What to know about kitchen gear before setting up camp?

Before you go camping, there are a few things to know about camping kitchen gear. This includes what is essential, how to choose the right gear, how to set up a camp kitchen, how to do dishes at camp, how to cook at camp, how to make camp coffee, and why and when to use bear-resistant bags.

Why is it important to plan a camping kitchen?

Since you have to bring along all the gear needed for your camp kitchen, and then pack it back out again, it is important to plan, organize, and prepare in advance. This will maximize efficiency and minimize waste in your kitchen, as well as make sure nothing is left at home.

What is a camping kitchen?

A camping kitchen is an area at your campsite dedicated to food preparation, cooking, and washing up. You can either purchase a dedicated camping kitchen with various countertops, storage shelves and even an integrated sink area or you can set up your own DIY kitchen area at your site.

What makes a good camp kitchen?

A camp kitchen needs to be well organized with space optimized efficiently for utensils and food storage. Any components of a good camp kitchen will need to be durable enough to withstand any rough handling in transportation as well as to hold up against the elements. 

What is needed in a campsite kitchen setup?

An efficient campsite kitchen setup should include a food prep area, a cooking area, and a dishwashing area. The food prep area should have a flat surface, this can be as simple as a camp table, stocked with a chopping board and knives. The cooking area also needs a stable, flat surface for setting up a stove (unless cooking over a campfire) this time shielded from the wind. Finally, a dishwashing station using two basins, one for cleaning the dishes and the other for rinsing off soap and dirty water, is the final station needed in your camp kitchen.

What essentials to pack for a camping kitchen?

Essential items needed in a camping kitchen include the following.

  • Something to cook on ie. portable stove, grill, etc.
  • Cooking fuel
  • Fire starter
  • Pan/pot for cooking in
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cutting board
  • Eating utensils
  • Plates/bowls
  • Cups/mugs
  • Airtight food storage containers
  • Dishwashing supplies
  • Two basins for washing dishes
  • Trash bags
  • Cooler or icebox
  • Water container

What extras can you pack for a camping kitchen?

Some additional items you may like in your camping kitchen include the following.

  • Dutch oven
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Cooking grate for the campfire
  • Coffee grinder
  • Coffee maker/percolator
  • Camp table
  • Camp chairs
  • Kitchen organizer
  • Spice kit
  • Marshmallow roasting sticks
  • Thermometer

What features to look for in kitchen gear for camping?

Evidently, kitchenware for camping should ideally be lightweight, compact, and portable. Some other features to look out for include the following.

  • Durable materials to withstand outdoor conditions and rough handling
  • Multi-functionality
  • Stability
  • Adjustable flame control in stoves etc.
  • Wind protection
  • Easy-clean surfaces
  • Collapsible Design
  • Organizational features
  • Non-stick coating
  • BPA-free materials

Where to set up a camp kitchen?

To set up a camp kitchen safely it needs to be located a safe distance from your tent, on level ground, and sheltered from wind. Once you have your spot you can help shelter it more from the wind by setting up windbreaks and from the rain by setting up a rain tarp. 

What mistakes are made setting up a camp kitchen?

The main mistakes made setting up a camp kitchen include the following.

  • Location choice
  • Lack of organizational system
  • Overpacking
  • Failing to check campsite regulations first
  • Lack of food protection from wildlife, including bears
  • Not planning for adverse weather
  • Poor fire safety
  • Forgetting essential tools

What is the easiest way to do dishes at a camp kitchen?

The easiest way to clean dishes at camp is with a two-sink system. This can either be two basins built into a portable camping kitchen system or simply two basins on the ground or table. The first basin is filled with lukewarm water and dish soap, the second basin is filled with hot water. After scraping food scraps into a trash bag dishes are scrubbed in order of least dirty to most dirty in the first basin and then rinsed clean in the second basin.

What camp kitchen equipment can you cook on?

