Get Started Camping – For Cheap, Part Two

Car Camping - An easy and affordable way to get into camping starting today!
Car Camping – An easy and affordable way to get into camping starting today!

In part one of this series of blog posts about Getting Started Camping For Cheap, I shared a list of some essential gear a person should consider getting.  Then I discussed in that post in further details items for sleeping, tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads.  You can read PART ONE HERE.

In Part Two I am going to go into further details about items for cooking.  Just like with any camping gear, there is cheap kit you can buy, and then there is going to be expensive kit you can buy.  Since this series of posts is about getting into camping without spending too much money, I am going to focus on cheaper items.

Get Started Camping For Cheap – Your Cooking Kit

There are a lot of products on the market for cooking while camping.  I am going to try and cover some of the more basic options out there that are more cost friendly for those looking to save some money.

When car camping at a State Park or private campground most campsites will have a fire-ring for campfires.  Some will also have grates or grills that can be setup over the campfire ring.  It is certainly possible to cook food directly over a campfire.  All you need is wood to burn and some food, such as hotdogs, and you have a pretty simple meal you can eat.

Cooking food over a campfire ring with a grill-grate is pretty easy to do as well.  Like I said, most car camping you do will likely have something like you see in the picture below.  Makes for pretty easy cooking!  You don’t have to grill, you can also use pots, pans, and coffee percolators.

Most campsites at State Parks or even private Car Camping sites will have a fire ring and a cook grate.
Most campsites at State Parks or even private Car Camping sites will have a fire ring and a cook grate.

But sometimes it sure is nice to have your own cooking equipment on hand, and here are some affordable options to help you get started:

Coleman Classic Propane Cook Stove

The Coleman tried and true propane stove.  The classic!  This stove has been around for decades in some form or another, burning various types of fuels from white gas to propane.  For car camping this is a pretty common item to see around campgrounds.  It is a bit bulky at around 10lbs, measuring 23.25″ x 5.5″ x 14.75″ when closed.  You wouldn’t want to bring it with backpacking or canoe tripping.

The Coleman Classic Propane Cook Stove. Simple to use and great for car camping.
The Coleman Classic Propane Cook Stove. Simple to use and great for car camping.
  • Cost:  $36-45
  • Runs off 16oz propane gas cylinders:  You can get two for around $15.00
  • Has two burners for cooking
  • Can fit a 12″ pan and 10″pan side by side
  • Best place to buy online:  Amazon

I have one of these stoves, but haven’t used it in several years.  Coleman also makes a single burner propane camp stove that is of course smaller and runs of the same propane system.  It costs about the same as the one above, but of course it is smaller and easy to carry around – You pay for that convenience.

Ultra-light Camping Stove For Cheap!

Wanna really save some money and space in your camping kit?  Check out the Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Stove.  It’s small and is a single burner, but it’s cheap, reliable, and could be a great starter item for your camping kit.

The Etekcity ultralight camping burner. Very small and a great low price.
The Etekcity ultralight camping burner. Very small and a great low price.

I have one of these as well, and I actually do bring it with me on my camping trips; backpacking, canoe tripping, car camping…etc..

It weighs only 4.8oz, and measures 3.5″ x 1.8″ x 2.3″.  It fits in the palm of your hand.  All you need is some Jet Boil fuel, which is also very small, and you have a working stove for cooking over.  Boil water, fry a pan of fish… I’ve used mine for a wide variety of cooking needs.

Here is my buddy Jim frying up a pan of fish on one of our remote fishing trips we took in Ontario Canada a few years ago.
  • Cost:  $12.00 – $16.00
  • Runs off 100 gram to 400 gram Jet Boil canisters:  Price varies from $6.00 – $16.00
  • Single burner
  • Can hold a cast iron pan with assistance, great for boiling water quickly for dehydrated camp meals
  • Best place to buy online:  Amazon
You can get a sense for its small size in this picture when compared to the size of a water bottle.
You can get a sense for its small size in this picture when compared to the size of a water bottle.

I wrote up an extensive review of the Etekcity Ultralight Stove here.  I use mine mostly as a backup cooking system for my trips, as it’s small and takes very little space in my camping kit.  It’s great for boiling up water fast to re-hydrate Mountain House type camp food, or for making coffee or tea, or just to quickly purify water.

