Your Complete Guide For Camping Cookware

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When you get ready to pack up and head on a camping trip, you will have to determine how you want to prepare your food while you go out exploring nature.

Preparing your meals while out in nature can take some strategic planning. You must ensure that you have all of the tools on hand to cook your meal.

Having the appropriate tools on hand includes packing the cookware you will need to make a nourishing meal.

In this guide, we will explore some things to consider when choosing cookware for your next camping trip. You don't necessarily want to take cookware you don't need, but you want to make sure you have what you will need.  

When you follow this guide, you will get to cook up hearty, healthy meals to help fuel you up while you get out enjoying your next camping trip!

Decide On Your Style Of Camping Cooking

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The style of cooking you do while camping will have a significant impact on what tools you need to bring to cook a healthy meal.

The primary type of camping cooking that people use when they go camping gets called open flame cooking. Open flame cooking consists of cooking the food over an open flame around a campfire.

If you wish to use open flame cooking, you will find that items like roasters and skewers become handy to allow you to hold the food over the flame while it cooks.

While you can't hold bulky items on skewers, you can certainly use them to cook things such as marshmallows, hot dogs, sausages, small pieces of poultry, and firm vegetables (i.e., onions, squash, zucchini, potatoes, etc.).

Alternatively, you can use a campfire grate to wrap items in foil and cook them over the open flame. This method of open fire cooking works well for more cumbersome items that need to get prepared.

However, take into account the amount of direct smoke that food may get exposed to by sitting directly over the campfire.

Exposure to too much smoke could leave your food with a terrible taste that makes you not want to eat it.

The other common form of cooking while camping goes by the name camp grilling. This form of grilling becomes comparable to what you would do in your backyard for a BBQ, except that you do it while you go camping.

You can grill a variety of things, and grilling gives the food a delicious flavor as well. Consider grilling foods such as grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetables, pizza, steaks, burgers, kabobs, corn on the cob, pork chops, salmon, or ribs as just a few of the foods that you can grill while you on your next camping trip.

Once you have determined what type of cooking you will engage in while on your next trip, now you can decide which cookware will best suit your needs.

Consider A Cookware Set Versus Individual Pieces

When choosing your cookware, the first thing you will want to consider including your two main options for how to purchase the cookware. One option would include buying the whole cookware set of prepackaged items.

The other option would consist of buying individual pieces that meet your individual needs rather than an entire cookware set that includes things you may not need.

When you buy a cookware set, you get pieces that all fit together. All of the parts got made for each other, so you know the lids fit the pots, and the utensils work with the cookware that comes in the same set. This cookware set ensures that the parts go well together and a comprehensive set of cookware that allows you to cook quality meals while you go on your next camping trip.

On the other hand, if you get a set of cookware, you get stuck with the pieces that come in that set. Some of the specific parts may not meet the exact cooking needs that you have. For example, one pot may run a size too big and another not big enough.

You may find that you miss utensils you wish to have, then you have to spend more money to buy those additional pieces on the side. Purchase individual pieces of cookware will allow you to purchase the items that you specifically know you'll need.

For example, if you have a certain number of people camping together, then you can have a pot that you know has enough space to cook enough food for the number of people that come with you on the trip.

If you know that you have a certain amount of people coming with you, then you can buy enough eating utensils for just that many people without spending your money on extras you don't need.

However, when you buy mismatched pieces of cookware, you want to make sure that the parts you buy can all work together for you to cook meals while you go on your camping trip.

No matter which option you choose: a full cookware set or with mismatched parts that come together to meet your needs, you will want to ensure that you have all the pieces that you need to feed everyone on your next camping trip.

Which Materials Should I Choose For My Cookware?

Cookware can come in a variety of different materials. Different cookware materials have their pros and cons, but ultimately, it's up to you to decide which materials you want your cookware to include.

We will explore some different materials and what qualities people find positive versus not-so-positive about each one to help you decide which types of cookware will best fit your camping needs:


Aluminum Cookware

Pros

  • Affordable, conducts heat well, lightweight (easy for packing), & cooks food without burning it.

Cons

  • Scratches/dents very easily and breaks down when exposed to too many acidic foods.

Cast Iron

Pros

  • Provides a sturdy, ideal surface for cooking.

Cons

  • Quite bulky and takes up some space to bring along (won't work for backpacking.

Stainless Steel

Pros

  • Made of more robust material and doesn't break down as quickly as aluminum.

Cons

  • Weighs more than aluminum (harder to pack) and doesn't conduct heat as evenly as aluminum (some spots get hotter than others).

Plastic

Pros

  • Lightweight, relatively cheap to purchase, made of non-abrasive material, and perfect for airtight containers to keep food fresh till you eat the rest.

Cons

  • Much less durable than most heat-resistant metals, some plastics may stain easily, and others may retain odors/tastes of strongly flavored foods for longer.

Titanium

Pros

  • The lightest weight option available (easy for packing for a trip), very corrosion resistant, and works well without having to get exposed to maximum heat.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options on the market, conducts heat less evenly than other options and can get overheated.

No matter which of these materials you prefer to have your cookware made out of, you have to determine which equipment will best meet your needs. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but each does serve a specific purpose for the different types of cooking you plan to do and how much heat you need the cookware to endure.

Trial and error will help tell you which types of cookware work well for you and which ones do versus those that do not make for your needs. As you gain more experience camping, you will know which materials you prefer and which ones fit your camping cooking style the best.

What Safety Concerns Do People Have When Buying Cookware?

When purchasing cookware to take camping, many people will have specific safety concerns about the products they buy. Being an educated consumer ensures that you are purchasing the best products available and avoiding any cookware that may cause a hazard to your health.