The main options for cooking meals at camp include using a camping stove, portable grill, campfire grill, or a Dutch oven.

What types of camping stoves are there?

There are various types of camp stoves available including canister stoves, liquid-fuel stoves, wood-burning stoves, propane modular stoves, solid-fuel stoves, and alcohol stoves.

What stove type is best for camping?

The stove type most suitable for camping will depend on multiple factors including your camping style, group size, weather conditions, as well as personal preference.

If you are car camping then space and weight are of no issue and so a single or double-burner tabletop propane or butane stove with its more reliable heat output is ideal. For backpacking, a lighter-weight option is required, perhaps even an alcohol or wood-burning stove.

What fuels to use with a camping stove?

There are a variety of fuels including propane, butane, white gas (Coleman fuel), kerosene, alcohol, wood, and solid fuel tablets that can be used with camping stoves.

The main factors that will affect your fuel choice are temperature and local availability. At colder temperatures fuel efficiency can be greatly affected. Propane is one of the more cold-tolerant fuels, also working well at higher altitudes, with white gas or kerosene also used in colder weather.

For minimalist campers solid fuel tablets take up little space and have little weight to them. Whilst alcohol, kerosene, and wood are the most readily available fuel sources to pick up along your way.

For maximum versatility, when you are unsure of the various fuel sources that will be available in any given area, a multi-fuel stove offers the greatest diversity.

What features to look for in a camping stove?

The main features to look for in a camping stove include the following.

  • Fuel compatibility
  • Size and portability
  • Stable/sturdy design
  • Heat output
  • Multiple burners for groups
  • Ignition system
  • Wind resistance features ie. windshields, enclosed burners
  • Boil time
  • Adaptability for boiling, frying, simmering, etc.
  • Regulators for flame intensity or heat output
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Compatible accessories
  • Safety features ie. shutoff valves, flame control, etc.

Can you use a camping stove in a tent?

No, never use a camping stove in a tent. This is due to the fire risk, as well as the risk of carbon dioxide buildup from burning fuel inside your tent.

Is a camping stove better than a campfire?

A camping stove may or may not be better than a campfire depending on a number of factors as well as personal preference. For efficiency, lack of effort, and safety reasons a camping stove is a much better choice. Also if the area you are camping in prohibits campfires then the camping stove will be your only choice. 

How does a wood-burning camp stove work?

A wood-burning camp stove comprises of a combustion chamber where dry pieces of wood are inserted and burned. The design of the stove then directs the produced heat upward where it can be used to heat water or food in a pan.

What are advantages of a wood-burning camp stove?

The advantages of a wood burning stove include the following.

  • Natural, readily available, free or cheap fuel source
  • No need to carry fuel canisters
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Versatile, can boil water, simmer, fry, or even grill with attachments
  • May also burn other fuel types 
  • Ambience

What are disadvantages of a wood burning camp stove?

The disadvantages of a wood-burning camping stove include the following.

  • Dry wood needed for effective burning
  • Local restrictions on fires
  • Smoke and smell
  • Dirty clean-up due to ash residue
  • Trickier to get going in the rain
  • Longer start-up time than other fuel type stoves
  • Inconsistent heat and limited control

What is a camping grill?

Another popular choice for cooking at camp is a portable grill. This lightweight, easy-to-pack cooking device comprises a metal grate suspended over a heat source typically fuelled by charcoal or propane. It is specifically designed for outdoor use and can be used as a grill, griddle plate, trivet, or skewer holder. 

How does a camping grill work?

How a camping grill functions will depend on its fuel source. For propane-powered grills, a propane tank is attached to the grill with a regulator controlling the gas flow to the burner. On turning on the burner propane flows through and an ignition switch allows you to ignite the propane with a spark. Food is cooked via heat convection with the heat evenly distributed across the burners. For charcoal grills, heat is generated from ignited charcoal briquettes. This heat rises up through the grill cooking any food placed on it via heat convection.

What are pros and cons of a propane camping grill?

