You probably don’t want to sustain yourself only on cheese and jelly sandwiches or on Cream Crackers during your camping trip, which means you also need some cooking gear. Here are some of the basics:
Camping Stove, Fuel, and Fire Starter: Sure, you’ve seen cartoons where campers cook right over a campfire, but most normal people are going to want a real stove. For backpacking, you want to grab something portable like the Scan Alpine Windproof Camping Stove for about around $15. For your first trip, it makes the most sense to start cheap and work up from there if you end up enjoying yourself.
Pots and Pans: Spoiler alert: If you’re camping and have access to the storage of a vehicle, just use the pots and pans you already own. You don’t need special camping cookware unless you need to separate your household cookware from your camping stuff. For backpacking however, you want special cookware that’s effective and lightweight. For a super cheap and packable system, Scan Alpine Cooking set is $22.
Cups, Bowls, and Utensils: Camping cups, bowls, and utensils are the same as what you have at home, except they tend to be lightweight, plastic or stainless steel, and often have clever designs that make them easier to pack. You don’t need much here.
Coffee-Making Tools: Everyone’s coffee needs are different, but if you drink coffee, you want something to make coffee with in the morning. Anything lighter, smaller, and cleanup is less of a chore is ideal. Just make sure you grind your coffee ahead of time. If you don’t care about anything other than the caffeine, instant coffee is easy to pack.
Scrubber, Dishcloths, Trash Bags, and Other Cleaning Gear: Just because you’re out in the woods doesn’t mean you won’t have to do the dishes or tidy up. Bring along some dishcloths, some type of scrub brush, and trash bags. There’s no magic camping-specific stuff here, just bring along whatever you already have, and try to leave the campsite better than you found it.
You’ll also need food to cook. That part’s up to you, but meal planning for backpacking trips is a skill in its own right. Meal planning is important not only so you don’t die from starvation, but also so you get the nutrients necessary for the outdoor workout you’ll be doing. You’ll need to get used to bland freeze-dried instant meals, but it’s surprising how great a good cup of coffee and some decent oatmeal will improve your outlook for a day. Personally, two things I always overlooked but that We’ve found useful are Salmon Tins and a good set of quick make noodles, and a reasonably priced bourbon. Of course, if you’re just camping, anything you can grill works. Just make sure you bring along a cooler to store any perishables in.