Choosing Camping Cookware


Camping and cooking, it’s like socks and shoes or rhythm and blues. You can’t have one without the other. In order to have that great meal in the outdoors, you have to start with the basics – the cookware. Now I know some of you out there are pulling out the same pots and pans that you use every day in your kitchen to take with you in your camping kitchens, I’ve done it myself.  But if this year you have made the commitment to yourself that this is the year that will be different, you will need some help navigating the camping cookware scene. Choosing your camping cookware can be an overwhelming, there are so many choices.  The following will list the top choices that are out there.


Aluminum cookware is a popular choice.  It is extremely lightweight and is the cheapest of all your options.  Aluminum conducts heat evenly which will allow you to cook your food with minimal scorching.  On the flip side, being a lighter, cheaper metal it can dent and scratch relatively easily.  This will mean that replacing this set may be a recurring issue.

Stainless Steel

Choosing this type of cookware is a good option because it’s more durable than an aluminum set,  it will hold up to being thrown into a camping box. Along with being sturdy, it’s also easier to clean and when you are in primitive surroundings the ease of clean can be very appealing. The downsides are that it does not conduct heat very well; therefore burning might be an issue. Also it can be on the heavier side, so if your backpacking, this is probably not the choice for you.

Cast Iron

This type of cookware is the granddaddy of all camping cookware. It is the original cookware that was used on the cattle trails and pioneer days – when it wasn’t called camping, it was called living. This cookware conducts heat wonderfully and once seasoned properly, cleaning is relatively easy. Durable? It’s practically indestructible, no need to worry about scratching or denting with this set of cookware.  The possible negatives are weight and cost. Cast iron skillets can range anywhere between 5 to 25 pounds depending on the size, and can cost from $25 to $80 per skillet. It is an investment, but one that can last a lifetime if cared for properly.


This type of cookware is popular for the backpackers and hikers due to the quick heating metal and its lightweight nature.  The fact that this can heat food quickly can be a positive because it will require less heating fuel and less water/oil for cooking. The flip side of that is that food can burn more quickly too, so something to keep an eye on. Even though this is the lightest of all the cookware out there, it is extremely durable.  This type of camping cookware can get pricey, so if cost is an issue maybe adding a few pieces over time might be the way to go.

Bottom Line – Choosing the right camping cookware depends on your camping situation and what’s most important to you.  Cost, cooking dynamics, or weight will be the main deciding factors.  Once you’ve determined how they rank in your situation, choosing will be a breeze.