Trying to find a good quality lightweight dutch over for camping is harder than it seems, and for one very good reason: The mass is a measure of how well they work. In other words, the heavier the dutch oven, the better.
So what about us camping, hiking and backpacking folks who need to save as much weight as possible?
That was my dilemma a while back. I love dutch oven cooking while camping, but I needed to shave as much weight as possible without sacrificing quality. Luckily I had the opportunity to try out several dutch ovens, and used them all in real camping and backpacking situations. Here's what I found:
The Best Lightweight Dutch Oven For Camping
Credit: AmazonThis 4-Quart Lodge Logic Dutch Oven is by far the best lightweight dutch oven I've found. It's still heavy as sin (remember that 'quality' dutch ovens are heavy - that's a sign of quality, it is made out of cast iron afterall) but the smaller capacity makes it much more manageable in terms of weight and size. It's also incredibly affordable, especially if you buy it on Amazon for about $40 (compared to retail stores that charge at least $60). As an added bonus, it often qualifies for free shipping through Amazon - another nice little perk.
So what makes it the best?
For starters, it's very high quality. It's made of high quality cast iron that doesn't cut any corners. I've tried a few of the other brands, like Texsport and some of the other so-called "built-for-backpackers" dutch ovens, and they all - to put it bluntly - sucked. These knockoffs had gobs of iron that must have overflowed the molding and lots of burs on the inside and out. Not to mention the "pre-seasoned" tag was completely bogus.
But Lodge Logic has always been focused on quality craftsmanship. They're built right, and as a result, they cook better. There aren't any thin spots that can massacre a dutch oven cookout because of uneven heating. It sits square and the lid fits perfectly. Can't say that for the others, even if they are technically lighter.
If It's Heavier, Why Is It The Best?
Ultimately it comes down to finding the best combination of quality and weight (and to an extent, even price). Granted some of the other brands did have some lighter dutch ovens in the 6 to 8 quart range, and they were even relatively cheap, but the build quality was absolutely horrible. And that manifested when I actually cooked with them. If you frequently cook with dutch ovens, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say they cooked very poorly.
So in my mind it came down to a simple decision: Find the BEST dutch oven, then find the smallest size to alleviate much of the weight.
Plus, a good dutch oven will last forever. I've got a few bigger ones I use for car camping that were actually handed down from my great grandparents! It's hard to believe that the very same pots that were cooking meals more than 100 years ago are in my kitchen as we speak, and are in perfect working order.
Why Should You Listen To Me?
Good question - it's one my girlfriend tells me all the time! But in all seriousness, I've been an avid outdoorsman since I was about 10 years old. I was active in the Boy Scouts as a teenager and even earned my Eagle Scout (the only reason I bring this up is because hiking and camping is a huge part of the Scout curriculum). To this day I'll take every chance I get to head to the hills, the river, the ocean or anywhere without houses and power outlets.
I've been camping, hiking, backpacking and fishing for so long that I've had a chance to try out almost anything imaginable gear-wise. I've found what works and doesn't work through my own personal trial and error, not just what the salesman or consumer reports guy says. If something doesn't hold up under the rigors of hard use, it's completely useless to me. I'm also constantly testing different combinations of gear, which ultimately led to my discovery that this is, in my opinion, the best dutch oven when weight is an issue.
Still Want Other Opinions?
One of the great things about Lodge Logic Dutch Ovens is that they are very highly rated by actual customers. If you'd like to hear what actual customers (not marketing people) are saying, you can check out the reviews on Amazon. As of the time I'm writing this, there are 48 well-written reviews from personal experiences, and 46 gave this dutch oven 5 stars (that's the highest). The other 2 gave it four. There are no customer ratings below four.
So go ahead, check out the reviews. I'm sure you'll find plenty of reasons why a 4-quart Lodge Logic is the best Dutch Oven for camping, hiking, backpacking or anything outdoors.