Camping gear is not limited to tents and headlamps — you have to eat, after all. These essential camping cookware pieces will ensure you do it well.
Ahh, the great outdoors. You hiked the trails, pitched a tent and inhaled the freshest air you’ve ever breathed. Now there’s just one thing left to do: eat. When you’re planning a camping trip, it always helps to be prepared. Chances are there aren’t any restaurants around for miles, so you’d better stock up on ingredients and top-notch cookware. While your set-up may vary, we’ve outlined some basic necessities that every outdoor chef should have. These products will help sustain you beyond roasting hot dogs on a stick. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
Whether you’re spending a week in the wilderness or just going on a light day hike, you’re going to need a reliable water bottle. We’re big fans of this Hydro Flask, which features double-walled insulation. It’ll keep cold beverages chilled for up to 24 hours and keep hot beverages warm for up to 6 hours. Plus it comes in lots of pretty colors, so you can look stylish on an off the trails, and in various sizes. (There’s also a version with a straw lid.) Just make sure you clean your water bottle often.
A propane stove can be a good option for those looking for something a little more sturdy than a campfire to cook over. Some options provide up to four burners, and fancy ones even include a grill top. You’ll be able to cook up a storm or at least something a little more impressive than a can of beans.
If you’re planning on cooking while camping, you’re going to need a large, sturdy cooler to store all your food supply. Ideally, you’ll want a well-insulated and leak-proof option. If it’s cheap(er), even better. In CNET’s picks for the best coolers for 2020, this one got high marks for being a top performer while also being on the way more affordable end of the spectrum. If you need a larger model, it also comes in 50-quart, 70-quart and 100-quart sizes.
It’s also best to invest in a separate cooler for beverages since you’ll be opening it more frequently than the main food cooler (and you want all your edibles to stay well chilled). This Yeti model holds up to 18 cans plus ice so you can drink to your heart’s content in the great outdoors; if you’re bored with canned wine and beer, try making camping cocktails. It’s also the perfect size for bringing food and drinks on day trips (and is available on Amazon too).
If you don’t want to invest in a portable propane grill, you don’t have to. A grill grate can be your new best friend when it comes to cooking directly over a campfire. This handy cooking accessory creates a flat surface so you can grill, fry and heat foods more evenly over an open flame.
Not every campfire food can be cooked on a stick (or in a foil pack). That’s where this Dutch oven comes in. It’s perfect for one-pot meals and even has three iron legs so it can sit directly on hot coals. As an added bonus, its lid works as a griddle when flipped upside-down.
Cast iron is the way to go when cooking over a campfire. It retains and conducts heat evenly and works well on practically any surface. Try using one to make a complete breakfast of bacon, eggs and hash browns. Sustenance rarely tastes so good. Hot tip: A leather skillet handle cover will protect you from getting burned.
It’s a good idea to have at least a small pot or pan for boiling water too, if only for your morning camp coffee. This stainless steel pot with a vented lid is good for cooking small batches of food too, and it comes with two nesting insulated cups to sweeten the deal.
You’re going to need to put all that food somewhere, after all, and the picnic table will quickly be overtaken by backpacks, cups and playing cards. This foldable table is lightweight and great for all sorts of outdoor entertaining. Its multiple levels and surfaces allow you to corral all your cooking gear in one place and give you a clean space to prep food too. (But if all you need is a basic table that packs up small, this no-frills Coleman folding camp table will do the job.)
When packing for any trip, space is limited. This is especially true when you’re responsible for carrying everything you bring along on your back. In an effort to save space, try using collapsible drinkware, watering jugs and even measuring cups and spoons. They’re compact, less cumbersome and perfect for making sure you don’t have to eyeball pivotal ingredients.
Speaking of saving space, this compact kit contains just about everything else you need in the way of camp cooking utensils, including a pot scraper, a folding spoon with measuring marks, a folding spatula with a serrated edge, a collapsible whisk, waterproof spice holder with four chambers, two condiment containers for bringing oil and vinegar (or whatever you want), an ultralight cutting board, a scrubbing pad and a microfiber camp towel. Whew.
Don’t forget about clean-up — properly disposing of food outdoors helps keep the bears away, and washing camp cookware is part of that process. A collapsible sink is ideal for doing dishes in camp. Better yet, get two: one for soaking, one for rinsing. You can also find double-basin camp sinks.
This nifty portable grill is one-time use but lightweight and easy to transport and completely biodegradable. Perfect for mobile camping trips with lots of hiking and biking, you’ll be ready to cook in 5 minutes with roughly 60 minutes of cooking time.
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