For a propane camp grill, the main plus is the convenience of being able to cook immediately and having adjustable heat control whilst the biggest negative is the cost of propane fuel and the potential initial investment in the grill. Other pros include its portability, ease of cleaning, and the wide availability of propane if you run out. Negatives include the potential for breakage due to more working parts, a lack of the smokey taste you get with charcoal grills, and keeping track of propane supplies.

What are pros and cons of a charcoal camping grill?

For a charcoal camp grill, the main plus is the traditional smokey flavor your food gets and the biggest negative the clean-up afterward. Other pros include the high heat enabling searing and quick cooking times, its simple design with little potential of breaking, and its affordable fuel source. Negatives include longer set-up time, less temperature control, and the fuel source is bulky to store.

What features to look for in a camping grill?

The main features to look for in a camping grill include the following.

  • Portability and size
  • Fuel type
  • Grill made from material with good heat distribution
  • Heat control
  • Ease of setup
  • Durability ie. made from stainless steel or cast iron
  • Fuel efficiency (propane grills)
  • Windshields or panels
  • Ignition mechanisms (propane grills)
  • Safety features ie. heat-resistant handles, fuel source secured down

What is a camping oven?

A camping oven is a smaller, portable version of the oven you have in your kitchen. It can be used to bake or cook a larger variety of meals at camp including bread, pastries, casseroles, and roasts.

What fuel source to use a camp oven with?

A camping oven is typically fuelled by either propane or butane gas.

What are advantages of a camping oven?

The advantages of using a camp oven include the following.

  • Versatility of meal making
  • Temperature control
  • Even cooking
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Ideal for cooking for special occasions at camp

What are disadvantages of a camping oven?

Disadvantages of using a camp oven include the following.

  • Generally heavier and bigger than other camp cooking systems
  • Need for fuel canisters
  • Time needed to pre-heat oven
  • Wind can affect temperature regulation inside the oven
  • Can be difficult to judge timings if infrequently used
  • Limited space inside oven
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Can be more expensive than other camp cooking options

What features to look for in a camping oven?

The main features to look for in a camping oven include the following.

  • Size and portability
  • Fuel compatibility
  • BTU output
  • Oven capacity and cooking space
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Ignition system
  • Removable parts for easy cleaning
  • Safety features ie. pressure regulator to prevent gas leaks, automatic shut-off valve
  • Carry case

What is a camping Dutch oven?

A camping Dutch oven is made entirely from cast iron with legs on the bottom and a flat flanged lid with a rim. This design means the oven can be placed over coals or embers in a campfire which allows for heating from all sides. Coals can also be placed onto the lid and held there by the rim so that the contents of the Dutch oven can also be heated from above.

Why is it called a Dutch oven?

There is no confirmed reason as to why it is called a Dutch oven. Several theories include it was made popular in the American colonies by Dutch traders, another is that it is named after the quality of Dutch workmanship that was revered at that time, or that it was named after a Dutch method used for molding the ‘ovens’.

Is a Dutch oven worth it for camping?

If you are car camping a Dutch oven can be well worth packing due to its versatility, ability to cook evenly, and durability. 

Dutch ovens can be used to bake, roast, fry, stew, or even make soups and desserts. The cast iron that the oven is made of is ideal for retaining heat, as well as for the even distribution of heat, which makes it great for baking or slow cooking. 

However, a Dutch oven is heavy and bulky, and if camping alone or in a couple it may be excessive.

What other camping kitchenware do you need?

Aside from the cooking method you choose you will also need various cookware such as pots, pans, cooking utensils, cutting boards, eating utensils, plates, and bowls, etc.

What you need will be determined by several factors including what you plan to cook, how many people you are feeding, and how much weight you want to carry.

What is camping cookware?

Cookware (such as pots and pans) specifically designed for camping is built to be lightweight, and portable, yet also durable enough to hold up to the demands of outdoor living.

What features to look for in camping cookware?

