When you’re used to cooking in a kitchen stocked with anything and everything you could ever need to make healthy meals, trying to figure out how to eat well in the great outdoors can be daunting. But Houston Taylor, a camping expert who worked as an outdoor programs coordinator for years, wants you to know becoming an outdoorsy chef is easier than you think. You just need the right tools.
“After a long day of trekking to your campsite, everything you make tastes like food from a five-star chef. This camping cooking gear enables you to make tastier meals when you’re spending the night outside,” he says. “Most of this list is geared—pun intended—to open the door to lightweight camping. And when you get the right gear the first time around, you can enjoy making outdoor meals for years to come.”
Before your next trip, stock up on some of the camping cooking gear must-haves Taylor swears by (and never leaves home without). Between the easy-to-pack utensils and cookware to the best outdoor stove, preparing meals outdoors is about to become your new favorite thing. You can say goodbye to burnt hotdogs on a stick once and for all.
The best camping cooking gear for delicious meals in the wild
1. Light My Fire BPA-Free Medium Spork, $9 for 2
In the camping world, a spork is a must-have. “It doesn’t matter what you’re eating. A handy spork will be just the ticket to help,” Taylor says. This option is made from BPA-free plastic, is heat-resistant, and has a serrated edge on the side of the fork that acts as a knife. If you want an extra-strong option, Taylor recommends upgrading to the titanium set ($18).
Shop now: Light My Fire BPA-Free Medium Spork, $9 for 2
2. GSI Outdoors Infinity Bowl, $5
This bowl has been a longtime favorite of Taylor. “Whether you’re eating your meals hot or cold, you’re going to need a bowl to eat out of. I’ve had this one for years—long past when I broke the plate and lost the cup from the set I got it out of,” he says. “It might take a bit to transition to eating everything with a spork and a bowl, but I think you’ll find that the extra weight and cleaning needed will outweigh the plate and fork convenience.”
Shop now: GSI Outdoors Infinity Bowl, $5
While you can cook just about anything right over the campfire, this camping stove will make your life much easier. “It’s great for anytime you’ll be cooking at a picnic table and won’t be carrying your gear,” Taylor says. It folds down when you’re done, making it really easy to pack up and store in the car.
Shop now: Coleman 2-Burner Gas Camping Stove, $59
4. MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove, $70
If you’re hiking to your campsite, this lightweight canister stove is Taylor’s go-to. “It’s perfect for a newer hiker,” he says. If you want to take it up a notch, Taylor has another recommendation, too. “For the gourmet outdoor chef, I’d recommend an adjustable heat stove with a refillable bottle so you can always start your next trip with maximum fuel and no waste,” he says, like the MSR DragonFly ($140, msrgear.com).
Shop now: MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove, $70
5. MSR Ceramic Nonstick Camping Pot, $55
There’s a countless amount of meals you can make with this single pot. “You’ll need a pot to boil water for any pasta, rice, oatmeal, freeze-dried meals, and more,” Taylor says. (If you’re looking for high-quality freeze-dried meals, a Well+Good editor swears by Mountain House. “The scrambled eggs with ham and peppers is almost good enough to eat for breakfast at home,” he says.)
Shop now: MSR Ceramic Nonstick Camping Pot, $55
When you have this skillet, any meal is possible. “A common question I get is ‘What meals can I make in the backcountry?’ The good news is, with some adjustments, most meaIs can be made into camping meals,” he says. “You just have to keep in mind your space and cleaning limitations. And be careful to bring precooked meat and monitor the health of your fresh vegetables. In order to sauté or heat up any ingredients, you’ll need a pan like this to cook in.”
Shop now: MSR Ceramic Nonstick Backpacking Skillet, $40
7. Sea to Summit X Series Pot Set, $130
Since the ceramic pot and skillet can take up more space, hikers will love Taylor’s current favorite. “This foldable pot set packs down to nothing,” he says. “I was extra skeptical at first, but it has performed great. You’ve just have to be extra careful to keep the flame off the sides.”
Shop now: Sea to Summit X Series Pot Set, $130
You can’t cook without the right utensils. “In order to successfully make all the meals you want to make, you’re going to need a few basic kitchen utensils engineered for camping,” Taylor says. “A spatula, serving spoon, and cutting board would be at the top of my list to make your camping meals indistinguishable from your kitchen meals.” This set has all of those items, plus everything you need to wash them.
Shop now: MSR Ultralight Utensil and Dish-Washing Kitchen Set, $25
9. Sea to Summit Collapsible X-Mug, $14
There’s nothing like starting your day by drinking coffee or tea by the campfire, and Taylor says this product will make your mornings much easier. “I’ve found that the newer collapsible cups are wondrous for packing, and this one has been reliable for me so far,” he says. To make things especially easy, pack your favorite tea bags and instant coffee packets.
Shop now: Sea to Summit Collapsible X-Mug, $14
Need a meal in a hurry? Take these protein bars with you on camping trips:
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