Skip to Content

Camping Kitchen Essentials (Best Campstoves, Coolers, Utensils, etc)

Photo by Nathan Shipps on Unsplash

Just because you’re out in nature without a full kitchen doesn’t mean you are stuck with eating trail mix and PB&J’s. There are some amazing products available that can help upgrade your camping kitchen. So while you’re in the great outdoors “roughin’ it”, you can still be enjoying delicious meals.

Emily and I have tried all kinds of camping kitchen setups. We know what works well together, and what things are a pain to use. We’ve sifted through all the duds and gimmicks to narrow down the best products available. Let us help you to avoid common mistakes.

Here are our picks for camping kitchen essentials.

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Camp Stoves

To prepare hot and delicious meals, you need some kind of stove.

What to Consider For Purchasing A Camp Stove?

Dual-Burner versus Single-Burner

Dual burners provide the most options and flexibility for cooking multiple things at once.  Dual-burners usually have built-in wind protection. Do you only ever cook single-pot meals? Then save the space and money and just get a single burner stove.

Propane versus Butane

Propane is generally cheaper and easier to find than butane.  The standard green camping propane bottles are bigger than butane, which are about the size of an average spray can.  Butane can stop working at temperatures below freezing. Also, fuel canisters are almost always sold separately, so don’t forget to pick some up.

We’ve narrowed it down to just the best and most reliable stoves available.

Dual-Burner Stoves

Dual burner stoves are the go-to for backcountry master chefs.  The two burners allow you to prepare two things at once, and at different temperatures.  They have wind-protection and a large stable cook surface.

Top of the Line

Camp Chef Everest 2X High-Pressure Stove

Our favorite campstove is the Camp Chef Teton 2-burner.  We use this stove every day in our campervan and it is a beast.  It earns the hefty pricetag by having the best temperature control on the market.  Cooking foods at medium or low heat is much easier. Which helps to save more propane over the long run.

Check Price on |

Pros of Camp Chef Tetoon 2-Burner

Best simmer available

Well-spaced burners

Efficient use of propane

Cons of Camp Chef Tetoon 2-Burner


Bad for small spaces

Best Value Camp Stove

Coleman Cascade Classic Camp Stove | REI Co-op

The Coleman 2-Burner Campstove is almost synonymous with camping itself.  Their campstove has been a staple of the camping kitchen for decades. It’s quite a bit smaller than the Camp Chef Everest. However, that does translate to less cooking area.

Check Price on |

Pros of the Coleman 2-Burner Camp Stove

Smaller footprint

Low price

Cons of the Coleman 2-Burner Camp Stove

Burners are close together

Bad simmer control

Burns propane faster

Single-Burner Stoves

Single burner campstoves are much more compact than dual-burners.  The two most popular types are propane and butane. Butane stoves are especially compact because the tank is slimmer and fits right into the stove’s housing.  For that reason, I recommend choosing a butane single burner stove. For solo campers or couples looking to make one-pot meals, a single burner is a great choice.

Most Compact

Coleman Cascade 18 1-Burner Camp Stove | REI Co-op

Nothing really beats the value and reliability of a tried and true Coleman Single Burner Butane Stove.  The butane canister fits right inside the housing for an incredibly sleek stove.  And the fuel canister just drops into the slot to connect, rather than the normal threaded “screw-on” canisters.

Check Price on |

Pros of the Coleman Single Burner Butane Stove

Smallest footprint

”No screw” canister assembly

Cons of the Coleman Single Burner Butane Stove

Butane costs more

Bad simmer control

No wind protection

Best Propane Single-Burner

If you’re partial to propane, then this Coleman Single Burner Propane Stove is great.  The external tank, however, does increase the footprint substantially (when compared to butane counterpart).

Check Price on

Pros of the Coleman Single Burner Propane Stove

Propane is cheaper

Cons of the Coleman Single Burner Propane Stove

Fuel tank is external

Bad simmer control

No wind protection

Propane and Butane Compatible

If you want the flexibility of a stove that can handle both propane and butane, then the Camplux Duel Fuel is the best choice.

