The Best Camp-Cooking Gear of 2017

The Wild Chef picks his favorite new tools for processing and preparing game

I knew the meat movement was coming on strong in the hunting world when I saw more pictures of people’s venison than I did antlers at SHOT Show this year. Nearly everyone I talked with in Vegas had a story or photo of some meal they had recently cooked with their fresh wild game. And, although tactical gear and guns still dominated SHOT, there were more than a few companies touting new products for processing and cooking wild game. Here are a few highlights.

Hi Mountain
Hi Mountain Chili Seasoning Hi Mountain

Though you could work up your own secret chili recipe, it’s nice to have a bottle of prepared seasoning in your back pocket should you need it. Hi Mountain extends its line of great recipes for wild-game cooking with this 7.4-ounce shaker bottle of mixed spices. Ingredients include chili pepper, cumin, and paprika. It’s enough to season nine pounds of deer, elk, or other wild game, and, so long as no one sees you use it, you’re more than welcome to tell everyone it’s your own special recipe. $9; himtnjerky.com

Camp Chef SmokePro XXL
Camp Chef SmokePro XXL Camp Chef

This product literally stopped me in my tracks as I roved the show floor. Here was my beloved Smoke Vault, it’s finicky propane burner replaced with a set-and-forget digital pellet-burning system. With nearly 2,000 square inches of cooking surface, there is plenty of room to hang salamis and sausages and rack after rack of jerky. Now I can tackle those giant jobs, including whole-smoked deer quarters, in a vertical smoker with the ease that pellet-style grills offer. The door is insulated, and the unit includes two separate meat temperature probes. If I could have jammed one in my suitcase and brought it home from Vegas, I would have. But for now, I have to wait until production models become available this spring. $900; campchef.com

Camp Chef Pro 60X Stove
Camp Chef Pro 60X Stove Camp Chef Pro

More than 25 years ago, Camp Chef introduced its first product—the Pro 60 Stove. This venerable workhorse, and customer favorite, gets a major upgrade for 2017, with a new folding-leg design that includes built-in levelers. Dual 30K-btu burners provide 448 square inches of cooking space, with two ample side shelves for plenty of room to prep grub. $230; campchef.com

Chef’s Choice Professional Food Slicer
Chef’s Choice Professional Food Slicer Chef’s Choice

You might not think you need a food slicer. Until you get one. Then you realize how handy they are for cutting smoked venison into shaved deli meat and elk shoulders into uniformly thick jerky slices. This new pro-grade model from Chef’s Choice features a 10-inch stainless-steel blade that is razor sharp, and a heavy-duty motor that’s surprisingly quiet. A fully adjustable blade cuts from wafer thin to more than ½ inch thick for hearty venison steaks. $479; chefschoice.com

Chef's Choice
Chef’s Choice Two-Stage Compact Knife Sharpener Chef’s Choice

I own several electric sharpeners, and use them throughout the year. But the one I reach for the most, as in nearly every day, is a simple, pull-through ceramic honer, much like the one here. A tungsten-carbide V-notch sharpens the blade and repairs small imperfections, and dual ceramic rods hone the edge to near razor sharpness. The sharpener is compact enough to stash in a kitchen drawer or chuck box, and, given its reasonable price, there’s no reason not to have one close at hand. It’s useful whether you’re processing a deer carcass in the garage or slicing veggies at the sink. $8; chefschoice.com

Leatherman
Leatherman Juice CS3 Leatherman

I don’t know about you, but on more than a few occasions, I’ve found myself in camp with a bottle of wine and no corkscrew. The new Juice CS3 solves that problem by packing a corkscrew, bottle opener, can opener, and scissors into such a slim, compact package that you’ll never know it’s there until you need it. It’d be great for the pocket, pack, or camp kitchen. And since it’s travel friendly—meaning it should get by all but the most over-zealous of TSA agents—I’m going to throw one in my shaving kit, too. $30; leatherman.com

Yeti Rambler Jugs
Yeti Rambler Jugs Yeti

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Yes, these bomb-proof bottles are expensive. But I’ve been in plenty of situations—ice shacks, hunting blinds, stadium parking lots—where I’d pay a fortune for a hot bowl of venison chili or elk barley soup. The double-wall stainless-steel construction, with a full inch of insulation, will keep that soup steaming for hours, maybe even days, and is completely food safe, not to mention dent and crush resistant. A heavy-duty carrying handle and a cap, which locks on via super-strong magnets, are symbols of the forward-thinking innovation that has made Yeti a leader in the outdoor world. Available in ½-gallon ($100) and gallon ($150) models. Yeti.com

Mossy Oak Nativ Harvest
Mossy Oak Nativ Harvest Bourbon Smoked Spice Rub Mossy Oak Nativ Harvest

Who doesn’t love whiskey? Who doesn’t love wild game? Well, both come together in this new spice rub. Mixed and packed by Bourbon Barrel Foods, the spice-forward blend includes coriander, cardamom, and black and Tasmanian pepper, along with onion juniper and thyme. A hint of smoky bourbon hits the nose, thanks to the inclusion of paprika that’s been smoked over barrel wood from Kentucky’s most well-known distilleries. A 2-ounce tin will set you back nine bucks. Nativharvest.com

Jetboil Pouch
Jetboil Pouch Jetboil

Compact, lightweight, and powerful, the Jetboil stove (and its imitators) is basically standard-issue for backcountry hunters. This handy pouch is designed to hang from the outside of any hunting pack with MOLLE/PALS-style webbing, keeping the stove handy anytime hunters want a quick, hot snack or drink. With durable nylon construction and a roll-top design like those found on dry bags, the pouch protects the contents from dirt, dust, and light dings. There’s even enough room inside for a small food pouch. Available in black, coyote, gray, and multicam. $21; tacticaltailor.com

koolabuck
Koolabuck Antimicrobial Game Bags and Spray Koolabuck

You know that product you see that makes you say: Why didn’t I think of that? This is mine. These game bags are soaked with citric acids and other bacteria-banning materials that reduce the chance of meat spoilage in the field from bacteria growth. Developed in conjunction with research from Penn State, they’re essential, in my opinion, anytime you’re hunting in warm weather far from a cooler. As an added benefit, they also repel flies from landing on your game meat. Available in quarter and body bags ($13–$35) for deer, antelope, and elk, or as a “bag in a bottle” Carcass Spray ($13) that treats up to three deer or entire elk or moose carcass. Koolabuck.com

Outdoor Edge
Outdoor Edge Grill-Beam Tongs/Spatula Outdoor Edge

When Outdoor Edge showed me their new Grill-Beam line of tools, I started hearing the Inspector Gadget theme in my head. Both the tongs and the spatula-tong combo extend from a standard 14 5/8-inch length to a knuckle-saving 17 inches that keeps fingers well away from the flames. At the pivot point, a 22-lumen LED beam shines right where you need it when checking steak and burgers. Everything dissembles for easy cleaning, and, of course, there’s a bottle opener built right into the Zytel glass/nylon handle. Retail prices not yet set. Outdooredge.com