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Updated May 11, 2022 12:42 PM

Whether you’re backpacking, overlanding, or car camping, you’ll find that camping kettles make useful boiling water in the backcountry simple. And the ability to boil water is an essential for both outdoor survival and enjoyment. With boiling water you can warm yourself in the freezing pre-dawn hours with a steaming mug of coffee or rehydrate a freeze-dried meal on a fastpacking adventure. More importantly, you can even sanitize your water after a water filter failure. I tested the best camping kettles from some of the most reliable and popular brands to see which ones performed best. 

A solid camping kettle is a great addition to your outdoor kitchen setup.
A solid camping kettle is a great addition to your outdoor kitchen setup. Laura Lancaster

Things to Consider Before Buying a Camping Kettle

Material

The three most popular materials for camping kettles are stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium. Stainless steel, the most common material used, is very durable and relatively inexpensive. However, stainless steel has a low thermal conductivity and takes longer (and thus more fuel) to boil water. Titanium and aluminum are both lighter and have high thermal conductivity—and boil water faster than stainless steel. However, titanium is usually less durable and runs more expensive than stainless steel. 

Some camping kettles incorporate materials like silicone and plastic. Since the purpose of camping kettles is to boil water, it’s worth checking to ensure that these materials are not only BPA, but also BPS and BPF free. 

Capacity

The capacity of the kettle you need depends on the number of people you plan to serve and available space in your backpack or camping box. Keep in mind that kettles shouldn’t be filled to the brim, so the interior volume of the kettle doesn’t reflect the true capacity. Plan to fill it to ¾ capacity for best results. 

Size

One of the biggest differences between a standard kettle for your home and a camping kettle is size. If your camping box space is at a premium, take that into account when you choose a kettle. It’s also worth considering the relative efficiency of the kettle you choose, as a less efficient kettle may require fuel (and thus more space) in your camp kitchen. 

The Best Camping Kettles for 2022

Best Overall: MSR Pika Teapot

Key Features

  • Materials: aluminum (BPA-, BPS-, and BPF-free copolyester handle, stainless steel lid)
  • Manufacturer weight: 5.2 ounces; measured weight: 5.1 ounces 
  • Total volume: 34 fluid ounces
  • Safe fill volume: 25 fluid ounces
  • Boiled 20 fluid ounces of water in 6 minutes, 55 seconds
  • Cannot be used over open fire

Why It Made the Cut

A fast boil time and smooth pour made the MSR Pika the best overall camping kettle to use for everything from backpacking to car camping.

Pros

  • Fastest boil time in test
  • Smooth pour
  • Lid stays in place
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Some plastic components may melt if used over an open fire

Product Description

At 5.1 ounces (less than the manufacturer specification), the MSR Pika came in at the lightest tested product, but that didn’t make it any less solid-feeling or robust than the stainless steel models. On the contrary, the handle was the most secure of any that I tested, with virtually no unintentional movement, and the lid stayed securely locked into place well past the 90-degree angle I used to pour out the last of the water in the kettle into a camping mug. That pairs nicely with its precision pour. If you look closely at the spout, you can see a small divot that helps direct the liquid in a smooth, deliberate direction when in use. 

While the clear lid is a nice touch that lets you see the water while boiling, I found that it fogged over quickly when the water started to steam and obscured my ability to see when it reached a true boil. It would be nice to see a fully aluminum version of the Pika, so that you can use it over an open fire, but this drawback is minor compared to the overall advantages of this camping kettle. 

Best for Car Camping: GSI Glacier Stainless Tea Kettle

Key Features

  • Materials: stainless steel
  • Manufacturer weight: 9.3 ounces; measured weight: 9.5 ounces
  • Manufacturer total volume: 32.1 fluid ounces; measured total volume: 37 fluid ounces 
  • Safe fill volume: 28 fluid ounces
  • Boiled 20 fluid ounces of water in 7 minutes, 20 seconds 
  • Can be used over open fire

Why It Made the Cut

This compact, stainless-steel camping kettle works well for car camping setups and on everything from a two-burner to an open flame. 

