While your pots and pans from home might work fine for camping, having designated camping cookware is more convenient. The best pots and pans camping are versatile and have features that make cooking over a fire or propane stove much easier.
The best pots and pans for camping are versatile, compact, and relatively durable. Most people will need at least one large skillet and a pot with a lid, but factors like heat source and what is being cooked will determine what type of cookware is best to use.
Specialty camping cookware can be pricey, but certain items are worth the investment. Knowing what items best suit your needs will keep you from buying a bunch of gadgets that you don’t need.
Why have Designated Camping Cookware?
Many people put together their own campsite kitchen with a few items from their kitchen at home. Throw in a pan, a pot, and a few utensils, and done! This might be fine for some camping outings, but most of the time you’ll find that this is inconvenient.
Before throwing in the best items from your kitchen, remember that outdoor cooking is a lot harder on your cookware than just cooking in your kitchen. Your pots and pans will most likely come home scratched and dinged up, which isn’t ideal. Camping cookware is designed with durability in mind, so depending on how often you camp, a few sturdy items could truly last a lifetime.
One of the worst parts of camping is getting packed up. Not only are you trying to cram everything into the trunk of your car, or a backpack, but in the rush of getting ready, you almost always forget something. Camping cookware is designed to be compact, folding up or nestling together to pack up easier. Keeping everything together from the start will make packing less stressful because you’ll know that you have everything you need.
What Kind of Cookware Do I Need?
Walking into an outdoor store and looking at aisles of options for camping cookware can be overwhelming. Before shopping, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
- Most people cook over a propane burner camping stove or directly over the campfire. You might even be cooking over a single-burner backpacking stove.
- Think about what types of meals you usually make while camping. Look for cookware that makes preparing those meals easier.
- Some people just need to be able to boil water to make a quick meal for one before they hit the trail. Others are looking to cook a feast for a large family. Consider the capacity of cookware you will need as well as dishes for serving.
Most everyone should have some type of pot with a lid and a skillet. The type you buy will depend on your needs.
Best Basic Camping Pans
A standard-size skillet is great to have on hand because you can cook so many different things in it. You might consider a smaller, compact pan, but you don’t want to find yourself going hungry because you couldn’t cook enough food in your compact skillet. Go for a full-size one because you’ll always be prepared!
Cast Iron Pan
The 12″ Lodge Cast Iron Skillet is $34.95 at REI and is a must-have for any camper. It could be used on a stove or over a fire. A good cast iron pan will function just like a non-stick skillet, making it easy to clean. Eggs slide right out of Lodge Cast Iron Skillet which comes pre-seasoned and ready to go.
A non-stick pan is best for certain foods like omelets, pancakes, and fish. Bugaboo fry pans have a non-stick coating that holds up well after many uses and their handles fold in so they are easier to pack.
The Bugaboo 10″ Square Fry Pan is everything you could ever wish for — it fits perfectly over your camp stove and allows you to fry four pieces of French toast or pancakes at a time. It costs $34.95 on the REI website.
Best Basic Camping Pots
Stews, soups, pasta, rice, and one-pot meals are so delicious at the end of a long day outdoors. A pot that is deep and heats evenly will be your best friend once you get back to the campsite.
The MSR Ceramic 2-Pot Set is lightweight and high quality with an aluminum base and non-stick ceramic coating and costs $59.95 on Amazon. The kit comes with a 1.5-liter pot that nestles inside a deep 2.5-liter pot. The lid fits both pots and doubles as a strainer. The handle is removable for easier packing. It is relatively light.
Space Saving Pot
The Sea to Summit X-Pot Collapsible Camping pot is $37.46 on Amazon and is one of the most popular camping items at the moment. It is made with an aluminum base and collapsible silicone walls that allow it to store flat and slip into your backpack. It comes with a strainer lid and nestles with other Sea to Summit cookware.
GearLab, unfortunately, did not give it a high rating in durability because the silicone siding and plastic lids can get burned if you don’t watch closely. They also didn’t like the flimsy silicone handles.
Best Features Pot
The Sea to Summit Sigma Pot – 3.7 Liters for $59.95 on the REI website is a great, durable option that has a few clever features. No more fiddling with or losing detachable handles, the Sigma Pot features a silicone-wrapped pivoting handle that flips around and locks into place. It also functions as a clip to store the lid.
It has a powder-coated textured base that provides grip on your camping stove so the pot doesn’t slide around. It comes with a straining lid and a volumetric scale on the inside for accurate measuring.
Best Camping Cookware for Individuals
If you are camping on your own and don’t have an entire kitchen setup, you will need a personal set that is easy to transport and still allows you to cook up some fuel for your adventures.
