How to Build a Camping Kitchen

How to Build a Camping KitchenWhen "leave no trace," is your motto, it is important to strip your gear down to the absolute minimum. Building a camp kitchen does not have to mean converting a van or trailer. Making a simple grill from steel rod stock takes just a few minutes. Recycled soup cans make light, easily transported supports that can double as a twig stove if weather is too wet for your grill. This article assumes that you and a companion will be camping together. It also assumes that you are not facing any extreme weather. If you are going it alone, eliminate the extra weight by taking only one mug and one set of tableware.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Two 16-ounce enamelware mugs
  • Three empty, family-size soup cans
  • ¼-inch diameter steel rod stock
  • 1/8-inch diameter steel rod stock
  • 110-volt gasless MIG
  • Welding helmet and leathers
  • Large, fully-charged ABC fire extinguisher
  • Sharp pocket knife
  • Box of plastic, zipper-style bags
  • Box of sanitary wipes
  • Water bag
  • Two tablespoons and two forks
  • Metal tongs
  • Two refillable propane grill lighters
  • Desired canned and dried foods
Step 1
Use a knife or hand can opener to make holes around the bottom of each soup can, spaced about an inch apart. Make a second row of holes about an inch closer to the top, spaced between the first holes. This will allow airflow. The soup cans are your grill supports.
Step 2
Make or find a small round or rectangular grill that fits into your pack. Although you can do without it if you are pressed for space, it is more convenient to have one. To make a grill, bend a 1/4-inch diameter length of steel rod into a circle or rectangle. Use a 110-volt gasless MIG to weld 1/8-inch diameter steel rods across the grill every 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch. Because it will be supported by the soup cans, your grill does not need to be any larger than twice the diameter of your two mugs (Reference 1). The grill and cans will be your cook stove. Use deadfall wood or carry hexamine tablets as fuel. Hexamine tablets (pictured above) are available at most Army/Navy surplus stores, and can fit into a cigarette pack (Reference 2).
Step 3
Sharpen your pocketknife. According to knife maker and miminalist camper Gypsy Wilburn, "Since you are going to use your knife to cut your food, create kindling and perform many other vital tasks, this is very important. More injuries occur with dull knives because people tend to force the blade through the item they wish to cut, passing through the item and into their own hands (Reference 1)."
Step 4
Place a gallon jug, two-liter bottle, or any other container with a tight fitting, screw-on lid in a mesh bag to serve as your water storage. Two-liter bottles work well because they tend to be spill-proof and puncture-resistant. Recycle mesh bags, such as onion or orange bags, to make them easier to carry.
Step 5
Place everything into your pack, just underneath your extra outerwear and energy snacks. Pack in the order you will need items: canned and dried foods in the bottom of your pack first. Sanitary wipes, zipper bags and silverware go next. Place the soup cans inside your mugs to save space. Pack the grill, soup cans and mugs last. Your pocketknife should be in your pocket. Hang your water bags from each side of your pack. This will prevent your food and clothing from becoming wet if the caps are loose or if there is any condensation.

Tips & Warnings

Buy refillable propane grill lighters rather than disposable cigarette lighters. Although the disposables are smaller and lighter, they are not designed correctly. The flame should be as far from the roller as possible if you use a disposable. Some of the cheap, dollar-store disposables have flames right next to the roller, making it difficult to light a campfire without burning your fingers.
Always wear all appropriate safety gear when welding, including helmet and full leathers. Keep a large, fully-charged ABC fire extinguisher within hand's reach at all times.

Article Written By Jane Smith

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.

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