In the market for a set of pots and pans for camping trips? You might be tempted to simply run out to the thrift store to purchase hodge-podge of cheap cooking equipment that can stand to get beat up on the trail and rattle around in your backpack. Although you might save a few bucks, however, you’ll quickly find that path leads to bulky, heavy cookware that doesn’t play nice with your campfire or camping stove.
Instead, it’s worth investing in a set of cookware that’s made specifically for the demands of outdoor adventures. You want something packable that is compatible with the rest of your camping or backpacking kit, and that won’t break the bank or your back. And you want something serviceable you can use for all kinds of out-of-kitchen meal prep, like when hiking, on a road trip, during a visit to a cabin or campsite, or in case of an emergency.
Qualities to Look for In Camping Pots and Pans
If that sounds like a tall order, don’t worry. It’s easy to find good quality, inexpensive pots and pans for camping if you know what features to look for. We helped you narrow down what to look for, whether you’re shopping for a pot to take thru-hiking, a griddle for car camping cookouts, or cookware that can go from one extreme to the other.
Whether you are backpacking through Zion or camping next to your favorite fishing hole, you are going to have to move your equipment from one place to another. Ounces add up to pounds, and pounds add up to an aching back. When it comes to purchasing outdoor cookware, make sure you find the most lightweight but durable pots and pans for camping available.
The Primus PrimeTech Pot Set, for example, is light enough to pack in your backpack, but it still has the durability that comes with hard anodized aluminum. That also helps heat conduct faster, helping your food to cook quicker— up to 50% quicker, in fact. Faster cooking times aren’t just more convenient, they also mean using less fuel than if you’d made the same meal in a traditional stainless steel pot that’s also heavier to carry.
With the right cookware, you could even prep a campground Thanksgiving dinner. The trick is to find camping pots and pans that are versatile enough to handle dishes beyond the delicious but expected ramen and freeze dried camping meals. Look for something like the large Primus Stainless Steel Campfire Cookset, which comes with a frying pan, as well as both 1.8 and 3.0-liter pots, complete with lids and integrated colanders. That opens you up to a variety of meals, from breakfast hashes to steamed vegetables or campsite carbonara. Amaze your friends and family with your outdoor culinary skills. There’s more to eating outside than hot dogs and s’mores.
Anyone who has packed for a family camping trip knows how difficult it is to fit all the equipment and food in the back of even the most massive SUV or minivan. That’s even more true when you’re trying to fit everything you need for a week or more on the trail into a backpack just a few dozen liters large. When space is at a premium, it’s vital that your cookware can take up as little room as possible.
Look for camping pots and pans that nest inside one another in addition to being lightweight, or slip into their own storage bag to stay clean, protected, and secure. Also look for cookware that has a collapsible element, like a handle on the camping frying pan folds away for easy storage. Come to think of it, that would be handy for fitting your everyday pots and pans into the cupboard, as well.
When you are enjoying the great outdoors, you have to be ready for any situation— after all cold, wet, and darkness are almost certainly guaranteed at some point, in addition to good times. Sometimes you’ll get to easily whip up a pasta salad or fresh caught trout as the sun peacefully approaches dusk. Others, you will find yourself on the side of a mountain, huddled over a small stove, impatiently waiting for water to boil.
A heavy duty piece of cookware, like a cast iron skillet, is durable and can stand up to being shoved into the coals to roast root vegetables or being scoured with river sand after a sticky batch of eggs. But it’s too heavy to backpack with, would be hard to balance on a camp stove, and can take a long time to heat up. That’s why you need camping pots and pans that can be used in a variety of scenarios.
In either scenario, you will be glad that you have camping pots and pans that can be used in the best of times or the worst of times, on campfires and camp stoves or whatever happens to be available. Look for a cookware set with an integrated heat exchanger on the bottom. That feature means that you will enjoy a hot cup of soup faster than if you were using traditional cookware, and that your fuel will last longer so you can extend the length of your trek.
Other times, you will have nothing but sweet time and a roaring campfire to prepare your grub for the night. In this case, you will want to make sure your cookware has a handle that allows it to suspend over an open fire. Nothing tastes better than chili cooked over an open fire on a cool fall night.
With these qualities in mind, it’s not hard to pick out camping pots and pans that will go the distance and make your time outside easier, not harder. Whether you’re getting into thru-hiking or simply want a better way to tailgate your favorite team or introduce your kids to camping, having the right equipment can take your adventure to the next level.