Check Price on

Pros of the Camplux Dual Fuel

Duel-Fuel capability

Cons of the Camplux Dual Fuel

Bad simmer control

No wind protection

Backpacking Stoves

Or for campers who want the absolute smallest stove, check out these backpacking stoves.  They can be a great option for someone who doesn’t want to buy two separate stoves for camping and backpacking.

But keep in mind that these stoves are mostly designed for boiling water. They are great for coffee, tea, or just-add-water meals.  But they have very small burners and very little temperature control. So cooking large meals on medium/low heat is not very feasible.

MSR PocketRocket 2

MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove | REI Co-op

The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is just about the smallest and lightest backpacking stove available.  It is extremely popular among the ultralight backpacking community.  It packs down small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.  But the compromise is durability and price.

Check Price on |


Jetboil Flash Cooking System

The other most popular backpacking stove is the Jetboil Flash Cooking System.  It comes with its own pot and insulated sleeve.  It boils water faster than anything else.  But if you want to use other pots and pans with it, you need an extra attachment.

Check Price on |

Campfire Cooking

Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash

What about cooking right over the campfire?  It does require a little bit more effort, but cooking over the campfire adds flavor that you simply cannot get with a gas stove.

The key to cooking over a campfire is to get a solid foundation of coals and embers before you start cooking.  You want to cook over the heat of the coals, rather than big open flames.  This usually requires the fire to be burning for at least 30 minutes before you begin cooking.  And don’t forget to bring enough firewood for cooking dinner and for your after-dinner campfire.

Texsport Heavy-Duty Campfire Grill

This Texsport Heavy-Duty Campfire Grill makes cooking over a campfire super easy.  There are tons of similar products on the market that skimp on toughness.  Don’t mess around with knock-offs, this one is sturdy enough to handle the weight of cast-iron skillets and more.  The large diamond-patterned grate doesn’t stick. And the legs fold up so it stores away really nicely.

A few tips for using this style of grill….

Test out where you are going to put the grill before you start the fire.  It’s a lot easier to move rocks around and find a stable setup when there aren’t flames in your face.

Place a couple small rocks around the edges of the grill to prevent food from rolling off.

Keep the box for transporting the grill so that soot and ash don’t get on other stuff.

To remove the grill from the fire, get two long sticks and a friend.  Slide the sticks under each side of the grill and lift the grill off like a stretcher.

Tin Foil “Oven”

This classic camping hack is adored for its simplicity and lack of dishes.  Simply wrap your food in HEAVY-DUTY tin foil and place it in the campfire to cook.  It does require a little bit of fine tuning to make sure that your food cooks without burning.

I don’t recommend this technique for cooking meats because its hard to monitor the temperature closely.  But it’s an awesome technique for cooking vegetables, baked potatoes, reheating leftovers, and more.

And definitely keep a good pair of metal tongs around for handling your hot tin foil nuggets.


There are a zillion different cooler brands out there, and comparing prices, warranties, ice-retention, and bonus features is enough to make your head spin. In the interest of brevity, here are our top two picks.

YETI Tundra

Yeti coolers are the top-of-the-line brand-name cooler. They consistently prove to be worth the price.  The excellent 3″ insulation keeps ice cold for many days. And they are packed with all kinds of intelligent features. 

A dry-goods rack to keep foods elevated out of the water, tie-down holes that allow the cooler to be secured without preventing the lid from opening, padlock holes to make the cooler bear-resistant, drain hole, heavy-duty hinges, and more!

Tundra 35: Check Price | |

Tundra 45: Check Price |

Tundra 65: Check Price |

Tundra Wheeled: Check Price |

Pros of the Yeti Tundra

Heavy Duty Construction

Long Ice Retention

Bear-Resistant (with padlocks)

Dry Goods Rack

Cons of the Yeti Tundra


No Wheels

Heavy, even when empty

Size-to-Storage Ratio

Coleman Xtreme 50 Qt

This is the best value cooler for the weekend warrior.  It’s extremely affordable, while still providing decent ice-retention and helpful features. 

The wheels and telescoping handle allow one person to move it around easily. 

The 4 cup-holders are a nice touch that make this cooler the perfect side table to put in between you and a friend. 

