Backpacking Frying Pans – What Works Best on the Trail?

If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best backpacking frying pan is, we recommend the Jetboil Summit Skillet.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Backpacking is hard work, which means you need to have a proper method for refueling at the end of the day. Good food is the way to do it, but when you’re on the trail, it can be hard to accomplish this without overloading your pack weight. There are various ingredients and backpacking meals that work well, but that doesn’t matter too much if you don’t have the cookware to prepare it in.

The best backpacking frying pan is going to be lightweight, durable, and multifunctional. There are several out there to choose from, but we’ve listed some of our favorites below.

Frying Pans At A Glance

If you’re in a hurry, check out this quick list of our favorite backpacking frying pans – otherwise, keep on scrolling to get to the full reviews!

Important Features

Before we dive in, there are some things that you’ll want to know about frying pans before choosing one for backpacking. Here are some of the main points to consider:

Backpacking Frying Pan Material

cast iron frying pan on a grate outside

Frying pans aren’t all made the same way, or with the same materials. To help you understand what would work best for you, here’s a brief overview of the common materials that backpacking frying pans are made out of:

Stainless Steel

You really can’t go wrong with stainless steel. Durable, rust and corrosion resistant, and easy on the eyes, it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the most popular cookware materials. I would totally tell you to get something made from stainless steel if it wasn’t for one major factor – weight.

Steel is heavy, and even a small frying pan will weigh you down. If you were car camping, I’d tell you that a 3 pound skillet is nothing to sweat over, but for backpacking? You’ll probably want to find something else.

Titanium

Lightweight and resistant to corrosion, titanium is the ultimate cooking material. However, because of its superior quality, it tends to be the most expensive material as well. We’ve included one product made from titanium in the review below, because we believe it’s a good option, and we wanted to give you a variety of products to choose from.

Titanium is naturally non-stick, though you may find that it doesn’t perform quite as well as a different material that makes use of a non-stick coating. It also heats up quickly, which is helpful when you’re backpacking and don’t want to waste fuel. However, heat distribution tends to be a little uneven, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on your food while it’s cooking.

Aluminum

Most backpacking frying pans are made from aluminum, simply because the material is so cheap and lightweight. In fact, the vast majority of products that we’ve mentioned below are going to be made from aluminum.

Most weigh under a pound, and have a handle that folds in for convenient storage. And since they’re aluminum, they all come with some form of non-stick coating. However, you have to be careful when you cook with aluminum. It has a lower melting point, so if your burner is too hot and you keep the pan on the heat for too long, it may start to melt.

Weight

egg over a frying pan with oil

When you’re backpacking, there are few things more important to consider than weight. Since everything is going to be resting on your back, every ounce really does add up, especially if you’re going to be on the trail all day.

If you’re a thru hiker, or just enjoy trekking for long periods of time, going with a lighter option is crucial. On the other hand, if you only tend to go 5-8 miles a day, you can probably get away with something heavier. As a rule of thumb, I’d try to keep the weight of the frying pan under a pound, regardless of your style of backpacking. Your shoulders will thank me later.

Size

Similar to weight, you also have to pay close attention to the size of the frying pan. There’s a limited amount of space inside your backpack, so being able to compress your gear as much as possible will help you with packing and organizing.

Going with an 8″ pan will allow you to conserve both space and weight, especially when compared with something like a 12″ pan. Likewise, a foldable handle will let you shrink the pan into a nice package, opening up a few more inches of space that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Multifunctionality

pan with onion over an open fire hand holding chopsticks

To reiterate what I’ve just said, saving space and weight is key for any backpacking trip. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by purchasing gear that can serve more than one purpose. In the case of a frying pan, wouldn’t it be great if you could also use it as a plate? Or what if the sides were steep enough where you could use it as a tiny pot? Finding a pan that can do both of these things will allow you to forgo packing a separate plate and pot, which would only take up more space and weight in your pack.

Pot Grippers

Both the pan and the handle can get hot while you’re cooking. Pot grippers are a nice tool to keep in your back pocket when you need to take your cookware off the heat, since you can attach them whenever you’re ready. It’s especially convenient if you’re using your cookware to prepare a meal over an open fire.

Backpacking Frying Pan Comparison Table

Frying Pans Comparison
Frying PansWeight (lbs)MaterialDiameter (inches)Use
Jetboil Summit Skillet0.66Aluminum8Backpacking
GSI Outdoors Glacier Fry Pan – 8″1.1Stainless Steel8Backpacking
MSR WindBurner Ceramic 8″ Skillet0.475Aluminum8.5Ultralight Backpacking
Sea to Summit X-Pan – 8″0.625Aluminum8.5Backpacking
OXO Carbon Steel Fry Pan -8″2Carbon Steel8Short Backpacking
Chinook Trekker Frying Pan0.6Aluminum7.75Backpacking
Keith Titanium Fry Pan0.4Titanium7.9Ultralight Backpacking

Top Backpacking Frying Pans – Reviewed

Jetboil Summit Skillet

Weight: 0.66 Pounds

Diameter: 8 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Aluminum

I have never come across a piece of cookware by Jetboil that I didn’t like. From their single propane burners to their pots and pans, they make the best backpacking kitchen gear – in my opinion.

