How to Choose the Right Camping Cookware

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |

The moment you decide to take the big step into camping is the one you have to grab some camping cookware. The variety available to hikers and campers nowadays is a bit dizzying so I am here to help you navigate your way in the wild kitchen.

By the way – are you thinking about going camping but are kind of unsure about the whole thing? Let me help you! Learn a few tips and enjoy the solo camping adventures!

If the only thing that comes to your mind when you think of camping pots are the old school aluminum scouts’ pots, you are about to be in for a surprise! Although you probably can still buy those, I have no idea why anyone would. The old-style aluminum is soft and bends easily and it leaves an off-putting metallic aftertaste in cooked dishes. I am happy to show you what is available for the modern hiker.

Note: This post, in addition to awesome tips and info, contains affiliate links. It means, that if you click and buy something I receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Guide to camping cookware: What should you be looking for?

First of all, when you enter any kind of outdoors store, you will find mugs, pots, and pans made of aluminum, plastic, steel, and titanium. To help you make the decision, I will focus on a few important factors helping us differentiate between them.

Price

That was easy, wasn’t it? You will notice quite the difference in price tags between them. As you probably assume, the price has to do with the other factors.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
When you carry all your stuff for miles and miles, you need to pick your camping dishes carefully.

Weight

We all want to carry as light a load as possible. We can agree that we are leaving the proverbial kitchen sink at home. People who go car camping have a lot of freedom here, but for those who carry all their stuff on their own backs, sometimes for hundreds of miles, every ounce matters.

Durability

Things happen along the trail. Things get dropped, hit or thrown at an angry friend (not a personal story). We want gear that can serve us for years to come – especially if we were to pay the higher end price.

Versatility

One thing that can do a few things weighs much less than a few things doing just each of them… Again – people who go car camping can take a few different pots sizes, cutting boards, dedicated gadgets, and kettles but backpacking folks need to choose each piece carefully.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
A simple setup for a solo hiker: one anodized aluminum pot with a lid/pan plus an insulated plastic coffee mug on a hike through Catalonia

Cooking time

It’s not just about being hungry and impatient. Low cooking time means saving on gas. Various materials have different conduction of heat and as such, differ in the time needed to bring water to boil.

Volume

Do you hike alone or with more people, spreading the load between you? What kind of meals do you prepare – dried dishes needing just boiling water or wild gourmet masterpieces? For a solo hiker who does not need much cooking, one pot of about 800ml is plenty enough to make a tea/coffee and oatmeal or dinner. If you like having fun around your campfire for the benefit of the whole family, you probably need a few pieces more.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
My simple aluminum Esbit setup in Scotland – here, on Esbit solid fuel stove I don’t use anymore.

Guide to camping cookware: materials

At the moment we can find camping cookware made of plastic, aluminum, steel, and titanium. Let’s see what are the plus sides and shortcomings of each kind.

Plastic camping cookware

The main downside is obvious right away – you can’t cook in them. Plastic serving dishes can be really useful when hiking with other people and sharing meals. The plastic used in production is very hard and durable, as well as light. Dishes made by reputable companies, like Sea to Summit, don’t contain harmful chemicals like BPA. Personally, I love my plastic Backpacker Mug in its insulating cover and can highly recommend it.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
Plastic camping dishes are great as plates or mugs.

Check out those cool plastic camping plates and mugs – including a few great sets for bigger groups:

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set – Pacific Blue
GSI Outdoors Cascadian 1 Person Tableset (Blue)
MSR Deep Dish Plate, Red, Large
Camping Mess Kit 4 Person Dinnerware Set With Mesh Bag
Highlander 275ml Mug Olive

Steel camping dishes

The main advantage of steel dishes is their durability. No matter what you do to them during your camping adventures, they can take it. Perfect for car camping, as they weigh more than the alternative. Another plus side is that steel does not pass the metallic taste to cooked food. Another downside is that steel is not the perfect heat conductor which means it needs more time to heat up. You also have to be careful that the food does not stick or burn.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
Steel camping dishes are highly durable but much heavier than other options.

Check out those camping cookware options made of steel:

MSR Alpine 4 Pot Set
Texsport Backpackers Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Outdoor Camping Cookware Cook Set with Storage Bag
Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator
BeGrit Camp Cup and Mug Set for Hiking Stainless Steel with Foldable Handle Pack of 4
Solo Pot 900: Lightweight Stainless Steel Backpacking Pot

Aluminum camping dishes

Probably the most popular kind of camping cookware as they provide pretty good quality for low price. Although the old kind of aluminum was very delicate and was adding nasty metallic taste to your meals, it’s all behind us. Modern aluminum camping pots and pans are made of hard-anodized aluminum, which means that they are covered with a very thin coat of non-stick material. It makes them more durable and also prevents from seeping any metallic taste into meals. They heat up pretty fast and are easy to keep clean thanks to the non-stick coat. They are not as durable as steel or titanium cookware, though. The hard-anodized aluminum creates even thicker coating and makes a better quality cookware but costs more. The price is definitely what makes them so popular, especially when compared to our next kind of camping dishes.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
Camping cookware made of hard-anodized aluminum is light, easy to use and affordable.

