Camping cookware perfect for summer adventures


Updated February 2, 2024, 8:00 PM PT

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David Watsky

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David Watsky Senior Editor / Home & Kitchen

David lives in Brooklyn and has spent over 10 years covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools, and cooking tips. Since the Northeastern native earned his bachelor's degree in English in Boston, he has toiled in just about every facet of the food business, including working as a line cook in Rhode Island and working for Lamar Odom. I once made a steak sandwich. Right now, he's probably somewhere stress-testing a mixer or researching the best way to make bacon. This week, anything with sesame seeds is his favorite food.

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If you're planning on spending time in the great outdoors, there are a few items you'll need to survive. Perhaps the most important thing is good food. Eating well is essential on multi-day camping trips, rafting trips, or hiking adventures. A good place to start is to prepare the right equipment for camping cooking. A few simple tools can transform the process of preparing a meal around a campfire from a commonplace pain to a fun task and group-bonding experience. Remember, a well-fed campsite is a happy campsite.

Campsite setups vary, but there are basic camp cooking essentials that every outdoor chef or hungry camper should have at their disposal. A good dinnerware set, camping pot, portable grill, and a good cooler are just a few of the items you'll want to stock up on before heading out into the great outdoors this summer.

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Cooking utensils are important, but if you're cooking serious meals at your campsite, you'll also need a sharp knife and a place to use it. This top-rated His GSI set includes his three must-have knives: a chef's Santoku knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife for bread and tender vegetables. Plus, there's a cutting board for slicing and dicing, and towels to keep things tidy.

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If you're looking for something a little more rugged for cooking than a campfire, a propane stove is a great option. Some options offer up to four burners, and premium versions also include a grill top. You'll be able to cook up a storm, or at least make something a little more awesome than a can of beans.

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Weber's Q 1200 gas grill is the best portable model out of the more than 10 we tested. It comes with one of his powerful burners and heats its 189 square inch cooking surface up to 500 degrees to perfectly sear meats and vegetables. The Q 1200 features Weber's signature rugged, sleek design, with his two folding side tables for prep and an ignition button that actually works. The ultimate camping grill.

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It's also a good idea to have a small pot or frying pan for boiling water, if only for your morning camp coffee. This stainless steel pot with a vented lid is also suitable for cooking small amounts of food and comes with two nested insulated cups for added value.

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If you're interested in charcoal cooking, GoBQ's portable charcoal makes it easy to start a fire. It's made from flame-retardant silicone and fiberglass and weighs just 9 pounds, making it perfect for hiking, camping, and music festivals.

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A camping cooler should be light enough so that you don't break yourself when getting in and out of the car, but not so flimsy that it won't stay cool for several days. Coleman's rolling cooler is a great combination of both. It weighs only 2 pounds but can maintain ice for up to 5 days.

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Whether you're spending a week in the great outdoors or going on a light hike, you need a reliable water bottle. I'm a big fan of this Hydro Flask with double wall insulation. Keeps cold drinks chilled for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to 6 hours. Plus, they come in lots of pretty colors, so they look stylish on and off the trail, and they come in a variety of sizes. (A version with a straw lid is also available.) Just be sure to clean your water bottle often.

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These beautiful items strap snugly to your back, allowing you to carry cold drinks and perishable foods on the trail. Personally, I like the folding top with a leak-proof clip. It eliminates the need for breakable zippers and allows you to push out all the air to stay cool. A durable, comfortable and well-designed camping cooler backpack perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

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Pour-over coffee is the most reasonably simple coffee system for camping, and Stanley makes a popular model that brews your cup in minutes.

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It's best to invest in a separate cooler for drinks since you'll be opening it more often than the main food cooler (and you want to keep all your food well chilled). This Yeti model can hold up to 18 cans and ice, so you can drink to your heart's content in the great outdoors. If you're tired of canned wine or beer, why not try making camping cocktails?

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If you don't want to invest in a portable propane grill, you don't have to. Grill grates will become your new best friend when cooking directly over a campfire. This handy cooking accessory creates a flat surface so you can grill, fry, and heat your food more evenly over an open flame.

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Don't forget to clean. Properly disposing of food outdoors will help keep bears away. Washing your camp cooking utensils is also part of that process. A collapsible sink is perfect for washing dishes while camping. Even better, have two, one for soaking and one for rinsing. You can also find camping sinks with dual basins.

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These make it easy to light a campfire or light a grill. While you're at it, buy a 4-pack.

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After all, all the food needs to be put somewhere, and picnic tables can quickly become occupied with backpacks, cups, and playing cards. This folding table is lightweight and perfect for all kinds of outdoor entertainment. Multiple levels and surfaces allow you to keep all your cooking utensils in one place and provide a clean space to prepare your food. (But if you just need a basic table that folds up small, this no-frills Coleman folding camp table will do the trick.)

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When packing for a trip, space is at a premium. This is especially true if you are responsible for carrying all your belongings on your back. To save space, try using collapsible drinkware, water jugs, and even measuring cups and spoons. Compact and non-bulky, perfect for making sure you don't have to keep an eye on important materials.

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You might not think it's worth the space in your bag, but having a table can really help create order when cooking in the great outdoors. Not to mention, it will keep your food away from dirt and aggressive animals during preparation and eating. This collapsible aluminum table weighs just 8 pounds, but opens to create a 324 square inch outdoor table.

This model is currently sold out, but there are some good options you can consider on Amazon.

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This nifty portable grill is disposable, yet lightweight, easy to carry, and completely biodegradable. Perfect for mobile camping trips that involve a lot of hiking and biking, the cooking time is about 60 minutes and he's ready in 5 minutes.

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