Packing cookware for a long trip can be confusing. Bring too much and you're bumbling around like Samwise Gamgee in the The Lord of the Rings, pots clanging as you move with an overburdened pack. Too few and you'll find yourself scrambling to fit everything into a single bowl. This list is just right. And when you're tired from a long day of riding, these tools will make it easy for you to cook and stuff your face with a camp meal made for kings.
Each of these items doubles as another, ultimately cutting your personal kitchen load in half.
Folding knife - sharp and serrated. The sharpness helps for things like meat and hard cheeses. The serrated person allows you to cut easily through soft foods, such as bread.
Spork - I hate that I have a spork. There is nothing that screams camp nerd like spork does, unless you’re eating it while also sporting an unkept beard and sandals with too many straps. But you can get one at REI for like two bucks and they’re made of metal so they won’t melt if you’re using it to stir over the camp stove--mine is always somehow too hot and has destroyed every reusable plastic utensils I’ve owned. Finally, campsites are my home for the next year. Metal utensils make me feel a little more civilized.
Deep Plate - this is a must-have. A plate with an inch-high rim doubles as a bowl, thereby eliminating your need for one.
Strategically-Designed Mug - I recently got this mug that I love. It’s for hot and cold liquids with a sheath to keep your hot liquids hot. The best part is that it doubles as a measuring cup, making it useful for cooking things like rice and pasta. Lastly, I notoriously knock things over… so I got a top that locks shut between sips.
If you’re traveling with one or more person, have each person choose a color theme. Ski always goes with a green mug, green spork, and green plate, while I choose blue. This prevents confusion and keeps everyone accountable for their own dishes.
Things you don’t need: non-sharp knife, such as a butter knife; small bowl; large coffee tumbler.
Communal Kitchen Gear
Pots. Mixing Spoon. Booze Opener. Can Opener. Scrubber. Towel. Lighter.
2 pots - 1 pot isn't enough to get all your cooking done--trust me on this one.
Wooden Spoon - Wooden spoons are perfect because they are super lightweight and don't absorb heat, which means you can leave them in the pot while the food is cooking and you don't need a hot pad every time your stir.
Wine/Bottle Opener - We're traveling to a world famous wine region--don't leave home without one of these.
Can Opener - Camp can openers are the absolute worst. Though they weigh next to nothing, I'd rather lug around a traditional kitchen opener than one of these lemons. When you're physically exhausted and starving from exercising all day, the last thing you want to do is feel like a monkey trying open a can of beans
Scrub Daddy - Dish towels don't do it for me (not enough scrubbing power) and sponges get weird. This little guy can be cleaned and doesn't smell. You can hang it to dry using the eye holes. Plus his wide smile mimics that of a comforting friend while cooking. A friend who doesn't judge you for cooking a second dinner. A friend that winks when you open that second bottle of wine.
Kitchen Towel - There are so many good ones to choose from where you may feel overloaded by choices. Chose a quick dry with a loop so you can hang it and don't pay more than $15.
Lighter or Matches - For... you know... fire.
How to Stay Organized
For years I used a net bag to hold my kitchen supplies, but things were always poking out the tiny holes and getting stuck as I yanked them out. Not ideal. A more structured and stylish alternative? A children’s lunch box.
These boxes are designed with the biggest spill offenders in mind: kids. A square container provides structure and a zipper on three sides keeps everything locked up tight. Pack little loose things like matches and your personal utensils in the netted pocked on the lid. Put other miscellaneous items like spices, cooking utensils, olive oil (always wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent an environmental catastrophe of your own), camp soap, wine opener, can opener, Steripen, and whatever else fits in the main pouch.
Make sure you lunch box is waterproof and good quality so the four sides and zipper won’t give you issues along the way. Plus who doesn’t love a space-themed lunch box? Just because you’re roughing it doesn’t mean you still can’t have a little style.
And all the other big stuff: your plate, cup, and kitchen pots? Those can go in that trusty net bag where small holes won’t cause an organizational headache.