survival mess kit

Survival Mess Kits and Why Your Bug Out Bag Should Contain One

The Survival Mess Kits Lightbulb

So the other day I was checking the contents of my bug out bag when my son walked in and asked what I was up to. I explained that I was just checking the supplies in our bags to make sure everything was in good shape. 

He immediately started trying to talk me out of one of the MREs so that he could eat it. After a few minutes I gave in and he went over to sit on a bucket and eat the beef stew MRE which is his favorite. 

After a few minutes he looked confused and then asked what we were going to do when we ran out of the MREs. I explained we would cook other food such as fish etc. He looked at the items on the table and then asked “With what?”

Survival kit that contains a mess kit

I answered a fire and pointed out that he knew that. He goes yea I know a fire, but in what pan you don’t have any there.

At this point, I realized that he was right and somehow in all of the planning I had not considered cooking utensils. Sure you can get by with bushcraft cooking for a while, but let’s face it having proper pots, pans and plates can make a bad situation seem a lot better. So I decided to look into survival mess kits, also known as a cooking kit for my bug out bag.

What is a Survival Mess Kit

A mess kit contains a collection of pots, pans and other items needed to make a meal. Originally mess kits were issued during various military campaigns. Today they are more commonly used by civilians during camping and backpacking activities.

A Camping Mess Kit can range from very simple single pot and plate sets such as the Rothco GI Mess Kit. While others can be far more elaborate such as the KingCamp 17Pcs Cookware Set. There are also mess kit stove combos such as the Optimus Weekend Cook System

Advantages of Including in a Bug Out Bag

While a bug out bag’s primary purpose is to enable you to make it from point A to point B as quickly as possible, there are advantages to including certain items that can be used for a prolonged period if necessary.


While you generally want to include enough food to last long enough to get you to your expected destination it may be that you are forced to change your plans. If you’re unable to reach your bug out location you could be forced to live off the supplies in your kit for an extended time period. 

By including a survival mess kit in your gear you will be better set up for the long haul. Often you can find options that weigh just a few ounces having a minimal impact on your overall weight

Consider Utensils for Your Survival Cooking Kit

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all of the camping mess kits contain eating utensils. You want to pick up at least a fork and a spoon. Some would argue over the necessity of a knife for your survival mess kit.

I feel that if you are getting it for a survival situation then you can forgo the weight of a knife since you have your EDC knife already. 

However, keep in mind all of the things you already use that knife for and consider if you really want to be cutting food with it.

Considerations When Selecting a Mess Kit

When selecting a mess kit for your survival gear it is important to consider the following characteristics.

Size of the Contents and the Cooking Kit Over All

While size may seem obvious keep in mind there are several aspects of size. You need to make sure your kit is large enough to cook food for your group. At the same time, you want to make sure that it is small enough to fit in your bug out bag or pack.

If you are planning to go solo then a smaller kit is ideal. While if you have a larger group you may be better off with one of the larger kits. 

That may not be the case though, with our family we have six people. None of the kits are large enough for that. Our solution was to buy small individual kits and then a larger main pot. 

Each person carries their own kit and one person carries the larger pot with some other items nestled down inside of it to maximize storage room.

The Material the Kit is Made From

This is another area you should select carefully. I often see people using plastic plates etc. Keep in mind that durability is a concern. If you are forced to use these items even as plates for an extended time they could begin to wear down as food etc is cut on them.

Aluminum on the other hand is far more durable and can be heated directly if need be. Some newer versions come coated with a nonstick coating and for the short term that is probably an excellent option. 

Though some have expressed concerns over this material as it begins to break down. Some have also expressed concerns over the fact that some acidic foods cause the aluminum to break down and leach into the foods. 

You can avoid both of these concerns by selecting a mess kit made from Anodized aluminum.

While Titanium Mess kits are available and tend to be lighter they are also more costly.

The Weight of the Backpacker Mess Kit

Obviously since there is a possibility that you will be on foot when you bug out or even if you decide to use your mess kit for hiking and bushcraft then you need to consider the weight. Even half a pound can add up really quickly across several items.

My Mess Kit Recommendations

These three recommendations are assuming that you are alone when you are planning to use them. If you have one more person just purchase two kits. However, for more people you may want to consider the final option I am going to post. 

The Best Overall Solo Mess Kit

My pick for the best overall is the Odoland Camping Cookware. This is a budget option but is quite an excellent bang for your buck. The kit contains a small isobutane mini stove, 2 anodized aluminum pots, 1 spoon, 1 fork and 1 knife, and an aluminum cup along with a mesh carry bag to keep all of the items together.

Due to the design all of these items fit together nicely and are very lightweight, without the fuel the total weight is just under 1.7 pounds. These features mean that it is not only a great survival mess kit, but also a great backpacker mess kit as well.

Complete Kit including an Isobutane Stove
Check the Price on Amazon Now

The main downside of this kit is that you need to be careful of the rubber coated handles around some flames. This is easily combatted by using the supplied stove or a low flame cook fire. It is also important to note that the stove in this kit requires Isobutane.

Best Value and Lightweight Mess Kit

The MalloMe Camping Cookware is currently the number one selling item in the camping cook wear category. This kit makes a great scout mess kit or as a backpacking mess kit. It is extremely light weight at just .9 pounds and is designed with a compact nesting camp cookware design.

Available on Amazon

Learn To Cook Over a Campfire

Best Minimalist Option

My pick for the best lightweight and basic option is the Trangia Mess Tin. ( It comes in several sizes but my preferred are the 6.5″x3.5″x2.6″ or the 7.9″x5″x2.75″.(

The Trangia mess tin (Amazon) is unique because it is just a small tin with a handle and lid. Its open interior allows you to store stuff inside it and lock it in place with the handle when stored in your pack.

It can also serve directly as both a cooking pot and a bowl or plate of sorts. Here is a simple video to give you an idea of its usefulness when storing items.

Mess Kits can Make your Trip Much Easier

We have discussed what mess kits are, why you should carry one and even my three favorites. Now take this information and use it to make an educated choice as to if you ant to pick up one or not.

Thanks for checking out the article and I hope I provided you with an answer to what you were seeking, while you are here please check out some of my other articles such as How to Dehydrate Your Own Survival Food or 11 Fantastic Places to Store Your Food.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *