13 oz. But for excellent heat distribution in a robust design, you can’t do better.

PROS

CONS

Sea to Summit Alpha Pan

  • Size Options: 8 in. or 10 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Nonstick Surface: Halo Nonstick Surface
  • Weight: 8” Option: 8.6 oz. + 10” Option: 11.8 oz. 

Sea to Summit again makes our list with their Alpha Pan. While the very reasonable weight is attractive, it’s real draw comes from the improved heat transfer technology. 

Sea to Summit claims that this pan transfers heat up to 62% faster than average. This means your food will start to cook sooner – saving you fuel with each use. This improved heat transfer is mostly down to their Halo Nonstick Surface, which still keeps your eggs from getting cemented to the pan in the mornings. 

I’m also impressed by this pan’s relatively lower weight. The standard 8” version is only 8.6 oz. while the larger 10” still weighs less than many other standard options at only 11.8 oz.

PROS

CONS

MSR Ceramic Skillet 

best backpacking skillet
  • Size Options: 8 in. or 10 in.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Nonstick Surface: Halo Nonstick Surface
  • Weight: 8” Option: 8.6 oz. + 10” Option: 11.8 oz. 

Sea to Summit again makes our list with their Alpha Pan. While the very reasonable weight is attractive, it’s real draw comes from the improved heat transfer technology. 

Sea to Summit claims that this pan transfers heat up to 62% faster than average. This means your food will start to cook sooner – saving you fuel with each use. This improved heat transfer is mostly down to their Halo Nonstick Surface, which still keeps your eggs from getting cemented to the pan in the mornings. 

I’m also impressed by this pan’s relatively lower weight. The standard 8” version is only 8.6 oz. while the larger 10” still weighs less than many other standard options at only 11.8 oz.

PROS

CONS

Jetboil 10-Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

best backpacking frying pan - jet boil
  • Size Options: 10 in. 
  • Material: Unavailable 
  • Nonstick Surface: Ceramic Non-stick Coating 
  • Weight: 13.4 oz. 

Heading out into the backcountry with a friend? This 10-inch frying pan from Jetboil is the ideal option to cook a nice hearty camp meal for two. 

While this pan does weigh a hefty 13.4 ounces, keep in mind that we have an extra 2 inches in diameter than most options on our list. What’s more, this 10-inch frying pan weighs the same as some of it’s smaller competitors, meaning you get excellent bang for your buck for weight and size. 

This pan also features a high-sided design, giving you more volume to work with during your next culinary escapade. However, the high-sided design also increases the pan’s overall footprint which in turn increases the space it’ll take up in your backpack.

PROS

CONS

How to Choose a Frying Pan for Backpacking

Material

By and large, aluminum is the material of choice for most backpacking frying pans. 

It’s light enough to not weigh you down, yet strong enough to hold up to most backpacking adventures. However, if you’ve dinged up an aluminum pan in the past, then you’re well aware that they’re not invincible.

So if you’re feeling like a pan with a little more strength, consider looking at titanium. It’s stronger than aluminum, but not as heavy as steel. But keep in mind that these pans tend to be significantly more expensive! 

Handle

For a frying pan, we often think that a handle’s a handle and there’s nothing to change or improve – wrong! Several backpacking brands have spent plenty of time hashing out the perfect handle design for their frying pan, and our options often boil down to foldable and/or removable. 

The most common option we see is a single handle – like the classic fry pan – than can either be folded down for packing or removed altogether. This option is my personal favorite as it’s versatile and also provides the most natural grip for working with a frying pan. 

Our other option is just foldable handles that can’t be removed. While handles that fold out to form the classic, single-handed, handle are fine; I tend to steer clear of foldable handles that can only be used with two hands. 

This is simply my preference as I prefer to have one hand free for spatula-ing, but you’re welcome to give the two-handed design a try! 

Non-Stick Coating

Nothing makes for a messy cleanup quite like bits of charred food cemented to the bottom of your frying pan. But that’s what non-stick coatings are for! Much like your frying pan at home, manufacturers apply non-stick coatings to let your food cook evenly and completely without fusing it to the pan surface at the same time. 

While the technology and materials for non-stick coatings vary from brand to brand, ceramic-based materials tend to be very common. If you’re concerned about the health and environmental effects of these coatings, I recommend you look for PFOA-free materials. 

If you’d prefer not to deal with any chemical coatings at all, no problem! There are certainly frying pans out there without any additional coatings – such as the X-Pan 8 from Sea to Summit.

Size & Weight

We’re backpacking, so of course we should be thinking about size and weight! When out on the trail, the lighter and smaller, the better. In terms of your frying pan, however, this can be a double-edged sword. 

If your pan is smaller, it means less space to cook with, and certainly no space to cook for multiple people. Therefore, consider your frying pan needs, if you’ll be camping with others, and zoom in on a correctly sized pan. For reference, an 8-inch pan is ample for a single camper whereas a 10-inch pan could accommodate a pair. 

As for weight, our lightest options will hover around 6 ounces. Heavier pan, perhaps with more options and features, will land in the 13-ounce range. So consider what you need, ultralight or more feature-laden, and pick out the best frying pan for backpacking to meet your criteria. 

Final Thoughts

There we have it, backpackers. We’ve perused through our list of the best backpacking frying pans from hefty and spacey down to compact and light. I very much hope that you’ll find the perfect option to add to your backpacking kit. But if not, just read our buying guide and arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the best choice. See you on the trail! 

Have fun and stay safe, eh? 

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