10 Must-Haves for Camping Cookouts


March 1, 2023


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Camping Cookouts

Before heading out camping, you think of everything: the tent, the mat, what sleeping bags to bring, and where to go. But comfort isn’t the only thing that makes a camping trip great. It’s equally important to make sure that you’re geared up to eat well. Eating hearty meals to refuel after a day full of outdoor activities will make all the difference and truly maximize your experience. The key is to figure out exactly what to pack to make cooking under the open sky as pleasant as possible. Read on for our list of camping cooking essentials, and get ready for three-star dinners by the fire.

Discover our 10 essentials for cooking while camping:

  1. Keeping food fresher, longer
  2. Staying hydrated
  3. Lighting the fire
  4. Cooking some good meals
  5. Eating just as well as you would at home
  6. Cutting like a pro
  7. Establishing the basics of camp cookouts
  8. Warming up and waking up with a distinguished coffee
  9. Organizing food
  10. Starting on a clean slate
  11. Other essentials to take away

1. Keeping food fresher, longer

A cooler isn’t only for keeping beer cool, it also protects your food from insects and other animals, and preserves the life of perishable foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, etc.

Several different types of coolers exist according to your needs and based on how long your camping getaway will be. The loading capacity required will not be the same when you are camping alone as compared to with your family. The size of your cooler will, therefore, be chosen as a result. It also depends on the type of adventure you are looking for. If you’re glamping, camping in the backcountry, or camping on top of a mountain, you may not need the same type of cooler. There are lighter or electric coolers, and softshell insulated models should you wish to go that route. Another interesting option is a cooler on wheels to make getting around a little bit easier for you.

Tip: If you want to keep your food cold as long as possible, get a second cooler for beverages, which you may open more frequently during summer.

2. Staying hydrated

Water purifier

Clean drinking water is a vital element, but it can be rare when camping or hiking. Water from surrounding lakes and rivers must be filtered properly before you drink it. This applies to clear water (and even more so to cloudy or muddy water). The goal is to eliminate all the microorganisms you really don’t want to be drinking, such as bacteria and viruses. In order to do that, you must choose between several options such as straws, filtering bottles and UV purifiers, and that is not exactly an easy task. 

The first option is water filters, either pump or gravity. Basically, these filters allow the water to go through a filtering element to be rid of most of the pathogens it contains. Be careful, though: these filters do not eliminate viruses, and should therefore be avoided in areas where there is a higher risk of contamination.

Another possible solution is water purifiers, most of which combine a filter and chemical treatment. These devices can eliminate over 99% of pathogens from your water, including viruses. They are ideal for certain areas as well as for long hikes.

One more option: the convenient and compact ultraviolet (UV) purifiers. These directly affect the DNA of pathogens and can be used to treat up to one litre of water in just a few tens of seconds. Be aware, however, that the water still needs to be filtered beforehand.

Purification tablets are often used as a backup should something happen to the filtration or purification system. It’s always a good idea to carry some with you, just in case. Since this is a chemical treatment, you may notice some inconveniences when using it, notably a slightly altered taste. It’s also not the fastest option, as the whole treatment takes a few minutes, but the drop or tablet format is very convenient and easy to carry.

You should also consider bringing a water bottle if you plan on doing any sporting activities during your stay — trail running, hiking, climbing, etc. A variety of water bottles, foldable reservoirs and hydration packs are available. Look for filtering bottles with built-in filtration systems.

Shop – Water filters

3. Lighting the fire

Camping stove

Wondering what type of burner or stove to bring? If you’re planning a long hike or a canoe-camping trip, go for a light and compact model. If fully serviced or drive-in camping is more your thing, you can indulge in a bigger model with two or more burners, a grill, and so on. 

Hiking and backpacking stoves are ultra-light and don’t consume much fuel (usually propane). They are also very simple to use, as long as you don’t forget to bring matches and a canister! Some models are part of a kit that includes the stove itself, a fuel bottle and a pot. Other options include wood-burning stoves, which can be a great choice if you don’t want to carry a cylinder, naphta stoves and multi-fuel stoves. To make the right choice, compare criteria such as weight, general stability, type of fuel, presence of windscreens…

If you prefer camping near your car or on a fully serviced site, you’ll have plenty of options. Since you don’t have to go for a lightweight or even a compact model, you can opt for a stove that will allow you to really “cook.” With two or more burners, these models let you prepare meals for several people using standard cooking equipment. If you’re into grilling, you can also consider portable grills, and if you want to recreate a campfire vibe just about everywhere, check out electric campfires.