Solo Stove Light and Solo Pot 900

The Solo Stove is by far my primary method for cooking when I camp.  It is a twig stove (also refereed to as a Hobo Stove) and requires no fuel canisters to be purchased.  You use twigs, grass, wood chips – organics that are readily found in nature all around where you camp.  It travels well, as it is very small and takes up little space in my camping kit.  I use mine for boiling water to re-hydrate food as well as to cook over using a frying pan.

My Solo Stove Light and the Solo Pot 900. Boiling up some water to re-hydrate some Beef Stroganoff from Mountin House.
My Solo Stove Light and the Sola Pot 900. Boiling up some water to re-hydrate some Beef Stroganoff from Mountin House.

It weighs in at 9oz and is made of stainless steel.  It measures 4.25″ diameter x 3.28″ packed (5.7″ tall when unpacked to use).  But it does cost more than any of the items listed above.  However, in the long run, because you don’t have to buy fuel for the Solo Stove, you will end up saving a lot of money.

The one downside is using wet wood or twigs… it can be a bit harder to light and burn wet wood organics.  That is why I carry the Etekcity Ultralight Stove mentioned above as back up on longer trips.

The Solo Stove Light and the Solo Pot 900, makes a great combo kit.
The Solo Stove Light and the Solo Pot 900, makes a great combo kit.

You can buy the Solo Stove by itself or along with the Solo Pot 900.  The Solo Stove fits snugly into the Solo Pot making it a great combo cooking kit.  Big enough for 1-2 people.

  • Cost:  Around $69.00 for just the Solo Stove
  • Cost:  Around $105.00 for the Solo Stove and the Solo Pot 900
  • Uses twigs, grass, wood chips, etc… to burn and cook with.  No cost involved to buy fuel!
  • Single burner
  • Can hold a cast iron pan with assistance, great for boiling water quickly for dehydrated camp meals and light to medium cooking.
  • Best place to buy online:  Amazon

If looking for more information on the Solo Stove you can check out my review I wrote several months ago here in this website by clicking here.  Or you can also check out the amazing reviews found online at places like Amazon.

Twig Stove Alternative to the Solo Stove or Bush Buddy?

I know, I know, the Solo Stove is pretty expensive.  But if you like the idea of using a twig stove and don’t want to spend a lot of money buying one, then check out this twig stove alternative to the Solo Stove:  The Lixada Camping Stove!

I also have one of these but have never used it.  I can attest that it is made of a good quality stainless steel.  It folds down flat and is supper compact.  You just need to assemble it to use, which takes less than a minute to do in the field… I assembled mine several time in my man-cave at home after I got it.

Lixada portable camping stove!  An ultralight and compact twig stove!
Lixada portable camping stove! An ultralight and compact twig stove!

It weighs just below 7oz and is very sturdy when all assembled.  It can use twigs and other organics to burn inside it just like the solo stove.

  • Cost:  Around $14.99
  • Uses twigs, grass, wood chips, etc… to burn and cook with.  No cost involved to buy fuel!
  • Single burner
  • Can hold a cast iron pan with little assistance, great for boiling water quickly for dehydrated camp meals and light to medium cooking.
  • Best place to buy online:  Amazon

Twig stoves are great for people looking to backpack and travel light.  They are also used by car campers on a budget that want something ‘different’ to use other than a fire-ring and cooking grate.

Cook Mess Kit For Camping – Keep It Simple!

Once you have a means to cook food you may want a mess kit.  A mess kit is some basic items that you can use to cook with and eat off of.  To be honest, you may or may not need much if anything in this category.  If you are car camping you can very likely use pots and pans from home.  Or, if you want to spare your home cookware from the trials of camping, just go to a second hand store and buy previously used cookware that you don’t mind banging around.

I have only a couple pieces of kit I use for a mess kit:  A small pot I can cook in or boil water in, and a small frying pan.  Sometimes I bring along a coffee percolator, but not usually.

