Top 5 Cooking Tools for Your Winter Camping Trip
When cooking during a winter camping trip, you should have different factors in mind than during other seasons. Colder temperatures mean you'll need to focus on hot foods and drinks to stay warm, and they also mean you'll lose energy quickly, so you need to eat and drink even more than normal, with a particular focus on staying hydrated.
Traditional camp stoves may not work as well if temperatures are too low, and hydration bladder hoses can freeze, as well. In addition, if you're in snowy climates, you'll have to make sure your camp kitchen is up off the snow (the Best Camping Tables can help with this) so that you can cook properly.
The point is, even if you're an experienced camper, with a variety of camping cooking tools in your arsenal, you'll want to learn a few new tricks, and have a slightly different camping kitchen, when you're going winter camping.
Winter Camping Tips: Cooking for You and Your Family
Cooking when winter camping is important because hydration and nutrition play a big role in keeping you warm in cold weather. Here are a few tips to go by.
- Plan Warm, Liquid-Based Meals: Warm meals are your best friend when winter camping, as are liquid-based meals (soups, oatmeals, stews, chili, etc.), which will serve to keep you hydrated. Plan your winter camping food list around these two concepts whenever possible.
- Keep Meals Simple: When cooking during winter camping, you need to keep the meals as simple as possible, both in terms of preparation and cleanup. Nothing is worse than spending an hour preparing a meal out in the cold, or an hour afterward just washing the dishes, pots, and pans. Try to make meals that only require a single pot or pan, such as (again) oatmeal, soup, or chili. Freeze-dried meals, or dried food like lentils, are other great options.
- Stay Off the Ground: It's easy enough to set up your camp kitchen on a log, rock, or the ground when camping in summer, but with snow and ice on the ground, that isn't an option. Be sure to bring a camping table or have some other method prepared to cook properly up off the snow, or dig down through the snow until you reach dry ground before setting up your camp kitchen.
- The Cold Can Be Your Friend: One of the bonuses of winter camping is that if the temperatures are low enough, you don't need to worry about food going bad. Unlike summer, you won't have to deal with a cooler full of ice melting rapidly, so you can pack meats, cheeses, vegetables, and other perishable foods without worrying about them going bad. Remember though, the reverse is also true, so be prepared to thaw out your food.
- Drinking Lots of Water: You might not feel as thirsty during winter camping as you do on a hot summer trip, but it's crucial to stay hydrated. You can get dehydrated in winter just the same as you can in summer. Sip water throughout the day, and make warm drinks, like hot chocolate or herbal tea, when at camp to keep putting liquids in your body.
- Don't Use Bladder Hoses: Instead of bringing hydration reservoirs or bladders (the thin tubes can easily freeze), carry and store your water in bottles or jugs. Insulated covers can further prevent freezing.
- Don't Eat Snow or Ice: While it might be fun to snack on snow, and seem like an easy way to stay hydrated, it actually harms you more than helps you. Your body heat must melt the snow internally, so eating snow makes you colder. Be sure to melt snow before drinking it, or use an auger to drill into frozen rivers or lakes to reach water directly.
Tip: When melting snow, put a little water in your pot first, before adding the snow. This prevents the snow from scorching, which creates an off-putting taste.
Top 5 Best Cooking Tools for Your Winter Trip
Here are five standout choices from Woods that you can use to make your winter camping cooking experience better. These cooking tools represent the best of innovation and craftsmanship from our 100+ year history designing some of the hardiest outdoor gear known to man. It's safe to say you're in good hands.
Best Overall Winter Stove: Outbound Portable Propane Gas Camping Stove
The Outbound Portable Propane Gas Camping Stove features twin burners firing up to 20,000 BTUs, with 142.5 square inches of total cooking surface. With wind-blocking panels on the sides and a durable chrome-plated steel build, it holds up well during bitterly cold and windy winter conditions. The stainless-steel drip tray catches grease and other cooking cast-offs, while the entire stove can be packed down into a case with a carry handle for travel. If you're looking for a hardy winter stove, look no further.