Check some of the options among anodized aluminum camping cookware:

Esbit Hard Anodized Aluminum Water Kettle for Camp Stoves, 1400ml
MSR Quick 2 Alpinist Pot Set
MSR Trail Lite Duo System
MSR Flex 4 System Cookset
Esbit 350ml (11.8 oz) Hard Anodized Aluminum Mug with Plastic Handle

Titanium camping dishes

The elite of the camp kitchen. Titanium pots seem to have it all: very low weight, extreme fast cooking as well as cooling time, amazing corrosion resistance which translates into durability… No metallic aftertaste is the cherry on top. The only downside? I am sure you guessed it: the price. Such high quality cannot come cheaply. But who said you need a multi-piece set right away?

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
Elite among the camping cookware – made of titanium they are ultralight, easy to use, durable but pricey.

Check some of the best titanium camping cookware pieces available:

Snow Peak Hotlips Titanium Mug
TOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot with Pan
Esbit 750ml (25 oz) Ultralight Titanium Cooking Pot with Hinged Grip and Mesh Stow Bag
MSR Titan Pot (Set of 2)

Cast Iron camping cookware

The hardest and most durable but only for car camping. They need some special care and re-seasoning but will last you a lifetime. It’s a must-have in every kitchen and if you go for car camping, take it with you! Cast iron provides even heating and naturally non-stick surface. Cast iron dutch oven will serve you well both at home and while camping!

Check some of the best cast iron camping cookware:
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven – 12 Inch / 8 Quart
Lodge LCS3 Cast Iron Chef’s Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 10-inch

Silicon (and aluminum) foldable camping cookware

The last kind of dishes is somewhat unique. It looks like made of plastic at first glance but is made of high-temperature-resistant silicone. The pots are made also with aluminum bottoms, which means they can be used to boil water and cooking. They also can fold down and take hardly any room in your bag.

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Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
Collapsible camping dishes made of aluminum and heat-resistant silicon – don’t need much room in your pack and are easy to use.

Check out a few good examples of collapsible camping cookware and dishes:

Sea to Summit X Pot Set (5-Piece)
GSI Outdoors 79480 Collapsible Java Drip Coffee Maker
GSI Outdoors 79203 Collapsible Green Fairshare Mug
Sea to Summit X Plate, Blue

Which camping dishes should you choose?

Whichever suit your needs… and the depth of your wallet. Cookware is no different than any other piece of hiking gear: you have to make the decision based on how you are going to use it. Solo or in a group? Car camping or backpacking? What is your budget? As I am a budget solo hiker I use just one 800ml aluminum pot with a big plastic coffee mug. I don’t need anything else as I hike solo and eat only oatmeal for breakfast and powder soups with rice noodle for dinner (or similarly easy setups).

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
Many producers create ready sets for solo hikers. One pot under 1L and a mug are plenty enough for lightweight trekkers.

If you are a solo hiker you don’t want to take too many pieces of camping dishes. You might, just like I am, be perfectly happy with just one pot. In that case, it might be worth investing in a titanium pot. On the other hand, if you often hike with a group of people, it’s pretty easy to split all the needed camping cookware among you. That way you can all take a whole set of pots and pans to prepare meals for a bigger group. Producers make sure it’s easy to choose well fitting pieces, so the whole set takes as little space as possible.

You should also take into account the stove you will be using. For energy efficiency, your pot should fit your stove – wider pot will be more efficient than narrow and tall one. The perfect pot should be fit the diameter of your burner. For the same reason (energy efficiency) you should always use a lid. In some sets, lids can double as pans. Many lids nowadays are made for pasta lovers – they are equipped with draining holes to make it easier for you.

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes |
If you need more than just one pot you don’t have to worry about completing your cookware set by yourself – there are ready sets that fit perfectly with each other for space saving.

Don’t forget about some cutlery or at least a spork! Check out some of the options you have:

So? Are you ready for your next camping trip? I hope I was able to help you a bit with choosing the right camping cookware. Enjoy your travels and camping cooking!

What is your favorite camping cookware setup? Let me know!

Aluminum or Steel? Or maybe titanium? A whole set or individual pots? Learn all you need about the various camping cookware to choose what you need! awomanafoot.com camping | hiking | camp kitchen | camping dishes | backpacking |

4 Replies to “How to Choose the Right Camping Cookware”

  1. […] really cool camping gadgets and tools to make cooking easier, safer and/or more fun while camping. If you want to learn more about the huge variety of camping cookware I invite you to read this handy…  A cooking set is a perfect idea when you are not sure what items they need. They can choose […]

  2. […] Pot –  You don’t need a whole set of pots and pans. I’ve been using just one 0,8l during my treks and it’s perfect for a solo traveler. I boil water for a cup of coffee/tea and the rest is for oatmeal or instant soup. I don’t take any additional plates – I eat my breakfast or dinner straight from the pot. Grab a titanium one or a light aluminum one – just stay away from steel, it’s heavy. If you want to learn more about all the wonderful variety of camping cookware jump over to this post! […]

  3. […] can be really annoying. Have a carefully written checklist to ensure you have all you need. You don’t need every possible cookware with you – choose what suits your needs and style…. You may want to use the pack list I created for […]

  4. […] is no need to grab half a kitchen with you – one pot is completely enough! I have this set from Esbit and I did all my cooking in it. I generally use about 600ml of water […]

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