Overall Best Personal Set
The Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set has awesome reviews for solo campers or two people and costs $104.95. The set comes with two pots that nest together, a potholder, and a lid. It has a special heat exchanger base that allows for faster heat transfer, reducing the amount of fuel needed to heat the pot. It has a non-stick coating for easy cleanup.
It can fit all of your other kitchen tools inside along with a gas canister. It weighs 1.6 pounds, so it is light enough to carry on the trail, but take into consideration that you will have to bring serving items and utensils.
This is the perfect choice for campers who are in the backcountry but are still looking forward to an excellent home-cooked meal.
Best Value Personal Set
The GSI Glacier 1-Person cook set is great for a backpacker looking for something simple and low-cost. It is stainless steel and includes a 1-liter pot, frypan with a folding handle, a bowl, and a cup. Basically, this set has everything you will need to make food while on your camping trip.
It doesn’t have the best cooking performance and is probably not the most durable. But it gets the job done, and at an excellent price. It is a great little kit for beginners.
Best Camping Cookware Sets
You could go shop around for different items individually, but a set is great because it is designed to nest together, saving you packing space. Consider how many people will be camping with you, and what you will be serving.
Overall Best Set
The Stanely Adventure Base Camp set goes for $72.16 on Amazon and is one of the top-rated camping cookware sets by GearLab. It comes with 21 pieces including pots, pans, plates, cooking, and eating utensils for four people. While on the heavier side, it is fairly compact. GearLab suggested divvying out different parts of the kit to four people, making it perfectly feasible to bring with you while backpacking.
It was especially rated well for high-quality pans that compare to your pans at home. They are non-stick, and work well for heavy-duty cooking, like browning meat. GearLab testers used the set for 6 years and found that everything looked almost new after rigorous use.
It comes with special bungees that keep the set from rattling in the back of a vehicle. The only complaints on this set were that the plates are a bit small.
Best Modular Set
The GSI Pinnacle Camper set comes with many versatile pieces that could be great on their own. It includes a pan, pots, plates, mugs, and bowls that fit into a fabric sink. The cookware uses a single detachable handle that functions with each item. The serving items come color-coded so everyone can easily keep track of what’s theirs.
While it is lighter than the Stanley set, it definitely puts convenience before weight. According to GearLab, it didn’t quite stand up to the durability of the Stanley set either because the Teflon coating can eventually wear off. It doesn’t come with utensils and is pretty pricey at $159.95 on the REI website.
Overall, it is still a great option for the foodie who wants to feel like they are just a step away from being at home in their own kitchen.
Best Set for Even Heating
The Stanley Even-Heat Pro Cookset is $150 on the REI website. It comes with a large stock pot, large saucepan, frying pan, collapsible cutting board, compact spatula, and spoon. This set doesn’t have nearly as many pieces as the Stanley Adventure Base Camp Set but has larger pots and pans.
This set is the top choice for those who aren’t too concerned about packing light but are looking for pans that heat evenly like the ones that you have at home. The set is made from three-ply stainless steel so it has a heavier, sturdier feel. The pieces nest together. The only complaint made by Fresh Off the Grid is that the frying pan is a bit small if you are using it to cook for multiple people.
Best Cookware “Upgrades”
Once you have the basics, you might add to your camp cooking repertoire by adding a piece of specialty cookware.
Best for Stews and Baking
The Lodge Cook-it-All really can cook it all. It has five configurations that allow it to work as a Dutch oven, griddle, skillet, pizza oven, and wok all in one. It is only two pieces of cast iron and comes with stainless steel handles that allow you to remove the lid or move the pan to the table.
This is great for those cooking for a large group over a campfire. Keep in mind, that it is bulky and heavy, but it can help you make some pretty delicious camp meals. It costs $124.95 on the REI website.
Best Campsite Oven
If you find yourself missing your oven while camping, the Omnia Oven for $69 on Amazon is for you. This unique design heats the food from both the top and the bottom. A ventilation hole allows steam to escape so that baked goods don’t get soggy.
The Omnia Oven can be used to make brownies, cake, potatoes, biscuits, cornbread, cinnamon rolls, nachos, bread, and more. Campers who don’t have time to heat up wood embers or charcoal will love cooking and baking with this.
Best Camping Kettle
A kettle might seem like an unnecessary luxury, if you plan on drinking hot coffee or tea in the morning, it can be a lifesaver. It is also great for warming up water to do dishes or filling up hot water bottles to warm up sleeping bags. The GSI Halulite Kettle is super durable and can be used with a stove or fire. It costs $39.95 on the REI website.
This kettle has a super smooth pour, so no more spills! It has a 1-liter capacity and a foldable handle. It comes with an insulated mug, bowl, spoon, and mesh stuff sack. It has just enough space inside to nest a canister of fuel.