The Best Camping Cookware for an Open Fire

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If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best camping cookware for an open fire is, we recommend the Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset.

Who said you couldn’t enjoy a hearty, healthy, and tasty meal out in the wild? From single propane burners to full size grills, cooking can be its own adventure when you’re at the campsite. But what if you don’t want to bring a giant grill, or worry about running out of fuel halfway through your trip?

Campfire cooking solves all of these problems by giving you a simple, but effective, source of heat. But the trick is getting utensils that can withstand the intense flames without warping or melting while you try to cook. To make sure you’re well prepared, here’s a list of the best camping cookware for an open fire that we know and trust.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best camping cookware for an open fire:

Material

When you’re looking for the best camping cookware for an open fire, there are few things more important to consider than material. Most campfires hover around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you aren’t careful, your cookware may start to warp or melt. For example, aluminum and copper have lower melting points, making them poor choices for campfire cooking. On the other hand, titanium has one of the highest melting points, coming in at a whopping 3,034 degrees!

Needless to say, I’d suggest going with titanium when you can, but there are other good metals as well. Stainless steel and cast iron can also get the job done, and though they tend to be heavier and bulkier, they’re also a lot cheaper. So, if you’re on a budget and don’t mind some extra weight, stainless steel will probably be the way for you to go.

Read More: How Hot is a Campfire? Everything You Need to Know

Weight

metal pot hanging over an open campfire

If you know anything about cast iron, you know that it’s very heavy. That’s not usually a problem if you’re taking a trip in your RV or spending a few nights car camping – in fact, it’s what I’d recommend you use for those situations. For how cheap and durable cast iron is, the weight is one of its only downfalls.

However, if you plan on moving around at all, titanium is the way to go. Incredibly lightweight, it’s really the only option you should consider for backpacking cookware that you can use over an open fire. Some may tell you that aluminum is better for trekking, but that’s only if you plan on using something like a single propane burner. For true campfire cooking, aluminum is one of the worst materials you can use, despite being so portable.

Stainless steel is a happy middle ground. It’s not light enough to carry long distances, but it certainly weighs less that cast iron, which makes it appealing in its own way.

Cost

I’m the sort of person who values quality over quantity, and that’s especially true when it comes to cookware. There are a lot of harmful non-stick coatings that you’ll find on cheap pots and pans, and they tend to wear off the more you use them. If you aren’t careful, you might end up eating the coating after it peels off onto your food!

Aside from that, cheaper stainless steel has a tendency to rust after you use it enough. Now, you might be thinking, “I thought stainless steel wasn’t supposed to rust at all!” And that’s generally true…if you get a pan that’s made entirely out of that material, and the steel has very high levels of chromium and nickel (which help prevent tarnishing and corrosion). Unfortunately, cheap “stainless steel” cookware is only plated in stainless steel. If you use steel wool to clean it, or end up scratching the plating some other way, it’s going to rust someday.

Titanium is the most expensive, but it’s very durable, lightweight, and does a great job of resisting rust. For cookware that will last, I’d suggest spending a little bit more in the moment, so you don’t have to replace it as often in the future.

Ease of Use (And Cleaning)

small tea pot over a fire

In my opinion, cooking is the easy part – clean up is when the true battle begins! Despite the convenience, I always suggest people avoid using non-stick pans, because of the hazards that can come from heating them up to high temperatures. As such, normal stainless steel just doesn’t quite cut it for me, since it can be difficult to scrape off leftover food.

Seasoned cast iron, on the other hand, is just as good as any non-stick pan that you can find. Cast iron doesn’t come seasoned, so you’ll have to do it yourself, but it’s a pretty simple process. Essentially, all you’re doing is filling the pores of the iron with carbonized oil. You do this by cooking the oil inside of the container, which means that the more you use your pot or pan, the better seasoned it will become.

It’s a great way to increase the longevity of your cookware. Seasoning prevents the cast iron from rusting, and it also gives you a nice, non-stick surface to cook on.

Best Camping Cookware for an Open Fire – Reviewed

Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium Cookset

  • Best For: Backpacking
  • Weight: 6 Ounces
  • Material: Titanium
  • Non-Stick: No

Perfect for backpacking, Snow Peak’s titanium cookset only weighs a mere 6 ounces. With it, you’ll get a 30 fluid ounce pot, and a frying pan that can act as a cover for the pot, giving you some flexibility with your meals. Considering how small it is, though, I’d suggest you only use it to feed yourself.

