There's a world filled with wonder outside your front door. From the fragile beauty of a seashell to the soaring grandeur of El Capitan, you're surrounded by nature's miracles. How can you not feel like the king of your domain – or queen, prince, or duchess – when you pitch your tent among giant Sequoias or in the mists of the Great Smoky Mountains? With Mother Nature providing a stunning backdrop, it just doesn't seem right to grab a hunk of beef jerky and a handful of trail mix and call it dinner. You have other, more delectable, options.
If you were a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout – or your family went to the lake on long summer weekends – you're probably familiar with doughboys, tin foil dinners, and s'mores. Of course, you weren't the one struggling to light a fire with damp kindling or wondering how to make powdered eggs palatable; the adults took care of that as you practiced your rope swing skills or snuggled deeper into your sleeping bag.
Pack a battery-powered mug that can bring even ice water to a boil. The insulated mug will also keep your morning coffee warm until you're fully awake and ready to hit the trail. Check out the Cauldryn, the only 16-ounce lithium battery-powered insulated mug that can boil water and maintain or heat beverages for 10+ hours. If you're car camping, plug in the 12V Spardar car kettle and bring water to a boil in 16 minutes.
When you take a midday break from exploring the Escalante Canyons, you can use the same technology to warm your lunch. No soggy sandwich for you. A self-heating lunchbox, like the Hot Bento, can heat most meals in 10 to 15 minutes using a rechargeable battery pack. Or you could pull out the Cauldryn again and cook up a quick cup of soup.
At the end of the day, once camp is set up in the shadow of Mount Shasta and you're craving lasagna and garlic bread, you can fire up an outdoor oven. It might not fit into your backpack but if you're car camping, this handy appliance will make freeze-dried lasagna a distant memory. Camp Chef and Stansport offer propane-powered outdoor camp range/ovens that can reach a maximum temperature of around 400 degrees.
A more portable option is a solar oven, which can cook a meal in as little as 20 minutes – just add sun! GoSun offers a wide range of solar-powered devices, including the Go portable solar oven. Or check out the SOL COOK All Season Solar Cooker Camper, which is big enough to roast a turkey, if you plan to spend Thanksgiving under the stars in Montana's Big Sky country.
After a long day of running rapids in the Colorado River, pull out a Dutch oven or two and whip up a few Cornish game hens, roasted vegetables, and a pineapple upside-down cake. While you probably wouldn't want to haul a cast iron pot with you on the Pacific Crest Trail, it's easy to stash one on your raft and take it down the river with you.
That's not to say that you can't make a gourmet meal on your basic campfire or camp stove. Spend a little time online before the big trip and jot down a few recipes. Whether you bring along a 12V cooler or master the technique of freezing ingredients into layers of ice, you can bring along pretty much anything you need to create gastronomic masterpieces.
Spending a little time at home prepping before your big trip will make cooking in camp a breeze too. Stash the sliced and measured ingredients in mason jars or Ziploc bags. That way, you'll avoid having to dispose of scraps, not to mention cleaning knives, cutting boards, and your hands. The bags can be frozen for a meal later in the trip and will help keep your adult beverages cool as well!
Speaking of beverages, let's not forget happy hour. The BlendJet 1.5-pound battery powered portable blender - which has a USB-C charging port - is indispensable on National Margarita Day. Or toss in some protein powder and fruit and voila - a healthy smoothie! Although you probably wouldn't want to add tequila to it...
When you're surrounded by purple mountain majesties, there's no reason your meals can't match nature's grandeur. Impress your friends and family with your culinary creativity. With the help of modern technology and a little ingenuity, you can take your outdoor cooking up a notch - or ten!