Cookware is a camping essential that you can’t do without. Anytime you’re staying over an extended period of time outdoors, food will be needed to replenish you energy and keep you warm. This is specially true for more grueling camping trips and when the nights get cold.
Picking out the best camping cookware takes into consideration a number of different things ranging from how much space you are able to pack up to the different types of material the cookware is made of. We cover each of the items below.
Things to Consider with Camping Cookware
With cooking in outdoor environments these are some factors worth considering.
- Even Cooking – their ability to cook food evenly will depend on the quality of the cookware along with its design. This is very important since you don’t want to end up with one end of your chicken or fish overcooked while the other side is still raw.
- Size – the size of your pots and pans will be determined by both the size of your group and how much room you are able to carry. Car campers will have less of a problem with space allowing them to use heavier pieces of cookware as well as bigger pots. Backpack campers meanwhile don’t have as much of a luxury so they need to get more portable cooking equipment.
- Heats Well – it is important for your cooking equipment to be fuel efficient. This means it does not take forever to heat up. Also, the better it is able to retain heat the less fuel or flame you will need.
- Simple to Clean – you don’t have the benefit of a kitchen sink at the campsite. So choosing cooking equipment that can be easily cleaned with soap and water goes a long way.
- Pot Size – the size of your pots will vary based on the size of the group your are feeding and what you will be cooking. Soups and stocks will require larger pots that will be bulkier to carry during transport.
- Number of Cookware to Bring – choose how many pieces of cookware to bring and which ones to bring so as not to overdo it or not bring enough.
- Lids – don’t forget to bring the lids for your pots. Lids create a closed area which traps the heat during cooking. This reduces the cooking time and saves on fuel.
Our Choices for Top Camp Cookware
Picking Out Cookware for Camping
Putting together a camping cookware set is easy to do. Many of the pieces in a set can perform multiple cooking duties. The following is overview items commonly included when putting together a set.
Materials for Cookware
One of the things to consider is what type of material do you prefer for your cookware. There are a number of different types available, each with their own characteristics.
1. Stainless Steel
When choosing a set of cookware, the materials a skillet or pan are made out of will directly affect the length of time that piece of equipment will perform for you. Cookware made of stainless steel is fairly lightweight, easy to clean, and usually holds up well. Stainless steel pans and skillets with plastic handles have a tendency to become brittle with use, and can break. It’s best to get stainless steel cookware with metal handles.
2. Cast Iron
Cast iron is another high quality to choose in cookware. Cast iron distributes heat evenly, heats up quickly, and is extremely durable. It requires little extra care, but if the black coating begins to wear off, the pan will need to be re-seasoned by washing in soap and water and scrubbing with a stiff brush to remove any lose layers.
Then, brush with vegetable oil or melted shortening both inside and out. Bake upside down at 325-degrees over a piece of aluminum foil or cookie sheet to catch any oil drips. After an hour turn off the oven and let cool. The pan can then be used as usual.
If cast iron is cared for and re-seasoned as necessary, the cookware can last indefinitely.
Titanium is another good metal that many items are made from. It is strong and lightweight. Cookware made of titanium may dent easier than stainless steel or cast iron. Its downside is it is more expensive making it a less popular option.
Good Starter Pieces
When building a set of cookware gear for camping, there are some pieces to build around. These suggested pieces are commonly found in both stainless steel and cast iron. The following pieces will make a great starter set.
- Round griddle
- Small Skillet
- Large Skillet
- Dutch Oven
- Metal utensils: large spoons, spatula, ladle, large fork, and tongs.
Other items that can round out a cookware set for camping can include a kettle for boiling water and a titanium coffee press for that cup java in the morning or to enjoy after dinner. Another item that can come in handy is an outdoor pressure cooker. This is ideal for two or more campers that want to make beans in less than 30 minutes, and speed up cooking of other items.
Don’t Forget to Bring Tableware
Once the meal is made, make sure there is someplace to serve. There are numerous sets of plates and cups available specifically for camping. These come in a range of materials from aluminum, enamelware, and melamine. All of them are great choices, and come in a range of colors.
Picking Out Your Camping Cookware
Campers can do a lot with a few good camping cookware items. Choose cookware made out of quality materials such as titanium, stainless steel, aluminum or cast iron. For me, the best camping cookware are made of cast iron or stainless steel. I prefer cast iron because it retains heat very well and cooks evenly. But its weight makes it an issue when packing light. So in those cases I go with stainless steel.
In terms of which to bring, the dutch oven and skillet are still on top depending on what you want to cook. Remember, rood quality cookware, chosen correctly, will be serving up meals for years to come.