5 Best Camping Dishes – Expert’s Choices & Reviews

Maybe you and your family are off on a wilderness adventure, and maybe you are just heading out for a quick day trip to mother nature. Either way, you are going to want to eat at some stage. You don't want to have to pack every one of your best camping dishes.

But what are your alternatives? Those cheapy cheap paper plates make wash up a breeze – they just get thrown out. But, let's be fair here, if you love the outdoors, it will not sit well with you that those plates are not recyclable. (Once greasy food has touched them, they end up in a landfill).

That means that paper plates are not winning awards for the best camping utensils.

Your best solution is to choose the perfect camping dishes for each trip outdoors. If you are hiking and camping out in a local state park, you will want to take dishes that are lightweight. You will need a plate and cutlery as well.

Best Camping Dishes

If you are just off for a picnic, you can pre-prepare everything so that it is just excellent figure food. Then all you need are the containers for the food. The lids could do duty as plates if need be.

But, let's be fair here  - you are looking into this topic more because you fall into the category of the camper and you want to know how to get the best results from your camping recipes.

We have you covered – we will look at the best camping utensils and the best camping plates.

In a Hurry? Check our top picks:

Things to Consider in Before Buying Camping Utensils :

We will get to the fun part with the reviews shortly. For now, though, let us go through the things you need to consider before making your choice.

No Home Dishes!

Porcelain dinner plates are lovely to eat off of and comfortable to keep clean. They are also very fragile. If you want a campsite craft that everyone could get involved in, pack in some of your china dishes. By the time you get to the camp, they'll be more like puzzle pieces.


Now, before you get clever and grab that set of plastic plates that the kids use around the pool because it won't break, check how much it weighs. How much space does it take up in a backpack?

When it comes to utensils that have been designed for use by hikers and campers, you will see that there are a few small items considered:

Utility:

  • These work, and the job well. They may not win a beauty prize based on looks, but they will work and work hard.

Space-saving:

  • Wherever possible, these are going to fold down, or clip into one other thereby saving you valuable safe in our backpack.

Sturdy:

  • These are not items that you drop once and find they go to pieces. These are built to be tough.

Light-weight:

  • These items are designed to be as strong as possible, without weighing a ton.

What You Want from Your New Set?

  • The final set that you choose will depend on the type of holiday you are taking. If you off for a ride in your RV, space is not much of an option. You can use the RV as your home base and work from there.
  • On the other hand, if you are going to be hiking or camping in a tent, space becomes a lot more limited. In addition, you will have to help carry everything through to the campsite.
  • Start to look at things from a more practical outlook. Are there any pieces of the set that can do double duty? What is more useful to you, the plate, the bowl or the cup? Here is a quick tip  - it is going to be the bowl or the cup, but we lean more toward the container.
  • Why the cup? You can drink out of it, but you can also plate up your food in it if necessary. It could be used for a wide range of different functions.
  • Now, we are not saying that you have to go camping using only cups, though you could in a pinch. What we are saying is that you want a set that is multifunctional. How high are the sides of the plate? Could they double up as a bowl?
  • The perfect set is one that performs well concerning overall utility, weight, and space-saving. IF you are going to be hiking, lighter becomes even more critical.

What Materials do they Use?



You are going to come across a range of different materials here – ranging from plastic through to metal. Let us see what the most common ones are,


Plastic:

  • Plastic scores some high points when it comes to weight and is resistant to breaking. It is usually easy to clean but can be cut easily. A good quality set in plastic will last you a good number of years. It might, however, discolor over time.
  • World opinion in respect of plastic has been changing over the last decade or so. Because it will not biodegrade easily, it has become a serious environmental issue. 
  • Much of the plastic that is discarded ends up in our oceans and breaks down into smaller pieces. The plankton that fish feed on eat the plastic and so it moves up the food chain again until it ends up in our food.
  • Look for plastic products made from recycled plastic and make sure that you use them for a very long time.

Enamel:

  • These are of a more classic style and will not weigh a lot. The issue with these is that the enamel can chip off, or the plate becomes dented, if not handled correctly. We advise sticking to enamel cookware, or bowls and plates.
  • It is an excellent conductor of heat, and you might burn your mouth if you are not careful. On the plus side, these are the ones with the closest look and feel to porcelain.

Aluminum:

  • The advantage here is the lightness when it comes to carrying them. These utensils also tend to be less expensive to buy. The reason for that is that they are softer than most other metals. It doesn't take much to make them look like they went ten rounds with a steel kettle.
  • There are also concerns that chemicals from the aluminum may leach into the food while it is cooking.

Stainless Steel:

  • These are durable items and stand up to wear and tear very well. They will not stain and will not dent easily either. The downside is that they weigh a good bit more than regular plastic or aluminum.

Titanium:

  • Titanium is durable, won't stain and won't leach any chemicals into your food if you are cooking with it. The downside, though, is that it is a lot more expensive than any of the other materials that we have had a look at so far.

Cleaning


  • You already know how we feel about using paper plates and then just dumping them. When you are out camping, it might seem the easiest way to go, but it does mean finding somewhere to get rid of the trash.
  • Washing is a far better alternative anyway. The first step is to clean as much food off the plates as possible. You could store them for another meal or, if you prefer, bury them. If you are near a river, that is a bonus; you can use the running water to help you get any remaining residue off.
  • Just be sure to carry an eco-friendly bar of soap with you for this purpose.


