Whether you’re car camping, fishing or heading out into the backcountry, there is no reason to compromise on your meals. With the right gear, you can set up a functional kitchen just about anywhere. From a chic great outdoors-approved dinnerware set to a foldable heavy-duty grill, these tested-and-approved tools will have you campfire cooking like the love child of Martha Stewart and Bear Grylls. Whether you’re set to hike the Appalachian Trail or prefer a glamping setup close to your car, these camping essentials will ensure you’re being fed properly. Read on for 12 items to pack for your next outdoor adventure.
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1. Packable Camp Grill
If your campsite doesn’t come with a grill, don’t worry. This collapsible grill grate is welded with heavy duty steel and will fit right over your campfire. It’s easy to fold up and slide into the trunk of your car, plus the 24-by-16-inch grate has just enough surface area for a skillet or two and a pot of hot water.
Texsport Heavy Duty Camp Grill, $39 at amazon.com
2. Cast Iron Skillet
No one in their right mind would schlep a cast-iron skillet up a mountain, but if you’re car camping, then a cast-iron pan is a must. The thick, heavy-duty walls conduct even heat and won’t be damaged by a roaring hot campfire. This particular 2-in-1 model can be used separately as a pot and a skillet or simultaneously like a lidded Dutch oven. Nestle the pot and lid into the coals and the thick insulated walls will operate much like an oven or a closed grill. Try it out with this Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches and Blueberries.
Cuisinel 2-in-1 Cast Iron Multicooker, $33 at amazon.com
3. Lightweight Camping Pot
If you are hiking up a mountain, then pack this lightweight pot made with hard anodized aluminum. The metal conducts heat well, but won’t weigh down your pack. Bonus: small holes on the lid work as a strainer if you’re cooking pasta.
GSI Outdoors Halulite Cook Pot, $45 at amazon.com
4. Long Metal Tongs
These 16-inch Oxo tongs will keep your hands and arms away from the heat. Also, the metal tips can withstand a hot campfire better than silicone.
Oxo Good Grips 16-inch Tongs, $15 at amazon.com
Just like the tongs, you want a long spatula that gives you a little bit of separation from the flames. This griddle spatula is ideal for cooking eggs and pancakes or flipping burgers or whole fish.
New Star Foodservice 16-inch Spatula, $9 at amazon.com
6. Heavy Duty Foil
This might not be the most glamorous tool, but it is the one you will use the most. Toss a roll of heavy-duty foil in your car for your next campsite visit. Use the thick sheets to make all-in-one foil packet dinners (ahem, hobo packs), to wrap up russet potatoes and toss in the coals, or as an impromptu lid on your skillet.
Reynold’s Heavy Duty Foil, $12 at amazon.com
7. Grill Gloves
These 16-inch grill gloves are completely fire resistant and go higher up your arm to protect you from the heat. Use the gloves to move your pots and pans on the grill grate or to snatch hobo packs from the hot coals.
Inno Stage 16-inch Fire Resistant Gloves, $17 from amazon.com
8. Durable Cooler
A road-tested cooler is essential for cooking outdoors, especially if you’re planning on catching your own dinner. This 30-quart capacity, soft-sided cooler from Otter Box can be slung over your shoulder or strapped on like a backpack. It also has a built-in bottle opener and tie-down points if you’re taking it out on the river. Plus, the smart insulation can keep ice frozen for up to 3 days.
Otter Box LT 30 Cooler, $300 at amazon.com
9. Multipurpose Knife
This is a must-have tool for a real outdoors(wo)man. In addition to scissors and a paring knife, this compact multitool also has a bottle opener, serrated knife, wire cutter and screwdriver.
Leatherman Wave+, $100 at amazon.com
10. Travel Knife & Cutting Board Set
If the Leatherman is a little more than you need, then check out this stylish cutting board-and-knife travel set. The oak board and the super-sharp 10-inch knife pack up neatly in a carrying case so you can be ready to chop garlic or whip up a cheese board just about anywhere.
Primus Travel Set, $70 from food52.com
11. Travel Spice Kit
No cook should be without their pantry, so pack it up and take it with you! The compact stainless-steel containers are perfect for storing your flaky sea salt and go-to spices.
Wealer’s 6-piece Spice Kit, $17 from amazon.com
12. Enamelware Set
How stylish are these copper-rimmed enamelware plates? Use this vintage-inspired set for your next camping trip or backyard dinner party. The enamelware is durable, dishwasher safe and much greener than paper plates. Order the plates, bowls or cups separately, or go all in for the “picnic set” complete with flatware, a maple cutting board and a folding picnic knife (with a built-in corkscrew).
Barebones Living Dinnerware, $30 to $250 from food52.com