Essential Cooking Gear

What are some important tools to take along for good food prep on the trail?

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Dear Kristin, I just started hiking through mountain trails in the last year or so. I’m ready to take on full weekend backpacking trips. My main concern is food. What are some important tools to take along for good food prep?

Submitted by – Tom – Fort Collins, CO


Food is such a personal thing. Some of my hiking partners can very happily subsist on Ramen noodles and Power Bars for days on end.

I, on the other hand, would rather get a root canal than stoop to such levels. I believe that tasty, healthy, satisfying meals are part of the fun of backpacking. I invest time up front to plan and dehydrate, and package my meals.

Enough ranting: the tools you take along have to match up with your style of cooking. If you’re the Ramen type, all you need is a good stove, a simple one, a cup and a spork. If you like more elaborate meals, you might want to pack a small cutting board (or plate that doubles as one), an extra pot with a frypan lid, some additional utensils (like a small spatula or serving spoon), and some extra fuel so you can simmer and sauté. A spice kit is also a nice option, but over the years I’ve winnowed mine down to one item: a little bottle of Tabasco sauce. It makes everything taste more interesting.