Don’t feel like you can only set this cookware over an open campfire either. It’s the perfect size to store a 250g fuel canister, so as long as you have a stovetop to screw onto to fuel, you can transform it into a single propane burner. Some of you might find this method of cooking to be preferrable, unless you aren’t keen on carrying the weight of the fuel in your pack.

In addition to being lightweight and durable, the titanium also resists rust buildup. While the cooking surface might be a pain to clean, depending on what you’re making, that’s about the only maintenance that this product will require.

Pros:

– Titanium
– Rust resistant
– Lightweight
– Durable
– Perfectly holds a 250g fuel canister

Cons:

– Unfortunately, the frying pan doesn’t work very well as a lid for the pot

GSI Outdoors Stainless Troop Cookset

  • Best For: Car Camping
  • Weight: 8.5 Pounds
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Non-Stick: No

I bet you weren’t thinking you’d need more than one pot to bring with on a camping trip. But when you’ve got a large crew to feed, and want to do something a little fancier, you’ll be glad you had the GSI Troop cookset.

Big and heavy, there’s no getting around it – this set can only be used for car camping and RVing. But hey, that’s not a problem, right? It just means that it’s well-made and will last a lifetime, if you take good care of it. The stainless steel is perfect for cooking over an open fire, but you can also make use of them at home. For tiny home living, especially, the nesting capabilities are something to be coveted.

All of the pots come with well-fitting lids, and the entire set can safely be stored inside the included strap basket. So, despite how heavy everything is altogether, the two pots and the pan can still easily be transported from one place to another.

Pros:

– Comes with two pots and a pan
– Everything nests together nicely
– Long lasting and durable
– Adjustable handles
– Pots have lids that fit well

Cons:

– Heavy

GSI Outdoors Glacier Minimalist Cookset

  • Best For: Backpacking
  • Weight: 7.4 Ounces
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Non-Stick: No

We just talked about a GSI cookset that’s perfect for car camping and RVing, so now it’s time to look at what they have for backpacking. With a compact, multifunctional design, the Glacier Minimalist is perfect for trekkers on the go. The pot transforms into a mug once you invert the lid and slip on the insulating sleeve, making it easy to prep a hot meal or drink, and consume it straight from the pot. Perfect for meals around the campfire, as well as those times when you’d rather eat while you’re hiking.

This pot also comes with its own utensil – a foldable spork. I’m a little picky when it comes to the utensils I like to eat with, so this one isn’t for me; however, it’s a lightweight option for those of you who don’t want to make a separate purchase.

Overall, you can probably tell that this product was designed to use with a fuel canister. But even so, the stainless steel design can safely rest on a grate over an open campfire, cooking your food without causing any damage.

Pros:

– Lightweight
– Highly portable
– Can second as a mug
– Comes with an insulating sleeve
– Comes with a spork

Cons:

– The pot gripper is a little flimsy

Stanley Even-Heat Camp Pro Cookset

  • Best For: Car Camping
  • Weight: 8.25 Pounds
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Non-Stick: Yes

High quality and easy to store, Stanley’s cookset really covers all of your culinary bases, especially when you’re looking for the best camping cookware for an open fire. Made from stainless steel (that’s actually non-stick), it will last you a lifetime, whether you’re using it on a stove or over a hot campfire. The non-stick properties also make clean up a breeze, saving you a lot of effort when you may not have a sink handy.

You may notice the spatula and spoon in the picture above – those are included with the set, along with a cutting board. Each have a two piece handle, so they’re easy to take apart and put into storage. In fact, everything nests perfectly inside of the largest stock pot, so you only have to worry about one big package instead of several smaller items.

Everything has a nice heft to it as well, which provides some confidence that it will actually last for awhile. Of course, the extra weight will limit your mobility, but that’s a sacrifice I believe is worth making. The quality is second to none, and may actually be better than what you have in the cupboards back home!

