A back to nature camping trip can be a wonderful way of relaxing and escaping the stresses of everyday life. The great outdoors provides for a whole host of leisure pursuits, from fishing, to hiking, to simply exploring and admiring the wonderful scenery. One of the principal drawbacks of a camping trip, however, is that it leaves people largely at the mercy of the elements in so many ways and often dependent on clement weather to enjoy their break in full. This is especially true when it comes to camp cooking.
Cooking and Safety at Camp
The practicalities of cooking in the rain when camping can prove challenging and the experience certainly unpleasant but the most important point which has to be considered at all times is safety. There will be many who are tempted to use a camp stove in the confines of a small tent, even when they are fully aware of the dangers. This, however, is foolhardy in the extreme. It is better to eat only food which does not require cooking rather than risk damage to property, personal injury, or even death. The good news is that with some careful advance planning, the temptation to cook in what would prove to be an unsafe manner can be eliminated in its entirety.
Choosing a Tent and Cooking Equipment
Temporary cooking shelters can be erected at camp in a number of different way (top left of picture)
If purchasing a large tent for camping, try to obtain one with an extendable, overhead front awning. This will provide shelter from above but should be completely open on at least one side and high enough to allow all safety factors to be observed. If you already have a tent which does not include this feature and you do not intend buying a new one, think about how you can take a little extra equipment to fashion a form of cooking shelter. A tarpaulin erected as a roof with some spare tent poles can provide cover from rain and allow cooking provided the wind is not too strong. Maybe some trees and ropes could be utilized in the event of the unavailability of tent poles. Be sure to suspend the tarpaulin at a slight angle to allow the rain to run off.
Select the cooking pots for your camping trip carefully. It or they should have lids which can be put in place to protect cooking food from lighter rain showers and larger pots can also serve to shelter the naked flame of your camping stove in moderately wet conditions.
Hopefully if it rains during your camping trip it will do so only intermittently and that you will have dry spells where outdoor cooking will be entirely possible. What you may find however is that the dry spells do not necessarily coincide with when you wish to cook and eat meals and this is where vacuum flasks can prove to be a more than worthwhile investment. While most people think of vacuum flasks as being for liquids such as coffee or soups, there are also vacuum flasks designed specifically for substantial foods such as stews or other items you are likely to cook up in your camp cooking pot.
Vacuum flasks are very durable and when looked after properly really can last almost a lifetime. The food flask pictured above was given me by my gran nigh on forty years ago when I was just a very small boy. In that time it has been used for storing everything from hot meat pies to robust beef stews on fishing trips and camping trips. It is still as effective today as it was when it was brand new and keeps food piping hot for several hours.
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Choosing Food for Camping Trips
It is important when planning a camping trip to consider the possibility of wet and possibly windy weather rendering cooking wholly impractical at least some of the time, however well you are prepared in terms of equipment. When planning what food to buy for a camping trip, be sure to buy at least some which either does not require cooking or can be cooked fairly quickly. Food which cooks quickly is another means of taking advantage of brief dry spells of weather.
Consider also buying some dried foods such as rice or noodles which require only to be re-hydrated by the addition of hot water. Water can be boiled during dry spells and kept hot in vacuum flasks designed for storing liquids.
Storing Cooking Related Equipment at Camp
When setting up camp, even if the weather is fine, be sure to store cooking equipment and food somewhere that it will remain dry in the event of rain. Where cooking equipment of any type becomes wet, it may remain unusable for some time after the rain shower has passed. This is likely to prove extremely frustrating and should in most instances be wholly avoidable. It is also a good idea, when intending cooking over an open fire, to obtain dry firewood upon arrival at camp and to store it somewhere where it can either be kept dry or allowed to dry out. Taking a tarpaulin along for this purpose is a good idea, or storing the wood in your car may be an option. Where the ground is already wet, digging under the surface can help obtain dryer combustibles. Depending upon available space in your vehicle and the area in which you live, gathering dry firewood in advance and taking it to camp with you could possibly be considered.
Clothing for Cooking in the Rain
Cooking and camping in the rain is also about wearing appropriate clothing. Taking full account of cooking techniques and ingredients is essential but so too is ensuring that you are properly attired. Cooking even in light rain, where this is possible, will be very unpleasant if your clothes become soaked and you have no means of effectively drying them out. Outdoor, waterproof garments will make the process less uncomfortable and will be likely to prove useful for other parts of your camping trip.