No camping trip is complete without a campfire and s'mores. But, what if you want to make something beyond dessert, or are going to be camping for several days with no restaurants in sight? Pronto's Buying Guide to camping cookware is here to help.
The cookware you choose for your camping trip will have to be able to stand up to the elements. Enamel is a great choice in terms of durability and weight, though cast iron and stainless steel are other options as well.
Though non stick coating makes pots and pans easy to clean, you should be careful using with certain types of camping stoves. Sometimes once the pot or pan is heated, the coating may melt off and potentially add toxins to your food.
Make you buy bowls, pots and pans with lids that fit tightly and are stackable or nest inside one another. This will make them easier to transport and reduce cooking time.
Whichever type of stove, dutch oven, or grill you choose, make sure it's fairly easy to transport and not too complicated to operate. Stoves can be classified in 2 categories cartridge stoves and liquid gas. Of course, you can also cook your food over an open fire with long stemmed utensils, or even a grill designed to go directly over the campfire.
Aluminum and titanium are the among the lightest materials for camping cookware, though may not last as long as stainless steel, for example. Choose your heavier items wisely, as camping cookware can tend to get very heavy.
These are charcoal starters, usually used for a Dutch oven, that make fire ignition easier.
This is the standard type of fuel for camping stoves or grills you'll find in the US. It burns hot and clean, and is probably your best option in terms of fuel.
This type of fuel for a stove or grill burns consistently, though, not if you're in temperatures that reach below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a much slower boiling time than other types of fuel.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each possible type of camping cookware material.
Stainless steel and titanium are both easy to clean and durable. However, these materials don't tend to cook food evenly titanium more so than stainless steel.
Cast iron cooks foods more thoroughly, though it takes a longer time to heat up. Though cast iron is quite heavy, it's the best in terms of longevity.
Enamel by nature is a nonstick material, but doesn't react badly with your food and can be considered a safe material, no matter what type of stove you're using, if any. Sometimes enamel cookware can have aluminum cores, making them a bit more delicate than other types of cookware, and any damage to the aluminum can render it unsafe to use.
Aluminum isn't the most ideal choice of material, as it heats quickly, unevenly, may potentially react harmfully with your food, doesn't last very long, and can be harder to clean. However, it is a very lightweight material.
If you're car camping, a camp stove might be the answer for you. They can generally be divided in 2 categories cartridge stoves and liquid gas. Some features you'll want to look for are a push button ignition, flame control adjusters, and self cleaning fuel jets. Dutch ovens are a fairly popular choice for cooking while camping because it's great for all seasons and fairly easy to operate, and they don't tend to be very large. The only real disadvantage is its weight and any subsequent cast iron items that you might need.
As far as grills go, there is a wide variety of types, though if you get something specifically made to be portable, you may more successfully eliminate any weight or size issues. Otherwise, a grate to go over a campfire might be the most lightweight and simple solution.
Buying a camping cookware set, as opposed to buying each piece separately may save you money and time, especially if you don't have a very specific cooking plan. Most sets are fairly lightweight and usually have the capability to nest within one another. Most kits come with a pan, utensils, plates, cups, and bowls.
Some items you might need or be happy to have but may not immediately think of include a spatula, can opener, tongs or some tool to lift and move pots and pans camping cookware frequently don't have handles.