Best Winter Backpacking Stove: Outbound Single Burner Portable Camping Stove
The Outbound Single Burner Camping Stove is the ultimate backpacking stove for all-season conditions. Built with durable chrome-plated steel and sporting a retractable heat-resistant plastic base, this stove is stable and long-lasting, pumping out 10,000 BTUs of heat and performing well in sub-freezing temps. It holds pots and pans up to 10" in diameter, and features a match lighting adjustable burner control to provide precise temperature adjustments. A standout piece of lightweight camp cooking gear.
Best Cookware Set: Woods Heritage Cast Iron Camping Cook Set with Crate
This burly, eight-piece cast iron cookware set is the ultimate camping cooking tool. Featuring a dutch oven with a lid, a pot with a lid, two skillets (8" and 10"), a reversible griddle (20" x 9"), and a pot lifter (4"), this complete set gives you everything you need to whip up delicious, hot meals when winter camping.
The cookware is completely pre-seasoned, so you can fry, bake, stir-fry, or roast with ease, and each pot or pan features twin pour spouts for added convenience. To top everything off, the kit comes with a rugged wooden carry box proudly emblazoned with the Woods logo.
We have several other cookware sets as well, such as the Woods Selkirk Anodized 4-pc Camping Cook Set and the Woods Nootka Anodized 5-pc Camping Cook Set, and they're all great options. That said, cast iron pots and pans are durable, hold heat well, and you can use them directly over the fire, making them a top choice for cold-weather winter camping trips, so long as you have reliable access to high-output stoves or (ideally) a roaring fire.
Best Coffee Maker: Ritual Camping Coffee Maker Set
The Ritual Camping Coffee Maker Set gives you everything you need to whip up piping hot coffee when winter camping. Coffee is a solid drink (in moderation) when winter camping. It provides energy and warmth, which is helpful, but the caffeine in coffee is dehydrating, so unless you're brewing decaf, be sure to drink coffee with that in mind.
This camping coffee maker set includes an anodized aluminum coffee press with a lid, stainless steel coffee grinder with a glass window, and zippered carry bag to stow it all. Place the coffee press directly on the stove to heat your water, and store the grinder handle directly inside its silicone holder for maximum portability.
Best Multi-Use Winter Stove: Woods 2-in-1 Grill & Burner Propane Camping Stove
This 2-in-1 stove allows you to use both a grilling surface and a traditional burner, which can be used simultaneously, maximizing the type of meals you can craft when winter camping. Like the Outbound 2-burner stove above, the folding side windshields protect against windy winter conditions. The 253 square inch cooking surface can hold a full 10" pan, with a total output of 15,000 BTUs. This camping stove pairs perfectly with the Caledon Folding Portable Kitchen Camping Stand to create the ultimate versatile winter camp kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions
If temperatures will be below freezing, one way to ensure your food doesn't freeze is to store your food and drink in a soft cooler with a hot water bottle or two inside to keep it warm. You can also use freeze-dried meals or other water-based meals to minimize perishables that can potentially freeze. Bringing a thermos like our Woods 23 oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Tumbler is a great idea when winter camping, since you can store extra boiled water in there to use later, saving energy and fuel. Dried food like lentils and other beans that don't require long boil times are a great choice since they can't really freeze, but cook fast.
Different people mean different things by "camp kitchen." A camp kitchen of some kind is always necessary, but whether that means a full-fledged kitchen camp table with shelves and foldable side tables, a dining table with multiple chairs, or simply a modest, compact camp table (or even the ground) is totally up to you. It depends on the kind of camping trip you're heading out on and the winter camping food you're planning to prepare.
As mentioned above, hot, simple, and liquid-based meals work best when camping in cold weather. Hearty stews, chilis, soups, and oatmeals all are excellent choices for a winter camping food list, as are dehydrated foods and freeze-dried premade meals. You want to make meals that can be made with minimal cookware, so that preparation and cleanup are easy, and so that you spend as little time out in the cold as possible. Anything warm and hydrating that can be prepared with a single pot or pan and is high in protein, carbs, and fats, is an excellent meal choice for winter camping.