There’s more than s’mores when it comes to cooking while camping.
The key to savory hot food and drinks is having a well-functioning mobile kitchen. Simplicity is always good in the outdoors and a basic pot to boil water and cook up meals is often all it takes. But there are so many choices in terms of material, coatings, lids, sizes, and handles and other offerings.
Sure, you can take the yard sale route or use that ugly old pot for camping that’s probably better off for the dump. Used pots, pans, and all are cheap but if light and modern is what you want, then it’s time to look for an outdoor-specific set.
And then there are the accouterments of preparing meals like cutlery.
The same applies there. But some people just don’t have the time and would rather have everything in a nice neat package instead of assembling it themselves and sticking everything in the plastic milk crate.
The beauty of car camping—and on some paddling trips—is that you can take it with you.
Enter the GSI Outdoors Destination Kitchen Set ($49.95). The 24-piece all-in-one collection has about all the utensils and more a camper needs fitted in a spiffy compartmentalized and zippered case complete with handle.
Though one might be tempted to characterize the set as a gourmet or glamping piece of gear, it really is practical, serving up useful utensils that many a camper might not purchase or carry if he or she is putting things together piecemeal.
The kitchen is nicely packaged with four sets of sturdy plastic forks, knives, and soup spoons. There’s a small cutting board (it advises you to cut veggies on one side and meat on the other), collapsible whisk for those scrambled eggs, foldable pivoting spatula and spoon, grater with protective cover (would you have thought of that?), and metal utility knife with protective sheath.
Two condiment pouches allow for small amounts of refillable ketchup and mustard (fill it patiently) while a stacked shaker is for salt and pepper or other dry seasonings. There’s even a scouring pad and camp towel (you might want to put them in sealable plastic pouches after using them).
At nearly three pounds, the kit may not be ideal for weight-conscious backpackers, but certainly is the right fit for car campers, the paddling set, touring motorcyclists, and motorized off-roaders. If there was a wish for this, it would be making the case waterproof.
For outdoor lovers looking to cook for the clan or a bunch of buddies, consider the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Base Camper Large ($109.95). Believe it or not, this actually does come with a kitchen sink, as the basin-style carrier doubles as a place to wash the dishes, and can also transport water. The set comes with a five-liter pot with lid, three-liter pot with lid, nine-inch frying pan, pot grip, cutting board, and that multi-tasking stuff sack/kitchen sink. The aluminum pots coated with teflon radiance are relatively lightweight (the whole package is three pounds, six ounces).
Having two pots and a pan ensures more variety and creativity while cooking on a grate over a campfire or over a multi-burner portable stove. Another boon for this set are the pot lids that also have a small section that acts as a strainer. That’s very convenient but it does require some composure while pouring out the water.
There’s a pot gripper that works with the three-liter pot and frypan. It’s too bad it doesn’t work with the five-liter pot because those plastic coated handles get awfully hot and it’s a good idea to have the handle up and out versus against the pot when it’s in use. Also, the cook set is touted as being scratch-resistant. That’s a tough claim to make in the outdoor world.
But, the pots are easy to clean, the portable sink useful, and having a hefty cook set for base camp helps satisfies those hungry buddies.
Images by Marty Basch