Growing up as a boy scout, our patrol’s most prized and vital piece of equipment (next to our tents) was our patrol box. This chest-sized crate had a hinged side that dropped down to form a work shelf and revealed several tiers of shelves and vertical compartments for storing pots, panels, utensils, soap bottles and even a few food items such as cooking oil, salt, sugar and more. It was our camp kitchen – and pantry – all in one box!
Both DIY and ‘store-bought’ varieties share the same concept – a portable chest that either free-stands or has legs, that can be placed near the campfire/stove to become the working kitchen in your campsite. It’s always on the ready with the essentials one needs to prepare and serve a meal. It’s a vital necessity for many group campers – or big families.
Some designs feature a space at the base of the box to stow a gas stove that can be conveniently pulled forward for cooking and then slid back for storage. Several tiers of shelving can hold plates, stacks of pots, whatever the camp chef requires in his/her arsenal. Vertical slots can hold platters, cereal boxes, pancake mixes, cans of food, etc. Adjustable shelving, movable compartment dividers and perhaps a drawer or two offer even more options.
Handles on each side (flush/recessed/rope) make for easier carry. Some are designed for placement on a picnic table while others might have removable or retractible/extension legs for free standing on the ground.
Like any container that holds re-usable supplies, these camp kitchens require routine maintenance – especially cleaning up spilled foods. Periodic checks of stock food items will keep the kitchen well-supplied throughout the camping season, but should be removed for storage at year’s end.
The lids need to seal the box securely from any small critter attacks and items should be packed snuggly (or secured with stops, straps, etc.) to prevent shifting during transport.
These can be pretty heavy but once in place they can serve as a well-stocked kitchen and pantry for those who especially enjoy cooking great meals outdoors.