While there will always be a place at the camp dinner table for a good ol’ hot dog in a bun, there comes a time when you’ll need to step your camp cooking game up. Hot dogs three days in a row get pretty tired. A well-planned and executed meal while in the great outdoors takes a camping trip to a whole other level. The key to a fantastic camp meal is the camp kitchen. Having the proper tools at hand will help you get to this hallowed level of “camp chef”.
Imagine your home kitchen. You have everything dialed. Each kitchen tool has its specific resting spot, every go-to seasoning easily located while whipping up a family favorite. The order and familiarity of your kitchen space allow you to do what you do best, cook like you’re a contestant on Top Chef.
Your camping set-up shouldn’t be any different. Take the time to get the proper tools, and keep them organized in one place, so when you go camping your camp kitchen is ready to go, without having to agonize over what to bring. No-one wants to show up at that beauty campsite at dinnertime only to realize with horror that all the cutlery was left at home. Don’t be that person.
We’ve done our fair share of camp cooking (and experienced some epic fails as well), and want to pass along some wisdom we’ve gained on the way. If you’re not into tips, just scroll down for the full list of all the things you need in your Camp Kitchen Kit.
Separate “Camp” from “Home”
Get a full set of camp cutlery, plates, bowls, and mugs. Your grandma’s fine china and antique silverware isn’t ideal for the campsite life. Invest in some solid tableware that lives in your Camp Kitchen Kit, ready for any adventure. We love the snow peak product and GSI Outdoors. What kitchen tools do you use all the time? Consider getting a second set, or a mini light-weight duplicate and stick ’em in the Kitchen Kit. You’ll thank yourself later.
Cast Iron is a Game-Changer
If weight isn’t an issue (ie car camping, canoe camping), a cast iron pan or dutch oven will elevate your cooking while keeping things simple. Cooking in a dutch oven opens up so many opportunities for amazing camp meals. Some great cast iron meal ideas here.
Spice Up Your Life
Depending on your preferred style of cooking, there are probably some favorite spices that go in most, if not every meal that gets cooked at home. Don’t forget these when camping! Buy some small plastic containers (good options here), fill ’em up with all the spices and oils you use when cooking, and stuff ’em in the kit, ready to be used on your next camping outing. Most spices and oils have long shelf lives and can be stored without worry. Some must-haves:
- High quality salt and pepper
- Sriracha: good on anything, right?
- Container of olive oil, and another of veggie oil
- Pre-mixed salad dressing, our preference is a simple olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette
- Ketchup packs (save ’em when you get fast food)
Get back to your roots and cook with fire. Because who doesn’t love fire? Not only is the campfire a critical part of the camping experience, cooking over flame adds another dimension to your meal flavors (as well as a whole new challenge, if you’re not prepared). It’s good to set aside part of the Camp Kitchen Kit to fire cooking. Make sure you have all the fire starter necessities. Matches/lighter (and a spare), tinder of some sort, and a camp hatchet and saw. With those tools, you’ll be able to start a fire in the middle of a rainstorm (we don’t guarantee it).
Some campgrounds will have a cooking grill on the campfire ring, but not having one will ruin your day, so we always throw in a simple rack to place over the flames, supported by a few rocks or its own stand. Another nice touch is a few retractable roasting skewers for marshmallows or hot dogs. Saves you having to hunt through the bush for that “perfect” stick, and will always be there in your Kit for when you need ’em most. Here's a Fire Kit packing list we keep handy.
This ain’t no Polar Expedition, this is your holiday, dammit. Add in a few simple luxuries to your Kit, to remind yourself that you and the family worked hard to get to that beautiful campsite, and you deserve it! For adult beveraging (is that a verb?) add in a can cooler and some stainless steel nesting wine glasses. For the kids, ensure that they pick out a favourite mug or cup to live in the Kit, and pack some fun drink mixes and hot chocolate powder.
The more you get out camping, and cooking, the more dialed your own Camp Kitchen Kit will become. It’s a good feeling when you’re packing frantically to head out on an adventure and you can just grab the Kit, knowing that everything you need for some high-class camp cooking is tucked inside, ready to be utilized.
The Camp Kitchen Kit List
A handy checklist to build out your very own Kit. Designed to fit in one RUX.
- Camp tableware (cutlery, plate, bowl, mug): one set per family member
- Cast iron pan and/or Dutch Oven (if weight isn’t an issue)
- Device to make coffee (eg. aeropress, stovetop espresso maker, mini French Press)
- Spice “Rack”: nylon bag or case (toiletry bags work well) with assorted spice containers
- Fire-starter kit
- Small camp stove, with extra fuel
- Kitchen Utensils
- Nested camp pots/pans
- Large mixing/serving spoon
- Camp-size chef knife
- Cutting board
- Multi-tool (bottle opener, can opener, knife, etc)
- Aluminum foil
- Extra food containers (ziplocs, tupperware)
- Cleaning items (scrubber/sponge, paper towel, bio-soap, trash bag)
Here’s the Camp Kitchen Kit packing list we keep handy in the app we’re working on.
All this fits in a RUX 70L. Packed 'n ready.