Pros:

– Very high quality
– Comes with everything you need, including a spatula, spoon, and cutting board
– Everything nests within the stock pot
– Non-stick
– Dishwasher safe

Cons:

– Saucepan handle is a little flimsy

TOAKS Titanium Pot with Pan

  • Best For: Backpacking
  • Weight: 5.6 Ounces
  • Material: Titanium
  • Non-Stick: No

Have you ever made a meal while camping in the past, only to find that the food had a metallic aftertaste when you ate it? Yeah, that can be a common occurrence when you cook with certain materials, such as stainless steel. It’s just another reason why I love cookware made from titanium, and that includes this TOAKS pot with pan.

It’s the lightest weight product in this review, which is saying something, considering there are a few that weigh less than a pound. The pan can act as a lid for the pot, and both stow away nicely inside of the mesh carry bag when not in use. While the handles are a bit flimsy, that’s a relatively small offense, in my book.

What isn’t a small offense is the handle on the frying pan. Squeezing it too hard will make the handle release the spring tension, collapsing the handle and spilling the food that was in the pan. It’s still usable, but you need to be extra caution when grabbing the handle to prevent this from happening.

Pros:

– Ultralight
– Resists corrosion
– No metallic aftertaste
– Versatile design
– Durable

Cons:

– Quirky handles

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

  • Best For: Car Camping
  • Weight: 5.5 Pounds
  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Non-Stick: No

There’s not much to say, when it comes to the Lodge cast iron skillet. It’s about as basic as it looks, but sometimes that’s all you really want or need. At 10.25 inches in diameter, it’s large enough to cook a meal for two, especially when you consider the 2 inch depth. The pouring spouts on either side also make it easy to serve whatever deliciousness you happen to be preparing that day.

And while I say that the skillet isn’t non-stick, that’s not entirely true. You see, Lodge pre-seasons their cast iron cookware before shipping it to you, effectively making it “non-stick” without using any harmful coatings or substances. By coating the cast iron with their vegetable oil formula, and then baking it in a hot oven, the porous iron gets filled in with that carbonized oil. It’s what gives the skillet that beautiful finish, and allows you to clean it with relative ease.

But what I love about this skillet is that you can literally use it anywhere. Campfire, oven, stove, grill…you name it, this cookware can probably handle it. As long as you properly take care of it, the skillet will also take care of you.

Pros:

– Versatile
– Heavy duty
– Pre-seasoned
– Two pour spouts
– Easy to care for

Cons:

– Heavy

MSR Alpine 4 Pot Set

  • Best For: Car Camping/Backpacking
  • Weight: 3 Pounds
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Non-Stick: No

I don’t know why MSR calls this a 4 pot set when there are clearly only 3 pots…but we’ll put that aside for now. The 3 pots that you do get are perfect for either car camping or backpacking (depending on how many pots you bring, of course), and really can take a beating. Even though the stainless steel isn’t non-stick, I still find that it cleans up pretty easy, so you can feel comfortable using it for more than just boiling water.

In terms of portability, the nesting feature allows all of the items to fit neatly inside the 3 liter pot. You can also save space by using the lids as plates, instead of bringing separate items to serve that purpose. Not to mention, the handle-less design works well for packing, so you don’t have any sharp protrusions to work around.

But don’t think you’ll need to use your bare hands to grab these pots from their place above the fire. The included pan handler latches onto the cookware nicely, and allows you to lift them, as long as they remain under 10 pounds. You may still want to wrap a towel around the pan handler, though, as it can heat up quickly when you’re working over an open flame.

Pros:

– Portable
– Fairly lightweight
– Versatile
– Even heating
– Scratch resistant

Cons:

– They’re very thin, and may dent if handled roughly

In Conclusion…

Having good food to eat is just as important as having a strong shelter to protect you at night. You want to make sure you’re sufficiently prepared, but going over the top can have drawbacks as well. The pots and pans should be made from a strong material, but you also don’t want to find something that’s too heavy and difficult to transport. Ideally, they should also be easy to clean, which means a non-stick surface is always a plus.

With all that in mind, we were sold on the Stanley Even-Heat camp pro cookset. It meets all of the requirements that we look for in the best camping cookware for an open fire – from versatility, to durability, and much more.


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Spencer Yeomans

Spencer Yeomans

A lover of the outdoors, and especially the mountains, Spencer has always enjoyed pushing people to step outside their comfort zones. His mission is to help others get out of their homes to have fun and stay active in nature.

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