Features that make cookware more suitable for camping include the following.

  • Nesting design
  • Multifunctional parts ie. pan lids that can be used as plates
  • Fold-away or removable handles
  • Measurement marks
  • Durable yet lightweight materials such as hard-anodized aluminum
  • Non-stick coating

What utensils do you need when camping?

For camping food prep important utensils to pack include a chopping knife, cutting board, and a can opener. For camp cooking handy utensils are tongs, spoons, spatulas, ladles, and roasting sticks. Finally, for eating a spork is a great 2-in-1 utensil, or a foldable fork, knife, and spoon utensil set, as well as plates and bowls that have a nested design or are collapsible.

What features to look for in camping utensils?

Features to look for in camping utensils include the following.

  • Lightweight
  • Durable materials such as titanium or stainless steel
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Compact, collapsible designs
  • Multi-functional ie. spork
  • Ergonomic grips
  • Heat resistant
  • Attachment points for carabiners
  • Storage case

How do camping plates differ from regular ones?

The main difference between camping plates and regular plates is that camping plates need to be able to withstand transportation and outdoor usage without shattering or breaking.

What features to look for in camping plates?

Aside from being able to withstand transportation, camping plates also typically have the following features.

  • Lightweight yet sturdy material ie. plastic, melamine, or aluminum
  • Compact, stackable design
  • Heat-resistant
  • Non-stick, easy clean surface
  • More expensive

Can you make great coffee when camping?

Making great coffee while camping can be easy when you pack the right equipment. There are a variety of methods you can use to make your morning brew at camp, all of which will get your cup of good stuff ready around the same time it takes at home. 

What is a camping coffee maker?

A  camping coffee maker is a lightweight, portable coffee making device that is designed for using outdoors. There are various types of coffee makers you can use when camping including the following.

  • French Press
  • Pour-over
  • Percolator
  • AeroPress
  • Coffee dripper

What features to look for in a camp coffee maker?

The main features to look for in a camping coffee maker include the following.

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to pack and transport
  • Using preferred brewing method
  • Durable material such as stainless steel, aluminum, or durable plastic
  • User-friendly
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Brewing speed
  • Capacity
  • Compatibility with heat source
  • Insulation

What is a camping French press?

A camping French Press is a version of a normal French press but adapted to be suitable for transportation and for use in outdoor situations. The exterior is typically made from stainless steel or tough plastic and houses a plunger equipped with a fine mesh or metal filter at the bottom of it and with a lid at the top.

How do you use a camping French press?

The main difference in the brewing process between a regular and camping French press is how the water is boiled. At camp this can be done in a variety of ways, either in a pot or kettle over a campfire, propane stove, alcohol stove or any other heat source you have at camp. Other than that the process is the same as at home.

What features to look for in a camping French press?

The main features to look for in a camping French press include the following.

  • Resistant, durable casing
  • Capacity
  • Lightweight
  • Double-walled insulation
  • Compact, stackable design
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Secure lid
  • Drip-free spout
  • Grippy handle

What material is best for camping coffee mugs?

Materials used for camping coffee mugs tend to be durable, smash-resistant, rust-resistant, easy to clean, and lightweight. Typical choices include stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, plastic, or enamel.

What are popular models of camping coffee mug?

The list below contains some of the most popular camping coffee mugs.

  • Yeti Rambler
  • Hydro Coffee Flask
  • GSI Outdoors Infinity Mug
  • Stanley Classic Vacuum Camp Mug
  • Coleman Enamel
  • Snow Peak Titanium Double Wall Cup
  • REI Co-op Camp Mug

How to store food and water at camp?

Food at camp needs to be stored appropriately in either coolers or bear bags/canisters and water ideally stored in camping-specific water containers. Correctly storing food and water when camping is important both for your own safety and for the surrounding environment.

What types of camping cooler do you get?

There are three main types of camping coolers including hard-sided, soft-sided, and electric coolers. You can also get soft-sided options that are collapsible or backpack options.

