Kitchen Checklist for Camping

Kitchen Checklist for CampingPart of the fun of roughing it is cooking in the great outdoors. Whether it be making dinner over a lightweight camping stove in the backcountry, for a weekend trip at the state park or for a week-long camping vacation, all camp kitchens require a certain amount of hardware and supplies to function. However, what is essential varies with the camping conditions and style. When drawing up your checklist, you need to keep in mind what exactly you need for your heat source, fire starting, hardware and furniture.

Fire Pits and Stoves

Camp kitchens need a source of cooking heat, and this source depends largely on where you intend to camp. Many developed campgrounds have fire pits, barbecue grills or both. Turning a fire pit into a cooking range only requires a folding camp grill, and a barbecue grill is already ready to go. Camping stoves are also often used at developed campgrounds because they are easier to cook with than charcoal or wood fires.

However, backcountry and drive-in primitive sites often do not have these features, and digging your own fire pit is usually prohibited in national and state parks. Cooking heat in these places must be provided by a portable camping stove.

Portable camping stoves, firepits and barbecue grills require fuel. Barbecue grill and camping stoves require that you bring the appropriate fuel with you. Many national and state parks ban imported firewood as a tree disease prevention measure, so check ahead with your campground. If this is the case where you intend to camp, firewood will be on sale there.

Cooking Hardware

The cooking hardware on your checklist depends on how many people are in the camping party. If your party consists of you and a hiking buddy, a simple mess kit or two provides you with everything you require. If your camp kitchen must provide for a Boy Scout troop, however, you will need tin plates, bowls, mugs, eating utensils, at least two large camp cook pots, at least two skillets, a Dutch Oven, camp kettle and regular cooking utensils. One item both small and large camp kitchens require is a good potholder or two for handling hot pots and skillets.

Fire Starting

At a minimum, a camp kitchen needs waterproof matches and/or a lighter. Lighting fluid is a good idea for camp kitchens relying on fire pits and barbecue grills, but not absolutely necessary.


Most developed campgrounds have picnic tables at their campsites, so camp furnishings such as folding stools, chairs and tables are luxuries--you may want them, but you do not need them. Backcountry campers, on the other hand, cannot afford the added weight of such items.

Any camp kitchen that is not moving every day needs a windscreen. First and foremost, windscreens stop wind from blowing embers onto the campsite or the camp cook. Second, a windscreen makes starting a fire in a stiff breeze much easier.

Other Items

Camp kitchens need a lantern for cooking at night. Detergent is also useful for washing cookery, but in a pinch the common bar of soap will do. The camp kitchen also needs a heavy duty trash bag, either because of a "pack-in, pack-out" policy at the campsite or simply to haul trash to the campground garbage collection area.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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