Camp Cooking for Absolute Newcomers (by an Absolute Newbie)


Camp cooking can be quite intimidating for persons like me who didn’t develop up undertaking a lot of backcountry camping.

I come from an outdoorsy family members — just not right after sundown. For me, camping meant a evening in the backyard, with breakfast waiting for me inside in the morning. It did not entail living the wilderness for days at a time.

So as a 32-year-old outdoorsy adult, I had in no way in fact cooked on a camp stove. Embarrassing, and not at all superior for my scene cred in the outside neighborhood.

When my husband (also a non-camper) and I booked a four-day camping trip to recon a trail-operating loop at a campsite, I knew we’d lastly have to figure out the entire camp cooking scenario after and for all.

I do not know precisely what about it intimidated me: Campfires do not freak me out, but the tiny propane tanks and scary-hunting tiny stoves just seemed like they had been reserved for severe campers and hikers. I’m just a trail runner.

But we created it take place. And we discovered a lot on that initial trip! If you are debating creating the plunge into camp cooking, but the lists of finest stoves and gear you have to have look intimidating, here’s a uncomplicated rundown of what you have to have to know.

Get the Gear

the Primus Primetech Stove camp cooking

When you are hunting to invest in your initial camp stove, do not wander aimlessly via REI. Do some brainstorming and then some study. We practically ended up with a couple of various stoves that would have been quite high priced blunders, due to the fact when attempting to obtain the correct setup for you, it is type of a Goldilocks scenario. You are hunting for a single that is “just correct.”

1st, list all the techniques you strategy to use the stove and for how several persons. Stick to what you are presently undertaking, not the dream-planet version of your self.

For instance, “my husband and I do a lot of automobile camping and normally take cross-nation trips exactly where we want to make roadside coffee immediately in the morning, or cook complete meals at a campsite” is a lot various than “I’m a solo backpacker organizing an Appalachian Trail hike and want to maintain my kit as light as probable.” Be realistic (and proud).

What You Will need

You will generally finish up needing some mixture of this kit for camp cooking:

  • Stove
  • Lighter
  • Propane
  • 1 or two pots
  • Spatula
  • Optional: Lid and clamp for lid
  • Optional: Windscreen

Ideal Camp Cooking Gear

Subsequent, appear for a setup that matches your wants. Will need some suggestions? We’ve got you covered. Verify out our articles on the topic:

Camp Cooking Gear Gift Guide

We ended up deciding upon the $150 Primus Crucial Stove Set. It includes two pots, a lid that doubles as a frying pan, and a stove with constructed-in windscreen. Certain, it wasn’t the lightest or smallest selection.

But for us — the automobile-camping, cross-nation-driving couple — it created sense. And it can pack down for a hike attempting to cook for two major eaters on the trail meant we’d have to have a larger pot no matter what.

1 surprise to me was just how low-cost a simple stove with no bells and whistles can be. You can kit your self out for beneath $40. Or at least, it is that low-cost till you start off adding in extras — particularly lightweight pots and pans.

Anticipate to devote a minimum of $75 on a mixture of gear, unless you obtain an incredible sale or are prepared to sacrifice weight by utilizing pots and pans from residence. This brings me to a further point.

Use What You Currently Have


If this is your initial foray into camp cooking, contemplate bringing the cook kit you have at residence.

You will most likely have to have to invest in a camp stove regardless. Even if you have a campfire, cooking on a wood fire will char your pots and pans. An cheap stove is worth the investment.

But beyond that, pots, pans, and utensils from your kitchen will perform just fine in the wilderness. Just place them in a bin or reusable bag and load them in the automobile. Certain, they weigh a lot additional than camp-precise kits, but they will perform just as properly at a campsite as they do in your residence kitchen.

And if you have a cast-iron pan, bring it! Its heavy metal distributes heat properly and cooks meals additional evenly in cool climate. And you can cook almost everything from brats and burgers to potatoes and eggs on it.

You can even bring plates, forks, spoons, and spatulas from residence. Just wash them in the field a tiny and then give them a superior washing when you get back. If you are worried about glassware breaking, choose up a couple of recycled paper plates to consume off of.

If you get paper (not plastic or styrofoam), the applied paper plates will even make a superior firestarter for the subsequent morning if not as well saturated.

Meals Selections

I really like a superior backpacker’s dehydrated meal. But for this trip, I wanted to stick to a price range and maintain factors somewhat wholesome.

Due to the fact we had been camping for a couple of days with no weight restrictions — just restrictions on maintaining meals cold — we had additional alternatives than a thru-hiker would have. This meant coming up with travel-friendly meals that had been shelf-steady, nutritionally dense, and tasty.


We hiked and ran 20-plus miles every single day, so we required to come back to meals we wanted to consume. Here are essentials I located that turned an otherwise dreary camp meal into a thing to appear forward to.

How to Cook on a Camp Stove

Cooking on a camp stove is various than cooking at residence. You will discover some lessons the tough way, but these recommendations ought to aid sidestep some widespread camp cooking pitfalls.


Oil Your Pan

Oil up your pan additional than you do at residence. Heat is tough to dial in on these stoves, so prepare to cook with higher heat by obtaining lots of oil in your pan when cooking factors that will stick, like eggs. Otherwise, strategy to devote a lot of time stirring.

And for most dishes, you can even add a bit of water to the bottom of the pot — rice, beans, and vegetables all advantage from a half-inch of water at the bottom.

Cook With two Pots If You Can

Have two pots? Designate a single pot as a water pot and the other for cooking. That way, you are not burning bits of oatmeal to the bottom of the pot that is going to home water for coffee.

Larger Is Far better

If you are automobile camping, you can contemplate utilizing your heavier pans from residence. The thicker metal will disperse heat additional evenly. So if weight is not an problem, it is not a challenge.

Do not Let It Stick

To clean the pot, heat water in it as quickly as you serve the meals. Dried meals is tougher to take away than cement!

Get a Spatula

Use a silicone spatula. We immediately realized we had been scraping our pot as we attempted to use a standard fork to stir about our meals.

Block the Wind

If you do not get a stove with a windscreen, you can nevertheless use your packs or obtain a corner amongst rocks and trees to block the wind. Even a light gust can make a stove almost not possible to maintain on.

Do not Feed the Animals

Do not leave your clean pots and pans out in an location identified for hungry wildlife.

We witnessed a curious raccoon in fact unzipping a tent right after upending a table complete of drying pots and pans at a neighboring campsite. When we yelled at it, it just looked at us like we had been the rude ones ahead of gradually meandering away.

So what are you waiting for? Do not worry camp cooking any longer. Gear up, get out, and give it a attempt!


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