For newbies to camping, the key to setting up for satisfying fireside meals is preparation and packing the right "gear," as camping enthusiasts like to call it. While camping is an excellent opportunity to experiment with clever kitchen hacks, make sure to include these items on your packing list. That way, you won't forget the essentials (like matches, a can opener, and a pot to boil water), as well as those critical items that make brisk, early mornings infinitely more bearable (like a coffee percolator).
- 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.