A lightweight, compact non-stick frying pan with folding handle for van-camping and travel
- Durable high quality aluminum
- Easy-to-clean Teflon® Classic non-stick surface
- Folding handle makes it easy to pack and easy to store
- Available in three sizes:
8 inches (20 cm): 12.8 oz (363 g)
10 inches (25 cm): 17.7 oz (502 g)
12 inches (30 cm): 1 lb,. 12 oz (794 g)
The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan claims to offer all the durability and even heating of a conventional home frying pan, but in a compact and lightweight design suitable for backpacking, kayak-touring, and car- and van-camping. But can any one pan meet all these requirements without sacrificing function and easy cleaning?
Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of frying pans for van-camping and kayak-touring. Typical home-kitchen pans, though offering good non-stick surfaces and even heating, are heavy and bulky, while dinky lightweight backpacking pans are often too small for more than two eggs at a time, and often lack permanent handles, relying instead on separate pot grippers.
Many cheaper versions of dedicated folding camp frypans seem to skimp on wall thickness, resulting in uneven heating and burnt-on food. Even their non-stick coatings seem to be little thicker than spray paint, and soon begin flaking off after a few camping seasons, making both cooking and clean-up more difficult.
The GSI Bugaboo seems to have done the thing so obvious that no one else has thought of it: combine the best of both into one easy-cooking and easy-cleaning, compact folding pan.
On first appearance, the GSI Bugaboo seems little more than a conventional home-kitchen frying pan, but with a simple folding handle. The pan body itself is a fairly thick-walled aluminum with nicely curved sides, nearly two inches deep. The interior is coated with one of the smoothest Teflon® surfaces I’ve seen, certainly more slick (and less stick!) than the previous camping frypans we’ve used.
The handle, which folds into the pan interior for storage & transport, easily pivots out and snaps solidly into its hinge/retainer. The heavy-gauge stainless steel wire handle is coated in black vinyl to offer some heat protection for the hands.
On the Road or In Camp
So far so good, but we care less for looks than for function (after all, we drive a Vanagon). So, how does the Bugaboo actually cook? After an initial washing at home, we chucked the GSI into the van and hit the road for our next weekend getaway.
The next morning found me uncharacteristically eager to whip up some breakfast, and I started by gently sauteing a diced onion in the Bugaboo with some butter, followed by a few scrambled eggs. Halfway through, I was surprised by how evenly the eggs cooked without requiring much prodding, and what little stirring I did easily drew errant egg from the sides of the pan with no sticking.
But the real test of any pan is a fried egg, and this Lorie did the next morning, with similar results. When she finally brought the hot pan out to the campsite picnic table and lightly stumbled on a stone, the perfect over-medium eggs nearly slipped right out of the pan and onto our plates.
Of course, the real real test of any pan is cleanup, and today was my turn. Not surprisingly, the Bugaboo needed little more than a quick washing with hot water and CampSuds, requiring no scrubbing or scraping.
The 10-inch Bugaboo pan fits nicely on the Westfalia stove top without crowding out other pots on the adjacent burner. This size is a bit too large to entirely fit into the Westy kitchen sink, but its excellent non-stick interior is easily washed and rinsed over the sink; the 8-inch Bugaboo should fit inside the sink nicely.
We very seldom cook over an open campfire or coals, and the Bugaboo is not designed for this, as its non-stick coating and rubber-coated handle can be damaged by excessive heat.
Once washed and dried, the Bugaboo easily folds up and is stowed with the other pots and pans in the Westfalia lower kitchen cabinet.
In The Long Run
The GSI Bugaboo’s high walls easily contain plenty of food without spilling over (extra cheese, please), and the gently rounded interior fillet makes for easy sauteing and quick cleaning, with no tight corners for food to become stuck in.
The versatility of the Bugaboo can be further improved with the addition of an aluminum pan cover from a thrift store, but unfortunately is not offered as an accessory by GSI.
While camping, we’ve cooked everything from the typical eggs with bacon or sausage and pancakes, to grilled-cheese sandwiches, burgers, stir fries and skillet pizzas. Since switching to the Bugaboo we’ve found ourselves trying more new and tasty meals than before, mainly due to the ease of cooking and cleaning. The Teflon non-stick interior has held up well through years of camping and cooking.
The GSI Bugaboo allows us to spend less time on the chores of camping, and more time enjoying al fresco dining in camp …
Hits: quality construction, durable non-stick coating, easy cleaning, even heating, compact folding design
Misses: no cover available, not suitable for use over campfire