Best Camp Cooking Kitchen Essentials for Road Trips

While we love exploring local towns by going out to eat on our road trips, we try to cook as much as possible. Cooking for ourselves saves money, is healthier, and allows us to spend more time at our beautiful campsites. At the same time, cooking takes motivation and having the quality camp cooking gear that is convenient and easy to clean makes the process more enticing.

After three years of on-and-off van life, I’ve narrowed down our camp cooking kitchen essentials to a single bin of gear that comes with us on every trip and makes cooking much more fun. If you’re looking for van kitchen essentials be sure to check out our post on the 15 Kitchen Essentials For Camper Van Cooking.

Ready to get cooking? Here is the complete guide to the best camp cooking essentials you need in your outdoor kitchen.


Outdoor Camp Cooking Essentials: The Big Gear Items

These are the big outdoor cooking items that you’ll need in order to prepare meals outside like a stove, cooler, camp table, and more.

Camping Stove

A camp stove is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in your camp kitchen. Ideally, you’ll want something with two burners and good simmer capabilities so you can control the temps you’re cooking on. The Eureka Ignite Camp Stove checks all these boxes with two powerful burners and solid construction that will last you years of adventuring.

Eureka Ignite Camp Stove // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry / REI

Eureka XL Camp Stove // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Camp Kitchen Table

While some campsites have picnic tables, it’s always handy to have your own table for your camp kitchen setup. This Mountain Summit Gear Roll Top Kitchen table is a favorite because there’s not only space for your camp stove but also for prep. It sets up very quickly, is sturdy, and packs away in a bag.

Mountain Summit Gear Roll Top Kitchen table // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: REI

Camping Cookware

A good set of pots and pans is key to a good camp kitchen set up. This GSI Cookset comes with everything you need including a large and a small pot, a frying pan, and a cutting board that all pack away into a single stuff sack. It’s all nonstick making it easy to clean, and I especially love that the lids have holes for easy straining when making pasta.

Check price: Backcountry / REI / Moosejaw

GSI Cookset // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Camp Cooking Utensils

In addition to pots and pans, you’ll need some basic utensils to whip up those gourmet camp meals. This GSI Outdoors Crossover Kitchen Kit has it all: tongs, a large spoon, a spatula, a scraper, and a cutting board. It even comes with a camp towel, sponge, soap bottle, cooking oil bottle, and a four-compartment spice holder.

GSI Kitchen Essentials Kit // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry / REI

Cooler

Yeti’s coolers are known to be super rugged and durable no matter what kind of adventure you take them on. The extra-thick, insulated walls and super-tight seal keep inside temps colder longer. The Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler is the perfect size for comfortably keeping a weekend’s worth of food and drinks cold. While pricier than some of the other options out there, there is a reason Yeti is a river guide’s cooler of choice. The ice lasts longer than any other cooler I’ve tried.

Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry / REI / YETI / Moosejaw


Camp Cooking Nice-To-Haves

These items aren’t necessary for a camp kitchen set-up, but they’re nice to have if you want to whip up a wider variety of meals.

Griddle / Grill

If you want to take your camp cooking up a notch, you’ll likely want to add a griddle to your camp cooking kit. This Lodge Reversible Griddle/Grill doubles up by providing a smooth side for eggs and pancakes and a ribbed side for grilling meats and veggies.

Lodge Reversible Griddle/Grill // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: REI

Percolator

Is it just me or is that morning cup of coffee at camp even better than at home? This Stainless Steel Percolator by GSI Outdoors fits nice cups of coffee so you can brew a big batch for the entire group.

Stainless Steel Percolator by GSI Outdoors // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry


Camp Dining Ware

In addition to camp cookware, you’ll also need camping utensils and dining ware like plates and bowls that can withstand rugged environments and wear and tear.

Eating Utensils

If you have an old set of utensils at home, by all means, throw those in your camp cooking bin and make them part of your kit. If you’re looking for something new, this cutlery set by GSI is a great option and gives your camp kitchen setup that classic camping look.

GSI Camp Cutlery Set // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry

Plates/Bowls

I’ve used the GSI Infinity Plates and bowls for years whether I’m camping or on the road in my van. They’re lightweight, easy to clean and take up hardly any space. Although I like the classic look of enamel plates and bowls, I find that they tend to make your food cold more quickly and much prefer these.

GSI Infinity Plates // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price plates: Backcountry / REI
Check price bowls: Backcountry / REI

Camp Cup

I tend to have one cup that I use for everything, whether it’s coffee, tea, or a nice cold beverage. This YETI Tumbler with the MagSlider Lid is a new favorite – it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. The lid is easy to open and close yet prevents major spills, and the tumbler itself comes in lots of fun colors. One other thing I love about this mug is the lid is really easy to clean. It’s little things like this that make a difference when it comes to the best camp cooking gear.

YETI Tumbler // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry / REI / YETI / Moosejaw


Camp Kitchen Clean-Up

Camp clean-up usually needs to be quick and efficient in order to conserve water. We like to use the following items to make camp kitchen clean-up as effortless and easy as possible.

Dish Bucket

With all that cooking, comes dishes. Having a dish bucket on hand makes clean up easier. Look for one that folds down for easy storage and transport. This Ultimate Survival Technologies FlexWare 10L Bucket is sturdy, lightweight, and can be used for more than just dishes. We also use ours for collecting our greywater.

FlexWare Dish Bucket // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: REI

Dish Drying Towel

A small, microfiber towel that’s quick-drying is always handy to have around camp. We like the personal-sized PackTowls. Use them for drying dishes, wiping your hands while you’re cooking, and cleaning up messes. They can be easily rinsed out and hung up to dry for the next use.

Quick Dish Drying Towel // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: Backcountry / REI / Moosejaw

Eco-friendly dish soap

When you’re washing dishes outdoors, you want to make sure to use eco-friendly dish soap. We like the Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash because it’s biodegradable, tough on grease, and super concentrated so a little bit goes a lot way.

Check price: REI / Sea to Summit

Stasher Bags

I’m always looking for ways to reduce trash and avoid single-use items, and I encourage you to do the same. I’ve tried lots of reusable bag options and Stasher bags are my new favorite. They’re made of silicone, easy to clean, and a convenient way to pack your trail lunch or dinner leftovers. You can even bake or boil in them, which is great when you don’t have a microwave.

Stasher Bags // Save money on the road by bringing your own camp cooking gear. Here is our checklist for the best outdoor camp kitchen cooking essentials.

Check price: REI


Do you have any questions about camp cooking gear or have any favorites to add? Leave a comment below!

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

2 comments on “Best Camp Cooking Kitchen Essentials for Road Trips

  1. Very excited about your site! We live in Vermont, like you have a place in UT /Draper. Owned several vans of my making from 1972 till now (own a Sprinter in VT and GMC Explorer Conversion Van in UT). Also like your recommendations for Utah trips/ hikes. We do all kinds of biking, skiing, and water exploring (back East). You’ve really covered the landscape on so many topics. We have many friends just now considering the “Van Lifestyle”. I’ll send them here. Fantastic Job!

    Thanks for the iOverlander and Gaia GPS links. I’d been using the other links you suggested for off grid exploring for years.

    Frank (Gib) Gibney

    1. Thanks for the note, Frank! Sounds like a wonderful life 🙂 We’re so glad you’ve found these resources helpful, and thanks so much for spreading the word!

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