What do People Use for Cooking When Wild Camping?
Cooking when wild camping is a wonderful thing. Lighting a beach fire beneath a starry sky or brewing a pot of tea on a frosty fell are some of the simple pleasures in life. There are a range of options for cooking when wild camping. You can opt for full on bushcraft, smoking meats and making bubbling stove pots, or simple meals just to fuel your body post-hike.
One thing’s for certain, cooking when wild camping doesn’t have to be a chore. It should be embraced as a fun part of the adventure. Instant noodles are understandable on the occasion, but there are plenty of better options to explore. Here are some wild camping cooking tips to get you started.
Let’s start with the most important item, the stove. Wild campers generally carry their own source of fire with them. Cold brewing pulses and grains is becoming more popular with long distance hikers in the US who want to save weight, but many campers still enjoy a hot meal at the end of a long day.
Building a campfire is not as common if you are hiking due to the extra weight and hassle of such an undertaking. An axe or saw for chopping trees, firelighters, carrying wood, finding suitable kindling, leaving no trace, and skirting campfire bans are all complications that arise if you want to light a fire.
Instead, many wild campers use their own stove. A Trangia with alcohol fuel is popular for army-style hikers. A Jetboil is a modern alternative to rapidly boil water in an insulated pot. However, a Bunsen-style stove with a can of propane gas is probably the most common option. Read Out”What camp stoves are best for wild camping” article
Next up is a pot for boiling water. Most cooking when wild camping involves adding hot water to dehydrated food. If you start carrying frying pans and perishable food to make more complex meals things become difficult.
Carry a pan that is relatively lightweight (stainless steel is the best material) and one that can store enough water for your meal and perhaps a hot drink. For cutlery, you need a spork to eat your meal with and to stir/mix food while you’re cooking.
A mug is good for hot drinks and a bowl provides you with a dish to eat breakfast/dinner from. Don’t forget lighters or windproof matches to spark the flame of your chosen stove. These are the essential items. Most are multipurpose and are aimed at saving weight. You can add extra items such as tongs, plates, and coffee pots but beware you’ll have to carry every gram of that spare weight!
Wild Camping Meal Ideas
When you’re out hiking, you need to target certain food groups to make sure you have plenty of energy. Hiking is a physical activity that burns a lot of calories. Don’t skip on meals and keep snacking on the trail to maintain energy.
For breakfast, oats are the staple of many a hiker’s diet. If you boil a pot of water, you can make a hot chocolate or cup of coffee and use the rest of the water to make instant porridge/oatmeal. You can pimp out this breakfast by adding extra jam, nuts, seeds, or nut butters for added calories.
Lunch is often skipped when hiking. Generally, you cook two meals a day on the stove and just snack for lunch. Choose snacks that are filled with carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. Dried fruit, nuts, trail mix, nut butters, wholemeal wraps, and protein bars all fit the bill.
Dinner is when you can really flex your cooking skills. If you’re starving, instant soup or a hot drink with a flapjack are good in the late afternoon. When you want to cook a proper meal, focus on one-pot dishes that are fast to prepare.
Instant pasta or boil in the bag rice are a great starting point. However, you should always try to make them more nutritious and delicious. Try adding dried meats such as chorizo or cured salami. These are easy to store, high in protein, and they don’t perish. Spice packets, hot sauce, soy sauce, seeds, and various nut oils all make great additions for cooking when wild camping.
There are plenty of places to choose your meals from. If you head to an outdoor camping store, they’ll have lots of options. You can buy special dehydrated hiking meals that are delicious and lightweight, but they are quite expensive.
You can also purchase camp stoves and all your required cooking equipment from these stores. Alternatively, look online or even in discount stores for cheap camping items. You can find a surprisingly good selection in most superstores.
Head to your nearest supermarket and scan the rice/pasta section. You want to buy items that are in pouches so they’re easy to fit in your backpack. Look for dehydrated meals that don’t require loads of water or a long cooking time.
Try out a few different brands and flavours. Great creative with your meals and think outside the box. Tinned food is also excellent although it’s slightly heavier to carry. Pick up a few treats you like and try to come up with some tasty meals for cooking when wild camping.
As mentioned, there are a few priorities to keep in mind for cooking when wild camping. Make sure things are as light as possible. Aside from your tent, your cooking equipment will be your next heaviest items. You should avoid perishable food or food that squashes easily. Store food in separate bags in case anything does spill.
Water is also a consideration. Do you have enough water to rehydrate your food and for drinking? Perhaps bring a water filter or sanitation tablets to top up your supplies from water sources when on the trail.
Lastly, you need to enjoy what you eat! Include some snacks just for pleasure but do try to think about how to maximise your calorie intake. Not everything you eat will taste delicious, but that’s all part of the experience. Keep trying, keep creating, and enjoy the adventure of cooking when wild camping!
If your new to Wild Camping read our”Beginner’s guide to wild camping” article that will help you get started