- Fire starters: You never know what mother nature will bring, but at least you'll have fire with a set of REI Stormproof Matches ($7) or a powerful and efficient BlastMatch Fire Starter ($25).
- Camping cooler: Anything perishable needs to be stored securely in a cooler on ice. This Picnic Time Zuma Insulated Cooler Backpack ($22) makes it easy to transport everything deep into the woods.
- Percolator: Early mornings can be a bit nippy, making coffee a warming, energizing must have, no matter where you are in the world. Brew your morning pick-me-up in something durable and foolproof like this GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Percolator ($40).
- Pan and skillet: Don't leave home without these indispensable pieces: an REI Cook Pot ($35) is essential for simmering hearty oatmeal and warming up canned beans, while an REI Nonstick Frypan ($27) makes frying up proteins like fresh-caught fish or strips of bacon a breeze. Alternatively, this lidded Lodge Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker ($30) is an excellent multitasker for those who are car camping and don't have to worry about carrying heavy cast-iron pots.
- Swiss Army knife: Keeping a Victorinox Camper Swiss Army Knife ($24) around is always a good idea. This particular version has a can opener (crucial!) and a nifty set of tweezers to help you remove small fish bones from fillets, if necessary.
See the complete camping kitchen checklist.
- Mugs and plates: You can pretty much eat or drink anything out of one of these sturdy GSI Outdoors Baked Enamelware Cups ($3) or REI Campware Plates ($4), which are more bowl-like in their construction.
- Spork: Stop wasting space by packing separate knives, spoons, and forks for the crew. Instead, combine all three in one with this ingenious Light My Fire Spork ($10 for four).
- Prep tools: Sometimes it's hard to remember the little things. This GSI Outdoors nFORM Crossover Kitchen Kit ($38) includes tongs, spatula, serving spoon, scrubby pad, cutting board, soap bottle, and more, all packed in a convenient tote. Just remember to fill up that soap bottle before you leave!
- Sharp knife: These Kuhn Rikon Paring Knives ($20 for three) are adored by the YumSugar team. They are incredibly sharp, have a nonstick coating for easy food release, and come with sheaths for safe storage.
- Camp stove: You can easily cook most food over a fire, but a travel gas-powered stove like this Coleman 1-Burner Dual Fuel Sporter II Liquid Fuel Stove ($49) helps to boil water faster and is worth the moderate investment.
- Old kitchen towels: Don't forget old, ragged, and stained kitchen towels; they serve double duty as dish rags and as napkins, and if they're destroyed camping, it's far less distressing than with new linens.
- Basic seasonings: Bring olive oil, salt, and pepper so everything from fish to beans can be seasoned just right.
- Other essentials: Trash bags, aluminum foil, and paper towels are indispensable for cleanup and storage.
Did we miss anything? What outdoor kitchen items do you consider an absolute must pack when camping?