Now that you understand a bit more about what the different materials are, it is time to get to choose the actual set that suits you the best. 

To get you started, we will give you our top 5 best options. We rather them on durability, price, weight, and utility.

5 Best Camping Dishes

# 1 Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

  • You get a bowl, plate, cup, knife, fork, and spoon with this set.  It is made from Protex material. This is durable and can resist flames. It is extremely useful in dealing with hot foods because of the hex pattern base.
  • The base helps to disperse the heat and so prevents you from burning yourself. It is a beautiful set and the cutlery all clips onto a carabiner so it won't get lost quickly.
  • It is easy to clean and comes with a storage bag that allows the wet dishes in it to dry. So clean up is quick and simple.
  • If you are camping alone, it offers you everything that you might want. If you are a family looking for gear, each person would have to buy their own set.

Pros

  • Protext is strong and BPA-free
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight
  • Features heat dispersion tech
  • The bag allows dishes to dry in it
  • Great looking set

Cons

  • A single set
  • Buying for each family member could work out pricey
  • The cup doesn't have a lid

# 2  Stansport 24 Piece Enamel Set

This set is finished nicely in blue enamel and has 24 pieces in total. There are four sets of:

  • Knives
  • Forks
  • Spoons
  • Cups
  • Bowls
  • Plates
  • So, you could either use it for a family of four or a pair of couples camping out. It has a high-quality finish and looks great.
  • We do have to say that the cutlery could do with some improvements. The handles are plastic and only kind of match the plates. 
  • It is not a significant issue, but we think better quality cutlery would have pushed this to the top of our favorites.

Pros

  • High-quality enamel-wear
  • Will last well
  • Every setting for four people provided
  • smile-o
    The plates are the size of full dinner plates
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    Can be washed in the dishwasher
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    Will do double duty as picnic plates or even plates when you have extra guests.
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    The enamel-wear can be used over an open flame.

Cons

  • The cutlery was something of a let-down
  • Altogether it weighs in at five pounds – not ideal if you are carrying it and your standard backpack.
  • Doesn't neatly fit together to optimize space.
  • You have to be careful not to chip the enamel.

# 3 Light My Fire 8-Piece BPA-Free Meal Kit 2.0

This goes beyond the basic plate, cup and bowl model and provides you with a complete set of useful implements.

  • A bowl with lid. The lid can be used as a bowl on its own
  • A pack-up cup. This can be expanded when you need to drink, and then collapsed to put away when you are done.
  • A spork. This has a spoon at one end and a fork at the other. There are no knives with this set.
  • Two snap boxes with lids in different shapes to help make storage easier. They can be used to store food or as plates as well.
  • The cutting/ draining board: This is quite an innovative option, especially if you are eating tinned food.
  • star
    The harness to hold everything together.
  • star
    These sets are designed for one person but what makes them unique is that each item can fit in between the plate and its lid. You harness it up, and you are ready to go.

Pros

  • Very innovative
  • Lightweight at less than a pound
  • Space-saving through clever design
  • smile-o
    A strong and durable plastic that is BPA free
  • smile-o
    Many different colors to choose from

Cons

  • You have to be careful when putting the harness on
  • The spork is plastic and so could break
  • No knife but a chopping board? Someone gave logic a miss that day

# 4 GSI Outdoors Stainless Pioneer Table Set


This is a 12-piece set that consists of four of each of:

  • Cups
  • Bowls
  • Plates
  • You will notice that the cutlery is missing from this set. Considering our experience with the Stansport set, this is not such a big deal.
  • It would be easy enough to pick up camping cutlery for the whole family anyway.
  • This is stainless steel that has been coated with enamel.
  • It is therefore highly durable and not likely to rust. The company hardens the steel in a kiln twice to improve how long they last.

Pros

  • High quality and a very durable set. You will have to work hard to put a dent in it.
  • Fits together neatly and so saves you space.
  • Can go through the dishwasher.

Cons

  • No cutlery.
  • Burning could be a risk if used with very hot liquids.
  • The set weighs around five pounds, and this could be a negative for a hiker.

# 5 Camp Mess Kit


  • This looks like something that you might get out of a lucky packet. You are not far off in that regard. These are designed to be used by kids especially those heading off to camp.
  • What makes these cool, though, is that they have been crafted from bamboo fiber. 
  • That means that you are not going to get as many uses as you will with the others, but you also know that your camping set will not be around to haunt your great, great grandkids either.
  • You get a
  • Bowl
  • Plate
  • Mug
  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Fork
  • Mesh carry bag

Pros

  • Completely biodegradable
  • Comes in different colors
  • Everything you need for one camper
  • Add it to the compost when it starts breaking down

Cons

  • Not durable – will start breaking down after a few uses
  • It is better not to use scorching hot liquids here.

In Conclusion

Of all the plate sets, the Light My Fire set gets voted in as the best overall. It is a single kit but comes with a range of different useful and space-saving features. It is perfect for the backpacker on the go. 

Personally, we would have liked to see a knife to use on that chopping board, but that is a minor niggle.

For sheer novelty value, the Camp Mess Kit comes out on top. While we have concerns about how long it will last, we had no worries about the impact it would have on our environment.

The Sea to Summit set gets the nod for the best design features overall. It looks good, and the heat-dispersing base is pretty innovative.

Best value for money goes to the Stansport 24 piece set. It has everything that you need for four of you to go camping. It is a durable set and, even if the enamel did chip in places, it would just give it character.


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