Camp cooking options for Overlander’s

If you are planning an overland trip and expect to dine out every night then perhaps you do not need to read further!!  However for most folk this is not an option and self-catering is the way forward and for this you will need a range of kit (camping stove, fire grill, cooking pots, kettles etc) suitable to the task. I would like to try and convince you that you need at least one of everything Touring Gear sells but this is unfortunately (for us) not the case.  However, we offer an extensive range of outdoor camp kitchen equipment, campfire grills, cooking pots and other cooking gear all suitable for overlander’s and camping alike.

One of the primary choices will be your camping stove and whether this will burn liquid fuel (Petrol) or LPG (Gas). Another option is the use of solid fuel such as wood or charcoal. This requires a little more time and planning but is ultimately cheaper and not an option you should discount too quickly for an extended overland journey. The maintenance on a campfire grill is minimal; finding spares for an exotic multi-fuel stove in Timbuktu may present some issues!

I like cooking over open fires but for stoves I personally favour Coleman Petrol (Dual Fuel) stoves.  My experience has always been good and though they are occasionally prone to dodgy fuel, generally they will always light and burn – no matter the temperature or the altitude.  The same cannot always be said of all LPG stoves which suffer with height and low temperatures.  However they do have some benefits (cleanliness, familiarity and the ability to plumb the system into your motor) so are worth looking at.

Petrol Stoves and multi-fuel stoves:

There are a number of models available – the most commonly available (and probably suitable) is the Coleman twin burner 424-700 model.  This is the green suitcase type stove that has been around for years and years and has barely needed to change design in all that time.  Of very similar pedigree is the Coleman Sportster II stove.  These are little gems and I have no hesitation in recommending these. In fact would say that two Sportster’s would almost be a better purchase than having one of the twin burner models.  You will have the same amount of cooking ability with the benefit of taking up half the space.  Used imaginatively with a small campfire grill to allow larger cooking pots or a griddle to be used they are a better and more flexible option.

Other manufacturers also make multi-fuel stoves, Primus make some excellent units but there are others such as MSR and Optimus. The more off the beaten track your journey is expected to take, having a small unit that burns virtually any liquid fuel is well worthwhile.

LPG stoves:

You have a huge choice of these stoves on the market now. It seems that everybody makes them but the reality of this is that they are very often the same unit, badged or painted up in a different colour.  Some of the most commonly used are made by Camping Gaz.  The popularity of the Lagon as a no nonsense budget unit has faded slightly over the last couple of years with the advent of newer models but the appeal of this stove is its simplicity, surface cooking area and relative low profile.  They have now been succeeded by the BaseCamp model, a no nonsense unit with s lightly smaller footprint than the Lagon.

LPG stoves will allow an amount of ‘building in’ the most common option for overlanders being the drop-down shelf on the rear door.  Most stoves are low pressure systems that will run from a small Camping Gaz or Calor Gas type cylinder.  Bear in mind when you are looking at the gas option that you will need to have the bottle refilled at some point. Throughout most of Europe a simple exchange process is easily achieved – not so in Africa and I would suggest a Calor cylinder or similar type because of the ease of connection.  Also realise that most countries use a different connection system than that in the UK so it will be worth obtaining a continental adaptor preferably here, or the first opportunity when over the water.

Low pressure gas systems (like the Lagon) allow a fair amount of flexibility in the hose lengths and ease of connections (a simple push fit or quick release coupling) however these stoves are not great performers when the altitude increases.  You can obtain high pressure gas stoves and our favourite recently has been the Atle made by Primus.  Make sure you get the model with the Camping Gaz regulator; some were supplied to fit the Primus refillable cylinders which are very hard to locate in the UK.

These high pressure systems offer much improved performance over the low pressure types but they are much less forgiving when you are setting them up.  Often the hose length is critical, enforcing the need for a special regulator and the connections will need to be professionally crimped.

Most camping stoves are intended to be used outdoors in areas with plenty of ventilation. If you intend to use a gas stove in your vehicle ensure you buy one that has a flame failure cut-out.  All caravan /motor home stoves should have this device and it prevents gas escaping should the burner go out.

Diesel Camping Stove:

Don’t waste too long looking for these.  Some of the expedition type multi-fuel stoves will burn diesel, but there is not a large camping stove in existence that will use this fuel safely and successfully for overlanding purposes.  There are some very expensive stoves made for the marine market that run on diesel and are built into 40’ cabin cruisers!  (Very expensive)  There is also an old WW2 German army portable stove that ran on Diesel which has some admirers.  These are like rocking horse doodah to find and pretty ancient now anyway. (Buyer beware)

Open Fire Cooking: The Campfire

This is how it all began and is often overlooked as a means of preparing meals and boiling water but it needn’t be too difficult.  You do not need a raging campfire suitable to attract aircraft every night.  You could very easily work from a small compact BBQ or campfire grill. Often the same size (or smaller) than a twin camping stove and used in conjunction with a Ghillie Kettle (often quicker than boiling water on camping stoves) you have all you need. This method of course is for outdoor use only and best suited to the evening meal when you can carry it over into the evening and freshen it for breakfast if you want to.

Not all camping cookware is suitable for using over this heat source and it may take some time to perfect the process.  Cast iron or steel cookware is best rather than aluminium cookware but this can also be used with care on a grill, over embers.   Lighting campfires is also frowned upon in the majority of European campsites though some folk are now more tolerant to careful users.  Campfires are great things, they offer the means to cook, to keep warm and to stare happily into after you have eaten your dinner.  And the best bit is that the fuel is (99.9% of the time) free and compatible with your fire place anywhere in the world!

 Camping Cookware:

The choice is enormous and the temptation to raid your kitchen may be tempting. It will come down to a couple of factors. What type of stove you will cook on and how compact the items need to be to fit in the vehicle.  If you are heading away for week or so and cooking on a camping stove (as long as you can fit the camping equipment into the vehicle) it really doesn’t matter.

Longer trips and the need for more neat and secure packing mean that compact or nesting cooking pots would be the best way forward.  Whether you have aluminium or stainless steel cooking gear is entirely your choice.  Aluminium offers a weight advantage over stainless but the stainless is more forgiving if you want to cook on a campfire.  If you think you will at some point want to use your cooking pots and kettles on a campfire make sure you have all steel or fireproof handles.  It is worth getting hold of some decent leather gloves from an industrial supplier for this purpose.  I speak from experience of burnt fingers!!

Cast Iron Dutch Ovens, Fry pans and griddles make perfect cooking gear for campfire use.  They are heavy, but mastering the use of the Dutch oven/campfire setup will open up a world of camping and outdoor cooking that is hard to beat. A couple of small Dutch ovens will allow a range of food to be baked, roasted, stewed and boiled.

It is also now possible to obtain Cast aluminium Dutch Ovens with a hard anodised finish. These versions will weigh less than the cast iron equivalent and are easier to care for.

Please contact Touring Gear if you have any queries about the options above.

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2 Responses to Camp cooking options for Overlander’s

  1. Arian Rahman says:

    Traveling is not only my hobby, i am actually crazy on it. I read your blog and learnt about some cooking option due to campaign. i think carrying stove is sometimes difficult and we could forget to bring a stove. in that case campfire is the best option. whatever thanks for this useful blog.

  2. Traveling is an addiction. camping is a fun and adventurous for traveler. thanks for sharing the informative article about cooking in travel.

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