The Best Aluminum Camping Kettles
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Whether you prefer tea to coffee or just need to boil water for a cup of soup, a good camping kettle or pot is something you do not want to leave home without. It can make a long hike worth it when it’s time to settle in at the end of the day. It can also turn your trip into a total nightmare if you choose the wrong type of kettle.
Based on our extensive review, the best camping kettle is Fire Maple XT-2 HE. The larger model feels sturdy, and the heat exchange on the bottom is a nice touch. The smaller model is more packable, and both are reasonably priced. Our runner up would be the GSI Halulite Kettle, and it was a very tight race. The Fire Maple gets the edge due to pricing, but either kettle should last for years.
If you have a trek planned and want to ensure you’ve got the best camping kettle to suit your needs, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you narrow the field. We have also reviewed four of the best-selling camping kettles available online to see how they stack up against one another.
How we made the picks
The best camping kettle for one camper may not suit another’s needs. Some folks prefer smaller kettles that are easy to pack, while others may require something large enough to serve a group. The best camping kettle can come in many shapes and sizes, but there are only a handful of materials to choose from.
All kettles serve the same purpose, and for this review we decided to stick to aluminum-based kettles, with the exception of one hybrid model. Aluminum kettles are the most affordable style, which make them one of the most popular as well.
How we tested
Testing tea kettles is a fairly simple process. If they can boil water and don’t leak, you’re good to go. The lid, handles and general construction are also important, and something we considered during testing. In this review, we took a week to test these kettles outdoors using two stoves and several fuel sources.
The Redcamp wood burning stove and the Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove were what we used to test these kettles. With natural fuel, we used dried out branches, a couple of paints sticks, and a half pack of Coghlan’s Fire sticks. The fuel that came with the Esbit Ultralight was also used, and particularly impressive in both stoves.
LevelOne Collapsible Outdoor Kettle Review
LevelOne Collapsible Outdoor Kettle
Whenever we review a group of products, we try to look for at least one that stands out from the pack from a design standpoint. With camping kettles, that was difficult considering kettles are known for cutting-edge designs, although we found something interesting from a company called LevelOne.Check Prices of LevelOne Collapsible Outdoor Kettle
The draw of this kettle is evident at first glance. It’s designed to be portable and easy to pack. It certainly lives up to its billing in that regard as I had no trouble cramming this one into an extra pocket on a small hydration pack. The LevelOne collapsible camping kettle weighs 13.9 ounces and is a mere 2” tall when collapsed.
When fully extended, the kettle is 5.5” high, but the company leaves you guessing when it comes to capacity. In my boiling test, I found that it safely holds around 36 ounces of water. It boils with the best them, but only the bottom is made from aluminum. The base is 6” wide and cleans easier than our other models, but you need to be careful of flames with this one.
The body is made from silicone, so direct heat is a bad idea. That means this camping kettle is better suited for smaller systems or a portable electric eye, although I didn’t have any issues with on RedCamp’s wood burner. The Esbit pocket stove was more difficult to manage but doable with level ground and the right angle.
On the top of the kettle is a plastic lid that’s attached to the handle. It won’t slip out of place when you are pouring hot water, but you will have to tilt it high to empty the kettle as it pours from the top. There’s also a lid lock, but again, it’s all made from plastic, so be wary around the campfire with LevelOne’s collapsible kettle.
This simple kettle performs as advertised and is worth a look if you need to save space on your next trek. You do have to be a little more cautious around flames, and it’s not nearly as durable as a traditional metal camping kettle. Given the price and its size compared to the other kettles I reviewed, it definitely falls into the specialty class.
- Only 2” high collapsed
- Thick silicone body
- Attached lid and lock
- Long-term durability concerns
GSI Halulite Camping Tea Kettle Review
GSI Halulite Camping Tea Kettle
GSI is a brand you are likely to encounter if you frequent camping shops or sites, and they excel at producing cookware, stoves, and other outdoor goods geared towards food and beverage. For our review of the best aluminum camping kettles, we decided to go with a fan favorite called the GSI Halulute.Check Prices of GSI Halulite Camping Tea Kettle
This was a kettle I was intrigued to review as I’ve used the company’s Escape Bowls and cutlery a few times, but don’t own any of their gear. Out of the box, it’s one of the best looking kettles, even if 90% of anodized aluminum cookware tends to stick to the orange and grey color scheme. This one has an orange coating on the handle, along with a small section of the lid to keep your hands safe.
While minor, the company’s logo and product name displayed in white on the side and lid of the kettle was a nice touch. So is the handle, which locks into place in the center position. My favorite feature by far is the fill line, however. On both models, measurements are stamped into the side, and for this one, it was 250 and 500ml as well as 8, 12, and 24 ounces.
GSI’s Halulite is the lightest kettle I reviewed with a weight of 7.1 ounces on my scales. While it’s not the largest kettle, the opening and lid are the largest on our list. Unfortunately, that means it can also fall off easier when tilting compared to the competition. None have tight-fitting lids, but some do stay on easier than others.
