As you’re cooking a recipe on this site, you’ll notice that we list equipment that you’ll need to make each dish in the instructions section of the page (see image below). The extra equipment listed here is in addition to the equipment listed in our standard kitchen kit on this page.
You won’t need everything in the kit for every recipe. It’s only general equipment that is commonly used while cooking. It’s helpful to have for a quick getaway. You just throw it in the back of the truck and go, with no fear of forgetting something.
If you don’t have a standard kitchen kit or your kitchen kit varies from ours, you’ll need to go through the recipe to be certain that you aren’t missing anything.
You’ll notice that we splurge on a few items, but for the most part, we stick with cheaper stuff. Sometimes an item labeled “camping” is great, but other times that’s just a way to charge more for it. We aren’t looking for the lightest space-age equipment on the market. This kit is designed to be thrown in the back of my pickup on camping trips.
We keep the following equipment in our kit:
Table and Tub
25 Gallon Tub – We’ve designed our kitchen kit to fit into a 25 gal./95 liter plastic tub. We use a Sterilite Ultra tote. They are very expensive on Amazon, so you’ll probably save a bunch of money going to your local hardware store to pick up something similar.
Six-foot folding table – If you don’t bring an extra folding table, your picnic table (if you have one) will end up being your dining table and your kitchen. This will make cooking and eating in the limited space very challenging. You can get a smaller four-foot one if you don’t have the space to haul the six-footer.
Pots, Pans, Mixing Bowls, etc.
GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Backpacker Nesting Cook Set – This set includes 2 coffee cups, 2 regular cups, a small saucepan with strainer lid, and a small frying pan. It’s a good backup for a small group. I generally bring larger pots or pans depending on whatever I plan on cooking, but it’s rare that I don’t find that I need an extra sauce pan or cup. This packs away nice and small.
Coffee percolator – We keep a 12 cup coffee percolator just in case there are more people than us. It’s easier to make a half-pot of coffee than have to make two separate ones. Don’t forget to bring your coffee!
Collapsible mixing bowl – A large size mixing bowl will be useful for things like salads. The included lid will keep the bugs away.
Sturdy nylon spatula – Good for flipping fried eggs and other things that you need to gently manipulate in a pan.
Wooden spatula – This is my most used tool in the kitchen. It’s very firm, yet gentle on non-stick surfaces and cast iron seasoning.
Slotted spoon – You’ll want this for spooning vegetables and other foods out of hot liquids.
Regular nylon spoon – You’ll mostly use this for serving food.
Nylon tipped tongs – Sometimes you need to get grabby with your food and you get the added benefit of being able to click it a few times for good luck.
Collapsible measuring cups and spoons – I measure my ingredients, especially when I’m following somebody else’s recipe. Having a collapsible set just for my camping kitchen keeps me from forgetting them and saves space.
Knife with sheath (optional) – You don’t want a kitchen knife with a bare blade bouncing around in your camping kit.
Knife roll – I like to use quality kitchen knives, but I can’t afford to buy high-quality knives just to leave in my camping kit. I bring mine along in a chef’s knife roll bag to protect them. Remember, you’re more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife than a sharp one.
Plastic cutting board – I despise folding or flexible camping-style cutting boards. A decent kitchen style cutting board will fit in your kit. It’s worthwhile. Get plastic since it’s more sanitary.
Steak knives – We don’t put steak knives in our camping kit. We generally have pocket knives with us for various tasks. A quick rinse and they’re steak knives. If you want to bring some, they ought to slide into your knife roll.
Camping plates – You don’t need anything fancy, just something sturdy and easy to clean. Get enough for your crew and maybe one or two extra for mise en place. (I don’t pack extra bowls unless I plan on cooking something that requires it. If I forget them, I always have my collapsible mixing bowls.)
Vacuum tumblers – A good quality vacuum tumbler will make your life much better. It’ll keep your coffee hot or your beer cold. We never go camping without ours.
Utensils – You can bring plastic forks and spoons, but managing trash is a pain in the butt. It’s easier to bring stainless steel and just rinse it off when you’re done. If you’d rather not mess with washing utensils, go ahead and pack along plastic.
Scrubber brush – I don’t use sponges because they are a good place for bacteria to hide.
Regular dish towels – You don’t need anything fancy, but regular dish towels have a lot of uses even beyond your camp kitchen. I keep plain old cotton towels since they fold up small and it’s no big thing if you lose one.
Kitchen sink – You can empty out your big tub if need be, but then your stuff will be everywhere and you’ll have to wait for it to dry later. A collapsible fabric sink is extremely handy.
Trash bags – Extremely useful for everything from trash, to a rain poncho, to something to poop in.
Paper towels – Use them for napkins, clean up, etc.
Camping dish soap – Use something biodegradable and that doesn’t have a lot of odd perfumes in it.
Vegetable oil – A small bottle of vegetable oil that can be refilled from your larger kitchen container. I can’t think of a camping trip that I didn’t need cooking oil.
Kosher salt – Don’t use iodized salt. It can add a metallic flavor to your food. I keep a small container of Morton’s Kosher salt in my kit.
Black pepper – If you want to do it right, keep a pepper mill in your kitchen kit loaded with peppercorns. If you want to cheat, put pre-ground black pepper in there. There is a difference in flavor.
Aluminum foil – All purpose and very useful for all kinds of tasks. It’s the duct tape of the kitchen.
Extra fuel canister – It’s always a good idea to keep an extra, unopened fuel canister for your camp stove. It is difficult to tell how much you have left over and the second you think you have plenty, you’ll run out.
Firestarters – There are about a million campfire fire-starters out there and the vast majority are overpriced and underwhelming. I just buy a ten-pound sack of fatwood and cut it into thirds or halves with my camp ax to make my own. To help light them I use my pocket knife to shave burrs on the sides. They are resinous wood, so you want to let them burn down completely prior to cooking over a fire started with one. Otherwise, your food will taste nasty. I cut a few and stick them in a zip-top bag and leave the rest in my garage.
Instant read thermometer – This is one of the most important tools in your kit. Even though it is listed here, we also list it on specific recipes at times due to its importance. Undercooked food is a real risk at a campsite due to the wildly variable natures of campfires and cookstoves.
Kitchen timer – Somehow, when your cooking, time either speeds up or slows down without you knowing. Having a kitchen timer that you can see with a quick glance is a must to get things right. A cheap one is just fine.
Whisk broom – If you don’t have one, you’ll end up needing it. Perfect for whisking dust and leaves off a picnic table or hot ashes off a grill grate. Make sure you get a natural bristle brush so that it doesn’t melt if you use it on a grill grate.
Small can opener – The bottle opener on the handle can come in handy in a beer emergency.
Long lighters x 2 – You’ll need these for your camp stove, starting a campfire, etc. Always bring an extra because, without fail, your lighter will die right when you need it most.
Hot pads – A good set of hot pads are useful, especially if you cook with cast iron. The handles will get hot.
Folding camp shovel – Useful for clearing ash out of grills and fire-pits and burying biodegradable waste.
Grill brush – You could leave this out if you don’t plan on using a grill grate, but it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll forget it when you are. I just leave mine in there. Wrap the head with a zip-top bag to keep gunk from getting all over everything.
Learn what equipment and accessories we use when cooking with our cast iron dutch oven.