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Camping Cookware & Cutlery – The Essentials

great food is cookable when travelling outdoors

So we have discussed camping cast iron cookware in some depth, but what about spoons, plates and cups I hear you say…..These are all discussed below.

All of the information is from personal experience and only the best have been mentioned, again in the hope of saving you time and money. There is such a large variety of products on the market that it can be confusing and very easy to buy the first thing you see.

Trust me; I have done this loads of times.

Plates, Bowls and Mugs

Enamel camping gear is the way to go for plates, bowls and mugs as they are touch, safe and lightweight, all the necessary components for the outdoors. There is only one downside of enamelware, and it’s that they can chip. The chips are only tiny, and if need be, you can buy chip repair kits to touch up that area. They are also cheap and easy to clean, here is Australia you can usually get a 12 piece set, four bowls, four plates and four mugs, for under $60.00. If you need smaller amounts, these are available individually also for approximately $5.00 per plate and $3.00 per bowl and mug.

If enamel is not your thing, there is also plastic and titanium available. Personally, I am not a big fan of plastic as I found that they were not as strong as the enamel and I melted a few when getting food off the fire. Titanium is also strong and lightweight and possibly more durable than enamel. However, they are also a lot more expensive. One plate can set you back almost $25.00. I would rather replace a lost $5.00 enamel plate then a $25.00 titanium one.

Cutlery

You have a few different options when it comes to camping cutlery, but personally, I recommend an excellent traveller’s set that comes with a pouch. The bag rolls up and ties up nicely so that you don’t lose any bits and pieces. The only downfall I have found with these is the plastic handle. I have been in the middle of stirring a stew and left the fork resting on top of the pot, sure enough, I melted a small bit of the handle. One the other hand, if the fork was completely metal I probably would have burnt myself, I think I prefer the melted handle. These sets come with four knives, forks and spoons. We throw in 2 everyday teaspoons also. A set like the one pictured will set you back only $25.00 but should last you a long time.

Other options include foldaway sets and plastic; again I am not a fan of the plastic as they break very easily and can melt. The foldaway sets are ideal for solo adventures or hiking, and they fold up very small.

Kettles and Pots

Kettles and pots are also available in enamel with the kettle costing approximately $40.00 and the pot $35.00. If you were looking at getting these, it would be better to buy them in a set with the plates, bowl and mugs as it will work out cheaper. If you were planning on the purchase of a cast iron dutch oven, you can give the pot a miss altogether as anything that you would make in a pot can either be done in the oven or the kettle.

I have also used tin kettles for camping in the past, as pictured, that allow the lid to be fully removed. These are great as not only can they be used for tea and coffee but you can also cook noodles and small amounts of pasta in them. Remember, if you can use the one item for more than one purpose, it’s a bonus.

Other types available include stainless steel whistle kettles which are great if you are in the habit of leaving the kettle boiling while doing other things. However, they are not very versatile, and I love versatility.

Mixing Spoons, Ladles, Tongs

These are the things that most people forget about and end up using their fingers to turn the sausages on the bbq. The first rule….never buy the cheapy wood spoons and stirrers from the local $2 shop. Within the first month, you will end up with mould all over everything. Try to get stainless steel gear preferably with a wooden handle so that it doesn’t get too hot; bbq equipment is the best way to go. Get yourself a pair of tongs with the largest handles as possible so that you are not burning your hands when trying to get your campfire spuds off the coals. You will need a spoon, ladle, tongs and a flipper. But remember, you only take with you what you are going to use, so if you are not planning on making pasta you can leave the ladle at home.

Miscellaneous Gear

This is all the items that you kick yourself for leaving behind once you get to your secluded spot and start to cook your feast.

Do not forget your gas stove!

Can opener
Firelighters and matches
Potato Peeler
Fireproof Gloves (available from good camping stores for only $10.00)
Scissors
Sharp knife
Cutting board
Fold up strainer
A wide shallow bucket to do the dishes
Sponge and dish washing detergent
Tea towel
Most of these items are ‘take only if needed’. It’s always a good idea to work out your menu before you leave and take only what is required for those meals. That way you are not using up valuable room in the car.

What To Cook On

There is a lot of division between gas bottle and butane stoves and which one is the best. Personally, I love my butane camp stove and would never go back to the gas bottle cookers. The are light, cheap, last for years and very easy to pack. These little gems use butane gas canisters which again are cheap as chips. A single burner stove will set you back about $20.00 and the double about $45.00 with the canisters normally going for $20.00 for a box of 12. They come with a tough plastic case, and they can easily be packed behind or under car seats. Compared that to the gas bottle cookers, not only do you have to find room for the stove but also the gas bottle and gas refill stations are not always readily available.

Where possible I recommend cooking on the open fire and coals, it adds to the entire outdoors experience. But if this isn’t an option, go the butane gas stove.

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Mark Jonson
Mark Jonson
Outdoor enthusiast and rafting addict. From Cleveland Ohio born and raised (GO CAVS). Working for a professional kayaking company located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ohio. I am a huge NBA fan and spend the rest of my spare time djing as a hobby.

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