As this is technically a tea kettle, the lid shouldn’t be a problem, and the size is nice for portability as it’s around 4” tall and 6” wide with the handle folded. The opening is large enough to hold a fuel canister or mini stove as well. You can pull that off with other teapots, but it’s generally not this easy on a 32-ounce kettle.
There’s a lot to like about the Halulite tea kettle, including the locking handle and stamped fill line. The hard anodized aluminum shell is built to last, and it performed as advertised on both of our testing stoves. The 32-ounce version is a little more expensive than similar models with a higher capacity, but that’s the only knock on this particular model, and there’s a 61-ounce edition available as well.
- Stamped fill lines
- Locking handle
- Lifetime warranty against defects
- Nothing significant
Fire Maple XT-2 HE Kettle Review
Fire Maple XT-2 HE Kettle
Fire Maple is another company that manufactures various goods for campers. In their arsenal, you’ll find stoves, lanterns, and cookware like the Fire Maple XT-2 HE Kettle. It’s one of the bigger kettles we reviewed, and the only with a special feature designed to heat fluids quicker than normal.Check Prices of Fire Maple XT-2 HE Kettle
The draw of this kettle is on the bottom in the form of a heat exchange. It’s a feature you’ll find on both sizes of this kettle, and one you will be thankful to have on the 1.5-liter edition. It’s constructed using butt-joint techniques, and the company claims it increases efficiency by up to 30% compared to similar aluminum camping kettles.
While I didn’t put a clock on the pot, it did heat up quicker than other models I tested. While the heat exchange is a bonus, it does come at a cost. At 5.5” tall, this kettle will take up some space, although it’s only 6” wide like Halulite. It’s still light with a weight of 10.9 ounces and bears a sticking resemblance to the rest of the aluminum kettles we checked out.
The Fire Maple FMX XT-2 HE feels very sturdy from top to bottom. That includes a handle that’s (currently) tight enough to hold its position at any angle. It’s made from hard anodized aluminum and can hold quite a bit of gear inside when not in use. That includes fuel canisters, fire cubes, pouches of dry food or various other small goods.
The packaging isn’t part of the product, but something as a reviewer I always pay attention to. It can imply something about the company itself and the pride they take in their products, and Fire Maple was a clear winner in this category. The kettle was double boxed with slick packaging and a little mesh bag for the kettle with the company’s name on the tag. As a bonus, you will also get mesh ball for tea, which appears to be very well made.
If you are in the market for a large kettle that can service 3 – 4 people, Fire Maple’s 1.6-liter camping kettle is an excellent choice. I had no issues using the XT-2 HE over the course of a few nights, although I wouldn’t want to bring it along for a solo trip. Some campers have had issues with the lid not fitting snugly, but I felt it hung in there better than most of our test subjects.
- Heat exchange system
- 3-year warranty
- Great price point
- Tea infuser
Redcamp Camping Teapot Review
Redcamp Camping Teapot
Regardless of what material a kettle is made from or how fancy it is, at the end of the day, they are all designed to boil. Redcamp is responsible for one of the best budget-friendly kettles around with their camping kettles, which are half the price of similar cookers from other manufacturers.Check Prices of Redcamp Camping Teapot
We tested the 1.6-liter version of the Redcamp kettle, and it’s a dead ringer for other pots in this class, aside from a few minor differences. The body is constructed from hard anodized aluminum, and the handle is wrapped in a rubber-like covering. It held up to heat well in my time with the kettle but doesn’t feel quite as resilient.
The handle on Fire Maple’s kettle is stiff but sturdy. While I’m not sure how well the handle wrap will hold up, it kept cool during my boil tests. The company took a different approach to the lid as well. It has a 5” opening, but a short plastic pull which puts your fingers closer to warm metal. It’s not very snug, although it didn’t tumble off until I was almost vertical in my pour.
The pull and handle look a bit cheap but will get the job done. Redcamp’s kettle is short at only 3 ¼” high, but it’s wider than the rest of the pack with a 7” base. It was easier to pack than the Fire Maple, however. It doesn’t come with a tea infuser, but you do get a mesh bag for storage. Packaging was a little disappointing on this one, although it arrived unscathed.
This kettle may look like the Halulite and Fire Maple sans the heat exchanger, but it’s considerably cheaper, although not as robust. In the field, it could hold up just as long or longer than other models, but the handle on the lid and rubber covering the pot handle are two areas that could use some improvement. You will get a 1-year warranty with this kettle, and it’s available in two sizes at 1.1 and 1.6-liters.
- The price tag
- Wide base
- 1-year warranty
- Build quality
This was one of the more interesting sets of products I’ve reviewed as a kettle or pot is made to boil liquid, and doesn’t necessarily have a lot of features. In testing, the same amount of water was used in each kettle, but only the model with the heat exchanger appeared to show slightly faster boiling speeds. What makes or breaks a camping kettle isn’t how well it boils water, but how it will hold up on the trail.
