When you think of eating meals in the backcountry, your mind probably conjures up images of hardened rice and noodles, clumpy spice packets, and dehydrated flecks of meat, all made barely edible with boiling water. It’s not exactly what your stomach is growling for after a long day spent hiking to your campsite. But with the right camp kitchen gear in your pack, you can whip up food that’s nourishing and delicious, even when you’re many miles from home.
Outdoor brands have engineered everything you need—pots, plates, utensils, and even stoves—to be both lightweight and compact enough to carry on your back. They’re built with sturdy materials, like stainless steel and titanium, that will last through many seasons of backpacking. Here’s a comprehensive list of what you need to cook a feast while camping in the backcountry.
The Best Camp Kitchen Gear for Backpacking
Best Plates: UCO Gear 4-Piece Mess Kit
Can a bowl be a plate, and can a plate be a bowl? The answer is yes if you’re using UCO’s mess kit. This eight-ounce set comes with a bowl, a lid, a spork, and a tether to keep everything together. Grippy handles make it easy to hold while you’re perched on a log or rock, and a double gasket seals the container so nothing leaks into your pack.
Best Utensils: GSI Outdoors Halulite 3pc Ring Cutlery
Unless you prefer eating with grimy post-hike hands, don’t forget to pack a lightweight set of utensils. This fork, knife, and spoon are made from an aluminum alloy, and together they weigh just 1.6 ounces. An included lanyard keeps them from disappearing into your pack.
Best Knife and Cutting Board Set: Opinel Nomad Cooking Kit
Wow your backpacking friends with this professional cutting set, which is perfect for slicing veggies, meats, or other trail snacks. The kit comes with three folding knives made with slick beech wood handles: a serrated knife, a smooth knife, and a peeler. It also includes a compact cutting board and a microfiber cloth that doubles as a carrying pouch. One ding: It’s a bit heavy at 14 ounces, but you can save weight by leaving one or two of the knives at home.
Best Stove: Primus Firestick Stove
Backpacking stoves are one of the neatest innovations—so tiny yet so mighty. This Primus model fits in your palm but folds out to stabilize a pot on its three sturdy supports. The recessed burner doesn’t blow out when it’s windy, the adjustable valve gives you precise temperature control, and the integrated igniter means you can leave your lighter or matches at home. It’s compatible with any type of gas canister.
[$90 for stainless steel or $120 for titanium; primus.us]
Best Mug: Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium
For the solo hiker, this handy cup is a must. Cook your noodles for dinner or mix a hot toddy before bed, then clean it out to make a cup of coffee the next morning. The cavity is big enough to store a small stove, the two sturdy handles fold up when you need to stow it away, and the ultralight Japanese titanium will last a lifetime.
Best Condiment Bottles: Nalgene Small Travel Kit
Don’t forget to pack the zest. These six clear bottles (ranging from 0.5 to 2 ounces) are ideal for bringing along spices, cooking oil, dips, or other condiments you crave on the trail. They come with a small zippered pouch for carrying, and together they weigh less than three ounces. Cleaning is easy, too: Just throw them in the dishwasher once you’re back from your trip.
Best Pot: Sea To Summit X-Pot
Space is at a premium when you’re hauling gear in a backpack. But you don’t have to worry about making extra room if you have an X-Pot. All three sizes (1.4, 2.8, and 4 liters) collapse into a flat disc for easy storage. The aluminum base conducts heat to boil water or cook your meal, BPA-free silicone sides are flexible and easy to wash, and the lid also serves as a strainer.
Best Cooking Set: MSR Alpinist 2 Cook Set
If you’d rather buy one full cooking set instead of shopping for individual items, this is the system for you. Two deep-dish plates, two insulated mugs, a strainer lid, and a folding handle all nest inside the heavy-duty anodized aluminum pot. There’s even enough room to store an MSR stove. Not packing a stove? The pot is safe to use over an open fire, too.