15 Gifts for the Camper Who Loves to Cook
Looking for inspiration on what to get the foodie in your life? Curated expert Hannah Kaufman runs through the gear she relies on as camp chef.
Food tastes better outside. It just does. Now, I am a self-described amatuer chef and general lover of food. Regardless of where I am and what I’m doing, good food always makes it a better time. I recently wrote about how I stay vegan on trail, some favorite recipes, and brands. But here are all the tools and equipment I take camping or on a roadtrip to be the best camp chef and whip up some amazing dishes.
A cooler isn’t necessary when camping. But part of good food is good ingredients, which often need to be refrigerated. This YETI Tundra 35 cooler is my go-to. It’s great size for all my fruits and veggies and other refrigerated goods, and fits perfectly in the trunk of my car with all of my other gear.
Depending on the trip I’m taking, I will bring a different kind of stove. For a backpacking trip, I want it to be light, portable, and easily packable. My go-to is the holy grail of backpacking stoves, the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove. I love this little guy. But for camping trips, when I can throw heavier and bulkier items in my car, I like to bring a few different things. The classic Coleman 2-Burner Stove is durable, easy to set up, and is great for cooking more elaborate meals because I can have two burners going at once. I also like to bring a barbeque box where I can grill. This is placed on top of my two-burner stove. It is heavier at 23 pounds, which is why I only bring it when car camping. But it is absolutely worth it. I’ve made grilled veggie kebabs, classic burgers, and have even used it to grill a watermelon. I also like to grill peaches for a yummy dessert.
Pro Tip: Grilled watermelon with mint and feta cheese (or vegan cheese replacement) is out of this world. Huge fan over here.
Pro Tip 2.0: Take a banana and cut lengthwise into it. Stuff some chocolate and peanut butter in there. Wrap the entire thing in tin foil and place it on the grill. Wait five minutes and enjoy.
Pots and Pans
For a bigger crowd and more food, I like to bring the Primus Primetech Pot Set, which has two large pots for use. They are great for chilis and stews, boiling water for lentils or other grains, and are easy to clean.
This Sea to Summit Set is a lighter-weight, stackable, and packable option that works great. I bring these on camping trips where we may venture off for the day and want a lighter set of pots. Perfect size for oats, soups, pasta dishes, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
For a camping trip with just me and a friend, I bring the MSR Alpinist 2 set. It has one pot, two insulated mugs, and two plates, all which fit perfectly inside the pot. This is better for simpler dishes because it is only one pot. That being said, just because a dish is simple doesn’t mean it tastes worse. One-pot dishes are great for easy clean up!
Plate and Bowls and Stasher Bags
If you don’t want to eat out of the pot, here are some plate sets I bring along. For a bigger crowd, I go for the GSI Outdoors Sierra Camp Set. It comes with four plates, bowls, and mugs, as well as a coffee pot, fry pan, and a large kettle. It all stacks up nicely and is super durable, so don’t worry if your kiddo drops it. And the best thing about this set is that it is all dishwasher safe.
For a smaller option just for two I go for another MSR set. Two foldable sporks, two bowls, and two mugs all fit nicely in a little stash bag and are lightweight. It is small and light enough to be great for backpacking trips if you don’t eat right out of your pot.
For leftover food, if there is any, I normally bring along a few Stasher bags. They come in different sizes, are lightweight, and reusable—throw away all those single-use plastic items and use these for a small but helpful sustainable act.
For those looking to eat out of a large pot or a dehydrated food bag, this Snowpeak spork has a longer handle so your hands don’t get food all over them. I take it with me everywhere to avoid using plastic. I attach it to my car keys, and it is a wonderful conversation starter. This spork is multi-functional, a great food-to-mouth vehicle, and it adds an aesthetic to my keychain.
Finally, this UCO utensil is super cheap (under $3), durable, and comes with a spoon and a fork
Cups and mugs are crucial for hot chocolate, tea, coffee, hot beverages, and of course, your alcoholic beverage of choice. I normally bring my handy dandy Hydro Flask insulated mug. It’s the perfect size for me, and I even will have my morning oatmeal in it after I finish my tea. It is super durable and keeps my liquids hot all day. For something a little bigger, I bring this Stanley 20oz mug. It is great to share some hot chocolate and keep it warm.
The last part of great food is cleaning all of your gear. Camp clean and house clean are pretty different. But for longer camping trips, having a sink to wipe down everything is really useful. Grab some biodegradable soap or some pine needles and use this Granite Gear Sink to clean all of your goodies.
And those are all the tools I bring so that I can make great camp food! From apple crumbles to pizza to kebabs and everything in between, camp food is truly some of the best food.
If you need any help finding the right gift for the cooking enthusiast in your life, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Camping & Hiking experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations. We also offer the option of a Curated gift card which can be used towards making an outdoor equipment purchase with free expert help finding the right gear for your camper's needs.