Camping is a fun and relaxing activity that most people enjoy. But, when matters of food preparation and cooking come into the mix, there is a lot to think about concerning what to carry along.
Should you buy individual pieces or a camping cookware set? This comes down to personal needs. Individual pieces may be expensive in the long run but a cooking set will come with everything you need at a decent cost.
In this buying guide, we look at the cookware options that you have, cookware materials, your camping set up, and more. Let’ dive right into it:
Quik check the best cookware for backpacking, camping
- Material: Hard-anodized Aluminum
- Weight: 1.5 lbs
- Best for: Camping, Backpacking & Hiking
- Easy to wash, and storage
- Includes: 2L Aluminum Nonstick Pot, Nonstick Pan, 2 BPA Bowls, Folding Stainless Steel Spork, 1 BPA Soup Spoon, 1 Wooden Spoon Spatula, 1 Cleaning Sponge, 1 Nylon Travel Bag, Marshmallow Roasting and Smores Making Guide with 10 Recipes Ebook!
- Material: Non-Toxic Anodized Aluminum
- Weight: 1.6 lbs
- Best for: Backpacking & Hiking, Camping
- Easy to wash, and storage
- Includes: (1) Nonstick Pot, (1) Nonstick Pan, (2) BPA Bowls, Folding Stainless Steel Spork, Spoon, Knife, (1) BPA Soup Spoon, (1) Wooden Spoon Spatula, (1) Cleaning Sponge, Nylon Bag SPACE SAVING/EASY TO CARRY, Fire Starter, Gas Stove, (1) FDA Silicon Foldable Cup, Climbing Carabiner, Survival Whistle.
- Material: Hard-Anodized Aluminum
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Best for: Camping Hiking Backpacking and Survival Cooking
- Easy cleaning and carrying
- Includes: 1 non-stick pot with lid, 1 non-stick frying pan, 1 BPA bowl, 1 BPA tritan spork, 1 BPA plate, 1 BPA soup ladle, 1 BPA spatula & 1 sponge, free ebook.
- Material: HIGH QUALITY ALUMINUM
- Weight: 1.9 lbs
- Best for: Camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, trekking, climbing or anything outdoors
- Easy cleaning and carrying
- Includes for 2-3 People: (1) 1.5L pot with lid, (1) 0.75L pot with lid, (1) pan, (1) foldable ladle, (1) melamine spoon, (3) melamine bowls, (1) sponge and (1) mesh bag.
- Material: Hard-Anodized non-stick Aluminum
- Weight: 0.9 lbs
- Best for: Backpacking Outdoor Camping Hiking and Picnic and other outdoor activities
- Easy carry and cleaning.
- Includes: 2 non-stick pots, 1 camping stove, 1 spork, 1 cleaning cloth, 1 Carry bag.
Consider your camping set up
How will you be using your cookware? Perhaps you will be serving a group of six people or maybe two, or just you alone. Are you going to cook at a campsite with your car nearby or you will be far into the backcountry? Answering these important questions should get you started on the kind of cookware that will suffice.
If you plan to do car camping, for instance, the weight issue won’t matter because you have a way to carry your essentials. You can be at ease lugging around a relatively heavy grill or a multi-burner camping stove.
On the contrary, heavy cookware will be problematic for backpackers. A backpacker cannot carry a portable grill or two-burner propane stove but rather go for the compact, convenient stoves that are easy maneuver around with.
Choosing your cookware
Your camping kitchen will depend on the number of people that you have to feed, your activities and the stove you are using.
If you are also in need of a camping stove, check out our reviews of the best camping stoves.
The standard camping cookware comprises of pots, lids, bowls, cups or mugs, utensils, plates, skillet, and pot lifters or handles. Choose a set that will meet your needs as mentioned above.
There’s no need of buying an expensive set with several pieces, yet you’ll only use a few and the rest end up taking valuable storage space. Below we provide an idea of the things you need for car camping:
- At least a 2-3 liter pot with a lid for up to 4 people
- A second pot or large bowl
- A frying pan with a lid
- Cutting board
- Plate for each person
- Spoon/fork for each person
- Cup/mug for each person
- Clean-up equipment such as basin, sponge, soap, and towels.
How many pots do you need?
This depends on how large your group is. A simple pot is enough for two and you will need many or larger pots to serve a crowd of over four people.