Regardless of how you feel about the brand, you can’t deny that the Summit Skillet was well designed for trekking. At a reasonable 10.6 ounces, even ultralightweight backpackers might be tempted to carry this with them. I’m not much of an ounce counter myself, but I do have a rule that my frying pan can’t weigh more than a pound, so I’m pretty satisfied with this skillet in that capacity.

The aluminum cooking surface comes with a ceramic non-stick coating. It’s PFOA free, which is also a bonus in my book. For those of you who don’t know, PFOA is short for perfluorooctanoic acid (a bit of a mouthful, I know), and it’s a chemical used to make products that are resistant to high heat, water, oil, and stains. I can’t say I’m a big fan of chemicals in my cookware, so I really appreciate what Jetboil has done here by removing it.

Reasons For

Lightweight

Non-stick surface

Chemical free

Spatula included

Even heat distribution

Reasons Against

Ceramic coating may chip

GSI Outdoors Glacier Fry Pan – 8″

Weight: 1.1 Pounds

Diameter: 8 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Stainless Steel

GSI Outdoors went ahead and made a pan that’s absolutely non-stick, heating evenly and efficiently. Bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, and anything else will easily come out of the Glacier, thanks to the non-stick coating. I’m not a huge fan of Teflon, but I can’t deny how well it works. Cleanup is one of the worst parts about cooking on the trail, but with this pan, you won’t have to do anything other than give it a quick wipe.

The handle is removeable, which is great for when you’re cooking over an open fire. You can also fold it out of the way if you don’t want to remove it entirely, allowing you to use the space inside your backpack wisely.

At just over a pound, it is a tad heavy for a backpacking frying pan, but you could certainly do worse. For the quality that you get, its overall durability, and the price point, I don’t think you’re going to find too many options that are better than this.

Reasons For

Absolutely non-stick

Easy cleanup

Removeable and foldable handle

Very durable

Multifunctional

Reasons Against

A tad heavy

Teflon coating

MSR WindBurner Ceramic 8″ Skillet

Weight: 0.475 Pounds

Diameter: 8.5 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Aluminum

Now, if you want a pan that’s completely non-stick and free of Teflon, the MSR WindBurner might be the one for you. The ceramic coating is both PFOA and PTFE free, keeping the cookware safe for use without any additional chemicals.

At 7.6 ounces, it’s the lightest backpacking frying pan that we’ve covered so far. And along with the even heat distribution and enclosed, heat capturing ring, it’s one of the most efficient pans in this review as well. You could easily toss a whole steak inside of it, and on that first flip, you’d find that every inch was cooked exactly the same.

Hard to say if it’s really a bad thing, but it’s worth noting that this pan was designed for exclusive use with the WindBurner stove system – something that’s not included. It’s definitely worth the money, and if you don’t have a full stove set yet, you’re going to want one before you hit the trail. If it’s something that interests you, the full set can be found here: MSR WindBurner Combo Stove System.

Reasons For

Very lightweight

Non-stick

Efficient use of fuel

Chemical free

Reasons Against

A little pricy

Uneven heating

Sea to Summit X-Pan – 8″

Weight: 10 Ounces

Diameter: 8.5 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Aluminum

One of the largest pans that we cover here, the Sea to Summit X-Pan is perfect for big food items. But don’t be fooled – even though it’s bigger, it isn’t necessarily heavier. At 10 ounces, it’s fairly comparable in weight to many of the smaller pans that we’ve covered so far. Part of the reason for this is because the metal is so thin, which is mildly concerning from a durability perspective. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it breaking, but I would still recommend handling it with care.

Heat transference is better than average, allowing for even cooking across the whole surface of the pan. The handles are small and foldable, making it easy to pack away when you’re done using it. Of course, the downside is that your hands will get close to the heat source whenever you want to grab the pan, but the silicone grips help keep the handles a bearable temperature.

Overall, it’s a well thought out design that folds down into a nice, compact package. If you have other camping cookware, you can easily use the X-Pan as a base, stacking everything else on top of it. This makes it easy to stuff as much as you need inside your backpack.

Reasons For

Larger cooking surface

Even heating

Folding handles

Nests well with other products

Compact

Reasons Against

Really thin material

OXO Carbon Steel Fry Pan – 8″

Weight: 2 Pounds

Diameter: 8 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Carbon Steel

I’m going to say it right off the bat…this is a heavy pan. In fact, it’s the heaviest in this review, primarily because it’s made from carbon steel. For serious backpackers looking to go more than a handful of miles each day, I’m going to tell you to skip right over this one.

However, if you aren’t looking to do a super intensive trek, there’s a lot to appreciate about this frying pan. For starters, steel is going to be a lot more durable than aluminum. You’ll get the most longevity out of this OXO carbon steel frying pan, especially compared with every other product that we’ve reviewed up to this point.

