I love to eat well whether I’m at home, at a restaurant or out in the woods. When I am on long treks, I have to be selective about my foods to keep weight and volume down. On short and especially on lowland hikes, where I can have a campfire, I splurge on weight to create famously decadent meals. Some of my hiking buddies have had the opportunity to experience my twice marinated steaks, while others, camp pizza. These are just a few ideas of great foods you might try.

There just isn’t anything like a real meal cooked over a real campfire. Your sense of smell and taste seem to be heightened by a good days hike, a cozy fire and fresh cooked food. There are limits to what you can make to be sure, but there is also a huge variety of foods that lend themselves to this type of cooking.

There are two basic tools you will need to begin when campfire cooking. One is a metal grate and the other is a small frying pan which really needs no further clarification. I always have a pot for boiling water or cooking in on short or multi-day hikes. Below is the type of grate I carry. Its grate is about 9” square with 14” long handles to keep your hands away from the fire. It’s steel so it will rust over time.

This one has two halves that can close like a clamshell, it has a male and female part which interlock to hold the two halves together. Since the grate is used with foods and is over and in a fire, it gets dirty so I keep it in a large freezer bag to keep my pack clean. After each use, I burn it clean in the fire.

I have looked for many years to find another one like this and was only able to find two of them. Later I found a somewhat smaller one sold under the Coleman brand. For many years before I found this one, I used cookie cooling racks you can get at Safeway with two green tree branches as the handles. This occasionally caused the branches to burn dropping the steak into the fire so you have to watch it closely. The steak is still edible but not as good with ash stuck all over it so do take care.

Once you have a grate, you can start with the basics like hot dogs and hamburgers. Take a little extra space in your pack for a few simple things that can add a lot to your mealtime pleasure. Take a hard sided Tupperware container to put your buns in so they don’t get crushed. Bring tiny sealable plastic containers like pill bottles to fill with ketchup and mustard or chopped onion or get some from a fast food restaurant in those little foil packets. I think you know the rest, cook and eat.

As with anything, you need to be cautious when cooking with fire. Don’t get overcome with smoke and fall in the fire. Keep hands and feet clear of fire and watch for flying sparks. The grate gets very hot so don’t touch it where it is hot. Simply be smart and safe.

 

 

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