6 Backpacking Cookware Items Needed for a Perfect Meal on the Trail

Cooking a great meal in the backcountry can really boost morale. By having these six backpacking cookware items in your pack, you are sure to have a stress-free meal in minutes. Some of these cookware items can even be made yourself. Learn more about DIY cookware if you are on a budget.

Now when it comes to backpacking cookware items, some items do come in sets or can be purchased individually. And as always, variations will need to be made depending on the amount of people you are cooking for. With this in mind, the backpacking cookware items listed below are six things needed to make the perfect hot meal on the trail.

gsi cookset

A cookware set comes with a variety of things. However not everything in a cookware set is necessary. Reduce pack weight by only using the essentials. Photo credit: gsioutdoors.com

Shop Cookware Sets


1. Heat Source and Fuel

msr pocket rocket backpacking stove

Pocket Rocket 2 stove by MSR. Photo credit: msrgear.com

To heat up your food, you will need a heat source and fuel. The most efficient way to heat up your meals in the backcountry is by a backpacking stove. View our ultimate list of backpacking stoves if you need help choosing the perfect one for you. Isobutane fuel is usually used for most backpacking stoves. Do keep in mind that a wood fire can work as a source of heat. However this method will take longer than a stove would. Furthermore wood may not be readily available at every campsite, and fires are not always permitted everywhere. No matter what method you choose to use, a means to start a flame is required. Take matches, a lighter or a fire starter with you. If you are going to be in a windy place, for example above alpine, taking a windscreen will help to conserve fuel and increase cook times.

Shop Backpacking StovesShop Fire Starters


2. Spork / Cutlery

light my fire spork

Photo credit: lightmyfire.com

A spork is a necessary backpacking cookware item. A spork is a combination of a spoon and a fork. This utensil makes eating easy, no matter if your food requires a spoon or a fork. Depending on the food you choose to bring will depend on if you will need a knife or not. Many multi-tool devices come with a small knife that could suffice. Furthermore extension forks come in handy for roasting marshmallows or hot dogs over a fire. They can even be used to lengthen your reach in those deep freeze-dried meal bags.

Shop SporksShop Multi-ToolsShop Extension Forks


3. Pot With Lid

gsi outdoors pot

Photo credit: gsioutdoors.com

A pot with a lid is necessary for boiling water or cooking simple meals. Since this post is for backpacking, all meals should be relatively simple for weight purposes. One pot will suffice for two backpackers boiling water for pasta or dehydrated meals or for heating up soup. However another pot may be required for more than two backpackers or for more complicated meals. A lid is necessary to increase efficiency. Now don’t just take a pot from your kitchen. A backpacking pot is highly recommended, since it is made of a lightweight material. Now many backpacking pots come with a handle that does not get hot, reducing your need to bring along a pot gripper. However a pot gripper might be needed if using a fire to heat your pot.

Shop Backpacking PotsShop Dehydrated MealsShop Pot Grippers


4. Bowl

sea to summit collapsible camp bowl

Collapsible bowl. Photo credit: seatosummit.com

Now a bowl is actually optional here. Many solo campers eat right out of their own pot. However if you are hiking with a partner, splitting up food is easier with an additional bowl. Some backpacking bowls fit directly into pots for easy storage. Camping cookware sets typically come with bowls that fit inside the pot. However some camp bowls are collapsible for easy storage.

Shop Camp Bowls


5. Personal Water Bottle / Cup

snow peak titanium cup

Photo credit: snowpeak.com

A personal water bottle or cup is optional only if you plan on drinking strictly water. If you do want coffee in the morning or another drink after a long day of hiking, a personal water bottle or cup is necessary, especially if you drink from a multi-liter water bladder on the trail.

Shop Water BottlesShop Titanium Cups


6. Water Treatment

katadyn hiker water filter

Hike water filter by Katadyn. Photo credit: katadyn.com

You can’t get much cooking done without water. However you must make sure your water is safe for consumption. Boiling water is a water treatment option. However boiling water can consume a lot of fuel. Therefore tablets, droplets or a filter are lightweight backpacking options to treat water. Check out our list of backcountry water treatment and filter options to find the best one for your needs.

Shop Backpacking Water FiltersShop Water Treatment Drops and Tablets

What backpacking cookware items do you use for meals on the trail? Tell us your recommendations in the comments below!

Madison Dragna

Madison Dragna

Madison is a long distance hiker and devoted yogi. She completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and Corsica's treacherous GR 20 in 2014. When she's not traveling, she enjoys life as a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colorado.
See all Madi's Blog Posts
Follow Madi on Instagram @madidragna
Madison Dragna