Camping Cookware Basics
The Best Time is Chow Time
Fresh air, picturesque landscapes, and endless starry skies make camping a euphoric endeavor. But sooner or later you’ve got to figure out how to eat. So why not eat well.
A good meal is a great way to bond with those on your trip. It provides the necessary fuel to keep you going, it boosts your morale, and gives you the drive to conquer that next leg of your journey.
Here at Campers & Gear, we know the importance of chow time. We’ve made it our duty to help you create your own personal chuck wagon. There are, however, a few things to consider. However, we are happy to announce that there are a bounty of camping cookware options to satisfy everyone from the minimalist to the gourmet camper.
Let’s start by determining your needs. What kind of camping will you be doing?
RV Camping ——–
If you’re camping with an RV, you most likely have the luxury of bringing a full-service kitchen with you. You also will most likely have the ability to bring more cooking equipment, supplies, and groceries with you than if you are backpacking.
A well-stocked RV galley will have all of the essentials like utensils, pots and pans, and dish-ware. Your supply list (in addition to fuel and food) should include things like: dish soap, towels, and napkins. If you’re dining alfresco, you may want to bring folding tables, tablecloths, chairs, and items for campfire cooking (campfire tripods for hanging pots, over the fire griddles, and specialty utensils for roasting weenies, cooking the perfect s’more, and pie iron sandwich cookers–great for grilled cheeses and toasted PB & Js).
Car, Truck Bed, & Tent Camping ——–
If you’re car camping, using a tent, or truck bed at a campground some similarities with RV camping exist. You’ll still need all the utensils, some of the pots and pans and dishes, and you’ll probably be able to pack some extra things like the specialty campfire cooking gear. You won’t have the “bring your own kitchen” effect, but most campgrounds have barbecue grills and fire pits from which you can cook.
More elaborate campgrounds may have stores, allowing you to replenish your food and supply stocks. Also, the fact that you will have transportation means that you can probably drive to a nearby town’s grocery store, provided you are not in a remote location.
Still there are some cooking gear items which can let your inner Julia Child shine. Gear like camp stoves (there are numerous varieties we will cover later in this article) are widely available. Also cooking gear like the Coleman Folding Double Wash Basin is ideal for cleaning up after a meal. Coleman also makes a Camp Oven for those of you gourmet bakers. There are even Egg carriers, so you don’t break a yolk before it’s time to whisk an omelet.
Your gear needs change quite a lot for those camping in backcountry areas. Open fires are sometimes prohibited in these areas when forest fire dangers are possible. Some terrains (deserts and at higher altitudes) the availability of firewood may be minimal or non-existent. In these circumstances having the right stove and supplies can make all of the difference in the world.
Before we get into the basics of what to look for in a camp stove and what their uses, let’s look at some other camping cookware you might not usually think of, but could be essential items to have for ensuring the best possible camping experience.
The GSI Outdoors Destination Kitchen 24 is a must have for backpacking gourmets. Its compact design is perfect for the trail. It contains most of the utensils and other cooking items you’ll need to make your travel companions feel like that hearty meal you made them is being served at home rather than a backcountry trail stop.
Numerous manufacturers make quality mess kits. Pots and pans that are lightweight and designed for backpacking are also essential.
Another item worth its weight in gold is a quality dry sack or heavy duty dry bag. This keeps your food supplies dry and safe from the elements. Whether you are caught in the rain or on a rafting or kayaking trip, a dry sack is a must have.
In any case, cooking from the comfort of an RV galley, camping with a tent or in a truck bed at a campsite, or in the wilderness backpacking, two cooking gear items are essential: matches and headlamps.
Matches must be storm proof and housed in a waterproof case for lighting camp stoves and/or campfires.
Head lamps and/or lanterns make cooking the perfect camp meal at night much easier. Being able to see can mean the difference between the perfect medium rare and gnawing on a tire tread.
Now back to camp stoves. There are numerous manufacturers and types. All have their pros and cons to consider. Here are the basics for picking the right one for your needs:
Canister Fuel: Primarily run on isobutane or propane. Isobutane burns hotter and cleaner and is better in cold weather. Canister stoves self-seal, doing away with the chance of fuel spills. No priming is required (which is nice) but it is harder to know exactly how much fuel you have left. The upside is that fuel spills are virtually impossible. They are compact and easy to use. But fuel is more expensive per ounce. They are not as good as liquid fuel camp stoves in cold weather but are good for simmering as well as boiling.
Liquid Fuel: These run on “white gas” or naptha, which is a very refined fuel which leaves almost no impurities. It burns hot and clean, is better in cold conditions, and is much less expensive than canister fuel. Some liquid fuel camp stoves can run on kerosene, diesel, or non-oxygenated unleaded gasoline. This can make all the difference if you are backpacking in foreign countries, where fuel choices are limited. Most require priming, which although not difficult, can be an inconvenience. Fuel is less expensive, but the stoves themselves usually cost more upfront. Fuel spills are possible, but they are easy to gauge the fuel capacity. They are heavier than canister camp stoves, but there is no canister to dispose of which makes them a little more environmentally conscious. They do require more frequent maintenance than canister camp stoves.
Alternative Fuel: These camp stoves come in varieties that burn wood such as twigs and leaves, denatured alcohol, or solid fuel. They all have pros and cons to them to which need to be examined and evaluated for your own individual needs. Some models are designed to generate adequate electricity to recharge a cell phone. With the wood burning varieties you have no need to carry fuel provided you can find the necessary wood. Which makes them a nice option for traveling light on longer expeditions. The downside to denatured alcohol camp stoves and solid fuel tablet camp stoves is that they are slower to bring water to a boil.
- Before you choose a camping stove, consider how many people are in your party. More than three and you probably want to bring more than one camp stove.
- If you are using a camp stove to melt snow for water, you are also going to want to bring an extra camp stove.
- If you are backpacking in the summer, canister stoves are usually better.
- If camping in the winter or at high altitude, liquid fuel stoves are more ideal, just as they are for bigger groups.
- If weight is the main consideration look into ultra-light models and again if on an international adventure, consider liquid fuel stoves than can operate using kerosene or unleaded gasoline.
Regardless of what type of camping you are doing, having the right cooking gear is essential. With proper planning, thorough preparation, and a good measure of confidence gained from doing your research at Campers & Gear you can guarantee that the best time will be chow time. So whether you are rehydrating freeze-dried meals, melting snow, roastingthe perfect s’more, or feasting like a king on some lobster tails, enjoy the fruits of your labor. The right tools will ensure mealtime cooks up memories that will last forever.