Pros

  • Smooth pour
  • Fastest boil time of the stainless steel models tested

Cons

  • Lid can fall off during pour

Product Description

If you’re looking to round out your car camping setup with a dedicated camping kettle, the GSI Glacier Tea Kettle is probably what you had in mind. Its stainless steel construction feels solid in the hand when filled with water without adding unnecessary weight or bulk to your camping box. Since it doesn’t incorporate any plastic or silicone parts, you can boil it just as well over an open flame.

If I could, I would change the lid on the GSI Glacier. It lacked the sturdiness of the other products I tested and started to fall off when tilted at more than a 90-degree angle. Still, all the other features on this kettle make it a must-have for your car camping setup. 

Most Versatile: Snow Peak Kettle No. 1

Snow Peak

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Key Features

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Manufacturer weight: 9 ounces; measured weight: 9.2 ounces
  • Manufacturer total volume: 30.4 fluid ounces; measured total volume: 32 ounces 
  • Safe fill volume: 24 fluid ounces
  • Boiled 20 fluid ounces of water in 8 minutes, 30 seconds 
  • Can be used over open fire

Why It Made the Cut

The versatile Snow Peak Kettle No. 1 doubles as a small cookpot when needed, and works equally well over a traditional two-burner stove, a campfire, or a lightweight backpacking stove.

Pros

  • Compact design fits easily into a camping box
  • Easily doubles as a small saucepan

Cons

  • Took the longest to boil water of all kettles tested
  • Lid does not stay secure during pour
The Snow Peak Kettle No. 1 was easy to use when heating up hot soup on a cold day.
The Snow Peak Kettle No. 1 was easy to use when heating up hot soup on a cold day. Adam Tycaster

Product Description

It says something about the versatility of this kettle that I first grabbed it out of the box to heat up some soup, rather than simply boil water. And it worked perfectly for that purpose. It heated up quickly and poured easily from the spout with the assistance of both a top and side handle. Note of caution: the side handle tends to heat up significantly unless you have the flame on the lowest setting. When I finished, its camping pot-style profile made it easy to clean. Of course, this pot also boils water, just not effectively as the others in the test. That said, the relatively compact shape of this pot, with handles that fold down completely, made it easier to fit into the awkward holes of my camping box, which helped when it was time to pack up.

Best Collapsible: Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle

Sea to Summit

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Key Features

  • Materials: silicone with an aluminum base, plastic lid
  • Manufacturer weight: 6.5 ounces; measured weight: 6.8 ounces 
  • Manufacturer total volume: 44 fluid ounces; measured total volume: 39 fluid ounces
  • Safe fill volume: 29 fluid ounces (manufacturer states 20 fluid ounces) 
  • Boiled 20 fluid ounces of water in 7 minutes, 40 seconds 
  • Cannot be used over open fire

Why It Made the Cut

The fully-collapsible Sea to Summit X-Pot performed well during the test and had the smallest packed size of any camping kettle I tested. 

Pros

  • Super small packed size 
  • Lightweight enough for backpacking
  • Measurement markings on the side
  • Lid stays in place when pouring

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Silicone sides

Product Description

If space is at a premium in your camping box, then the Sea to Summit X-Pot merits serious consideration. When packed down, it stands a quarter inch tall but unfolded, it can hold plenty for two people to have coffee in the morning. This kettle performed in the middle of the pack during the boil test, but had one of the more impressive lids, which stayed secure while I poured the water out. 

While the manufacturer instructions recommend letting the X-Pot sit for 30 seconds before attempting to pick up the pot, I found during testing that the handles were not too hot to pick up after the initial boil completed. That said, it’s important to keep this pot away from an open flame, as the collapsible sides are made from silicone, and the lid is made from a BPA-, BPS-, and BPF-free plastic lid. 