Of course my primary pot I use is the Solo Pot 900 mentioned above with the Solo Stove, but if you are looking for a cheaper cook pot along with some accessories that can take a lot of abuse and not break the bank… then keep reading…

Honest Outfitters Portable Camping Cookware Mess Kit

The Honest Outfitters Portable Camping Mess Kit is lightweight, takes up little space, and is great for 1-2 people to use.  It’s nothing overly fancy, yet durable and gets the job done.  It’s not meant to cook up any big elaborate meals, but a handful of eggs, some bacon or sausages, boil water, fry up some banock, fry some fish…etc…  it can do that and do it well within means.

Honest Outfitters Portable Cookware Mess Kit, comes with extras to help get you started camping at an affordable price.
Honest Outfitters Portable Cookware Mess Kit, comes with extras to help get you started camping at an affordable price.

I have one of these kits, but haven’t used it on a long time.  One big tip I can provide when using this kit, or any other kit beign used on open flame: Cook slowly and take your time.  Camp cooking kits tend to heat fast and be thinner materials, which means your food you are cooking can burn fast if you are not watching it.  Cook over coals and to the side of the flame.

  • Cost:  Around $15.00 – $22.00
  • Includes 11 pieces for 1-2 adult: nonstick pot (2 liter capacity), nonstick pan, pan cover, soup spoon, bamboo spoon, cleaning sponge, nylon travel bag, 3 BPA Free Bowls, 2 Folding Stainless Steel Sporks
  • Great little mess and cook kit for 1-2 people
  • Best place to buy online:  Amazon
The Honest Outfitters Portable Cookware/Mess Kit packs down into a small easy to carry nylon bag.
The Honest Outfitters Portable Cookware/Mess Kit packs down into a small easy to carry nylon bag.

Again, a mess and cook kit may not really be needed.  It all depends on the camping you want to do.  If car camping you can get away with using a lot of items you may have at home.  If you’re canoe tripping or backpacking you will want smaller items that are easy to pack and carry.

What Do I use for a mess kit?

Most of time when I camp I am alone, so I don’t need a lot.  If my wife goes that is another story.  But for just me, I keep it simple.  My cook and mess kit is just a few items: Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900, a titanium spork, and sometimes a portable 8″ fry pan.  In a future post I will dog into my cook and mess kit with full details.

The Only Camp Eating Utensil You Will Ever Need

For years now I have had only one camp eating utensil that I carry with me on all my outdoor trips.  I don’t even know how long I have had the thing; A Titanium Spork.

Back when I first purchased it the thing cost me a lot – I don’t recall how much.  But over the years they have come down in price and you can now buy them for around $15.00

Titanium Spork - The only eating utensil you will ever need when camping!
Titanium Spork – The only eating utensil you will ever need when camping!

It weighs .7oz and is about 6.75″ in length.  A spoon on one side, and a fork with a serrated edge on the other.  It’s damn near indestructible.  It has a melting point of well over 2370 degrees Fahrenheit.  I can’t seem to find the exact one I own online anywhere, but you can get one pretty close to it from Amazon.

  • Cost:  Around $15.00
  • Titanium!  Light and strong
  • Best place to buy online:  Amazon

Of course if car camping, or even backpacking, you can get away with a fork and spoon from home.  But all you will really need in your pack is this titanium spork, and a good belt knife or folding knife to cut with.

Get Started Camping For Cheap – Cooking, Conclusion

Thanks for reading part two of my blog serious about getting started camping for cheap.  As I have mentioned before the gear in my posts are meant to be recommendations.  You may or may not really need much of the stuff I mention depending what kind of camping you plan to do.

Camping gear gets expensive, but you don’t have to spend a lot to get some good gear that will last a long time, no matter what kind of camping you plan to do; car camping, backpack camping, bushcrafting, canoe tripping, etc…

Most all of my product links on the items I mention will bring you to Amazon where you can buy them.  If you do follow any of those links, check out the other similar related product – you may see something that fits your needs better then what I have listed.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my first post in this series by clicking here:  PART ONE

TD

TD

TD is the owner and publisher of TD All Outdoors. He has been enjoying the outdoors since since he was a child. Over the years he has spent as much time as he can solo wilderness canoe tripping, overlanding, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting, hunting, hammock camping, and more. Aside from this blog, he also own his own coffee brand, www.folklore-coffee.com.

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