Building Your Camping Pantry

Did you spend your winter planning a few big camping trips for this summer? We didn’t either. We’re all busy people, and many of us don’t have weekends off. Camping trips can happen whenever there’s a break in the schedule- if you’re ready. The secret to success is a camping pantry.


Many things can go into a camping pantry kit, but we’ll discuss just the essentials. Prep this before you have a trip in mind. Clean it up and get it ready at the end of every trip, so you don’t struggle to collect things on the way out of town.


There are different types of stoves for different types of cooks. Features to consider are:

  • Efficiency vs Versatility- How fast a stove can boil water is important if you’re trying to conserve fuel on a multi-day trip. Flame control is more important when cooking anything other than water or brothy soup.
  • Weight vs Stability– If you’re carrying everything on your back, you’ll want a light stove. Heavier stoves are more stable, so you don’t lose your meal in the dirt.

Here are our faves:

Pots & Pans

Lightweight pots are often what we think we want, but they can get hot spots easily. If you’re looking for successful simmering, you will want a heavier bottomed pot. Cast iron is what you want if you’re cooking over the campfire. It’s heavy and heats up evenly.

A few great pots and cooksets:


You could just bring your pocket knife, but it takes a bit of maintenance to keep all the nooks and crannies clean. A chef’s knife is worth it if you’re planning to do any in-camp prep, and get one with its own sheath.

Stirring/eating Utensils

You can use a spork for everything. Have a spare, though. Just in case.

Staple Foods / Spices / Oils

If your next trip is on a whim, you may not have time to plan complex meals. Keep staple foods in your box just in case. Choose items with a long shelf life, and the spices that you always use.

Here’s a list of our favorites:

  • Salt, pepper, chili flakes
  • Cooking spray, oil packets
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Ramen
  • Dehydrated meals
  • Individual apple sauces


We love the Kitchen Sink (with warm water!), Wilderness Wash, and a green scrubby or Packtowl. Here’s a link to our post, Camping Cleanup Tips for more ideas.

Remember, everyone is different, and it will take you several trips to refine exactly what you want. We recently posted a post about Organizing Your Camp Kitchen Box, which can help you with the next step. With a camping pantry, anyone should be able to happily get away from it all, and have something fabulous to eat.

Post in partnership with REI and Emily is an employee. All opinions shared here are our own.

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