camp cookware

onaconaJuly 28, 2006

I need to buy new cookware for camping. We usually camp with 4 to 12 people. My problem is deciding which kind of cookware to buy. I don't know if aluminum or stainless or titanium or whatever is best. And what about non-stick coatings? Any advice?

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For car camping, I usually go with stainless steel cookware. Two pots, fry pan with non stick coating, will do for about four people. If you like coffee, you can get a perculator, or backcountry espresso maker. I tend to pack compact and light even for car camping, check REI's site and look for MSR cookware.

But of course, don't forget your titanium spork!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 2:23PM
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I prefer good, old fashioned, well cured cast pans. Mind you, when we go camping 90% of our cooking is done on the fire. The cast seems to provide the best even heat, because of the thickness of it. Of course, we don't get into anything to fancy either...chili in an old dutch oven, pan fried catch of the day, homemade burgers (cooked over the fire with 'toast' makers...not in the fry pan), bannok cooked on sticks, potatoes foiled in the coals, etc.. We usually bring two large cast pans, one dutch oven, and of course, the coffee perk.

A lot of people are dumping their cast for lighter nonstick versions...but I find after a good cure is built up, the taste is better in the cast, and it works just as well. Most 'non-stick' pans tend to lose their effectiveness with time, and with the abuse that most camping dishes get, they will probably wear out faster than in your house. (Plus they're usually too thin to get even heat distrobution if you're cooking on a fire. Cast on the other hand, while weighing a ton, gets better with use, the don't get nick or scratches in the surface, and the better the cure, the better the non stick quality. You can usually get quality cast peices at thrift stores for relatively cheap. The only downside is that you don't want to use them if you like to backpack!!

One other thing...if you do try mom always hated it, because everything always stuck to the bottom. The reason was that she destroyed her cure. Whenever something would stick to it, she would put water and dish soap in it and boil it on the stove to lossen it...wrong thing to do...before you clean your cast, let it cool, then gently scrape off the excess food...most of the time if you have a good cure, the pans only really need to be wiped out(unless you cook something like fish. :-)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 6:07PM
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Cast iron! Wow, what does that weigh? Anyhow, what a pain to clean up and wait on hot coals, firewood, etc. We use the fire for fun and warmth and a coleman stove. There are plenty of good nesting pan sets, I guess we got our Mirro stainless set w/copper bottoms for about $ 40.00 from SportMart back in the mid '80s and it's like new still. 4 pots and one large fry pan nest together and have handles that fold over the pots. Two handles swing together for the large fry pan. Today's nesting sets may be of the titanium/steel variety or something. Ideal is steel or titanium with aluminum bottoms. I'd avoid aluminum pans for long-term health reasons as I have children.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 9:25AM
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What are the long-term health reasons for not using aluminum pans?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 9:13PM
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Aluminum is absorbed by the body and exposure over time is suspected to be linked to the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Aluminum in antacids and through cookware is the major vector of exposure. AlzAlzehimer patients experience symptom stabilization following aluminum-chelating drug treatments. Therefore it's best to minimize exposure to aluminum by using aluminum-clad cookware (that's stainless steel on top attached to an aluminum bottom for good heat distribution) or at least cookware not made of aluminum.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 2:13PM
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WOO_HOO! Another time honored method of cooking has been sent to the trash bin! Next thing ya know, we'll be using the forked stick over the open fire to cook our meats and veggies! Oh, heck, i forgot--veggies are now supposed to be eaten raw! Witness the green beans that get the heave-ho at most dinner parties! The old folks get invited to a dinner, and invariably, the green beans have been warmed in a fry pan, and are too tough to chew, so us old folks with store teeth just don't eat them! And then, we have to choke the waitress to have her bring a salt shaker to the table!
I went to an afternoon affair for our WW II vets. The beans were as described above. HARD! I then asked for a salt shaker--the fool waitress said she wasn't allowed to put one out for us old folks! GEEZ!
Any way, that place didn't last long! It was bull-dozed to make way for a Wally World, and some other up-scale establishments, where we had to bring our own salt to enjoy a meal!
My Dear Mother cooked in alum. pans, and so does my wife. And we're not goofy yet! Nor sick,either!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 11:09PM
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verenap, thanks for reminding me about cast iron. Although a heavy carry out here in the semi-desert (Southern California), it's nice to have at home. I was able to pick up a 3-piece fry pan set at Macy's on clearance for - $ 9.95! I couldn't resist the bargain and seasoned them in the oven. I fried some bacon on the big fry pan to help accelerate the cure as this or lard are recommended for curing the pans. I plan on using them to fry fresh fish on my outdoor gas BBQ burner and for sauteing garlic for cooking on the smaller pan. I pointed out to my 14-year old daughter that they make great molds for cornbread, too! :-)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 2:49PM
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Ya know, next trip, I'm going to do verenap's suggestion and go cast iron.
I have a large cast pan at home that is beautifully blackened, it would great. You would just have to think about starting a small fire well before the time you want to eat. Start the fire, put the grate down, put the pan off to the side while some of the arm arm sized pieces burn down to coals, move the pan over to heat up more, then start cooking. It would take advanced planning, but in cooler weather camping, I try to have a fire going most of the day anyway.
I'd worry about rust though. I'd just have to let the pan cool, get the food bits out so the bears don't come visiting, then just store it in the car overnight.

