Camping cookware counts as perhaps the most important component of every great trip, whether you’re hitting the campground or trying out dispersed camping. After all, doesn’t breaking bread around the first on a mountainside beneath the stunning starlight culminate all that effort—the preparation and travel, hiking even? Choosing the best camping cookware can help you prepare for that moment and make the most delicious food possible, for that most succulent first bite. Memories, more than anything, are made in the stomach!
While your regular at-home pots and pans can usually work in an outdoor setting, people who camp quite often will want a special set separated for outdoor use. Manufacturers sometimes optimize camping cookware for its circumstances with different approaches to durability and efficiency. If you’re just getting started, consider a cook set suited to your needs. If you’re looking for exciting new ways to fill out your cookware collection, then we have some cool additions to consider today!
Factors for Considering Camping Cookware
Size is the most important factor, because your cookware intends to fully feed everyone. How many people should your camping cookware account for? Outdoor outfitter REI offers a helpful rule that “the largest pot in your cook set should hold approximately 1 pint per backpacker or camper in your party.”
Number of Pots
Next, consider how many pots you need. Not only does this decision relate to the number of people camping in your party, it also relates to the intricacy of your camping diet. More complicated culinary endeavors typically require a wider array of cookware. Meanwhile, simple choices like dehydrated meals usually only need one cooking pot.
After that, check for lids with the pots you’re considering. These additional tools aren’t extraneous—they can actually reduce cooking time by holding heat, saving fuel and reducing splatter in the meantime. Then, double check to see if any of them double as plates or other dinnerware!
Now, there’s all kinds of additional tools that can simplify your cooking experience while camping. After this research, consider if you need a stand to place your camping cookware on. Also, make sure your cookware comes with pot lifters or grippers so you can pick up your pots and pans safely.
Understanding Camping Cookware Materials
Camping cookware usually comes in a wide but defined variety of materials, all suited to different camping styles.
This is a very lightweight and heat-efficient material suited to tighter budgets. However, aluminum wears down, liable to acidic foods, dents, and scratches.
This super strong oxidized version of aluminum serves impeccably across the board, without the specialties of some other materials.
A darling of the durability-minded, stainless steel ranks even sturdier than aluminum, even if it’s heavier and not as heat efficient.
There’s a reason this material rings synonymous with high-tech toughness—titanium is supremely lightweight and corrosion-resistant, magnifying even low heat sources. However, titanium is not as durable, and can warp with extreme heat.
This material claims a cult following, not only for its old world aesthetic but also because it’s extremely tough, and the best fit for baking or cooking. However, cast iron is extremely heavy and requires specific care.
Silicone, Plastics, and Non-stick Coatings
Sometimes these materials come as elements on camping cookware. They are easy to clean, lightweight, and inexpensive. However, these materials also make your cookware less eco-friendly, and they’re liable to erosion.
The Best Camping Cookware
Best All Around: Woods Selkirk Anodized 4-pc Camping Cook Set
Let’s start off with one of the best options out there for those starting out on their camping cookware collection. Marketplace averages for a solid camping cook set usually hover around $100, but Woods has slashed that in half for a reliable and sturdy four piece set that includes two pots, a pan, and a kettle. The company’s cookware is crafted from anodized aluminum and an ideal fit for a group outing.
Cook Set for Backpacking: Sea to Summit X Set 32
Sea to Summit makes some of the most highly regarded camping cookware out there today. Different variations of their iconic X Set offer some of the most lightweight, space efficient cookware available, making their wares the best choice for backpacking and other trips that involve hiking. A little bit on the pricier side, this stellar investment includes a collapsible pan, pot, and kettle made from hard anodized aluminum and silicone side walls.
Camping Cookware for Big Parties: Pinnacle Camper by GSI Outdoors
Spokane, Washington-based brand GSI Outdoors has taken the camping world by storm with some of the best modern gear out there today. Their Pinnacle Camper cookware set complements large-scale, family style occasions with colorful, durable ease. Fully loaded for up to four people, this set comes with one 3L pot, one 2L pot, a 9” fryer pan, strainer lid, four 14oz mugs with insulated sleeves and sip through lids, four 14oz bowls, four 7.5″ plates, one folding pot gripper, and a welded storage bag/sink. Stack-able for compact transportation, the pots and pan are made from anodized aluminum with Teflon for non-stick easy cleaning and optimal heat transfer. You’ll be ready for absolutely anything!
