The first day of summer is this weekend and I know a lot of you are excited for summer activities. After being cooped up for a year plus some, I think we’re all craving some sunshine and good times. One of the biggest summer activities is camping!
Camping is great for reconnecting with nature, building stronger relationship bonds, learning new skills, getting the chance to unplug and so much more. But while you’re out there, you’ve still go to eat!
So I’m here to guide you to the best camping cookware essentials for 2021.
Grab an ice-cold drink, relax and pick what’s best for you summer camping trip!
When it comes to cooking outdoors, a stove/grill is one of the fundamental pieces you need to be able to whip up something delicious without always having to rely on the campfire. There are tons of brands and different styles of stoves/grills to choose from and that can be overwhelming.
What you should be looking for in a stove is size, fuel type, cost, durability and how many burners it has. Each of these are different for everyone so I’ve done some research and found four options that are great for different needs!
With two burners, this stove is great for a camping trip with two or more people. Its matchless ignition makes starting it up safer and it has adjustable burners so that you can control the heat. It’s made with Perfect Heat technology ensuring that you have even cooking temperatures in most climates.
The wind shields on the sides help to protect you food and flame from any gusts if you’re camping in windy areas. The shields can be adjusted to fit large pans and can fold down on calmer days to be used as side tables! Clean up will be easy with the chrome-plated grate and rust-resistant cook top.
If you’re looking for something smaller for a solo trip, or maybe there’s just two of you looking to go camping, this single burner stove can get the job done. The Chef Master uses butane instead of propane like the Coleman so it’s great for warmer months but may not be able to hold up in the winter.
It has an automatic ignition so no matches or lighters are needed, as well as, an adjustable burner so that you are able to better control the heat. It was also designed to have a pressure sensing shut-off. So if you burner heat gets too high, the valve will shut off automatically to prevent any flashback injuries. There are no side shields for wind but this stove is built with a wind guard gate around the burner to lessen the wind and keep you flame going. It’s also easy to dismantle for fool-proof cleaning.
Here we have a hybrid stove/grill that gives you the best of both worlds. The design is similar to the previous Coleman but with the luxury of a grill instead of just the two burners. So if you’re wanting to sauté or boil water while you grill, this is the perfect fit for you!
This stove/grill does require long matches or a grill lighter to start it up, but that’s not a deal breaker for most campers who are used to manual ignition! The grill is great for burgers, hot dogs, salmon and more while the burner is perfect for sautéing or boiling. And that’s just one of the perks of a stove/grill combo! There’s also a 13×10 griddle you can purchase to place on top of the grill grate so that you can whip up pancakes or eggs for breakfast and grilled cheese for lunch!
Like most Coleman’s there are side wind shields on either side to protect you cooking and you can lower them to use them as side tables as well. This Coleman was also designed with Perfect Heat technology to ensure even cooking temps and it also comes with a removable drip tray to make you clean up even easier.
Lastly is an 4-in-one for those who love to cook a variety of things while saving space in the process. This Coleman is not only a stove, but is also a grill, griddle and wok! This is probably the one I would go for simply because I know I would use the wok more than anything else.
This 4-in-one is great for up to 4 people and is super easy to transport during you camping trip. The legs can be removed so that it doesn’t take up awkward space in you vehicle and they fit inside the wok so that they’re not rolling around in the trunk. This Coleman also uses a matchless igniter so no need for long matches or a grill lighter with this stove either.
There is also a water tray at the bottom to catch grease so that when it’s time to clean up it’s easy and quick!
Before you start cooking those delicious meals though, it’s important to have a cooler to keep you food fresh and cold! Coolers have come a long way, but the truth it, you don’t need to spend $500 on a decent cooler. No offense Yeti. I also saved you some time and found three great coolers that all have wheels so they’re easy to roll to you camp site!
Igloo is one of the top trusted brands for coolers that doesn’t break the bank. This 60QT wheeled cooler is great for weekend trips for smaller groups. As far as camping coolers, a 60QT is plenty big to fit all of you food, drinks and ice!
This cooler was designed with handles on the side so that it’s easy to lift in an out of you vehicle, an extendable handle to make it easier to wheel to you camping site and the lid comes with drink holders so that you can also use it as a table-top while sitting around the campfire!
It can fit up to 90 cans and has an easy drain plug to let out any melted ice.
This 100QT Coleman cooler is perfect for bigger groups! There is plenty of space for food, drinks and ice and it was designed to be able to retain you ice for up to 5 days. So if you’re planning a camping trip longer than just a weekend, this is a great option for you.
The side swing handles are great for lifting it in and out of you vehicle though I would suggest having a helping hand if you filled it before getting to you campsite! It comes with a pull handle as well so that it’s easy to wheel once it’s on the ground. Inside can hold up to 160 cans and was designed for easy cleanup and is stain resistant.
