Build the Ultimate Camp Kitchen With These 5 Essential Pieces of Gear
Unless you’re looking to set a speed record, enjoying a proper meal al fresco can be one of the greatest joys of backpacking. Up your backcountry chef game with these five pieces of camp kitchen gear.
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MSR WindBurner Group Stove System
Designed for hikers seeking a life beyond freeze-dried chili mac, the WindBurner Group Stove System is our go-to for real meals along the trail. The spacious 2.5-liter pot served up peanut noodles for three on a fall overnight in Moab, Utah, and even when 45-mph winds knocked over our tent (yikes!), the windproof burner never wavered. A precise simmer control sautées veggies to perfection, and the non-stick ceramic coating prevents gunk from building up, which makes for easy cleaning. It may seem a little clunky at first, but the entire 1.3-pound system nests together neatly, with room left for an 8-ounce fuel canister, utensils, and a dish rag. Buy Now
$200; 1 lb. 5 oz.
UCO 4 Piece Mess Kit
As we scraped the last bite of coconut rice off the 4 Piece Mess Kit during a winter camping overnight in Grand Teton National Park, everything seemed right with the world. “The sturdy, smooth-finish plastic feels like eating off a real plate, and the utensil handles are easy to hold even when you’re wearing gloves,” one tester says. We appreciated that the kit’s 6.7-inch-wide bowl and 3-in-1 spork are radius-matched—their curves fit together precisely, with no gaps—which ensures that no speck of curry gets left behind (it gets bonus points for making cleanup quick, too). You can also use the 4 Piece’s leak-proof lid as a second plate—perfect for a duo that wants to go a little lighter. Buy Now
$15; 8 oz.
Sea to Summit Delta Insulated Mug
From morning coffee to evening chamomile, camp mugs bring the comfort—and this one’s smooth, handle-free design lets us slide it into any nook or cranny of our pack. The Delta Insulated Mug still boasts solid grip, though, thanks to a subtly curved shape. “It’s the perfect size for my coffee, oatmeal, or a small cup of ramen, and it’s easy enough to clean that I found myself using it for all three on the same trip,” said one tester of the 16-ounce vessel after a week in Mt. Rainier National Park. The integrated insulated sleeve keeps the outside from burning your hands when filled with hot soup, but lets just enough warmth through to keep your fingers warm after a surprise frost. Buy Now
$17; 4.4 oz.
Opinel Nomad Kit
Thanks to the Nomad Kit, we actually look forward to chopping veggies when we get to camp. This svelte set includes three folding knives—a serrated blade, a smooth blade, and a peeler—that can tackle anything from a stale hunk of bread to an aged block of Parmesan. “We actually fought over who got to do the food prep,” said one tester after cooking up a zucchini-filled potato hash on the Teton Crest Trail. There’s even a corkscrew tucked inside the smooth knife should you be willing to tote in a bottle of wine. What the included 8-inch by 5-inch cutting board lacks in size it makes up for in strength—the small, sturdy beechwood board held up to a summer of cheese sampling. Buy Now
$85; 14 oz.
GSI Outdoors Pack Kitchen 8 Set
This kit includes every kitchen gadget we tend to forget, streamlining packing and allowing for smooth operation in camp. One tester whipped up a spicy bowl of Korean bibimbap on an overnight in Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness and didn’t have to worry about the gochujang or soy sauce spilling in her bag thanks to the two soft-sided condiment bottles. The lightweight spatula’s wide edge flipped eggs without breaking yolks, and the serving spoon proved useful for doling out generous servings of crispy rice. A microfiber camp towel and scrubbing pad top off the kit, which all stuffs together in a 7-inch by 5-inch mesh carry bag that doubles as a mini picnic blanket. Buy Now
$15; 3.7 oz.