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When climbing Denali with my friend Tim in 1997, we enjoyed something nobody else had at the crowded 14,000-foot camp: fresh-baked banana bread. How? With my trusty Outback Oven. This gadget, out now for close to 15 years (the idea came to its inventor when he was struck with a pizza craving during a round-the-world bicycle trip), turns your camp stove into a convection oven essentially capable of baking anything you can bake at home. Biscuits. Brownies. Pizza. Frittatasliterally, anything. Its base unit also makes a handy non-stick skillet.
True, learning to use the Outback Oven is a little tricky. It works by trapping heat from the stove under a reflective, insulated hood. A heat shield beneath the pot helps distribute the stove's heat and also prevent the bottom of your baked item from scorching. But in windy conditions the top of the oven may not heat properly. It's easy, meanwhile, to burn the bottom of whatever is cooking. And, taking the lid off for a quick peek sets the whole process back by five to ten minutes while the oven heats back up.
Learning curve aside, in reasonably skilled handsmine, for instancethe Outback Oven utterly redefines the concept of outback "dinner time." Backpacker's Pantry, which now manufactures and sells the Outback Oven, sells a variety of pre-mixed items for it. But, I say, it's more fun to adapt recipes from home and show a little inventiveness.
Win one of these bodacious little ovens by ENTERING YOUR NAME into our sweepstakes contest. And, check back tomorrow to see what's next in the Gear Guy's rundown of the all-star Hall of Gear!