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Wilderness Kitchen Checklist: 10 Camping Cooking Essentials to Pack

Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or a weekend warrior, the call of the outdoors can feel irresistible. And while camping is one of the best ways to connect with the wilderness, it doesn’t exactly involve a lot of UberEats… which means you’ll have to get familiar with the old art of outdoor cooking. Just as a seasoned explorer meticulously prepares their gear, so must a wilderness chef. What exactly do you need when packing cooking gear for camping? Here’s how to equip yourself with the basic camping cooking gear you’ll need to create memorable fireside meals, right at your campsite. Use this list of cooking essentials as a jumping-off point—cover these basics for your campsite kitchen and make sure to add any extras to suit your tastes (and space!). Maybe marshmallow forks and mountain-pie makers are on your list of cooking essentials, too! 

1. Trusty Camping Stove: Invest in a lightweight stove that uses butane or propane canisters for fuel efficiency, ease of use, and portability. 

2. Sturdy Frying Pan: Look for a durable nonstick frying pan capable of handling sizzling bacon, frying fresh fish, or sautéing vegetables.

3. Versatile Pot with Lid: Opt for a rugged pot with a secure lid, perfect for simmering stews, boiling water, or brewing your morning coffee. 

4. Portable Grill Grate: A portable grill grate can turn your stove or campfire into a mini barbecue… which means you can dine on perfectly charred steaks and juicy burgers. Get a basic folding style to sit atop your fire, or choose a style that stakes into the ground and slides up and down for versatility in heat intensity.

5. Cast-Iron Skillet: Embrace the art of campfire cooking with a seasoned cast-iron skillet, offering unmatched heat distribution for searing steaks and creating golden campfire cornbread.

6. Stainless Steel Utensils: Pack up a set of versatile kitchen cooking utensils. Your kit should include cooking essentials such as tongs, spatula, and ladles to ensure you can flip burgers, stir stews, and serve meals with ease. An all-in-one cooking set like this 13-piece utensil set includes stainless steel utensils plus some bonus items like knives and shears.

7. Sturdy Coffee Maker: You need your a.m. coffee, and camping doesn’t change that. Make sure you can get the steaming cup in the great outdoors by packing a portable percolator or French press that can deliver piping hot coffee while withstanding the rigors of outdoor life. Choose stainless steel over glass to maximize durability.

8. Essential Ingredients: Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to suffer through unseasoned food! Stock your camp pantry with salt, pepper, basic spices, and olive oil to elevate the flavors of your outdoor meals. This fillable set doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it includes a grinder to use with whole spices.

9. Knife Set with Covers: A set of knives in a variety of sizes is a must—and the sheathes keep you safe. We like this knife set, which includes three essential knife styles, plus a foldable cutting board and cleaning items, all compactly secured in an easy-to-pack case.10. Cooler: You’ll want a sturdy, reliable cooler to load in perishable ingredients for your meals. Go with a trusted brand in a larger size, if you can fit it. And if you’re heading to the forest, a secure bear canister is a great add-on to your supplies! 

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