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There’s something about being outside that makes you work up a big appetite. That’s why it’s so essential to have a plan for what you’ll eat on a hiking or camping trip. Campfire cooking is a real art, but you don’t have to start with overly ambitious meals. The first step is to invest in cookware basics that are versatile and durable.
Several factors control what kind of outdoor cookware is best for you. Things to consider include equipment weight, cost, durability and how many people you want to feed. If you discover that you love cooking outside, you can invest in additional props and gadgets. In the meanwhile, here are six essentials for your campfire cooking kit.
A sturdy cooking pan is the most important item for your campfire cooking kit. Although it won’t be fancy, you can cook over a fire with a high-quality pan and nothing else. Cooking pans come in different materials and sizes. If you plan on cooking meat, you can invest in a second cooking pan with grill lines in the bottom.
Cast iron is considered the best material for durability, even cooking and easy clean-up. However, cast iron pans are heavy and often expensive. If you need something lighter, go for strong stainless steel or anodized aluminum. Stainless steel may turn dark if placed directly on the fire, but it’s still safe to use.
The next item you’ll need for most campfire meals is a cooking pot. Again, cast iron is considered the best option for weekend campers or people traveling in an RV. However, backpackers who need lighter cookware can invest in quality stainless steel or anodized aluminum instead.
Cooking pots come in various sizes, so choose one that serves the right number of people for you. Pots are good for stews, soups and even baking bread. Dutch ovens are a type of lidded pot that’s popular with campers. In addition to everything else, you can use them to bake fresh bread. If you prefer matching cookware, there are many camping sets available with pots and pans.
Fire grills give you an elevated cooking surface over a fire. If you go with cast iron or stainless steel cookware, a fire grill isn’t essential. In a pinch, you can put your pots and pans directly on the fire. However, fire grills help you manage cooking temperature and they make cooking over a fire much easier.
There are many types of fire grills to choose from, including grills that swivel and some with adjustable stand legs. Think about your needs and invest in a grill that’s sturdy enough for your cookware. You can also use high-quality baking sheets or cooling racks lined with aluminum foil as makeshift fire grills.
Next, you’ll need the right utensils to use your new cookware. For cooking meat, you’ll need a pair of tongs and a sharp knife. A spatula, ladle and cooking spoon are also good investments – with those, you can make stir-frys, breakfast scrambles, pancakes and stews. Think about what you want to eat and work backward from there.
Unless you have a heat-resistance grilling glove, utensils with long handles are usually better for campfire cooking. Stainless steel or wood implements are durable and fairly lightweight. Start with the basics and then branch out as needed. You can also invest in a cloth bag or use rubber bands to keep utensils together in your gear.
After you cook a delicious campfire meal, you’ll need something to eat it on. Campfire dish sets usually come with mugs, bowls and plates. If you’re backpacking and don’t want multiple dishes, you can just take a large mug and use it for everything. Dish sets are made of many materials, ranging from stainless steel to plastic.
For easy storage, most dish sets are stackable and some even fold into a thin, flat packet. Choose a set that will serve the food you want to cook and includes enough pieces for your group. Although you can use cooking utensils to eat, it’s better to invest in small-scale cutlery. A good spork and sharp knife can help you eat almost anything.
Finally, don’t forget the clean-up gear! You’ll need a few trash bags, soap and dishtowels to keep your cookware and campsite clean. Cast iron should be seasoned with oil instead of washed with soap – too much soap can strip this cookware of its protective oil sealant. Stainless steel and anodized aluminum are both soap-friendly.
If you’re cooking near a clean water source, you can rinse your pan out there. However, many campers benefit from camping sinks or containers that hold water for dishwashing. You can invest in a hard-sided tub for this job or go with a foldable bag. Camping sinks are also handy for stacking and carrying dirty dishes.
Cowboy Campfire Cooking Kit for Your Next Journey
For most of world history, people have cooked over open campfires. With these six items, you’re ready to start looking at recipes and experimenting with outdoor cooking. Campfire meals can be simple, like meat and potatoes. However, some people really enjoy cooking fancy meals with sides and desserts outside.
Start by gathering this basic campfire cooking gear and then hit the road. You may need to adjust your gear over time – for example, you may realize you need an extra pot or your cast iron pan is too heavy for backpacking. Keep learning and remember that good campfire food takes patience and perseverance.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.