Whether you’re a beginner starting their backpacking kitchen from scratch, or an expert looking to update your current setup, this guide shares some of my favorite backpacking cooking gear.
When it comes to spending time in the backcountry, having reliable backpacking kitchen gear can make all the difference in the world!
With so many options available on the market, it can be challenging to know where to start when building your backpacking kitchen. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best backpacking cooking gear, including stoves, cookware, and utensils.
From budget-friendly options to gear to splurge on, I cover a range of options to suit any backpacker’s needs.
>> Please respect nature by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
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Building Up Your Backpacking Kitchen Gear
I’ve been on about a dozen backpacking trips over the years. From camping in National Parks to multi-day treks through the Grand Canyon, I’ve found that you don’t need much to cook in the backcountry.
While you might feel pressure to buy the lightest (and most expensive) gear out there, I have to say that my favorite piece of my backpacking kitchen is a $20 Amazon stove.
There is something to be said about investing in high-quality gear that lasts years, but if you don’t plan on going on a ton of backpacking trips, there’s no need to break the bank!
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If you are planning on backpacking and want hot food and coffee, a stove is essential! Whether you are an experienced backpacker or just starting out, choosing the right stove for your needs can be overwhelming with so many options available on the market.
AOTU Canister Stove
For someone like me who doesn’t go backpacking that often, my favorite backpacking stove is this budget-friendly stove from Amazon! This little backpacking stove is sturdy, heats water quickly, and is less than $20!
MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove
If you’ve got more room in your budget and looking for something lightweight, I’ve heard great things about the MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
If you’re ready to invest in the top-rated backpacking stove on the market, the Jetboil Flash Cooking System is for you! This all-in-one setup is great if you need to boil water quickly and is handy for all of your outdoor adventures, not just backpacking!
The size of your group and what you are cooking will determine the type of backpacking cookware you will need. Backpacking cookware needs to be lightweight, durable, and compact enough to fit in a backpack while also being able to withstand the rigors of the outdoors.
I’ve tried a couple of different cook pots – here are my favorites:
Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set
This Stanley Adventure stainless steel camp cook set was my first backpacking pot and it has held up great over the years. The 24oz size is perfect for making a cup of coffee or tea, instant soup, or boiling water for pre-made backpacking meals. The best part is it comes with two ceramic cups that pack nicely into the pot, and it’s less than $20!
GSI Outdoors Halulite Boiler Pot - 1.8 Liters
If you’re looking for something bigger that you can cook for two with, I recommend the GSI Outdoors Halulite Boiler Pot. My husband and I got this as a wedding gift a couple of years ago and love that we can pack a mini fuel canister and our budget backpacking stove inside, saving room in our pack.
In my experience, you only need one utensil to consume backpacking food!
Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork
If you plan on eating straight out of your cook pot or are bringing dehydrated food, you’ll want a long utensil to avoid dirty knuckles! This $12 spork from Sea to Summit is lightweight, strong, and the only utensil you’ll need in the backcountry.
humangear GoBites Uno Spork
If you’re only willing to spend about $5, check out this spork from humangear. It’s lightweight and gets the job done.
However, I have to say that I have broken several of these sporks throughout the years. So if you are rough on your gear like me, I recommend spending the extra $10 and opting for the aluminum spork I shared above.
If you’re an ultralight backpacker, you probably won’t want to bring a mug and will opt to drink your coffee straight out of the pot. My husband and I prefer to have separate mugs so we can enjoy our breakfast and coffee at the same time.
As I mentioned, I don’t do a ton of backpacking so I’ve gotten by with the ceramic mugs that came with our $20 Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set.
GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug
I plan on going on more backcountry adventures in 2023 so I picked up a couple of these GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mugs. I chose these mugs because they are less than $20 and are more compact than the titanium versions on the market.
If you are backpacking alone, there is no reason you can’t eat your meal straight out of the pot! However, if you are hiking with a partner and sharing a cook pot, you might want to bring a bowl.
As a budget-friendly gal myself, I’ve been backpacking with an old hand-me-down camp bowl for years. I’ve been shopping around for alternatives and found great reviews for the following backpacking bowls.
Snow Peak Titanium Bowl
Weighing in at only 1.9 ounces, this titanium bowl from Snow Peak is the lightest, best-rated backpacking bowl on the market.
Sea to Summit X-Bowl
If you’re looking to save some room in your backpack, check out this silicone bowl from Sea to Summit! It weighs 2.8 ounces and can be flattened down to fit in your pack.
Backpacking Cooking Kits
If you are a beginner backpacker and need to build up your cooking gear from scratch, you might want to consider purchasing a bundled kit that is made to nest together to save space in your pack.
Soto Amicus Stove Cookset Combo
For less than $50, this cook set from Soto comes with everything you’ll need to cook in the backcountry.
MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove Kit
If you have more room in your budget, this cook set bundle from MSR comes with an MSR PocketRocket stove, a 1.2-liter pot, a lid lifter, and a lightweight bowl! This is a great set for two people that weighs less than 14 oz.
Depending on where you are backpacking, you’ll need to consider food storage. You’ll need to keep your food protected from wildlife, and if you are hiking in bear country, you’ll need to follow specific food storage regulations.
BearVault BV500 Journey Bear Canister
If you are hiking and camping in bear country, you will need a BearVault. This handy see-through container allows you to locate the food you need and fits inside most standard-sized backpacks. If you aren’t bringing a lot of food, check out the smaller version.
I personally love camping and backpacking with a silicone Stasher bag! Not only can these food-safe silicone bags be used to cook in or eat out of, but they are great for storing trail snacks or any leftovers you might have.
Depending on what you’re cooking, you should have minimal cleaning to do after each meal. However, it’s a good idea to have a couple of supplies on hand to make sure everything gets put away clean.
Dr. Bronner's Organic Liquid Soap
I love using Dr. Bronner’s Organic Liquid Soap at home and in the backcountry! The travel-sized version of this biodegradable soap can help you keep your cookware food clean and as free from food odors as possible.
If you are using soap, be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles by doing your dishes at least 200 feet from a body of water and never in a body of water.
Multi-Use Quick Dry Towel
After cleaning up, you might want a bandana or quick-drying towel to dry your dishes before putting them back in your backpack.
Water Filtration and Water Bottles
The ability to store and filter water is an essential part of backpacking!
The Sawyer Squeeze is the newest addition to my backpacking cooking gear! The best way to use it is to fill a reservoir with dirty water, screw the Sawyer Squeeze on, and squeeze the water into a clean water bottle.
When I backpack, I always bring a 3L hydration reservoir and a full Nalgene to drink once I get to camp. Nalgene isn’t the most lightweight option out there but they are inexpensive and durable.
If you want to save weight, take a recommendation from the serious ultralight backpackers and opt for a SmartWater Bottle. They only weigh 1.2 ounces and a Sawyer Squeeze or Mini can be screwed onto them to use as an in-line filtration.
Final Thoughts On What To Consider For Your Backpacking Kitchen
I hope this guide was helpful in deciding what you need for your backpacking kitchen! I plan on doing a couple of backpacking trips in 2023 so I’ll be sure to update this guide as I test out more cooking gear.
Let me know if you have any questions! Happy trails!