Creating the Ultimate Camp Kitchen

There’s not much that beats a night or two out in nature, except maybe a great meal in the Great Outdoors.

To create such a meal takes some culinary skill and the right camping equipment. Companies like GSI Outdoors make some of the best camp kitchen gear around, while REI has a solid list of what should be part of any camp kitchen.

We’ve done some camp cooking of our own and offer up these suggestions for putting together the ultimate camp kitchen.

Stove

Backpacking: Lightweight backpacking stoves come in a range of styles and fuels. White gas stoves allow you to bring various amounts of fuel but can be more cumbersome to fire up. Stoves that use propane canisters are quick and easy but can leave you wondering how much fuel you have left. In addition, using a wind screen with any stove will improve your overall efficiency.

Car Camping: There’s no sense in sacrificing on your camp stove when you’re car camping. A two-burner propane stove will give you plenty of space and heat to whip up piping hot pasta and sauce, steamy soups or crispy grilled cheese just like you would at home.

Dishes and Pots

Backpacking: Lots of companies these days make all-in-one pot and dishes sets, with a lightweight pot and lid — which sometimes doubles as a skillet — holding plates and cups. Save weight by only bringing exactly what you’ll need. As for utensils, grab a spork and make sure your pocket knife is handy.

Car Camping: When weight isn’t an issue, bring multiple pots and pans for different uses: a deeper pot for boiling water, for example, and a favorite cast-iron skillet for frying up eggs and hash browns in the morning. Paper plates are easy, but reusable ones make more earth sense. Pack silverware and utensils, a cutting board, cups for coffee and juice, wine glasses and koozies for your cans.

Organizing tub

There’s little that’s more frustrating than a disorganized kitchen, especially when you’re camping. Cut the frustration by keeping your camping kitchen organized in a rigid tub or tote. Likewise, when you’re backpacking, put all your kitchen gear in one or two bags so it’s all right where you want it to be.

Water

Whether you’re car camping or backpacking, water is key for the kitchen. Bring a collapsible jug to fill with extra water in your backcountry site, and if you’re car camping, use refillable jugs or coolers to keep water close by.

Cleanup

A sponge and biodegradable soap, as well as bags for trash — a small ziplock usually suffices for backpacking — are usually all you need for cleaning up your kitchen.

Odds and ends

A few other camp kitchen essentials and extras to consider: salt and pepper, butter, a roomy cooler with ice and a rigid egg holder if you’ll be using eggs. If your campground doesn’t have picnic tables, be sure to bring a table and chairs, and battery-powered candles or solar camping lights can add nice ambiance to any campground around.

Recipes

Looking for some tasty meals to try in your camp kitchen? We’ve got five killer camping recipes right here.

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Jon Bell

Jon Bell writes about the outdoors, fitness, health, and a range of other topics from his home in Lake Oswego, OR. He is also the author of "On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon's Perilous Peak."