As a camper, one of the most rewarding experiences is preparing and eating a meal you've cooked in the great outdoors. Nothing beats or tastes as good as food cooked outdoors, whether it's over an open fire, on a burner stove or rustled up using pots and pans from home - everything seems to taste so much better.
But to turn the vision into reality, you need the right camping cookware that matches your style of camping. In this guide, we'll help you navigate the world of camping cookware from what your camping setup entails, to the essentials elements you need and how to take care of them and equally the environment you camp in. So, let's get started on your camping cookware adventure!
From pots to pans, having the right camp cookware that reflects your camping style ensures the best culinary experience outdoors.
What is Your Camping Cookware Setup?
Before you start shopping for camping cookware, pause for a couple of minutes to envision what your camping setup looks like as your choice of cookware should align with your particular camping style.
Are you a solo backpacker who wants to travel light with a need for compact and space-saving cookware? Or do you prefer car camping where space and weight aren't major concerns, allowing for a more elaborate setup? Or are you looking at a caravan or campervan where you're practically bringing a mobile kitchen with you? Which ever way you decide to camp will greatly influence the type of cookware you need.
Backpacking Setup: If you're a solo backpacker taking to the Scottish mountains, you'll want to prioritise lightweight, compact and portable cookware. Look for sets that nest together such as the Stanley Compact Cookset which fit snugly into your rucksack. Using pots and pans that have handles which fold round the pot are an excellent way to save on space. Look for options like titanium or aluminium which are light weight yet durable. Consider a compact and portable backpacking stove, like the MSR PocketRocket 2 which can fit inside one of your pots, and a versatile spork for eating such as the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork.
Car Camping Setup: When weight and space are less of an issue, you have the freedom to choose more extensive cookware setups. Think about convenience and versatility. Look for larger pots and pans, and don't forget extra features like griddles and maybe even a portable coffee maker for when you wake up on the loch shore. You can opt for camp stoves with multiple burners, a cool box for perishables, plenty plates and cutlery and even wood burning stoves which can act as another cooking surface.
Camper vans: If you're camping in a van, you have access to a kitchen-like setup. You can choose cookware that's similar to what you use at home, including a range of pots, pans, and utensils.
What Cookware Do You Need?
The cookware you need largely depends on the types of meals you plan to prepare on your camping trip and also how many people are within your party. If you're a solo traveller, one pot and pan will probably suffice but for a family of four, you will need to expand your range to accommodate for everyone.
Here's a breakdown of the essential camping cookware items:
Cooking Pot: A versatile cooking pot is a must-have. It's great for boiling water, making pasta, soups, or even stews. Look for a pot with a lid and handles for easy use.
Frying Pan: Ideal for cooking eggs, pancakes, and anything that requires a flat cooking surface. Non-stick pans are a smart choice for easy cleaning. If you are cooking on a single burner, look for handles that are heat resistant.
Camping Kettle: Ideal for both base camp campers and backpackers looking to enjoy a hot cup of tea in the outdoors. A lightweight option is the Trangia 0.9l kettle with a foldable handle as you can easily pop your portable burner into this to save on space.
Mugs and Plates: Eating utensils are often overlooked. Invest in durable and lightweight mugs, plates, and utensils designed for camping. Collapsible versions save space such as the Sea to Summit Collapsible Tumbler save on space especially if you're backpacking.
Utensils and Accessories: Don't forget the essentials like a spatula, ladle, and a sharp knife for food prep. Other handy items include a can opener, cutting board, and a multi-tool with a corkscrew. A good all rounder for camping the Victorinox Swiss Army Ranger knife which has over 21 different uses.
Camping Stove: While not strictly cookware, a reliable camping stove is essential. Choose one that suits your cooking needs, whether it's a simple canister stove for boiling water or a more robust two-burner stove for versatile cooking. Small portable stoves for backpacking such as the Coleman FyreLite or the OEX Etna are great for solo trips whereas the Trespass Gastro burner stove is great when you are car camping.
Types of Materials: What's Your Cookware made of?
The materials used in your camping cookware affect its weight, durability, and performance, with certain materials better suited to different forms of camping. Here are some common materials to consider:
Aluminium: Lightweight and affordable, aluminium cookware heats quickly and evenly. However, it can scratch and dent easily so needs gentle handling. I have used my Trangia kettle again and again and again and after so many outings, it's beginning to show a few dents and bumps.
Stainless Steel: Renowned for its durability, stainless steel is rust-resistant and resistant to wear and tear. Stainless steel cookware may be a tad heavier but can last for countless camping trips. A tried and tested favourite would be the Stanley Adventure Range which are lightweight but extremely durable.
Titanium: Ultralight backpackers often favour titanium cookware due to its featherweight qualities. It's robust, corrosion-resistant, and heats up rapidly. However, it tends to be pricier.
Non-Stick Coating: Certain camping cookware comes with non-stick coatings, simplifying both cooking and cleaning processes. Keep in mind that these coatings can wear off over time, especially with metal utensils, so handle them with care.
Clean Up: Leave No Trace
Proper campsite etiquette includes leaving no trace, and that includes cleaning up after your meals. There are some great all-in-one clean up kits like the Sea to Summit Camp Kitchen kit which combines all the essentials required to keep your cookware clean and comes in a handy pouch which is easy to pack. Respect the countryside you have camped in by leaving it in the same condition you found it in and make sure that all rubbish, including food scraps are taken away. Here are some tips for efficient campsite clean-up:
Biodegradable Soap: Bring biodegradable soap to clean your cookware. Be mindful of using it away from natural water sources to protect the environment and dispose of it in an environmentally responsible manner.
Scrubbers and Towels: Pack a non-abrasive scrubber and camping towels for cleaning. Avoid abrasive materials that can damage non-stick coatings.
Trash Bags: Always carry trash bags to pack out all waste, including food scraps. Respect the environment and your fellow campers by leaving your campsite as pristine as you found it.
Remember that if you are cooking over an open fire, make sure that your fire is extinguished properly.
Choosing the right camping cookware involves understanding your camping style, meal preferences, and materials. Whether you're a minimalist backpacker or a gourmet car camper, there's cookware out there that's perfect for you. Armed with the right cookware, you'll be whipping up delicious meals on the banks of any bonnie Loch you find! So, gear up, prepare your favourite campfire recipes, and savour the taste of nature under the open sky. Happy camping and cooking!
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