How To Buy The Best Backpacking Cookware On A Budget
Having the best backpacking cookware can improve your camping experience. The type of cookware you need depends on what kind of a camper you are, how many people you are camping with, and ease of cleaning among other factors. This comprehensive backpacking guide gives all the insights on the cookware to buy.
What you should know about backpacking cookware
There is a lot to be considered when it comes to planning your backpacking cookware. Top of the list is whether you will be backpacking with a car or on-foot like backcountry hikers. Other factors to consider include the material of the cookware, number of pieces in the set, and the cookware accessories to include.
Car camping vs. backcountry hiking
Car camping offers the advantage of carrying any type of cookware to the campsite. In addition, the more backpackers with cars the easier it is to carry large propane stoves with two or more burners or a portable grill. You also have the liberty of carrying any kind of foods you wish to have in the campsite including perishable products since you may have more space for a cooler in your car.
Backcountry hiking on the other hand involves traveling on foot through the woods or other type of campsite. Weight is one of the major concerns for many backpackers on foot and the lighter you travel the more comfortable it is. Camping experts would recommend a single propane burner and a few utensils like a single plate and spoon. Simple items like food cans can also transform into makeshift beverage containers.
The type of cookware material you go for will be determined by your cooking needs. Available cookware materials on the market include aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and cast iron. Each of these metals varies in terms of pricing, ease of usage, and durability.
Aluminum is lightweight and cheap. It is a good conductor of heat, therefore, evenly spreads heat. Aluminum can ensure that you save time on cooking and use less fuel doing so.
On the downside, aluminum dents, warps, and scratches easily. This means that it may not last longer like other high-grade metals. In addition, aluminum is reactive to acid or alkaline foods. This can end up ruining the taste of your food or beverages. Therefore, aluminum is only used when simmering food or cooking meals that only require boiling.
An alternative to basic aluminum is hard-anodized aluminum. This has a thicker coating and does not have the disadvantages of conventional aluminum. Hard-anodized aluminum is more durable and is resistant to scratches, dents, or warping.
It conducts heat evenly, meaning you will you less fuel and clean easily. Hard-anodized aluminum can be used to for different cooking methods including boiling and deep-frying.
Like aluminum, titanium is lightweight but is stronger than aluminum. Its thin walls conduct heat faster and save cooking time. Titanium is also resistant to corrosion and durable. The only major drawback of titanium is that it does not spread heat evenly on its surface. This creates hot spots which may end up burning food. Similarly, titanium will also come in handy when preparing meals that only require boiling, simmering, or steaming.
Stainless steel can be a good choice if you are looking for heavy and durable cookware. It is also scratch resistant and recommended for cookware that can take lots of use. The cookware does not take much to clean your stainless steel utensils; steel wool and soapy water will suffice in many cases.
Stainless steel has its downside as well. It takes a lot of time for steel to heat up and the heat is not evenly distributed. Not only will you use a lot of fuel to cook, there is also a possibility of burning food especially if you cook with lots of heat. Though stainless steel is easier to clean, food tends to stick on it as well.
Cast iron is by far the best cookware material of the four mentioned above. It is resistant to scratches, denting, or warping, and has a natural non-stick surface. Although Iron may take a while to heat up, it spreads the heat evenly on its surface once it heats up.
Iron also retains heat longer, which means your food will continue cooking even after the fire has been turned off. Skillets are a perfect example of cookware made of cast iron.
On the downside, cookware made of cast iron tends to be heavy. Iron also needs re-seasoning for it to maintain its natural non-stick properties. Therefore, it is ideal for car camping than backcountry hiking.
Non-stick cookware has become more popular because of the benefits they bring to camping. They conduct heat better and require less oil for cooking. They are also easier to clean, a great reason why they are preferred by campers.
However, just like cast iron, non-stick cookware requires proper handling to protect the non-stick surface. They scratch easily, and when they do, deteriorate faster. Hiking backpackers or car campers can both utilize non-stick cookware. They can come in handy when you want to save time on cleaning.
More tips for choosing your cookware
It is advisable that you buy an assortment of cookware to make for the best camping experience. Mix up your cookware material as well, regardless of whether you buy pots, plates, bowls, mugs, or skillets. Your menu and the activities you intend to have while camping should determine the kind of cookware and burners you buy. Only purchase the items you need to avoid having unnecessary items in the woods.
Hiking backpackers can do with a single pot while car camping families can carry an assortment. One other thing to consider is the color of the cooking equipment. Dark colored pots tend to conduct heat efficiently and speed up cooking time. Diameter of the pots also determines how fast the heat is conducted or evenly spread.
Wider pots are more heat efficient as a larger surface is exposed to fire. Always choose pots or pans with a diameter that is almost similar to your stove burner; it ensures that heat is always evenly distributed.
Apart from pots and pans, you also require cooking accessories including lids. Lids are highly versatile cookware accessories for camping. They reduce the amount of heat lost from the pots, which helps water to boil faster or food to take less time to cook. Lids also protect against spillage and overflows helping keep your stoves clean when cooking.
If you do not have enough utensils on your camp, cooking lids can be makeshift plates. They can also serve as trays or quick plates to remove steaming pots from the fire.
Pot grabbers or handles are a second accessory to have while camping. A lot of the older pots and pans come with inbuilt handles. Modern cookware comes with detachable grips. The best pot grabbers lock on the pot firmly. Some cookware feature plastic handles that should be kept away from direct fire to avoid damage.
Top 5 Best Backpacking Cookwares On The Market
So What Is My Choice?
Solo Stove Cook Set
Solo Stove Cook Set
Why I Recommend It
Experienced campers know the importance of having good cookware on their camping trips. It is important to consider durability, material, and number of people you will be accommodating on your campsite when buying backpacking and camping cookware.
In addition, find out if the cookware comes with its own propane gas cylinder or if you will have to get one separately. I hope you found this review and guide useful.
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