Does pot efficiency matter?
Larger and flatter pots have better heat conduction than smaller and curved ones. A pot with a wider diameter is exposed to the flame quickly and that results in swift heat transfer.
Apart from that, the color is also another factor that impacts efficiency. Darker pots/pans with dark bottoms or ones that have blackened after some uses are very much efficient compared with new pots.
In addition, pots that fit the top of the stove or those that are slightly larger than the diameter of the stove have great heat efficiency.
Importance of lids
Lids can help reduce cooking time. By covering the pot with a lid, you preserve the heat within, which is then supplied sufficiently to speed up the cooking process.
Lids also ensure your burner stays clean by guarding against splatter. Some lids can double up as extra plates or even as frying pans.
Why do you need pot lifters and handles?
Obviously, you will need a way to pick up your pots and pans without the risk of burning. The large protruding handle is out of the equation if you want to ease packing your camping cookware.
The best camping cookware sets include a removable handle or at least one gripper. These will let you lift the pot/pan without gripping it constantly like the handle on a standard pot.
Cleaning your cookware
Cleaning your pots, bowls, and utensils, in general, can preserve their durability. If you are only day-camping, then a pack of paper towels can be used to wipe clean your items.
Otherwise, you will need to pack cleaning detergent, basin, and dry towels to help in cleaning your cookware, especially if you will be away for a few days.
Camping Cookware Materials
To some extent, the material impacts the weight of the items. Heavy and thick cookware has good heat efficiency, while the portable and lightweight cookware is convenient to carry. It’s a trade-off that you have to make in deciding the most suitable choice.
That said, camping cookware comes in seven different materials, which we explore below by looking at their benefits and downsides.
This is a good conductor of heat and it’s very lightweight. It quickens cooking time and it’s very good at simmering foods. The camping cookware that is made from Aluminum is usually cheap, however, not much durable. Other negatives include easy denting and warping.
This material is used in most home-based cookware and it makes an all-around choice for camping cookware. This material is lightweight, a good conductor of heat, and easy to clean, thanks to a thicker non-stick coating.
Note that hard-anodized Aluminum is more enduring than standard anodized Aluminum. The material is also extremely resistant to abrasion and corrosion. Since it disperses heat efficiently, hard-anodized Aluminum cookware is suitable for cooking fresh foods.
The problem with any non-stick cookware is that it requires mindful maintenance. Also, cookware made from hard-anodized Aluminum is more expensive than ones made from plain Aluminum.
This material is the most durable and scratch-resistant but the food may tend to stick at the base of stainless steel pots. You will need steel wool in your possession to clean it efficiently.
Additionally, stainless steel has uneven heat conduction, which normally results in hot spots and burned food. Weight is also another thing to ponder with stainless steel cookware.
Remarkably lightweight, this material has a thin construction that allows pots to heat much quicker. As a matter of fact, titanium is about 50% lighter and tougher than Aluminum.
Plus, it is strong and corrosion-resistant. Due to their thin construction, titanium cookware transfer heat quickly, making them ideal for boiling water.
However, this cookware does not transfer heat evenly and tend to create hot spots due to poor conductivity. Perhaps the biggest downside is the expensive cost of this material.
This is the most ideal cookware for car camping. Cast iron pots cook evenly, they’re naturally non-stick and lasts a lifetime. This can as well be used for cooking at home.
It is quite heavy, therefore, something to use when camping in one location. Cast iron needs re-seasoning to maintain its natural non-stick surface though.
Non-stick surfaces have some remarkable user benefits. One, you only need to use very little oil when cooking. Second, they are the easiest to clean. However, these can scratch easily and so you will want to avoid using metal utensils with non-stick coatings.
To make it worse, the scratched chunks can contaminate your food if you are not careful. Nonetheless, non-stick pots and pans are a good choice for camping where easy cleaning is a priority.
Ceramic non-stick coatings
This appeal to those looking for long-term performance. It actually offers the same performance as non-stick coatings. The only problem with ceramic is that they are quite expensive and hard to find too.
To sum it up
The best camping cookware should effectively serve you or your group, be easy to maintain, and last long enough. With the heap of the information above, you can be confident in choosing the right cookware.
Don’t forget to preserve your camping surrounding. Cooking usually causes a mess, so it’s only prudent that you leave the place better than you found it.