Food tastes better when cooked outdoors, but you can't hit the campsite with the same pots and pans that you use to cook food at home. You need to use the right cookware if you want a camping experience to remember.
Here are four must-have items that every camp cook should pack.
1. A Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets are classic camping gear because they make great-tasting food, they're easy to use and they last a lifetime. You can cook eggs, meat and just about anything else over the open fire with cast iron, and you won't have to worry about burning your skillet as you would with stainless steel.
Keep water away from cast iron and store your cookware in your tent or somewhere else where dew won't form. You should also bring covers for your cast iron pan and any other pans or pots. Covers help your dishes retain heat and keep bugs from becoming a part of your meal.
2. A Propane Camping Stove
Is gas cheating? Not if you can't find dry firewood or you're camping during the winter.
Sometimes you need a clean, dependable fuel for your campsite, and gas stoves are easier to cart around than charcoal. Look for a small portable stove with an attached fuel source. Before each trip, check that the stove is in working condition and be sure to bring extra fuel. You might never take your stove out of the car, but in the rainy season, a little bit of propane can be a lifesaver.
3. A Camping Percolator
You don't have to go without your morning coffee just because you're roughing it. A percolator allows you to enjoy great-tasting coffee the old fashioned way.
Most percolators are made from stainless steel and don't require a lot of upkeep. They're extremely easy to use, and if you're a fan of coffee, this is must-have gear.
4. A Soup Pot
Soup is a great treat around the campfire, especially if the weather's a bit chilly. You can prepare and freeze soup at home, then boil it over the open fire when you're ready for a bowl.
If you've got a deep cast iron skillet, you might be able to save some space and cook your soup in that. Otherwise, look for a cast iron or stainless steel pot specifically made for campfire cooking. Always cook your soup gradually to give it a good smoky taste and try to prepare protein-rich soups to stay energized.
Remember to follow your local campsite's regulations when cooking. If there are bears or other dangerous wildlife around, you should never keep your cookware in your tent, and you should always wash your pots and pans at least 200 feet away from natural bodies of water. Keep your camping cookware and your home cookware separate to avoid bringing the strong smell of campfire smoke into your house.
Finally, follow your cookware's instructions carefully to avoid accidental damage. With the right care and a little bit of common sense, your new cooking tools should last for years.