Wood Fired Cooking While Backpacking

By Katie Conaway | Wood Fired Cooking
Apr. 232018

The birds are singing and nature is starting to bloom in all its glory! Right now is also the perfect time to look at the calendar and plan for the next camping trip in the upcoming months! When it comes to delicious food while cooking over a wood fire on a camping trip, the first thing to determine is if you are backpacking or car camping.

Most family oriented outdoor, sleeping in tents camping trips are really car camping trips. When that’s the case, the items needed to cook meals over a roaring campfire are not that limited. However, when it comes to parking the car far away or traveling abroad to traverse a foreign trail while backpacking, what is needed to successfully cook over a wood fire is another story.

Never fear! When it comes to backpacking trips there are some great options out there to have delicious meals while enjoying the great outdoors. It is a matter of proper planning and the economy of space.

Pack the Stove, Not the Fuel

There are a lot of camping stove options out there for the avid backpacker. However, if wood is not the primary fuel source, other types of fuel (i.e. propane, white gas, alcohol) will have to be packed, taking up precious space in an already chock full backpack. Another thing to determine is if flavor or convenience are the greatest concerns.

When planning a power hiking trip somewhere in the United States like the Appalachian Trail or abroad in Europe, Asia or another part of the globe, convenience may be a bigger concern. However, if your backpacking trip is going to be in a well wooded area, without aggressive time restraints, don’t skimp on taste. Harness the delicious taste wood fired cooking provides to meals to maximize the outdoor experience throughout the entire trip.

Cooking Musts for Backpackers

While backpacking, the greatest concern is space. If a stove is the preferred way to cook, make room for one, otherwise harness your inner caveman and build a firepit at each stop. Successful outdoor cooking while camping takes planning. Consider making room in the backpack for the following to increase cooking options and in some cases taste:

  • Waterproof Matches
  • Knife
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Lightweight Cooking Grate (e.g. stainless-steel cake-cooling rack)
  • Basic seasonings – salt and pepper shakers & 1 tablespoon of onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne

Use a aluminum grate and foil on the camp fire

Most campgrounds in national parks include designated fire pits. If these are present, use them. If not, select a site that is at least 8 feet from any bushes, dwellings or combustibles (lighter fluid, alcoholic beverages, etc.), and create around it a U-shaped perimeter with rocks or green logs.

The most important thing to remember is wood fires take longer to build and cook on. Don’t wait until you are starving to make the fire pit, light the fire, begin cooking food. A good rule of thumb is to begin the cooking process one hour before you want to eat. That should give you plenty of time before becoming ravenous!

Before packing and heading out the door, find out if there is a burn ban in the area first. Safety is always to most important aspect of any camping trip. Don’t be the cause of environmental damage or compromised safety to yourself or others. Plan ahead to ensure the best backpacking camping trip ever!

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