We love nothing more than cooking dinner outside and eating under the stars. But you don’t need expensive outdoor cooking equipment or elaborate meals to have a great experience.
The best camping cookware features clever design, lightweight materials and extreme durability. We’ve done some serious testing and came up with this guide to camping cookware. Add these items to your camping packing list to enjoy simple food in incredible locations.
How we chose the camping cookware on this list
As our regular readers know, we have tons of experience in camping and cooking outdoors. At different points in our lives we’ve pretty much lived in a tent! Camping over two-years in Australia, we learned how to pack light and stay cool. Spending three months cold-weather camping in Iceland, we learned which products we can’t live without – and the value of a hot meal!
The secret to eating outdoors is to keep it simple. This list is as basic as possible without leaving out anything essential. We also believe in sustainable travel. We’ve selected the camping cookware on this list by paying special attention to their environmental impact. All the products are made from durable materials and have a super long life. We’ve tested all this outdoor cooking equipment ourselves and it has all passed with flying colors!
How to cook when camping
We use our camping stove to cook and heat a huge range of food and drink including pasta; meat; potatoes; vegetables; hot chocolate and tea. When we make pasta, we boil the pasta first, then set it aside to prepare the sauce with minced meat or chicken. Finally, we put the pasta back in the pan to mix through. With potatoes, it’s pretty much the same drill. We bake or boil the postates, then prepare the meat and add the potatoes back in to heat the whole dish through. Add salad and you have a balanced meal!
Eating outdoors shouldn’t take any preparation. We generally need only one or two pans and the products on this list to make and eat a meal. Sometimes after a long day of hiking or cycling, all you can manage is a pre-packed adventure meal but at least you can eat it hot! Cooking when camping should be fast, simple and result in a nutritious meal that will fill you up and prepare your body for another day of adventure.
Pots & Pans
Without hesitation, we always recommend Sea to Summit’s selection of pots and pans. Sure, you can go camping with pots and pans from your kitchen. But normal pots and pans tend to be heavy and are very difficult to pack into a rucksack. The worst combination for a camper, especially when you’re cycling or hiking your way around.
Sea to Summit pots and pans are a little pricey but they will last forever. Made from BPA food grade silicone, this camping cookware is heat-resistant up to 300 degrees, has a great non-stick coating and is super lightweight. Best of all, this camping cookware collapses! You can buy one pan or go for a set like this three-piece from the Sea to Summit X range that shrinks down to less than 2 inches in height.
A stove is the most important bit of camping cookware on our list. Without it, we’re eating energy bars for dinner! We pack the MSR Pocket Rocket. We actually pack two so we can cook in two pots and pans at the same time but one should be enough for most campers’ needs.
The MSR Pocket Rocket has many advantages; it’s tiny, light as a feather and has a screw connector that will work with most gas bottles. We say most because some countries use different types of gas bottles that will not be compatible. Check what the standard gas bottle specs are at your destination before you go.
Gas bottles for outdoor stoves come in many varieties, brands and formulas, all of which can overwhelm beginner campers. To keep it simple, gas bottles are filled with Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), usually Butane, Propane, Isobutane or a mixture. If you’re camping in warm weather, almost any gas bottle will do (depending on your stove’s connector). But if you’re camping in cold weather, make sure you choose a canister of Isobutane as this fuel burns at temperatures 20 degrees lower than others. This great blog post from MSR explains how to get the most out of your fuel canister.
Quick reminder – you can’t pack a gas bottle if you’re travelling by plane. You’ll need to buy a gas bottle for your stove when you reach your destination.
We plan to buy a fuel burner soon. The main difference between this and something like the Pocket Rocket is that it is reusable. You fill the gas compartment of a fuel burner with diesel or another fuel at the petrol station which makes it more convenient and better for the environment.
You don’t need many camping cooking utensils to make the one or two pot meals we stick to when we’re camping. We’ve used various things over the years to stir and serve our food, wooden spoons, metal and silicone utensils, even wooden sticks we’ve found around our camp! Our best purchase was a simple silicone spatula. It’s amazing how versatile a spatula is, especially this durable outdoor spatula from GSI. Now we have this guy on our packing list, we don’t need anything else!
Plates, Cutlery and Cups
When packing for a camping trip, it’s easy to forget things like plates, cutlery and cups. After all, you’re getting back to nature! But even in nature you need a cup to drink your coffee from and a fork to get your food to your mouth. This outdoor camping equipment is lightweight, packs down small and will last forever. Eating outdoors every day, you appreciate simple comforts all the more.
Again, we recommend Sea to Summit for camping plates. The best thing about these plates is that the underside doesn’t get hot. When we used cheaper plates, we found we couldn’t rest them on our legs without getting burned. Now with these Sea to Summit plates we can rest the hot plate on our laps, even when wearing shorts!
Also, these plates don’t get stained, even when you eat things like tomato pasta. Very impressive! Finally, these plates have a lip so you can use them to eat foods like soup which saves on extra gear. Is there anything these little plates can’t do?
We’ve tested a lot of cutlery over the years, from multi-tool sets to sporks to lightweight aluminium sets. But, again, the winner is Sea to Summit with this handy cutlery set. The knife in this set is sharp enough to cut meat and the spoon is the perfect size for eating soup or a desert. The cutlery is designed with the same edging shape as the plate so you can scrape your plate completely clean. It also clips together for packing. The only thing we struggle a little with is the fork which isn’t sharp enough to pierce harder foods. But, overall, this is the best cutlery set we’ve found.
We also carry an extra Adventure Food spoon. The spoon is long so is useful for cooking in a pan and reaching deeper into packaging (such as bagged adventure food).
Top tip: Push the spoon to the bottom of the adventure food bag to measure how much water you need to cook your meal to perfection!
We have two sets of drinking cups and choose which to pack based on the climate.
Cold weather: In cold weather, always go for enamel cups. You can put these cups directly on the fire to prepare a hot drink quickly and easily. Imagine drinking a cup of tea or hot chocolate during a cold night! For us there is nothing better than that!
Warm weather: If the weather is very warm, we may not bring cups as we’ll mostly be drinking water. If we do, we choose collapsible cups that take up very little space.
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We love to hear from you
We hope our guide to the best camping cookware helps make cooking and eating outdoors easy and fun! As always, send us feedback or suggestions on any outdoor cooking equipment you can’t live without. Check out this page for more incredible travel tips!