This lid also has cup holders and is long enough to use a table or extra seating around the campfire.
The Titan Deep Freeze is perfect for a week-long, or longer, camping trip. This 55QT cooler also comes with a wire tray for separating any food from drinks inside of the cooler. Though this one doesn’t come with wheels, it’s built-in, easy grip side handles make transporting it a piece of cake.
The Titan Deep Freeze can keep ice for up to 8 days so if you’re planning to camp out for a while this is a great option for you. Feel free to go out and experience the wilderness without worry! It’s heavy-duty build and double latch locks are sure to keep you food safe.
When it’s time to wrap up you trip, it comes with an over sized drain that makes cleanup easy.
As important as stoves and coolers are, I am excited to show you these amazing camping cookware essentials! If you’ve been following along with my posts you’ll know how much I love Lodge products and I’ve got a few that are amazing options to take on you camping trip. Let’s get to it!
A staple item for cooking if you opt for a portable stove is a cast iron skillet. Lodge has been a trusty brand that I’ve used at home for years and they have amazing reviews for using their products while camping. This skillet comes pre-seasoned so you can pack it up and it’s ready to go! Use this skillet to sear, sauté, grill, roast and fry.
The rubber handle is removable so that you can cook with it over high heat up to 500°, then place it back to easily transport it to you table. This product is also dishwasher safe, but I would recommend hand wash only to keep it in great condition.
This is the one I use at home on a regular basis. But it’s also great to take on you camping trips because it can do everything the previous skillet can do as well as be used straight on you campfire! It also comes pre-seasoned and is ready for use.
Speaking of cooking directly over a campfire, this Dutch oven is a trusty camping staple for many people who love to camp for longer periods of time. The flanged lid holds hot coals and can be flipped over to double as a griddle. This Dutch oven can be used directly over hot coals with legs long enough to still maintain a good distance so that it’s not sitting directly on top of them, or many campers hang it on this tripod so that it can be heated over the campfire.
You can make pretty much anything in this Dutch oven as well. From biscuits, to roasted chicken, to soups and stews! It also comes with a cookbook so that you can try out some new recipes while you’re experiencing the great outdoors!
An honorable mention is the GSI brand. This kettle is another great option for soups and stews and you can also use it to boil any water that you need to sanitize! Use it on the trip pod like the Dutch oven or you use it on you portable stove as well.
This durable kettle was twice kiln-hardened to over 1000°F so it can withstand some bumps along the road. This kettles three-ply construction distributes heat evenly to ensure everyone can have a hot meal on any chilly nights!
If you can’t go mornings without coffee, don’t forget to pack something that you can use on you trip! This percolator was made for outdoor stoves or campfire to help boost you mornings off with a fresh cup of Joe.
Another super popular coffee maker for campers is the AeroPress. It’s easy to use and mess free and makes about 1-3 cups of coffee. It’s great for solo trips or if there’s two of you taking on the wilderness. It’s basically the French press for outdoors!
When considering cooking utensils, plan what you’re going to cook before you go, that way you’ll know exactly what to take without over or under packing. Utensils can be found at most stores in-person or online like Amazon. Thrift stores are always a great place to check out solo utensils.
Here’s a list of some to consider for you trip:
- Silverware (forks, knives, spoons)
- Tongs (metal and/or silicone)
- Spatula (metal and/or silicone)
- Wooden Spoons
- Can Opener
- Bottle/Wine Opener
- Flat Metal Skewers
- Cutting Board
This is a great starter kit if you’re wanting to get a few items and keep them all in the same place! It comes with 9 utensils including a cutting board! This is one thing you don’t want to forget if you’re planning on using you chef skills out in the wilderness. I’m sure a stump could do the trick, but they’re not always guaranteed!
One thing not mentioned in the utensil set is a fillet knife. If you’re camping near a river and plan to do some fishing for you meals this is one thing you don’t want to forget! Using a fillet knife will make it so much easier to prep you fish. It also has a serrated side that makes cutting frozen bait quick and easy. It’s lightweight, comes with a protective sheath and also comes with a knife sharpener to keep it in tip-top shape!
Another item to consider, especially if you opt for the Lodge cast iron cookware, are these Lodge pan scrapers. They’re pretty straight forward and are made to scrape you Lodge cast iron without damaging the seasoning!
For anyone planning a longer trip, these collapsible bowls and measuring spoons are great for saving space while packing and keeping any left overs fresh. Each bowl comes with a lid that snaps airtight to ensure fresh leftovers.
The measuring spoons are also compact and easy to store. Whip these out to impress you friends or family with a detailed and delicious campfire dinner!
When it comes to eating you meals you can always bring enough plates and utensils to wash and clean after each meal, but if you’re not one for cleaning, there’s always the compostable option! Here are compostable utensils and here are compostable plates. Just grab these compostable trash bags and throw you utensils and plates away without the guilt of plastic!