What features to look for in a camping cooler?

The main features to look for in a camping cooler include the following.

  • Thick, high-quality insulation
  • Capacity
  • Durable construction such as rotomolded plastic
  • Ice retention properties ie. gasketed lids, tight seals
  • Secure latches and/or locks
  • Drainage plug or spigot
  • Accessories ie. integrated chopping boards, food dividers, cup holders
  • UV-resistant materials or coatings

What is the best way to pack a camping cooler?

The best way to pack a camping cooler to maximize cold retention is described in the steps below.

  1. Pre-chill the cooler with ice packs or ice for a few hours before packing.
  2. Create a base layer (also line the sides of the cooler) with ice or ice packs.
  3. Organize your pre-chilled goods in layers. The bottom layer should be everything you plan to use last on your trip and the top layer the goods you will need earliest. 
  4. Between food/drink layers, make sure you have another layer of ice an inch thick. 
  5. Pack cubes or crushed ice between food and drink to remove as much empty space as possible.
  6. Place a reusable freezer sheet, damp towel, or use frozen ice packs on top to trap cold air in.

What features to look for in a camp water container?

The main features to look for in a camp water container include the following.

  • Capacity
  • Durable yet lightweight material
  • Portability ie. collapsible, built-in handle
  • Pouring spout or spigot
  • Secure sealing mechanism
  • Insulation to prevent freezing on colder camping trips
  • Water treatment compatibility
  • Transparent or semi-transparent to allow water level to be seen
  • BPA-free plastics

What should water containers for camping be made of?

Camping water containers are typically made from durable, food-grade materials so they are safe to hold water for human consumption whilst also being impact resistant and suitable for outdoor use. Such materials include BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, or high density polyethylene (HDPE).

What size of camping water container do you need?

The size of water container needed when camping will depend on a number of factors icluding the following.

  • Number of campers in your group. Each camper needs around 0.25 to 0.5 gallons of water per day.
  • Trip length. For a weekend trip a 1.5 to 2.5 gallon container may do.
  • Water availability at site or en-route. 
  • Usage ie. cooking, extra drinking water for hiking.
  • Extra emergency rations.
  • Space and weight constraints.

What types of bear-resistant food storage is there for camping?

There are two main types of bear-resistant food storage options for taking camping: bear bags or bear canisters. Both are designed to store food whilst preventing bears from accessing it.

Bear-resistant bags are made from fabric such as heavy-duty nylon or Kevlar so that they can withstand punctures. They may also have a closure mechanism such as zippers or buckles that are difficult for bears to open. Attachment points on the bag allow them to be hung from tree branches, and therefore out of the reach of any scavenging bears. 

Bear-resistant canisters are portable, hard-sided food storage containers. They are typically made from puncture-resistant materials such as polycarbonate, carbon fiber, or hard plastic. The securing mechanism of these containers is typically a screw-on lid, locks, or they require a tool to open.

Some forms of bear-resistant storage have an additional odor barrier to prevent scents eminating out and attracting bears, however, food should always be stored around 100 feet from your campsite to prevent any close encounters.

Do you need a bear bag to go camping?

Whether you need a bear resistant bag or container to go camping depends upon the area you are camping in. Some parks and wilderness areas, where there is a higher population of bears, make it mandatory to store your food in one. Such is the case at Yosemite National Park. If it isn’t mandatory, then its a matter of preference but make sure to research before you go if it’s still recommended for you to do so. It never hurts to be over cautious when it comes to bears.

What features to look for in a bear bag for camping?

The main features to look for in a bear bag or canister for camping include the following.

  • Sturdy, tear-resistant materials
  • Capacity
  • Closure mechanism
  • Waterproofing
  • Hanging cord and attachment points (for bear bags)
  • Reflective materials
  • Weight
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Compliance with local regulations
  • Ease of use (for bear bags)
  • Odor barrier