Adventures With Lloyd

on CanoeCanadaEast.Com

Gear and Kit


The Kitchen

Some people only cook on gas stoves. That is fine in the arctic but here in eastern Canada, there is plenty of deadwood and learning to cook on a fine bed of coals is not that difficult. There is not much I cannot cook on a wood fire if I put my mind to it. Knowing a thing or two about fire helps and temperature control is the key. Cleanup is also important if you do not want animal visitors raiding your camp. Burning any and all packaging and cans to do away with food smells is a must. Then the cans can be crushed small with an axe or rock and packed out. You do not need a lot in the way of kitchen gear but depending on the size of your group a basic outdoor cooking set is the bare minimum.



The average camping cook set is enamelware and costs about $20. It consists of a kettle, a large pot, a frying pan, four cups and four plates. Except for the fact that eventually the handle on the frying pan is going to break off, enamel cook wear is tough, however it doesn't pack well and is heavy. The other problem is that the metal cups and plates transfer heat directly into your hand as you try to hold it. Unless you want to eat wearing big leather gloves this is not the best set up you can own. In spite of all of its drawbacks, I still like it and use it for picnics and backyard barbeques, I just don't use it on canoe trips.


My new set packs up well and is light as a feather and even comes with a handy travel bag that all fits into the top of my backpack. It consists of a large pot with a colander top, a large divided frying pan so you can cook things separate, there is a medium and small pot and a smaller undivided frying pan. The last piece in the kit is the lifter which works like a pair of pliers to grab and lift the pots.

There are also some really nice Stainless steel and aluminum sets available out there as well as some good surplus military kits. Mountain Equiptment Co-Op has some nice stuff but be prepared to pay $100 for the high end stuff. Of course if you can't cook to save your soul you would probably be happy with just the basics and for that the Army Surplus is the place to go.

Cast Iron

When given the choice I like to cook with cast iron pots and frying pans but they are not always practical for lugging on portage trails, long hikes, or for having in the canoe on long shallow rocky rivers. In spite of its weight cast iron is about the best for cooking outdoors, it holds the heat longer and distributes it evenly allowing for some marvelous camp meals.



Lexan plates, bowls, and cups are popular these days, but I like the Dollar Store bowls and cups. They are most often four for a dollar and are really tough and unbreakable. It doesn't pay for me to have a lot of high end lexan kicking around, because inevitably it will end up as a chew toy for my dog if I don't put it away fast enough. I don't bother with plates, you can't eat soup off of them, but you can with a bowl. You can also eat anything else from a bowl you want as well. Cups from the Dollar Store are also easier to part with when you lend them to people, or the dog gets them. For hot drinks I stack a couple together to make a thicker cup wall. The good ones I am referring to are not the disposable kind, they actually have some nice stuff at the Dollar Store. We were getting ripped off on a lot of stuff for a lot of years before they came along.



Utensils of appropriate quality can also be found at the Dollar Store. A bag full will last me about two years for about a buck! I have also been known to stock up on utensils and condiments at fast food restaurants before a trip as well! Metal is better on more arduous wilderness trips. You can buy expensive chow kits made from titanium but who needs that? Just take a knife, a fork and a spoon, drill a hole in the handle and attach it to a key ring. Now you have an expensive wilderness utensil kit. Plastic and lexan is harder to clean but is much lighter.



Just add more spice I always say. World Famous puts out these spice jars for about $10 and they can be found at most camp supply stores including chain stores. I have the one on the left and use it quite often. It can bring the worst camp food up a notch. Where it really scores it the fact that it is the whole spice rack in one handy container. The chambers that will naturally get used more often (like salt) are larger than the ones (like curry) that will see much less use. It is made of a tough plastic material and is quite shatterproof.




I use a variety of clean up items in the kitchen. J-Cloths are good for dish washing and a pot scrubber and scraper is a must. J-Cloths are also something you don't mind burning in the fire if it gets a bit too soiled for your liking. All dish washing should be done about fifty meters or more from shore near an active layer of soil so the bacteria can breakdown any small particles left behind. Clean up us very important if you do not want to be tracked for days by raccoons and bears looking for a free meal.


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