Yeah, think I'll try it.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2006 at 9:59AM
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It depends on what type of camping you are doing and if you have the room and strength for cast iron. Coated pans are great for backpacking - they heat up quickly and cool off quickly. You need special utensils for them because the coating will scratch if used with metal utensils. Aluminium does not have a good life, it pits easily and should be replaced if pitted. Cast Iron is great, if you have the room and awhile for the pan to set to cool. Cast Iron pans should never be scrubbed, if you want to retain their seasoning, Gt a good carry box for them. Be sure they dont get wet and stay wet, they will rust. Stainless steel has a longer life and is very durable. You need to be careful so that you dont heat it up too quickly and burn your food. Most people I know camp with Stainless. I prefer the Buggaboo coated pans since they cool off so fast and heat up so quickly.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 9:05PM
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I love cast iron for camping. No, it's definitely not your choice for backpacking. But, car camping and even our boat camping it's great! I have a huge fry pan that is greating for cooking on the fire and various dutch ovens! Nothing like baking a cake over a fire out in a wilderness camp site! Like others said, when it's well taken care of it's nonstick and nothing is like it for even cooking! I also use cast iron at home!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 7:57PM
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Cast Iron is my primary choice for campsite cooking. If weight is not an issue, pack a 12" and maybe a 10" diameter pot. When choosing a brand, choose an american made Lodge as opposed to an asian import that lacks in quality. There are two types of dutch ovens. One type is made to use over a direct flame and has a dome shaped lid, and may be selp-basting. The other type is raised on 3 short legs and has a lipped cover that can hold hot coals. This one is the most versitile as it can be used over an open flame, directly in a campfire. or over a campfire with the use of a tripod. It may seem that it would take longer to cook using a dutch over, requiring firing up a campfire or charcoal fire, but I have found a way aound this with another piece of equipment I cannot do without. Again, this will not work for backpackers!

I carry one of the CampChef double burner stoves with me on my camp trips. They put out much more BTU's (30k)than you are used to on your home range (7-10k). Either type of the Dutch ovens will seat on the surface of this stove. It produces enough intense heat to get a boil going fast, and then you can turn it down unbelievably low to keep a simmer going, because of the excellent seal produced by the dutch oven and lid. The propane tank can do double duty as a fuel source for other items such as a propane lantern when not cooking. If I want to bake on the stove, I can do that too. I have what is called a charcoal chimney for starting charcoal. This generally takes 10 to 15 minutes to get hot coals when using newspaper and a lighter to start the coals. However, by utilizing the other burner of the stove to start the coals, I have hot coals in 5 minutes or less. Then they are ready to pour on top of the dutch oven.

I also like to carry a couple of teflon coated saute pans, a 7" and 8". Gotta flip my eggs in the morning and use the larger one for omelots.

With these four pots & pans, a coffee pot, and a few utensils I've got everything I need to cook for 4 to 6 people.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 4:53AM
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For camping I use solar cookers. It's an original idea in oder to cook everything quickly. I got a solar cooker so I give you a good site which presents you diffent solar cookers.

Here is a link that might be useful: idsolar

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 9:40AM
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yes cake in a c iron dutch oven is great.. anyone know where to get those teepee pot holders for pots toput above camp fires?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 6:09PM
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