Survival Cooking with the GSI Minimalist
There is no shortage of cookware suitable for bug out bags; however, when searching for a versatile cook set for my bug out bag the GSI Minimalist immediately caught my eye. It was small, lightweight, affordable, and had a several unique features that didn’t come with other competing models.
Probably the number one use of most bug out bag cook sets will be boiling water; whether for camp meals, a hot drink, or to sterilize questionable water. The GSI Minimalist has a 20 oz capacity (.6 liter), which seemed like a more than adequate capacity for preparing most camping meals or hot drinks. The capacity might be a little undersized for water purification purposes but boiling water generally should be used as a backup option anyway with a different filtration method used for the bulk of generating potable water.
The actual pot portion of this system is made of aluminum and features an anodized coating. The aluminum itself appears quite strong and the anodized finish not only has held up well during my initial testing, but also cleans up easily which becomes even more of a bonus when water is in short supply. While not as light or as durable as some titanium cookware out there; I’m so far more than happy with the construction and quality of materials of the Minimalist, especially when considering it’s significantly more affordable than many titanium sets.
The Minimalist’s lid has two functions, I call them drink mode and cook mode. When cooking the lid is flipped sippy side down and fits loosely on the top of the pot. This helps hold the heat in and increases boil time speeds, and makes removing the lid without upsetting your cook set and stove an easy process. I would caution this is a relatively short pot so if you have a high output open flame stove you might want to watch the lid temperature. While use in drink mode the sippy side of the lid is faces up fitting tightly inside the pot and functions like a coffee cup lid. Also, this is my preferred method of pouring boiling water into other containers or prepackaged meals as it allows better control of the pour and keeps the koozie dry.
The Pot Holder
One of the most interesting pieces of this GSI cookset was the little orange pot holder that was included. As long as you don’t fill the pot all the way to the top you can use this little guy to transfer the cook pot into the koozie. The holder also has a built in magnet that lets you attach it to something metal (not the pot because it is aluminum and also on the stove) this will keep the holder off the ground and out of the dirt so you aren’t adding unwanted ingredients to your drink or dinner. To buy just this pot holder click here.
The included koozie is also another great piece of equipment for a camping cook set up. Once the water is done boiling you remove it from the stove with the above mentioned holder and place it into the koozie, then snap on the lid. Now you have time to deal with your heat source such as shutting down or putting out the flame on your stove; and you will still have a hot drink or meal when you get back. Furthermore, as an another bonus the koozie will keep your hands nice and warm while you are eating or drinking something that requires hot water.
I know, who calls it a foon, spork won that battle along time ago. Regardless, this sliding eating utensil is very compact and always manages to find a place inside the container regardless of what stove/fuel setup was used. The foon actually seems pretty weak but has stood up to numerous camping style meals of various types. I will say that it seems to function better as a spoon than a fork, and the foon does have a funny shape to it because to hold liquid the spoon dish needs to be much deeper than a standard spoon to accommodate the fork teeth. All in all it is a good backup eating utensil that easily fits inside the Minimalist.
Despite its generally small size when compared to other cookware in the category it was important that the inside of the Minimalist could be used to store gear when not as use to save valuable pack space. I was able to successfully fit several fuel and stove combo’s into this GSI container. You can even fit a small Jetboil canister with an ultra light camp stove top into this cook set. Using the Blue Hill Ultralight II stove/stand I was able to configure multiple setups that would work with fuel tablets, alcohol stoves, or Sterno gel cans, all of which nested nicely inside the Minimalist.
After using the GSI Minimalist on its first test run it became very apparent that whoever designed this thing had been on a camping trip or two in their life. While hating to jinx it, this is one of the best designed pieces of camping gear I have used; and even better it is one of the most affordable options available commonly selling for under $30. Whenever I test a new stove, which is actually pretty often I always find my self grabbing the Minimalist as my first concern seems to be how the stove functions with this cook set.