As with so many of us during the pandemic, I spent a lot of time deeply reflecting on the important things in life. Like whether or not I should buy one bottle of biodynamic wine or two. Or whether or not I should be talking to a therapist about the existential dread I feel every time I scroll through Netflix. You know, the big stuff.
Then there was the actual big stuff. Being at home all the time, it got to a point where I found myself wondering, why am I constantly taking out the trash? And why is there so much of it? As a conscientious re-user and recycler, it was concerning to see how much waste I was generating.
Another realization was that all the travel daydreaming I found myself indulging in with my WFH reality could also become...my near-future reality.
With this new mindset, I’ve filled up the second half of 2021 with all sorts of plans (and crafted a handful of OOO replies so people know I’m not messing around), I’ve reevaluated what I have in my camping gear, and picked up some new items so I can reduce my waste, especially plastic, and be more mindful of the footprint I’m leaving behind.
Plus, as someone who cooked a whole lot during the pandemic, I’m absolutely done with low-quality cookware. Below is a list of high quality, camping cookware items that are sustainably crafted and will last for years to come.
FOR SOLO CAMPERS
Snow Peak Titanium Trek 700 Mug
Is it a pot? A mug? A bowl? According to the makers of this mug, it’s all three. And if it had a wine opener, I’d be calling it the Swiss Army knife of mugs (suggestion for the next model?) because it’s everything in one. So go ahead and ditch the extra pots and plastic bowls since the flip-top lid lets you easily strain pasta and rice, then eat right from it. Plus, it’s BPA-free, so you don’t have to worry about toxic contamination when you heat the mug.
Snow Peak Giga Power 110 Gold Fuel Canister
If you read about the Snow Peak Titanium Trek mug above and thought, my gosh, this space-saving mug is totally the mug for me, it’s going to change my life, like Marie Kondo did, just know that the GigaPower fuel canister is the Trek mug’s companion piece. So if you want fuel that fits nicely inside the can and will heat it up with no problem, here you are.
POT, PANS, GRIDDLES
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Fry Pan
Carbon steel fry pans are probably the greatest open secret of any piece of cookware, because French foodies and restaurant pros have been using carbon steel for years. And if that isn’t proof enough, they’ve been deemed “The Kitchen Workhorse" by the New York Times. It has the heat retention of a cast-iron but the slick properties of a non-stick, so just imagine blistering a batch of shishito peppers or blackening a fillet of wild caught sablefish and having them just slide right off the pan. These Made In pans are also chef-designed, so they’ve corrected for some of the pain points they experience to make this the most kitchen-friendly and longest lasting of pans.
Staub Cast Iron 10” Frying Pan
I absolutely love cast iron, and Staub in particular is one of the best you can get. Every beautiful piece is handmade in France. The difference between these cast iron pans and traditional versions is the enamel coating, which makes them easier to clean, since standard cast iron needs to be seasoned and only becomes non-stick over time. The enameling also provides for different colors, turning your pans into veritable objets d'art. These pans are also practically indestructible if you take care of them properly.
From the Organic Authority Files
Staub Cast Iron, 4 QT, Round, Cocotte
In addition to making high quality cast iron pans, Staub makes a cocotte (also known as a Dutch oven). This is the item that’ll really take your campfire cooking to the next level. Recently, I’ve been making a lot of bread with it, like every other person on Pandemic Planet. But the dishes that get me most excited are soups and stews. These are especially great if you’re camping in the mountains or anywhere else where the temperatures drop once the sun goes down. There’s nothing I adore more than kicking back with a bottle of wine around the campfire while a stew slowly cooks. And just like the cast iron frying pan, these cocottes are enameled, so you don’t have to worry about any heavy metal leaching.
Lodge Reversible Griddle Grill
One of the most underrated cookware items out there, and ideal for making brunch. All that surface area means you can cook lots and lots of eggs or pancakes at one time, which is ideal, because whipping up numerous small batches in a skillet is always challenging. It’s also pretty easy to place the griddle across the stones on a fire pit so you can cook directly over an open fire.
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Paella Pan
Paella is one of those things that turns out 1000 times better if you have a paella pan. Just open a bottle of tempranillo and relax as you let that paella cook over the fire. But a paella pan isn’t just for making paella; it also does double duty as a very handy griddle. The slightly oval shape and shallow walls allows for your grill to close completely; no worries about things falling through. Because no one needs to experience the trauma of watching a perfectly cooked sustainable shrimp fall through the grate and shrivel into flames.
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Grill Frying Pan
Speaking of keeping ingredients from falling through grill grates, the 62 perforations in this carbon steel frying pan allow you to sear grill marks on your food (always an appealing touch). The control you have with the handle makes it easier to avoid flare ups, instead of hastily trying to move the ingredients piece by piece and hoping that you don’t burn your hands in the process. The pan also eliminates the need for the long-overrated device known as the skewer, and I’m here for that.
PORTABLE FIRE PITS, GRILLS
Fireside Outdoor Trail Blazer
Campfires are one of life’s greatest pleasures and the portability of this 2-in-1 fire pit and grill lets you bring the campfire just about anywhere. Sling it over your shoulder as you carry it down to the beach or tuck it into a kayak so you can have a fire at the end of a day on the river. The fire pit is specifically designed to leave no trace, so you don’t have to worry about leaving any burn scars or having a gust of wind send embers flying. Which is really the last thing you want to be worrying about when you’re trying to enjoy some S’mores. Keep your focus where it belongs: On the correct level of marshmallow toasting.
Bio Lite Energy FirePit + Cooking Kit
Sure, this is a fire pit that turns into a Hibachi-style grill. But the single most impressive aspect of this fire pit is that they’ve invented airflow technology that allows for the fire to burn with less smoke (!). The idea that I can stand over a grill and not burst into tears whenever the wind blows is enough for me. This fire pit algets extra points for being lightweight, so you can easily move it around the backyard, bring it up to a rooftop, or put it in the car for a trip. It burns both charcoal and wood, so you can cook with either. Or both, if you’re into that sort of thing.
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