4. Cooking some good meals

Camping meal

Try to plan your menu in advance as much as possible, but don’t limit your creativity, as meal ideas can almost be endless. It’s not just burgers or fire-grilled sausages that will delight your taste buds.

Since you may end up making pasta, ribs or wild mushroom risotto, it’s good to bring different cookware to be ready for anything. Pick durable cookware that you can keep for several years.

Also, what’s a camping breakfast without bacon and eggs? To prepare some delicious bacon, nothing’s better than a cast iron pan that will give your breakfasts that classic taste.

Tip: Bring along a colander, which may also be used for hunting shells, rocks and gold nuggets in rivers asfor draining vegetables and pasta.

Shop cauldrons Shop pans

5. Eating just as well as you would at home

Leave no trace or waste behind, and try to avoid disposable camping dishware. There’s such a large selection available for campers, from vintage sets to modern, shatterproof accessories that don’t take up much space and are super lightweight. There are even foldable plates, bowls and cups, sporks (spoon and fork combo), stainless steel tumblers, and even complete sets with all the essentials. 

Shop – Cutlery

6. Cutting like a pro

Swiss army knives can get you out of a pickle real quick. Consider choosing one with a bottle opener so that if you’d like to plan for an elegant dinner, you’ll be all set. These tools are the kind of thing that can save you in a pinch. You never know when it might come in handy, as you might as well cut the string that holds your salmon roll or the rope from which your food bag is hanging.

Shop – Multipurpose knives

7. Establishing the basics of camp cookouts

Don’t underestimate the value of bringing a cutting board. In addition to allowing you to cut vegetables and fruit, it can be used as a presentation board for cheeses and other delicacies during happy hour, a tray for glasses and plates or a separation panel in the cooler. A thin object that takes up little space, but has more than one trick up its sleeve.

8. Warming up and waking up with a distinguished coffee

Camping coffee

To start your day off on the right foot, nothing’s better than a cup of coffee. There are several ways to brew a delicious cup, even in the middle of the woods; it’s just a matter of choosing the right one. Filter coffee maker, coffee press, percolator…  it’s up to you!

A percolator (or espresso percolator) is a good way to go if you’re camping with other coffee lovers. With a percolator, you can make up to 1 L of coffee at a time — enough to fill everyone’s cup. That being said, it is a rather bulky piece of equipment, so it might not be your best option if you’re going on a backpacking trip. 

You can also prepare some delicious hot coffee while camping using a coffee press or a drip filter, one of the most compact and economical options. The only “problem” with these methods is that you have to prepare each cup individually. The same goes for submersible filters, which let you brew coffee directly in your cup. Either way, it’s always best to choose reusable or eco-friendly filters. If you can’t go without your usual morning latte, you can even add a battery-powered milk frother to your gear kit!

9. Organizing food

Cooking at a campsite is an art. A great way to avoid food waste is to use reusable containers to organize your food. You can bring just the right amount of flour, pack your favourite spices, store dinner leftovers… Whatever’s in your cooler, you can organize it with all sorts of insulated and airtight containers. You will also minimize odours that might attract animals.

Drive-in camping or glamping enthusiasts don’t have to worry about packing light and can handily leave with one or several coolers. But if that’s your case, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare beforehand. The morning or the day before you leave, gather everything you will need to prepare your meals and put it in sealed containers. Preparing dinner(s) in the middle of the woods will be all the more enjoyable.

Shop containers

10. Starting on a clean slate

Nature is precious. Most camping and outdoor enthusiasts know that and are committed to protecting it. The idea is simple: leave no trace behind, whether you pitch your tent in a fully serviced site or bivouac off the beaten path.

Nobody wants to store dirty dishware after a good camping cooking session, so a little cleaning is usually necessary. Of course, the choice of product matters: do your dishes the sustainable way by using biodegradable, environmentally friendly products and a portable camping sink (which you can also use for personal hygiene).

Nowadays, it’s easy to find everything you need to camp cleanly: tablecloths to cover the picnic table, scrubbing brushes, biodegradable soap… Remember that multipurpose camping soaps are very concentrated; all you need is a few drops.

Other essentials to take away

  • In addition to what you’re already bringing with you, how about adding some snacks like protein bars for your coffee breaks after a hike or as a dessert. Try out freeze-dried food as well – it’s so easy to prepare and tastes great. There’s something for everyone: from three-cheese lasagna to crème brulée!
  • Use stove griddles and skewers for cooking sausages, s’mores or fish directly over the campfire.
  • Slip a battery-powered lantern into your bag so you don’t get caught off guard at dinner time. It can quickly get dark in the forest once the sun has gone down.

Enjoy your meal!

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