It works on all stovetops, both indoor and outdoor, and can be used in ovens up to 660 degrees. The steel is also pre-seasoned, so you won’t have to worry about seasoning it before your first cooking session. Over time, the more you use it, a non-stick patina will form on the cooking surface of the pan.

Unfortunately, it is hand wash only, but that’s a small price to pay for something this high quality. The handle is also removeable and can be reversed for easy storage at home and in your pack.

Reasons For

Very heavy-duty

Removeable and reversible handle

Oven safe

Pre-seasoned surface

Heats quickly

Reasons Against

Very heavy

Hand wash only

Chinook Trekker Frying Pan

Chinook Trekker 8.5 Inch Hard Anodized Frying Pan

Weight: 0.6 Pounds

Diameter: 7.75 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Aluminum

What I like the most about the Chinook frying pan is how versatile it can be. It’s an 8 inch pan, like many that we’ve talked about so far, but the depth is over 2 inches. Because of that, you could easily turn it into a “pot,” or a shallow bowl to eat from when the food is ready.

Of course, the price helps too. As the cheapest product in our lineup, it’s easy to see why it would be an attractive offer. I will caution you, though, that you do get what you pay for. In this case, that means getting a pan that’s a little flimsier and more prone to bending than some other options.

But, as long as you’re careful with it, it’s a surprisingly reliable piece of cookware. It heats evenly and efficiently, and it weighs just over half a pound. For a budget backpacking frying pan, you really can’t do better than this.

Reasons For

Lightweight

Inexpensive

Even heating

Can be used as a pot or plate

Fairly non-stick

Reasons Against

A little flimsy

Handles are a bit short

Keith Titanium Fry Pan

KEITH TITANIUM Ti6034 Fry Pan with Folding Handle - 33.8 fl oz ●●●●●●● Keith's 18th Anniversary: Exclusive Price!

Weight: 0.4 Pounds

Diameter: 7.9 Inches

Best Use: Backpacking

Material: Titanium

The only titanium fry pan on this list, this product by Keith Titanium is definitely worth checking out. Weighing a mere 6.6 ounces, you’ll barely notice the difference after adding it to your pack. Despite the incredibly lightweight design, though, there wasn’t any reduction in total cooking space. It’s an 8 inch pan with a 2 inch depth, allowing you to get a bit creative with the meals you prepare on the trail.

Perhaps surprisingly, the entire frying pan is made out of pure titanium. This is something of a rarity in the cooking world, as most titanium cookware is actually an alloy of titanium, steel, and aluminum. Considering the exorbitant cost of titanium, it makes sense why most pots and pans only use it as a top layer.

That’s why it’s rather admirable that Keith Titanium made their product fairly affordable despite the purity of the material. It’s worth noting that titanium by itself is odorless, tasteless, dishwasher safe, non-stick, lightweight, and very durable. Unfortunately, in its pure state, it doesn’t do very well with heat distribution, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on your food while it’s cooking.

Reasons For

Odorless

Tasteless

Ultralightweight

Very durable

Multipurpose

Folding handle

Reasons Against

Uneven heat distribution

Why Trust US

At Untamed Space, we’re passionate about helping you have the best camping experience possible. Our team of experts have experience camping and backpacking all over the world, allowing them to provide insightful and relevant content to guide you in your outdoor pursuits.

All of our reviews are based on a combination of firsthand experience, extensive research, and an analysis of customer feedback. We are an independent website and do not receive payments or incentives from manufacturers to promote their products, and we continuously update our content to provide new information based on product availability. Wherever you are in your journey, whatever gear you’re searching for, you can be sure to find unbiased and up-to-date reviews for all of your needs.

FAQ

What Frying Pan Should I Get?

The perfect backpacking frying pan for you is entirely dependent on your personal needs. However, it’s always smart to get something that’s lightweight, durable, and multifunctional. Our favorite is the Jetboil Summit Skillet, simply because it checks these boxes so well. On top of that, it’s also chemical free and packs down to a convenient size for easy storage inside your pack.

What to Choose Between Griddle Vs. Frying Pan

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like a hot meal after a long day of trekking. But in order to prepare said meal, you’re going to need some cookware and a single burner propane stove. Many backpacking meals are freeze dried, simply requiring you to boil some water before adding it to the food bag. But sometimes you want something a bit more…tasty.

A backpacking frying pan will allow you to make bacon and eggs, pancakes, and much more. But in order to pull it off, you’ll need something that won’t wreck your shoulders after you add the weight to your pack. The frying pan should also heat evenly, be non-stick for easy cleanup, and be pretty durable. With all those points in mind, we felt that the Jetboil Summit Skillet did it best. At just over half a pound, it’s a minimal amount of weight for the quality of pan that you get. It’s a simple and effective piece of cookware, and you can be sure that it will last you many years to come.

Meet the Author!

By the age of 20, Spencer had already tackled some of the most famed mountain ranges in Europe, Asia, and North America. His mission is to help others accomplish their own outdoor-related goals, even within the time constraints of a 9-5 job and a busy life schedule.

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