Preparing meals in the field can be one of the most challenging parts of camping, but also one of the most rewarding. There are few parts of camping more enjoyable than sitting around the fire or table with friends and family and tucking into a freshly cooked meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, while surrounded by the smells and sounds of the great outdoors.
One thing many campers overlook, however, is tableware. You may already have a good portable stove or camping grill, but you don’t want to be digging through your kitchen drawers at the last minute to find suitable tableware because you forgot to buy some durable, outdoor-friendly dishes and utensils before your trip.
In contrast to the stuff you eat with at home, good camping tableware should be super-durable, relatively lightweight, and easy to clean in the field. This is a broad category, but we’ve already sorted through it all to bring you the best dishes, utensils, and other rugged tableware for your next camping trip, from complete family sets to backpacking mess kits (and just about everything else).
If you’re looking for a simple, rugged, no-nonsense tableware set, this bundle from Stansport is the one. The kit offers everything you need for campsite meals with friends and family: plates, bowls, mugs, spoons, forks, and knives (four of each for 24 pieces in total). The silverware is made of tough stainless steel with plastic handles, while the dishes and mugs are made of steel coated with an attractive and rustic-looking enamel that’s as easy to clean as it is durable.
The Stansport 24-piece enameled camping tableware set is a pretty great value at just $30, too.
The Stansport 24-piece tableware set is our top pick, but being made of enamel-coated steel, it’s a little heavy to lug around. A lightweight alternative that’s also great is this four-person set Barbeqa, which trades metal for sturdy BPA-free plastic. It comes with four bowls, plates, and mugs, and for utensils, you get four all-in-one sporks (with a serrated edge on one of the fork tines) which further reducing heft by combining a fork, spoon, and knife into a single handy tool.
The Barbeqa four-person camping tableware set is also a solid value, ringing in at $25. The bundle includes a handy mesh bag for keeping everything together as well.
Having dishes and utensils to eat with is one thing, but if you want to cook something more complicated than hot dogs while camping, then you also need some tools to actually prepare the meals. The GSI Destination 24-piece kitchen set is the perfect chef’s kit to pair with one of the above tableware sets: It packs a whisk, serving spoon, spatula, paring knife, spice shaker, condiment containers, cutting board, scrubber, and small towel into a handy ballistic nylon carrying case, and it even includes a 12-piece set of thick plastic eating utensils.
The GSI Outdoors Destination 24-piece kitchen set is a little pricier than our other picks at $50, but it’s the only tool kit you need for whipping up all sorts of meals at the campsite.
A simpler and lighter alternative to the GSI kitchen set is the incredibly versatile Gerber ComplEAT camp cooking tool. This four-piece, all-in-one utensil combines a spatula, serving spoon, serving fork, knife, vegetable peeler, bottle opener, and can opener into a handy collapsible package that can slip right into your backpack or even a pocket. The spatula can also lock up with the fork or spoon to be used as a pair of tongs.
If the GSO Destination kit is too bulky (or simply too expensive) for your needs, then the Gerber ComplEAT all-in-one camp cooking tool weighs in at just 2.5 ounces and will only cost you $28.
If you don’t need something for several people, this one-person set – another winner from GSI – is perfect. The Cascadian camping tableware kit includes a plate, bowl, mug, and three-piece utensil set, all made of durable and easy-to-clean BPA-free plastic. The bundle stows away in the included mesh bag when not in use (this bag can also be utilized for hanging the utensils up to dry after you wash them if you don’t want to leave them lying out).
You’ve got four colors to choose from with the GSI Outdoors Cascadian table set, with prices starting at $13.
Swedish company Light My Fire built its name (quite literally) on its ferro rod fire-starters, but this brand also makes the best all-in-one eating utensil on the market. The Light My Fire Spork is a better design than standard sporks, giving you both a “normal” spoon and fork head at either end of the handle, while a serrated edge on one of the fork tines serves as a knife – it’s like a bread knife, though, so it won’t slice up your mouth.
The Light My Fire titanium Spork will set you back $17. If the titanium Spork seems a bit pricey for a single tool, however, then Light My Fire also offers this utensil in BPA-free Tritan plastic, and you canfor around $10.
Backpackers know the importance of lightweight, multi-purpose gear, and this eight-piece tableware kit from Light My Fire is purpose-built for trekkers. It comes with three waterproof food containers, a collapsible drinking cup, a plastic Spork, and even a small cutting board which can double as a strainer when used with the large snap-box. When not in use, everything (including the cup) nestles together, and a large rubber strap keeps it all secure inside your pack.
The Light My Fire eight-piece meal kit is available in a variety of colors starting at around $22.
Aside from a hearty campfire dinner followed by some s’mores for dessert, there are few things more satisfying while camping than a nice relaxing cup of coffee in the morning as you watch the sunrise. The ceramic mugs you use at home are far from ideal for the campground, though, so it’s a good idea to invest in a quality camping mug like the Yeti Rambler. This tough mug is made of Duracoated double-walled stainless steel which is vacuum-insulated to keep your drinks hot or cold, and it holds up to 14 ounces of liquid (more than most 8-10 ounce camping mugs).
At $25, the Yeti Rambler is a little more costly than other (admittedly inferior) camping mugs on the market, but it’s the last one you’ll need to buy.
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