With that in mind, the best camping kettle is Fire Maple XT-2 HE. The larger model feels sturdy, and the heat exchange on the bottom is a nice touch. The smaller model is more packable, and both are reasonably priced. Our runner up would be the GSI Halulite Kettle, and it was a very tight race. The Fire Maple gets the edge due to pricing, but either kettle should last for years.
How to find the Best Camping Kettle
While you won’t need a college degree to find a good kettle, it’s a good idea to consider a few key areas beforehand. Most are inexpensive, but the material they are made from can significantly affect the price along with its weight and durability.
The first thing you should think about when looking for the best camping kettle is capacity. If you plan on taking a kettle on the trail for a weekend adventure, you will want something light and easy to pack. While dozens of small kettles fit that bill, a 27-ounce kettle will be a pain if there are five people in your camping party.
Depending on the manufacturer, capacity can be listed by the cup, quart, ounce, or liter. Most fall into common sizes, however, so you will find more options around 1.6 liters and 1.1 liters than you will with kettles above the 2-liter mark. There are plenty of kettles under a liter as well, but you will want something at least 2 liters or larger if you plan to serve 2 to 3 people.
If you buy a high-quality kettle, weight shouldn’t be an issue as they are designed to be lightweight and easy to transport. The size of a kettle will affect the weight to a degree, but the material the kettle is made from has a larger impact on weight.
An aluminum kettle is the most lightweight as a 1-liter kettle mad from aluminum clocks in at around 5 to 5.8 ounces. By comparison, stainless steel kettles the same size are typically between 9 to 10.5 ounces – almost twice the weight.
Titanium provides the perfect strength to weight ratio as it’s stronger than steel but considerably lighter. A 1-liter kettle made from titanium weighs around an ounce more on average than the same kettle made from aluminum, which puts them in the 6 to 7-ounce range.
By design, kettles are simple containers designed to heat water. They will all have a lid along with a spout and handle. In other words, there aren’t too many parts you’ll need to worry about breaking, but there are a few things to think about when it comes to kettle construction.
The one-piece design of a kettle means there are fewer points of failure, although the handle or the lid is usually the first thing to go. With a lid, losing it is the worst-case scenario as you are not going to have much luck finding a replacement lid on a $20 kettle. The pull on the lid can also be a problem.
Pulls are either metal with a rubber or plastic coating or completely plastic. The latter can break unless it’s high-impact ABS or something just as durable – we have seen it happen. If that happens, you would have to scrap the kettle or drill out the rivet and attach a new one. Neither option is ideal, so pay attention to the handle pull.
The handle itself will usually hold up well, but some lock into place, while others will get incredibly loose within a few months. It may come down to how often you use your kettle. The covering for the handle shouldn’t be overlooked, although dents are usually the worst thing that can befall a camping kettle aside from a lost lid.
Titanium, Aluminum, or Stainless Steel?
Now that you understand how the material your kettle is made from can affect its weight and durability, it’s time to think about a few other characteristics of these materials. A Titanium kettle may be expensive, but you won’t have to worry about dents as much as you would from other metals. Stainless is notoriously tough, while aluminum brings up the rear.
Hard anodized aluminum is the most popular option with kettle manufacturers. It’s not a material we would consider delicate, but you’re more likely to find dings in an aluminum pot than one made from stainless or titanium. Aluminum is also the most affordable option, whether it’s an 800ml kettle or one that’s 2 liters. That makes it ideal for backpacking and longer treks where weight can be critical.
If you’re rough on your gear, stainless steel may be a better option. It can take some abuse, is cheaper than titanium, and only slightly more expensive than the best aluminum kettles. When price is no concern, titanium is the clear winner. These kettles are light, strong, and heat up quickly, but can be twice the price of an aluminum camping pot or kettle.
When you opt for a kettle in the camping class, weight usually isn’t an issue unless you are on a hike where every gram counts. You’ll also learn fairly quickly that 80% of the kettles on the market are identical. Handles and logos and lids may be different from one company to the next, although there are several companies that appear to use the exact same design.
Unless you’re looking for trendy camping equipment or gear with bling, think about how packable a kettle is when considering the design. While we’ve seen some odd inventions over the years, most kettles have a very standard design. That said, if the opening is large enough, you can often store fuel, socks, and various other good inside of the kettle when it’s not in use.
There are also collapsible kettles to consider. Often made with silicone or other food-safe materials, these kettles have a metal bottom, but collapse like an accordion when not in use. They are the easiest models to store, but not for use with cooking systems with an open flame or campfires.
Bringing It All Together
Choosing a camping kettle isn’t something that should stress you out, and as you can see from our buying guide, it’s not rocket science. What you’ll use to heat your kettle is just as important as the kettle itself, especially considering the variety of stoves available on the market today. If you need a new stove for your camping kettle, be sure to check out our Redcamp wood burning stove review.