All the Gear You Need to Cook the Perfect Car Camping Meal

We asked a seasoned road chef to lay out his simple, but totally dialed kit

Cochrane whipping up a meal on his tailgate. (Johnie Gall (@dirtbagdarling))

Andy Cochrane knows how to car camp. He's the marketing director for ORU Kayak and has been living in and working out of his 2015 Toyota Tacoma for more than two years. He uses the truck to visit clients throughout the Western U.S., then parks it in choice spots with views of the Bay when he’s back at the office.

"Honestly, I didn't think it would be a permanent move when I sold everything and moved into my truck," Cochrane says. "I just didn't want to pay San Francisco rent anymore. But the lifestyle suits me, and I progressively enjoy it more and more." 

Given Cochrane's domestic situation, we figured he’d be the ideal guy to outline the gear needed for a perfect car camping meal. Not only does he cook for himself, he’s also been known to throw truck dinner parties, too.  

"The key to cooking a proper meal when you’re camping is convenience," Cochrane says. "There are enough hurtles with the nomadic lifestyle that getting a cooking system totally dialed is mandatory." 

Here's everything he uses. 


Camp Chef Everest Stove ($125)

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(Courtesy of Camp Chef)

Most of Cochrane’s meals are cooked on this two-burner stove. It has twin 20,000 BTU burners, a wind barrier that actually works, and an ignition button that never seems to fail. He hooks it up to a 20-gallon propane tank, but you can also use smaller gas canisters. 

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Coleman Cast Iron Skillet ($20) 

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(Courtesy of Coleman)

There's nothing fancy about this cast iron skillet, but a cast iron skillet doesn't need to be fancy. "I'm a big fan of using the cast iron, particularly for my go-to meal—a scramble of beans and rice, corn, peas, and kale. You can flavor it different ways and it keeps really well." 

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MSR Base 2-Pot Set ($50)

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(Courtesy of MSR)

This simple nesting system of pots is great for everything from spaghetti to soup. They're lightweight and take up significantly less room than normal pots.

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Tapirus Spork of Steel Set ($15 for four)

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(Courtesy of Tapirus)

There’s nothing you can’t eat with a spork. And these sporks are stainless steel, so they’re fancy enough to set out when you have company. 

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MSR Alpine Nesting Bowls ($8)

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(Courtesy of MSR)

Just like the MSR pots, each of these lightweight bowls is designed to perfectly nest together for space savings. Cochrane likes the stainless steel build that doesn't absorb food odors. 

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Leatherman Rebar Multi-Tool ($60)

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(Courtesy of Leatherman)

The Rebar's serrated knife is great for cutting tomatoes, and the standard blade works for everything else. It also has a can opener, bottle opener, and crimper. For Cochrane, it's like the entire utility drawer compressed into one handy pocket tool. 

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MiiR Heritage Tumbler ($15)

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(Courtesy of MiiR)

Beer or coffee, depending on the time of day, is an important part of any meal prep. MiiR’s stainless-steel tumbler is double-wall insulated, so coffee stays hot and beer stays cold.

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