Budget Camping Cookware: Decathlon 2-Person Camping Mess Kit
Looking for the most affordable option to start off your camping cookware collection? Decathlon offers all these materials, including cookware AND dinnerware for under $35. Its two cookware pots are made from durable stainless steel with nonstick coating, where mugs, bowls, and cutlery are made from various plastics. Handles collapse and the whole collection comes ready to stack, meaning your cook set for two can travel as far as both your feet can take you.
Cast Iron Cook Set: Cabela’s Cast-Iron 5-Piece Starter Set
Some people stick to cast iron no matter the cost, no matter the weight. That’s because this durable material cooks with unprecedented quality, making everything from omelettes to baking the highest quality it could possibly be. Cabela’s sells their own affordable cast iron camping cookware set for under $90, offering “a 10″ skillet, flat bottom Dutch oven with lid, 12″ deep skillet with griddle lid, Dutch oven lifting tool, and heavy-duty leather cooking gloves.” Pre-seasoned and ready to use!
Best Skillet: All-in-One Cast Iron Skillet by BAREBONES
Sometimes, certain pieces are worth substantial investment. If you know your campsite cooking routine requires the constant use of a skillet, we have the cream of the cast iron crop here for your review. This All-in-One Cast Iron Skillet from BAREBONES comes in three sizes, maxing out at 12” for $120.”Included Dutch oven style lid, circular polished interior, better heat distribution, extended handle, and pure copper accents make this a dream to cook with,” reads the product description. It’s even pre-seasoned with sunflower oil so you can enjoy this sumptuous gear straight out of the box.
Max Efficiency: CanCooker Jr. by Seth McGinn
If there’s one piece of camping cookware you just can’t go without, it’s definitely a solid cooking pot. Styled in the image of old milk can cookers, this super efficient tool cooks food with steam. “The circulating steam also helps keep the food from sticking to the CanCooker’s FDA grade anodized 1060 aluminum shell, making clean up a snap,” the product description explains. “Fresh and flavorful, food cooked in this unique cooker maintains its natural flavor because the steam does not leach away the flavors and nutrients.” That means you just throw your meal in, leave it over the flame, and return in about an hour, spending time with family or exploring your campsite all the while.
Best Dutch Oven: 6 Quart Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven by Lodge
Good Housekeeping explains that “A Dutch oven is a heavy-duty pot with a lid designed for browning meat and veggies and then simmering on the stove top or braising in the oven.” Built with deep, thick walls and usually crafted from cast iron, you can even use this camping cookware to make stew and bread. Think of it like an Instant Pot or slow cooker. Lodge is one of the most respected names in modern cast iron manufacturing, and their cast iron Dutch oven promises to feed all kinds of parties, available in a size range from two quarts to ten quarts. This gear is made in the USA and ready to use, seasoned with vegetable oil.
Best Frying Pan: GSI Outdoor Bugaboo 10″ Square Frypan
If you’re adding a new, specialized frying pan to your camping cookware set, then consider a super efficient and unique shape like this square frying pan from cult company GSI Outdoors. Built from the company’s proprietary Bugaboo non-stick coated aluminum, this gear promises the potential to make the ultimate grilled cheese, golden brown and big as a casserole! It’s versatile and heavy-gauge, made to last your adventures for years and years. At only $32.95, this awesome addition to your collection makes an affordable acquisition!
Best Kettle: MSR Pika Teapot
What’s better than waking up in the forest to make eggs and a piping hot cup of coffee or tea? Make the most of this cherished start to the day with a soup-up kettle suited to the most sophisticated adventures. The Pika Teapot from Mountain Safety Research can boil up to one liter of liquid. Its wide, no-drip spout also makes for easy cleaning, with a removable lid and handle placed to protect your hands from heat. Savor the best of the backcountry by completing your camping cookware set in complete style. Cheers, to the wilderness!