One essential that can take up a lot of space if not packed correctly is water. Your source of water while camping outdoors should be one of you top priorities when planning and organizing you trip. Many families rely on water bottles, but then that creates a lot of plastic trash and can end up taking up a lot of space. Instead, try out one of these water containers to take on you trip. Need to refill it? Most campgrounds and nearby travel centers have fresh water for refills!
You’ve seen Igloo water coolers used at local soccer games, professional football games and by every construction crew in America. There’s no reason not to trust this cooler! It’s durable, won’t leak and can store plenty of water for longer trips.
Don’t let the clear plastic look fool you, this collapsible container is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. This BPA free cooler keeps you water fresh tasting without the odd PVC taste that some plastic products emit. What makes this container great, is if you want to fill up once you get to camp and empty it before you leave it’s collapsible so it helps you to save space in the car!
Cleanup and Dishwashing
We’ve all been there whether it’s an outdoor BBQ or a weekend camping trip and our trash bin was just a trash bag mounted on a tree. At the end of the day, it just doesn’t cut it. Luckily, collapsible trash cans exist to make you camping trip mess free! Just pop a trash bag into this bin and it’s ready for use. With a zipper lid so that wildlife can’t get into you trash and make a mess of you camp ground!
If you opt out for using plates and utensils that aren’t compostable, then this collapsible sink is just what you need. It doesn’t take up much space and can be filled with water to clean you dishes after each use. Because you’re outside, you also want to make sure that you’re cleaning you sink so that it is free from bacteria. After washing dishes, fill you sink with a bit of water and drop one of these Sertramine tablets in and let it sit to disinfect!
Along with the collapsible sink, you’ll need a collapsible drying rack. For a really low cost it saves you the time from hand drying all you dishes and save space in you car! There’s plenty of space for all you plates, bowls and utensils to dry out while you’re out exploring.
Other Essentials and Extras
Okay so maybe all of these next items aren’t exactly essential but they’re what make camping fun and unique! I love all the extras that can help make you camping trip a bonding experience that will be remembered for the years to come. Some of these could also help build traditions for you next trip!
Not an essential but definitely helpful! It can get pretty dark in the great outdoors even with you campfire up and going. This pop-on light in the cooler helps you to see you options when it’s time to pop a cold one after dark.
If you’re handling flame and coals on you camping trip you will 100% need heat-resistant gloves. These are also great for using at home while grilling out or if you’re dealing with baking or roasting in a really hot oven. These gloves can withstand heat up to 932°F. Safety tip: do keep in mind that heat-resistant gloves aren’t indestructible. Most flames can get up to 1650°F internal flame. Where there are no flames usually gets up to 600°F, so these gloves are strictly meant for handling hot foods, pots, pans and coals!
If you’re going for a longer trip or plan on getting it the water quite a bit, a lanyard would really come in handy for you trip! Hang clothes, backpacks and most importantly, you cookware to dry while you’re off hiking or biking.
Okay, maybe not an essential. In fact, I didn’t even think about a sturdy egg container! But I’m definitely thinking about it now. If you’re big on breakfast and want to keep you eggs safe for you weekend trip then this is such a great idea. If you’re going on a longer trip, they’re super inexpensive so just by a few containers!
This is such a fun cooking accessory to take on you trip. If you’ve never heard of a pie iron, you’re not along because neither had I but now I’m sold! Toast pies, sandwiches and more. Check out the cookbooks below to get more inspiration of how to use this pie iron!
I love me a good cookbook and if you’re in need of inspiration for new recipes or if you are planning a first time camping trip these are sure to help you! I found these best-sellers with great reviews with delicious recipes. If you’re planning on Dutch oven cooking be sure to check out The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook with easy 5 ingredient recipes. Or if you decide on trying out the pie iron be sure to check out Pie Iron Recipes with over 2,000 different recipes for you to try!
You can argue that this isn’t an essential but most people would say you’re crazy. Roasting sticks are one of THE BEST parts of camping! Roast marshmallows for s’mores, hot dogs, veggies or meat with these roasting sticks. My favorite part about them is that the length is adjustable so if it’s a chilly night, you can still sit close to the fire and just shorten the rod!
Not the most fun camping essential but necessary to keep flies off you food. This 6 pack is an absolute steal for these mesh food covers, so if they’ve been on you must have list, don’t wait any longer!
Popcorn is great late night snack to share around the campfire. If you’re going with a group of 4 or more, considering getting this popcorn kit to liven things up with stories around the campfire! It comes with 5 bags of popcorn, four sampler seasonings and bags to put you popcorn in!
Okay so I know this has nothing to do with cooking and it’s definitely not an essential but our friends showed us these one night around the fire pit and it was so cool! I had to share it with you guys. If you have kids, or if you’re a kid at heart like me, this will be so fun to throw on the fire as the night is winding down.