The lid is sturdy enough to be used as seat. 

And there is a drain so you don’t need to empty the cooler to release water.

Check Price on | | Home Depot

Pros of the Coleman Xtreme 50 Qt




Cup Holders

Cons of the Coleman Xtreme 50 Qt

Mediocre ice-retention

Cheap materials



To get your kitchen up off the ground, it’s nice to have a folding table. There’s lots of folding tables that pack up very small for transportation. The ideal table will be big enough for your stove while leaving extra room for food prep and serving.


GCI Outdoor Camp Table 20

This small style of folding table is probably the minimum size you can get away with. It’s too small for most dual-burner stoves but big enough to hold a single-burner stove or backpacking stove, though it probably wont have room for much else. It’s an absolute breeze to set up.

Check Price on |


 Coleman Outdoor Folding Table | Ultra Compact Aluminum Camping Table, White

Coleman Roll Top Camping Table

Or if you want a little more surface area, roll-top tables can provide a little bit more space, and usually fold up smaller.  This one can fit every stove listed above, except for the Camp Chef Everest.

The 4 vertical legs are more stable that the “X” shaped legs of the GCI table above. But it is a little harder to set up.

Check Price on


Mountain Summit Gear Heavy-Duty Roll-Top Table - Large | REI Co-op

Mountain Summit Gear Heavy-Duty Roll-Top Table

This large roll-top table has amazing reviews for being one of the most sturdy camp tables around.  And it’s even big enough for 4 people to eat at or play cards.

Check Price on

BalanceFrom Folding Table

If storage size is not an issue and you want the most affordable large table, this classic folding table can get the job done.

Check Price on

Pots & Pans

Most campers either swear by non-stick pans or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.  We personally use both depending on what we’re cooking. Here’s our take.

Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet - 10.25 in. | REI Co-op

The cast-iron skillet is a timeless kitchen essential.  When cared for properly, they will last a lifetime.  The Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet makes it easy because they come pre-seasoned and ready to go.  Cast-iron skillets can do it all.  A little butter or oil can make the surface non-stick.  But they’re also rugged enough to cook right over a campfire.

Add in a lid, and you’ve got yourself a camp oven.

Check Price on |

But cast-iron skillets do require special care.  But don’t worry it’s not rocket science.  And the handle gets really hot during use, so be sure to keep an oven mitt or silicone cover handy.

Pros of a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Basically Indestructible

Even heat distribution

Can cook over campfire

Great for searing meats

Cons of a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet


Needs oil/butter to be non-stick

Doesn’t cool quickly

Needs special care

Caraway Non-Stick Frying Pot & Pan

a girl cooking outside her campervan at a picnic table in a campground with a Caraway Non-Stick Pot on a Camp Chef Everest camp stove

Our personal favorite non-stick pots and pans are made by Caraway. They come with ceramic non-stick coating that is not harmful to consume. They are designed to evenly distribute heat so you get a thorough and even cook for your entire meal.

It’s important to note that these pans are not recommended for use on high heat and require the use of silicone or wooden utensils.

However, they are not advisable to use on high heat, and require silicone or wooden utensils.

Check Price For Caraway Non-Stick Pan on

Check Price For Caraway Non-Stick Pot on

Pros of a Caraway Non-stick Pots & Pans

Non-stick without lubricant

Easy clean up

Cons of a Caraway Non-stick Pots & Pans


Not good for high-heat

Requires wood/silicone utensils


Having a convenient water source at your campsite is an essential part of any camping kitchen.  I recommend getting a water jug with a spigot.  The spigot is a critical feature that makes it convenient for washing hands/dishes, and filling up water bottles.

I will note I’ve yet to find a perfect camping water jug. They all seem to suffer from some issues, like leaks, faulty seals, sun damage, hard to clean, cheap materials, and so on. But the two jugs listed below are most reliable on the market.

Reliance Aqua-Tainer

Reliance Aqua-Tainer - 7 gal. | REI Co-op

This 7-gallon Reliance Aqua-Tainer water jug is the best that we have found.  The plastic is decently durable, and the spigot allows easy control over the rate of flow. 

