GSI Pinnacle 10″ Frypan review
While packing for a camping trip, most of the essential items packed are usually going to be the tent, sleeping bag, good hiking shoes and food. These all seem pretty standard. But, one never really realizes the importance of the quality of their kitchen set or utencils until they get to camp and their plastic fork melts while stiring food over a fire, or with bits of Teflon chipping off because the intensity of the fire is too much to handle for a house pan.
So, ParkVisitor set out to find out what the hype was all about when it came to backpacking skillits. After some research we read about a small company started in San Diego that goes by the name GSI Outdoors. Friends of ParkVisitor suggested that their pans were worth looking into because they were versatile and could be used by backpackers and formal campers alike. So we contacted GSI. They were happy to send us two pans. One to review and one to give away through ParkVisitor‘s forthcoming Facebook contest. We headed down a trail in the Verdugo Mountains with food and gear loaded for the trek and review. Here is our review of the GSI Pinnacle 10″ Frypan.
First, let’s look over some specs from the GSI website that we noted so we could test it during our review:
Weight: 17.6 ounces (1.1 pound)
Handle: SurLock stainless steel handle. Silicon rubber grip. Detachable and folding handle. Locking resistance tested at five pounds.
Width: 10″ lip with a 9.25″ interior bottom
First, we wanted to test out the heat distribution that the pan is best known for. According to the company’s description put on the pan:
“[A] non-reactive, hard anodized surface is harder than stainless steel while heating with exceptional efficiency and uniformity.”
“Non-reactive” basically means that the metal of the pan is not ‘reacting’ to the food you’re cooking (i.e acidic foods or light metals that may leave a metallic taste with a ‘reactive’ surface).
Handle: GSI is proud of their SurLock handle, and as a backpacker, you will be pleased to know that the handle is detachable. The stainless steel handle is a single solid rod bent to scale, and dipped in a silicon rubber that makes the comfort of holding the pan easier on your palm. The rod forms a narrower handle than expected, but nothing that would compromise your grip.
Coating: Anodized aluminum has long been a favorite of campers because of its resilience, heating properties and durability when put up against coal and ash. Most camping pans have one layer of anodized coating; GSI’s Pinnacle has three coats.
Interior Surface: At first, we were a bit skeptical about “non-stick,” since a lot of companies have been known to write “non-stick,”yet discreetly expect you as a customer to load on half- a stick of butter or oil to lube the pan so that nothing burns. In regards to GSI, the “easy cleaning non-stick surface,” was an understatement! The interior of the pan has a generous coating of Teflon with Radiance a superior form of engineering in cookware technology. What this essentially means is that with the coating, the heat from the bottom of the pan rotates evenly evenly to the pans surface, and the Teflon does such a great job at retainment and distribution, that there are no “hot-spots” that receive more heat; eliminating any chance of burning. Well, that is ofcourse if you do your duty as a cook and stir your food properly
Heat Distribution: The first go at cooking some onions, we added butter (less than half a teaspoon). The frypan cooked them evenly and we had them lightly brown in under five minutes.
Then, before we added the chicken, I wiped the frypan with a paper towel to test its “non-stick” surface and to check if the oil had found a chink in the armor of the frypan. Let’s just say, there is no slippery slope about how impressed we were.
Now the real test….how does it cook a full meal? Here was our menu for the day:
Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes
For anyone who has cooked pancakes, you know that you need to lubricate a frypan with Pam, butter or some sort of grease so that the molasses textured batter of the pancake cooks evenly and most importantly: does not stick!
We mixed the pancake batter with fresh eggs, flour and farm-fresh blueberries. I thought that by the time the mixing was done, the frypan might still be heating up. Not so!
The frypan was ready within minutes! The pan sizzled immediately when I splashed a drop of water onto it; a great sign. We added the pancake batter in silver dollar sized dollops. Each side took about a minute to cook, and they came out golden brown with no uncooked doey centers.
Lunch: Mountain Fajitas
After breakfast, we really put the Pinnacle to the test. Within minutes of cooking the pancakes, we used a paper towel to wipe the hot surface. No sticky spots, and no residue. All the batter came right off in one swipe. +1 GSI…plus one indeed.
We waited only a minute before we added the first ingredient. The onions hit the pan first, and started sizzling right away indicating rapid heat conduction and distribution. Within minutes they were golden brown. It’s this point in our test where we decided to really test the non-stick surface.
Adding no oil or butter, we put in the 2 lbs of chopped chicken. Ofcourse, oil and butter always help for flavor, but oil is helpful more for seeping into the food and cooking it faster. So we decided to take the oil away and see how the pan fared.
The chicken started to sizzle like the onions had. Immediately, all the pieces had turned white, and in two minutes the chickens were ready to flip. Once flipped, to our pleasure , every chicken piece was cooked white, with thin browned lines around the corners – and ofcourse, no sticking.
The depth of the pan (apprx. 2.8″) ensured that the amount of food we had put would fit, but was that neccessaily a smart thing to do. Would the SureLock Handle hold that much chicken, vegatbales and liquid? We started flipping to find out.
Soon after, we added the onions back in, and a variety of bell peppers. The water from the bell peppers was extracted over a five-eight minute period of time, but they evaporated soon after hitting the bottom of the pan, allowing for some browning to occur
Into the depths: Pan vs. Fire
No camping trip would be complete without cooking something over the embers and coals of a campfire. So while our fajitas were 80% done, we decided to spread out some coal and cook the rest of our lunch on them – putting the GSI pan to the ultimate test.
As the pan started to heat up, one of the logs that hadn’t fully burned caught fire. I was worried at first about the amount of flame licking the sides of the pan, but saw that the annodized aluminum brushed off the flames as if it were a buzzing mosquito.
As the pan sat on the coals, and the smell of our Mexican style cuisine cooked infront of our eyes, I took the handle with a cautious grip to test the heat resistance of the silicon coating. GSI had won again.
Note: Although silicon has a high heat-residence, it still isn’t smart to expose the handle to high-levels of heat very often. For the purpose of this gear review, we exposed the handle to extreme heat with no residual damage or negative effect on the durability. But that’s not to say you should always stick your pan and its handle straight into an intense set of coals.
The GSI 10″ Pinnicale frypan was a great find for ParkVisitor. We stuffed it in our packs for a trek down a mountainside. We prepared and cooked blueberry pancakes with no additional grease. We sizzled and browned onions, chicken and bell peppers for fantastic tasting fajitas. Most importantly, we abused the pan. We cooked it on a propane camping stove, and we stuck it into the depths of a red hot fire. The handle could be “handled,” and the pan had no heat, fire, ash or fatigue damage after a long twenty minute session directly on the coals.
Cleaning the pan was a breeze, as we just wiped it down with a paper towel. None of the food stuck, and the grease was begging to be absorbed, since the teflon on the pan didn’t allow it to stick even a dot of itself onto the surface.
Sometimes, the best thing about an outdoor product is simplicity. Sure, the GSI pan has features like the SureLock handle and the Teflon with Radiance coating that might make it seem like it’s complicated – but more so than all that, it is just a good, simple pan to do simple things! It just happens to have all of the perks mentioned in the article.
All in all, GSI‘s 10″ Pinnical was a pleasure to review, and an asset to our hiking trip, as it did what it claimed: cooked our food! We reccomend that every backcountry backpack or camping kitchen set includes a GSI 10″ Pinnacle Frypan for your breaksfast, lunch, and dinner that will be cooked in the outdoors.
Final Score: 5 / 5
Reccomendation – Get it!