2. How to Choose Camping Cookwares?
The best camping cookware for your needs depends on what you are doing, how many people you need to feed, and how you like to cook and eat.
2.1 Types of Trip
The first factor to consider in your choice of cookware is the trip type and duration:
· Ultralight backpacking under three days – most of these trips use the minimum amount of ready to eat food and water with camping cookware ditched to remove weight.
· Backpacking – small compact nesting cookware and camping stove tend to meet these needs.
· Family camping – varies from a basic kitchen setup to everything, including the kitchen sink if your vehicle has enough room.
2.2 Number of People
A solo backpacker will take a smaller set of cookware than a party of three or more who can carry a communal kit for shared cooking and mealtimes. A family camping holiday can vary from a few people to several tents of kids and adults. Catering for more people means you need cookware with more variety and a larger capacity.
2.3 Meal Choices
What you want to cook will influence what equipment you need to cook that dish. Seasoned campers and backpackers have a menu plan that covers all meals and snacks for the trip. Your trip may allow you to purchase food along the way, or you may need to pack everything you need to take with you.
Minimalist backpackers and solo campers master the art of one-pot cooking or invest in prepared meals that you rehydrate and cook with minimal effort. Family campers may prefer more elaborately prepared meals to enjoy as a social group.
3. Camping Cookware Features
Some camping cookware features matter more to you than others. Fortunately, there is a range of available cookware to meet every need.
If you need to carry your cookware in a backpack, the weight matters. If you are packing your cookware into your vehicle and pitching your tent nearby, the weight is less critical.
Metal is the ideal material for cookware for durability and heat transfer, but some metals (aluminum) are lighter than others (cast iron).
The amount of space occupied by cookware is a factor in the best cookware for you. Nesting cookware packs into a neat compact bundle, and you can pack items like food supplies inside the empty pans.
A solo backpacker needs a 1-liter cooking pot as the bare minimum for boiling water and preparing food. More people mean more pans and bigger volumes to accommodate in your supplies.
Camping cookware comes in many materials with different properties:
· Aluminum – light and conducts heat well for faster cooking. Aluminum dents readily and reacts with acidic food giving your meal a metallic taste.
· Anodized aluminum – a coating gives you all the benefits of aluminum without the downside. If you damage the coating, then acidic food can react with the base aluminum. The cookware is slightly heavier than aluminum. You can combine hard-anodized aluminum cookware with a non-stick coating.
· Titanium – stronger than aluminum and lighter (45%) than steel- can have thin walls for faster cooking times.
· Stainless Steel – durable but heavy. It is not as efficient at heat distribution as aluminum and titanium, so that you can get hot spots and burnt food.
· Cast iron – one of the best cooking pot materials but heavy. Cast iron pans are only an option if you have a vehicle.
A pan with a lid that you can use as a plate or straining pasta is more useful than one with a single purpose. Assess your outdoor cookware for multiple uses – can you comfortably eat out of the pot?
Your outdoor cookware will suffer from knocks and bangs, and you need the material to stand up to that treatment. Aluminum is a light material but suffers from denting, stainless steel is heavier but stands up to rough treatment – all features compromise between conflicting needs.
The shape and color of the camping cookware affect its efficiency:
· Dark pots use less fuel.
· Wider diameter pots heat up faster.
4. What Camping Cookware Do You Need?
The quantity and quality of outdoor cookware necessary for your trip depends on what you will cook. The bare minimum camping cookware is a pan (1-liter), a spoon, and a mug. Your cooking consists of heating food and water in the pot. You eat the contents from the pot or the cup with the spoon. You need the mug because it would be hazardous to make tea or coffee in a cooking pot and then try to drink it straight from the pot – you would suffer burns.
Adding more people and more elaborate dishes increases the need for additional pots (possibly a frying pan) and equipment like a sharp knife, chopping board, and cooking spoons and ladles. If you are cooking for more people, you need bowls and cutlery unless you will opt to all eat from the same pot.
If space permits, you can pack as much additional equipment as you need for comfort; some people need real coffee in the morning where others insist on toasting forks for campfire cooking.
5. Helpful Tips
Looking after your camping cookware means you get maximum use out of your equipment.
5.1 Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning your camping cookware after cooking and eating is an essential health measure. A pan with a non-stick coating should clean easily with paper towels. You can scrub a stainless-steel pan with a metal cleaning pad. Try and use no soap or biodegradable soap for washing your cookware in the field.
After a trip, check your cookware for any sign of damage – a hole in your pot renders it useless for future trips. Plus, you need to check that any non-stick coatings are in good condition. Wash and dry all your cookware before putting it neatly into storage.
5.2 Safety Matters
When cooking over an open flame, it makes sense to have either sand or water available for accidents. Be careful to position your cooking station in an area where you can't cause a fire – avoid dry grass in the summer heat.
Potholders are a handy bit of kit that makes it safer for you to remove your outdoor cookware from the heat. You can improvise with a cotton t-shirt or facecloth if necessary but avoid synthetic fibers that melt in contact with hot metal.
Keep your knives sharp because you are more likely to cut yourself with a blunt knife. Buy a sheath with your knife to avoid accidents when you pack and unpack your camp cookware.
5.3 Plan Your Meals
Even if you intend to buy food during your trip, have a meal plan to know what you are cooking and manage your planned dishes with your outdoor cookware. If using fresh ingredients – plan to use them early in the trip to avoid spoilage. If you are super-organized, you can weigh and pack your dry ingredients for meals and snacks into zip lock bags, so you carry only what you need. This process makes food preparation after a hard day's walking a straightforward process of grabbing the right bag and adding water.
6.1 Why not use my kitchen equipment?
If you are going to set up a camp kitchen in a separate tent and carry all your equipment in a trailer, you can select your kitchen equipment from your home. In practice, camp cookware is better because:
· It is lighter and more fuel-efficient.
· It packs together neatly and occupies less volume.
· It's less expensive than kitchen equipment, and if it breaks, it doesn't hurt to replace it.
6.2 What's the best camping cookware for backpacking?
If you are backpacking, opt for titanium as it is lighter than steel and stronger than aluminum. Plus, it does not taint your food. But if you intend to cook over a wood fire on your travels, opt for stainless steel.
6.3 What can I cook in camping cookware?
The amount of equipment you have dictates what you can cook. When you are camping or backpacking, you have a limited amount of fuel available for cooking, so quick one-pot meals make sense – soups, porridge, and stews.
Avoid long slow cooking unless you want to experiment with a haybox (a slow cooker without electricity). Campfire cooking increases your options, as does a portable barbeque.