The cube-shape packs water super efficiently is stable in any position.  The spigot can also be turned inside the container to protect it during travel.

My advice is to make sure not to slide the jug across the ground or a table.  The plastic is thin enough that this grinding could cause a leak over time.

Check Price on |

Pros of a Reliance Aqua-Tainer

Hands-free flow

Tight seals for transportation

Hide-away spigot

Efficient use of space

Stable design

Cons of a Reliance Aqua-Tainer

Hard to clean

Single wall plastic

Not Insulated

Igloo 5 Gallon Cooler

This classic Igloo 5-gallon Water Cooler is adored by many campers.  It’s insulated so you can load it up with ice and water and be drinking cold water for days.  And it’s sturdy enough to be used as an extra seat around camp.  The main issues with it are that it takes up a lot of space for only holding 5 gallons of water.  And the lid doesn’t screw down water tight, so it’s not great for extensive off-roading.  Loading it up with ice can help reduce sloshing.

Check Price on

Pros of an Igloo 5 Gallon Cooler

Tight seals for transportation

Insulated for hot/cold

Can be used as a seat

Cons of an Igloo 5 Gallon Cooler

Inefficient shape for packing

Lid doesn’t screw down

Must hold button to dispense

Other Kitchen Essentials

There’s a few other essential items that most campers bring along to complete their camping kitchen.  This includes things like utensils, paper towels, soap, oven mitts, pot holders, spices, etc.

Camping Storage Bin

We recommend keeping all your kitchen stuff in a plastic bin, so that it stays together all in one place.  This 17 Gallon HDX Storage Tote has plenty of room for pans, utensils, paper towels, trash bags, and other kitchen items.

But since its a hard-sided tote, you should get the smallest size possible.  I recommend sizing the tote based on your pots and pans, since they will likely be the largest thing in the bin.

Check Price on The Home Depot

Biodegradable Soap

Our favorite all-in-one biodegradable camp soap is Dr. Bronners.  It’s a highly potent natural soap that’s easy on the environment, and made in the USA. 

Emily and I use Dr. Bronner’s as our everyday soap in our campervan.  

If you want to convert to using Dr. Bronner’s in your home, then buy one the larger bottles and just use a refillable soap dispenser.  The refillable dispenser is a good place to dilute the soap by mixing with water.

Check Price on (all sizes)

Check Prices on 2oz | 4oz | 32oz

Leave No Trace: Even biodegradable soaps and cleansers shouldn’t be used in a natural water source. To wash yourself, your laundry or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap (a little goes a long way). Then pour wastewater into a cat hole 6 to 8 inches deep.”

Cutting Board / Wash Bucket

This 2-in-1 camp bucket and cutting board combines two necessary items into one, saving you precious storage space.  And once the bucket is filled for washing dishes, you basically have one less thing to wash since the cutting board is part of the bucket.

Check Price on

UCO 4-Piece Mess Kit

UCO 4-Piece Mess Kit | REI Co-op

This UCO 4-Piece Mess Kit comes with all the essentials and you won’t lose any of them due to their tether hold. This can also act as a tupperware with their leakproof seal.

Check Price on |


And don’t forget tongs so you can flip those patties on the grill or toss that bacon in the morning!

Check Price on


Camping food doesn’t have to be bland. Grab a multi-spice so you can be the ultimate chef.

Check Price on


Last but not least is a Gerber Multi-tool. You can’t let anything in the kitchen stop you with this multi-tool. You can cut those veggies, open that can or open that beer bottle! 

Check Price on |

Save These ‘Campervan Kitchen Essentials’ For Later

Beginner's Guide to Wild Camping and Boondocking - tworoamingsouls

Monday 10th of April 2023

[…] […]

How Vanlife Ruined Camping For Us - tworoamingsouls

Wednesday 13th of July 2022

[…] is one of the unique pleasures of camping.  Whether cooking over a campfire or setting up an outdoor kitchen on a campstove, it is a joy that’s hard to explain in […]

How To Plan A Budget-Friendly Road Trip - tworoamingsouls

Thursday 11th of March 2021

[…] Campervan Kitchen Essentials […]