Ever since Earthlings discovered the transformational power of an open flame on basic foodstuffs, we’ve been gathering to enjoy the bounty of the planet. The diversity of our ecosystems and peoples has given rise to a rich tapestry of cuisines and tastes—and all are welcome at our camping table.
True: An active day outdoors can make even the simplest fare taste delicious, but with the sort of outdoor kitchen gear available today, foodie culture is alive and well in the wilds. Brands have been busy of late creating innovative tools and appliances for our cookouts. And while cooking gadgetry alone might not make you an accomplished chef, great cooks (and great cooks to-be) all share one trait, namely that they take great pride in their tools.
Not every modern cooking item can be as genius as the Rolla Roaster, but any of the ones listed below would make worthy additions to your camp kitchen.
In an age of hyper-innovation, it’s noteworthy when a classic form factor endures. The 2-burner camp stove is one such beast, in part because it so smartly combines compactness and functionality. Eureka didn’t reinvent that icon—instead the brand simply enhanced its key components.
The first hint that Eureka’s Ignite Plus stove is more evolved is its Mediterranean blue hue, but performance sticklers will be drawn to the twin 10,000-BTU burners. The stove also offers precise flame control to moderate all that thermal power, so you can simmer, brown, sauté or achieve a full-throated, roiling boil as needed. Oversize side windscreens keep breezes from buffeting the flame. The surface area of the stove is also expansive, so you can comfortably fit a 12-inch frypan next to a 12-inch pot. It has a push-button ignition for ultraconvenience. $144.95
Overlanding in a bigger rig has certainly grown in popularity, but tiny-car camping is still alive and thriving. And for that, we have the perfect stove for you: the subcompact Kovea Mini Stove. With a 12-by-10-inch footprint, it slips into your car’s nooks and crannies and frees up space on your camp table.
It’s also a masterpiece in modularity. The Mini Stove comes in a protective case with a carry handle. A ceramic nonstick cooking vessel nests inside the body of the stove. Pull that squarish pot out and its four legs plug neatly into the corners of the cooktop to secure the system. The pot lid (which also fits inside the stove body) doubles as a four-compartment dish. Alternatively, you can place the included grate on the stovetop and use your own pots and pans. $99.95
OXO is a venerated household brand that’s exploring the outdoors now, an emergence that’s long overdue. The brand also recently became a member of 1% for the Planet, which means it donates 1 percent of its annual revenue to environmental initiatives. Now, camp chefs can also benefit from OXO’s devotion to both functional details and ergonomics—its trademark beefy handles make its tools a joy to heft. Below we highlight five of our new favorites.
This 8-cup press from OXO can brew a carafe of smooth-tasting coffee quickly, but it also has some conservation cred. It’s made from 50 percent recycled materials, specifically Tritan™ Renew, which comes from recycled plastic bottles that were otherwise bound for a landfill. (Check out Good Gear: Nalgene Sustain to learn more about other outdoor products that use this revolutionary new recycled material.) Also good: The BPA-free carafe is shatter-resistant, and the stainless-steel filter has a silicone edge to keep coffee and grounds in their respective places. Nonslip surfaces on both the top knob and pour handle make handling easy-peasy. $24.95
Slicing, dicing and chopping are the showiest of all chef tasks, which makes the chef’s knife the quintessential chef’s tool. Anyone who’s serious about the craft brings their own—another knife’s handle never feels quite right. If you have yet to choose your Excalibur, you just might be smitten by the soft texture on the nonslip handle on the OXO Outdoor 8″ Chef’s Knife, which nestles naturally into your hand. The stainless-steel blade also can be honed to a razor’s edge, so a special sheath is included to protect you from each other. Also important: The price is right. $14.95
