How to Choose the Rest of your Camping Kitchen
You’ve got your stove, fuel and cookware all sorted. Now you’ll need to sort out the rest of your camping kitchen. Again, it’ll depend strongly on what kind of camping and cooking you end up doing.
If you cook only dehydrated meals and eat from the pouch, then you’ll only need a spork in order to get food to mouth. Plates and bowls will just add unnecessary weight and washing up duty. Likewise, you may well be using the cooking pot as a mug, so your kitchen is sorted.
If you do anything more complicated then you’ll need to consider utensils, cutlery and plates or bowls.
Utensils You can’t use metal utensils on Teflon surfaces. Again it depends on the type of cooking you’ll be doing, with a spork of some description being more than sufficient for mixing dehydrated meals and heating up beans or MREs. If you’re frying an egg, or need to serve up the food then you’ll need something a bit more fancy such as the MSR Alpine Utensils set which come complete with a spoon and a spatula/fish slice that is suitable for eggs.
Cutlery. A spoon is often more than enough, with a fork useful for noodles and the like. A knife is less useful. Best bet is a spork, with a Light My Fire polycarbonate version usually available for a couple of quid. You can go full titanium for a few more quid, or get a full KFS kit for similar prices (leave the knife at home!)
Plates and bowls – If you’re serving up and there’s other people, you’ll also need something to eat out of as they’ll probably won’t be too impressed with the one pot, two spoon situation. There are plenty of cheap options out there, with plastic bowls being readily and cheaply available. Alternatively, you could buy a titanium bowl that’ll last years. While we quite liked the Orikaso, something like the Summit all in one might be a better bet if you’re on a budget.
Drinking Mug – titanium is the metal of choice, while some will carry a heavier enamel mug, just excess weight in our opinion. We also like the option of being able to use the mug on the stove directly, so titanium it is. Plastic mugs do provide a cheaper alternative when you’re on a budget, or need to buy a number of them while still remaining lightweight.
The Orikaso kit will provide an awkward mug, but some effective plates and bowls. Other plastic kits are available.
You may also buy pots and bottles to carry herbs and small quantities of liquids and oils, or even a pepper mill, with (thanks to terrorism threats) plenty of airline plastic bottle sets available cheaply enough. Ziploc bags are often good enough, though you can go for the tougher Aloksacs that are re-useable.
Small plastic clip boxes, such as Lock and Lock (visible holding coffee in the image above), are excellent to store anything and especially foods that you really don’t want to leak. These have the advantage of being available at the supermarket and easily snuck into the weekly food basket without the other half realising. You can use a belt and braces approach and carry your ziploc inside a clip box, which is handy if you’re bringing home made food such as a curry. Beware cheaper imitations, we’ve found the Lock and Lock to be 100% reliable so far due to the four clips that close the box tightly but you’d need to try out any alternative brands out yourselves!
Nalgene bottles are also recommended for storing liquids such as milk as they don’t taint. The one in the image above is around 10 years old, still as new and worth every penny. They’re also available in many different sizes.
Collapsible water bottles by Source, Camelback or Platypus are also useful for carrying liquids – though are mainly used for water. We tend to use them to carry alcohol on a wild camp, but you do need to take extra care that they seal properly as I found to my cost when 500ml of Disaronno soaked into my sleeping bag on the first night of a six day trip.
Coffee – If you’re like us, then you’d rather drink ditch water than instant. So you’ll need some way of brewing your own coffee. The simplest is just to mix it with very hot water to make camping coffee. Alternatively, you can go for a camping espresso maker (this one by GSI was too small for our needs), use a coffee press such as the one in the Primus ETA or an Aerobie espresso maker. You could also bring your own hand grinder – with a few lightweight ones available on-line (we’ll have a review soon!).
Extras – The really adventurous may want to include a travelling chopping board and a decent knife. That may seem totally OTT, but if you’re on a long distance trip and you can pick up fresh ingredients on the way then preparing fresh meals like that would not only be utter luxury, but might actually save you some weight.