This was the only camping kettle in my test to incorporate measurement markings on the side, which is helpful for anyone rehydrating dried or freeze-dried food. However, the markings were only on the outside of the pot, which made it more difficult to take advantage of than if they had been on the inside. 

Best Budget: Decathlon Quechua MH500 Camping Kettle

Decathalon

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Key Features

  • Materials: stainless steel
  • Manufacturer weight: 12 ounces; measured weight: 12.8 ounces 
  • Manufacturer total volume: 33.8 fluid ounces; measured total volume: 48 fluid ounces
  • Safe fill capacity: 36 fluid ounces
  • Boiled 20 fluid ounces of water in 7 minutes, 55 seconds 
  • Cannot be used over open fire

Why It Made the Cut

The Quechua MH500 kettle shows that you don’t need to pay a premium price to find a quality stainless steel kettle.

Pros

  • Great quality for the price
  • Lid stayed in place better than others

Cons

  • Rattles when it reaches a boil
  • One of the slower boil times tested
The Decathlon Quechua MH500 camping kettle performed similarly to the rest of the kettles in our test at a significantly lower cost.
The Decathlon Quechua MH500 camping kettle performed similarly to the rest of the kettles in our test at a significantly lower cost. Laura Lancaster

Product Description

While the Decathlon Quechua MH500 came in fourth in the boil test and has a comparatively larger profile (with a longer spout), its performance alone, at almost half the cost of the other camping kettles in my test, warranted inclusion on this list. Its fully stainless steel construction (no plastic parts) means that it can sustain heavy abuse for years without failing. For anyone building out their first camp kitchen, this makes a great option.

Though not a true performance issue, the Quechua MH500 tended to rattle as it reached a boil, a combination of the loose lid fit on the kettle and the single exit point for steam, which is the spout. I did like that the rim has a slight curve to it. This made it less likely for the lid to fall off when I poured out the very last of the hot water. 

FAQs

Q: How much do camping kettles cost?

Camping kettles typically cost between $15 and $60, with large capacity kettles costing as much as $100. 

Q: Can you use a regular kettle for camping?

Most kettles can be used on a typical two-burner setup, so if you’re looking to pack a kettle in a hurry, this is an excellent option. However, if you plan to cook over an open fire, it’s best to choose a camping kettle rated for direct heat. 

Q: Can you put a camping kettle on the fire?

Camping kettles that are made wholly out of metal (generally titanium, stainless steel, or aluminum) can be used over open fire. Though you should take more care when you pick up or move the kettle, as the flames are more likely to heat up the handles on an open fire than they are over a traditional camping stove

Q: Can you use an electric kettle for camping?

Technically, you can use an electric kettle for camping. But there are a few reasons that an electric kettle is less ideal than a traditional camping kettle. Electric kettles tend to take up more space. And space typically comes at a premium when you’re packing for an outdoor adventure, and the smaller profile of a camping kettle will leave more space for other pieces of important gear or items you need. The next is that it requires electricity—unless you’re using an RV for camping, you’ll need to ensure your battery pack or generator is sufficiently strong to power your electric kettle. Finally, there is durability to consider. You can leave a stainless steel kettle out in the rain overnight, but this will likely cause issues with an electric kettle. 

Methodology

To test the best camping kettles, I first confirmed weight specifications against those provided by the manufacturer. I then measured capacity as the amount of liquid each kettle held when completely full, which I then used to extrapolate the volume of water that would be safe for boiling (three quarters the total capacity). Next, I tested boil times in a controlled home environment, to better understand the relative fuel efficiency of each model. Finally, I compared the pour experience of each kettle, (carefully) checking the temperature of the handle of each kettle after boiling and then considering the velocity and precision of each pour as well as the security of the lid. But I also tested the kettles on a field trip to confirm that there were no other factors impacting performance outside of the controlled environment. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re backpacking, overlanding, or car camping, you can count on the best camping kettles to last you for years or even longer. Pick the best one for your own camping style and space requirements, so you can focus on spending more time outdoors.