Campfire cooking

Back Country Cooking & One-Pot Grills

Once your cooking prowess advances beyond marshmallows and hotdogs on a stick, the use of pots and pans to prepare dinner becomes an essential task on most camping trips. Cooking in the backcountry, from a kitchen you are wearing on your back or tucked into your canoe, space and weight typically dictate how extensive your array of cookware can be.

While campfire cuisines can be as complex as those made at home, typically a large portion of camp meals are made in one pot heated over a stove or a small bed of coals. The challenge sometimes comes from having a solid platform upon which to place the pot over a controllable fire.

The most basic of supports is simply three rocks arranged in a tripod that enables a pot to be placed squarely centered on those three points. Embers can be maintained by controlling heat and adding wood/fuel between the rocks throughout the cooking process. Sometimes a rock is placed within the fire ring and used in conjunction with the rocks along the ring to provide support of a pot at the edge of the fire.

One of several classic campfire forms, the parallel log fire, can be used to make a “stove” for pots as well. A fire smoldering between the logs provides the heat while the size of the log dictates how far/close they need to be to support a pot between them. The advantage of this fire is that it’s slow burning, basically self-fed and can be used after dinner to provide warmth to the campfire for an extended period of time.

The third type of grills covers a whole range of portable, folding, assembly-type platforms that can be packed for use at camp. Some are smaller dimensioned grills with detachable legs; some are hinged to fold out to a working surface and some are an assortment of rods/slats/etc. that can be connected into forming variable grill surfaces depending upon the size of the pan or meal to be cooked.

Since you can heat both containers (pots, pans, Dutch ovens) as well as portions of food (burgers, steaks, fillets), there are several options in size, sturdiness and back-ability to consider when choosing a good camping grill.

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