Three Things You Need in Your Camp Kitchen

With just a few items, you can be an iron chef on your next outdoor adventure.

outdoor cookling
It doesn’t take a lot of gear—just the “right” gear—to make a knockout meal outdoors.Blackstone

Choosing the right camp cooking tools can make the difference between a fun outing and one where everyone is grousing because you didn’t bring the right pot for the pasta. Choices will depend on whether you’re backpacking (think small and light) or car camping where just about anything goes. Basics should include a stove, cook kit, and utensils. To help make your buying decisions easier, we’ve put together a list of essential tools along with some tips on what backpackers may wish to look for versus car campers. Here’s how to choose the right camp cooking tools for your next outdoor adventure.

A Stove for All Seasons

Coleman Portable Butane Stove with Carrying Case
This single burner stove fits pans up to 10-inches wide and cranks out 7,650 BTUs of cooking power.Coleman

Getting coffee ready ASAP in the morning will keep everyone a lot happier in camp. Look for stoves that have high BTU ratings and pay attention to how long their burning times are. Butane stoves are great for car camping and there is no messy fuel to deal with, but they may not be as efficient as liquid-fuel stoves at high altitude or in super cold temperatures. Having the ability to adjust the burner down low for simmering a stews is definitely something you’ll want. Also make sure the base is wide enough (and sturdy enough) to support a good-sized pot.

Basic Cooking Tools

Blackstone 1542 Griddle Accessory Tool Kit
This five-piece camp tool kit includes two stainless steel spatulas, one stainless chopper/scraper to dice food and scrape griddles clean, and two leak-free, fine tip bottles for condiments and cooking oil.Blackstone

Backpackers need to go trim and light on utensils, but car campers can use regular restaurant-style cooking utensils as weight (and size) are not a factor. Stainless tools clean up faster and will never rust, and full-size tools are best for barbequing on an open fire. A spatula (or two) is a minimum. A large spoon, ladle, and slotted spoon are also handy to have. If you’re cooking with cast-iron pots, consider using wooden utensils that won’t scratch the iron surfaces, which can cause them to rust.

Cook Kits Made Easy

Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set
This mini cook kit is perfect for weekend outings. This kettle/coffee maker is made of stainless steel for easy clean-ups and the kit comes with two 10oz/295mL insulated, ceramic tumblers.Stanley

Cook kits really are a dealer’s choice. Here again, backpackers or kayakers will want to go small and light—just a small pot for coffee and ramen and (maybe) a small frying pan. Car campers can go full-on gourmet. A pot for boiling water to make pasta or oatmeal is a must. A frying pan is great if you’re thinking about bacon and eggs for breakfast. A coffee pot is a must for early-morning wake-ups;, just make sure it has a top as this will help boil water faster.