When purchasing cookware, we recommend looking for the following before finalizing your purchase decisions:

Aluminum

Some people fear that consistent exposure to aluminum causes a health concern. The National Institute of Health states that their findings lead them to believe that using aluminum cookware on a regular basis constitutes an entirely safe practice.

Research doesn't show any links between the use of aluminum cookware and Alzheimer's or any other diseases that were thought to have ties to using aluminum cookware.

Nonstick Coatings

Many campers will want pots and pans that have non-stick coatings so that they don't risk their food sticking to the pan. Nonstick pans make preparing meals much more comfortable as the food comes directly out of the pan without it sticking to the bottom and ruining the cooked food.

When purchasing cookware note that any cookware coated with food-grade fluoropolymer PTFE can emit toxic fumes if severely overheated such as by an open flame. Consider other options for nonstick coatings or ensure that your pan does not overheat near an open fire.

BPA:

Make sure to look for cookware that gets a 100 percent Bisphenol A (BPA) free rating. Many lines of cookware have gone to this standard of production, and more and more follow suit all the time.

These include just a few of the health concerns that you will need to keep in mind when on your next camping trip. These tips allow you to enjoy amazing food while you’re out in nature without worrying about the risks that come with cooking over an open fire.

What Basic Cookware Should I Bring With Me On My Camping Trip?

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When going on your camping trip, some pieces of cookware need brought with you no matter what style of cooking you plan on doing.

The following includes some basics of what you should consider bringing on your next camping trip:  

  • A large spoon or spork. The fork and spoon combination which saves the need for carrying more than one utensil with which you need to eat.
  • Large cooking pot, a pot with enough space in the container for 1 pint of food per person for each meal.
  • Large frying pan or skillet.
  • Plates.
  • Cups.
  • Bowls.
  • Sporks with smaller ones for eating.
  • Pie iron.
  • Roasting sticks. They are also known as skewers which you use to roast anything from sausages to hot dogs to marshmallows for s'mores.
  • Dutch oven. It will work well put over the campfire to get the same uses as you would out of an oven.

This list provides some basics that you should consider taking on your camping trip no matter what technique of cooking you choose when you camp. These necessary tools allow you to eat healthy, filling meals that will give you the energy to explore and enjoy your trip to its fullest.

Finally, remember that you will need one set of dishes for each person that comes with you on the team with you. You may consider taking an extra set if possible. Then, you’ll have a backup in case something falls, slips, or breaks.

What Cookware Materials Do I Need For Open Flame Cooking?

Now that you have an idea what type of material you want your cookware gets made out of, the real questions become: What kind of cookware do I need to bring if I am going to use open flame cooking?

When you use the open flame cooking technique on your camping trip, we recommend that you bring (in addition to the list above) the following:

  • Roasters/skewers to cook foods over the open fire.
  • Campfire Grate to allow you to set your meal on a surface to cook over the open fire.
  • Pie iron cooker which allows you to have a giant iron on hand so that you can prepare a variety of cuisines over your campfire including meats, pies, and bread to name a few options you will have.

These utensils ensure that you can cook the open flame meals that you bring with you on your trip. It will also allow you to enjoy a variety of different cuisine so you will never get bored of eating the same thing while you go camping.

What Cookware Materials Do I Need For Camp Grilling?

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When you use the camp grilling technique to prepare meals on your camping trip, we recommend that you bring (in addition to the essential items listed above) the following:

A small portable cooking device that allows you to grill foods wherever you happen to go camping. This portable cooking device will enable you to cook a variety of different items on your trip including steaks, burgers, kabobs, beef tenderloin, corn on the cob, salmon, or even ribs.

  • Tongs to turn the food as you grill it.
  • Thermometer to ensure that you are cooking meats to the minimum temperatures to consume it safely.

These additional tools ensure that you cook your food safely and that your meat gets cooked up to the recommended temperature before you consume it.

What Are Some Other Cookware Pieces That I Might Want To Take On My Camping Trip?

You want to assure that you have the typical cookware that allows you to prepare meals while you are on your camping trip. Some other considerations for items to take along items may include some of the extra fancy gadgets that exist just for campers like you:

  • A French Press allows you to have coffee while on your camping trip.
  • A bottle/can opener allows you to open bottles or cans of ingredients that you need to prepare a meal or allows you to crack a bottle of wine or a can of beer to enjoy a nice refreshing beverage around the campfire.
  • A Dutch Oven will enable you to slow cook foods such as meats, stews, and more.
  • A Cooking Iron will allow you to prepare meals such as sandwiches, paninis, and other hot dishes.
  • Extension forks provide an alternative to roasters/skewers that will enable you to cook over the open fires and perfect for sausages, hot dogs, marshmallows, etc.
  • A Popcorn Popper for popping a popcorn snack will surely hit the spot with everyone around the campfire.

These "extras" make sweet treats to share with everyone while you are on your camping trip. Bringing the appropriate cookware to your campout ensures that you can make these treats along will help everyone find something they enjoy while on their camping trip.

Eating On Your Camping Trip Can Taste Delicious

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When you bring the appropriate cookware along, eating while you on a camping trip can taste delicious. Many dishes and foods can get prepared right over the open fire if you bring the proper cookware to make it.

Bringing along "extra gadgets" even makes it so that you can enjoy extra treats such as a can of beer or bottle of wine. Popcorn around the campfire gives everyone another special snack to enjoy. Coffee isn't out of the question if you bring a French Press along to complete the job.

Preparing ahead of time for your camping trip ensures that you will have the cookware you need to enjoy fabulous meals while you camp out! Having the proper tools on hand ensures that you get to eat well and fuel yourself for a fun time exploring nature and enjoying all that it has to offer!

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