With its Campsite Squeeze Bottle Set, OXO found a way to more elegantly execute an otherwise utilitarian cooking item. This pair of small, shatter-resistant squeeze bottles work great for bringing your favorite culinary staples to the wilds. The set includes a 12-ounce and a 16-ounce bottle, but OXO’s innovation is in the two interchangeable spouts—a thick one for condiments like ketchup and a thin one for free-flowing liquids like olive oil. Each ergonomically angled spout cap can be flipped open (and snapped shut) with one thumb. $9.95
Behold: this ingenious little scraper from OXO. Unlike sponges that are too wimpy to remove stubborn food particles and brushes that inevitably get frayed and funky, this flexible silicone blade cleanly clears the surface of cookware and plates with minimal fuss. Washup after that is quick and easy. Bonus use: The blade of the Pots + Pans Scraper also excels as a squeegee on washed and rinsed surfaces, speeding up drying duties. $5.95
Outdoor chefs ambitious enough to tote their beloved cast-iron cookware to the campground know that scrubbing down their pans while preserving the “seasoning,” a carefully curated (and molecularly bonded) layer of oils, is a touchy task. The key to cleaning cast iron is to avoid soap (which can degrade the seasoning). Instead, brandish this specially created brush from OXO to do battle with dirty frypans and griddles. The Cast Iron & Grill Pan Brush has a plastic scraper tip that gets things started and stiff bristles arrayed at multiple angles to reach nooks and crannies. Bonus: The bristles are gentle enough to also use on nonstick cookware. $9.95
Both cooking show contestants and five-star restaurateurs will tell you that “presentation matters”—beautifully prepared cuisine should be plated on the appropriate canvas. Fine china isn’t practical for camping, so Barebones has crafted the next best thing. The brand’s two-person sets of eggshell-white or matte slate plates ($18), bowls ($16) and cups ($15) have a gleaming bronze patina on the stainless-steel rims for the glam factor, making even a bowl of Spaghetti Os look like a foodie work of art. $18 for two plates, $16 for two bowls, $15 for two cups
A truism in cooking is that you can never have too much prep space. Even a site with a picnic table can benefit from a separate theater of operations for the sous chef. The REI Co-op Camp Prep Table fills the bill nicely, thanks to an expansive 2-by-4-foot surface area. It’s also made of stout stuff—steel legs and an easily cleaned aluminum-slat top. Perhaps the best feature, though, is that the height can be varied, and the leg lengths can be independently adjusted to deal with uneven terrain. Bonus: It folds flat to stow in your rig. $99.95
Sustainably stowing and preserving ingredients or leftovers is a challenge at home, but that duty somehow feels even more urgent outdoors. Stasher food-grade silicon bags provide both an alternative to soul-sucking plastic bags and a substantial upgrade. They’re not merely reusable, they’re also freezable, dishwasher-safe and ideal for “sous vide” (sue-veed), a specialized cooking technique that involves immersing a bag in temperature-controlled water. Stasher bags are available in a wide range of sizes, from snack-bag-size to nearly gallon-size. $9.95–$29.95
Bee’s Wrap is a reusable alternative to that old petrochemical standby, plastic wrap. This more virtuous option is made of GOTS-certified organic cotton, sustainably sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. The trick when you use it is to allow the warmth of your hands to activate the seal. It can be washed repeatedly in cool, soapy water. Regular use will eventually wear it out, though, at which time you can cut it into strips and add it to your compost pile. It’s available in a variety of designs, sizes and packaged sets. $11–$42
Few pieces of the cooking kit have been so aptly named as the Lodge Iron Cook-It-All. With just two pieces of foundry-seasoned cast iron—a lid and a wok-shaped bottom that doubles as a skillet—the Cook-It-All can be used in multiple configurations. The lid can be used alone as a grill on one side and a griddle on the other, and atop the wok it creates a Dutch oven. Flip everything over and you get a pizza oven. The various setups also allow you to use multiple heat sources: a stove, a wood fire or charcoal briquettes. As a bonus, it comes with an extensive guidebook that includes usage tips and recipes. $119.95
Interested in more staff picks and kits? Find more collections here.