While we love exploring local towns by going out to eat on our road trips, we try to cook as much as possible. Cooking for ourselves saves money, is healthier, and allows us to spend more time at our beautiful campsites. At the same time, cooking takes motivation and having the quality camp cooking gear that is convenient and easy to clean makes the process more enticing.
After three years of on-and-off van life, I’ve narrowed down our camp cooking kitchen essentials to a single bin of gear that comes with us on every trip and makes cooking much more fun.
Ready to get cooking? Here is the complete guide to the best camp cooking essentials you need in your outdoor kitchen. Camp Stove
A camp stove is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in your camp kitchen. Ideally, you’ll want something with two burners and good simmer capabilities so you can control the temps you’re cooking on. The Eureka Ignite Camp Stove checks all these boxes with two powerful burners and solid construction that will last you years of adventuring.
While some campsites have picnic tables, it’s always handy to have your own table for your camp kitchen setup. This Mountain Summit Gear Roll Top Kitchen table is a favorite because there’s not only space for your camp stove but also for prep. It also sets up very quickly, is sturdy, and packs away in a bag.
A good set of pots and pans is key to a good camp kitchen set up. This GSI Cookset comes with everything you need including a large and a small pot, a frying pan, and a cutting board that all pack away into a single stuff sack. It’s all nonstick making it easy to clean, and I especially love that the lids have holes for easy straining when making pasta.
In addition to pots and pans, you’ll need some basic utensils to whip up those gourmet camp meals. This kitchen cooking kit has it all: tongs, a large spoon, a spatula, a scraper, and a cutting board. It even comes with a camp towel, sponge, soap bottle, cooking oil bottle, and a four compartment spice holder.
Griddle / Grill
If you want to take your camp cooking up a notch, you’ll likely want to add a griddle to your camp cooking kit. This Lodge Reversible Griddle/Grill doubles up by providing a smooth side for eggs and pancakes and a ribbed side for grilling meats and veggies.
Is it just me or is that morning cup of coffee at camp even better than at home? This Stainless Steel Percolator by GSI Outdoors fits six cups of coffee so you can brew a batch for the entire group.
I tend to have one cup that I use for everything, whether it’s coffee, tea, or a nice cold beverage. This YETI Tumbler with the MagSlider Lid is a new favorite – it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. The lid is easy to open and close yet prevents major spills, and the tumbler itself comes in lots of fun colors. One other thing I love about this mug is the lid is really easy to clean. It’s little things like this that make a difference when it comes to the best camp cooking gear.
If you have an old set of utensils at home, by all means throw those in your camp cooking bin and make them part of your kit. If you’re looking for something new, these forks, spoons, and knives by GSI are a great option and give your camp kitchen setup that classic camping look.
I’ve used the GSI Infinity Plates and bowls for years whether I’m camping or on the road in my van. They’re lightweight, easy to clean, and take up hardly any space. Although I like the classic look of enamel plates and bowls, I find that they tend to make your food cold more quickly and much prefer these.
I’m always looking for ways to reduce trash and avoid single use items, and I encourage you to do the same. I’ve tried lots of reusable bag options and Stasher bags are my new favorite. They’re made of silicon, easy to clean, and a convenient way to pack your trail lunch. You can even bake or boil in them, which is great for leftovers when you don’t have a microwave.
With all that cooking, unfortunately, comes dishes. Having a dish bucket on hand makes clean up easier. Look for one that folds down for easy storage and transport. This Ultimate Survival Technologies FlexWare Sink is sturdy, lightweight, and can be used for more than just dishes. We also use ours for collecting our grey water.
Dish Drying Towel
A small, microfiber towel that’s quick drying is always handy to have around camp. Use them for drying dishes, wiping your hands while you’re cooking, and cleaning up messes. They can be easily rinsed out and hung up to dry for the next use.
Yeti’s coolers are known to be super rugged and durable no matter what kind of adventure you take them on. The extra thick, insulated walls and super tight seal keep inside temps colder longer. The Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler is the perfect size for comfortably keeping a weekend’s worth of food and drinks cold. While pricier than some of the other options out there, there is a reason Yeti is a river guide’s cooler of choice. The ice lasts longer than any other cooler I’ve tried.
Do you have any questions about camp cooking gear or have any favorites to add? Comment below or join the conversation in the Bearfoot Theory Outdoor Adventurers Facebook group. READ NEXT 6 Reasons to Cook One Pot Camping Meal Recipes + Recipes
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