The Base-Camp Gourmet

Turning your wilderness refuge into a five-star restaurant

Apr 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

Photo: Clay Ellis

"When I'm camping, especially if I'm establishing a base camp, I try to eat as well or better than I would at home," says Dorcas Miller, a 30-year trail veteran and author of Backcountry Cooking (The Mountaineers Books, $17). An inspiring mission statement indeed, but making it happen will require more than just packing in a good French roast.

"Don't skimp on the quality of food you're buying," Miller says. "Bring fresh ingredients whenever you can, like fresh garlic and ginger. And be sure to include special treats; if you love lemon bars from a local bakery, buy half a dozen and pack them along." More tips? Add texture to one-pot soups and stews by sprinkling with toasted nuts or serving a side of bread sticks. And alternate the kinds of foods you're whipping up: If you're serving pasta on Monday night, go with chili on Tuesday.

Your kitchen inventory needn't be extensive—you've got to carry it, after all—but it should offer a worthy weight-to-reward ratio. Consider Coleman's Xpedition 2-burner backpacking stove ($80). At 27.6 ounces, you're lugging about as much weight as a single-burner unit, and the Powermax fuel cartridges are downright feathery (14 ounces each). More important, you'll be able to crank out a stack of buttermilk flapjacks on one burner while heating water for coffee on the other‹brewed, of course, in Clipper International Inc.'s X-Press ($40), a rugged, stainless-steel French press that delivers a liter of fresh joe.

For real culinary extravagance (pizza, cinnamon rolls, birthday cake, etc.) you'll want the Banks Fry-Bake (top left), a lightweight anodized-aluminum Dutch oven that is as durable as it is functional. It's available with a 10.5-inch diameter ($65) or 8-inch diameter ($55). Complete your inventory with MSR's titanium Titan Cookset (top right; $90). Why it? It's light, durable, and well, we admit it, will have your friends sitting by the campfire exclaiming how cool you are. Of course, your backcountry haute cuisine will already have proven that.

Filed To: Culinary

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