Get your cookware right and campsite cooking goes from mediocre to moreish.
All cookware was used in combination to make a bacon, tomato and mushroom pasta over the Kaufmann gas burner cooking table. I fried the onions and bacon in the pans and boiled pasta in the pots. I also decided to cook an omelette with the help of the GSI scraper. Ingredients were all chopped using the Victorinox knife set.
The cookware we used is all made from different materials and each has its pros and cons.
Aluminium: It’s affordable, light and conducts heat evenly, but tends to scratch and dent. Look for hard- anodised aluminium, which is up to three times thicker, more durable, easy to clean and great for hiking.
Stainless steel: Durable and hard-wearing, this material is tough and scratch-resistant, but food can stick to it so pack steel wool for cleaning. It’s also prone to uneven cooking.
Cast Iron: It’s very heavy but it’ll last a lifetime. It cooks evenly, is naturally non-stick and can often be used for frying and baking. It takes a while to heat up, though.
1. Kaufmann One-Burner Gas Cooking Table
I tested all the pots featured here on Kaufmann’s cast-iron, low-pressure gas-cooking table stove. It’s ideal for campsite cooking ‒ compact but sturdy and easy to use with a gas bottle, and it accommodates No. 2 and No. 3 cast-iron three-legged potjie pots. The burner produces a silent, easy-to-adjust flame suitable for indoor and outdoor cooking, but the table tends to get very hot. The hose and regulator are sold separately for R205 and a two-burner table is available from R349. A three-kilogram gas cylinder is about R500. Makro had the best deal at the time of our research. makro.co.za
2. GSI Halulite 3,2-Litre Pot
Pros: Made from hard- anodised aluminium, this lightweight pot heated up quickly ‒ a boil time of just under seven and a half minutes for three litres of water. It has silicone grip handles (which fold down when packed) and straining holes in the lid. The spiral pattern on the base gives the pot good grip.
Cons: It will blacken when used over a fire, so it’s best for gas-only use.
Can it stand the heat? The strainer is not 100 per cent accurate ‒ water also spilt out between the lid and the pot when pouring. There were some burn marks on the bottom of the pot after use. It’s a good size for families.
3. Totai Mini Skottel
This is a very nifty alternative to the gas cooking table: a skottel and stove in one. This compact cooker fits LP gas cylinders with vertical outlet valves. The 33-cm diameter skottel clips off to reveal a 20cm stove underneath: a handy addition to a camp kitchen with limited space.
4. Fireside No.3 Three-Leg Cast Iron Potjie
Pros: It heats up well: the three-legged design and round-belly shape allows even heat distribution and can be used over
a wood fire or gas plate. It’s a lifetime investment, and bigger sizes are available.
Cons: It takes a longer time to heat up,
is heavy and can be awkward to pack.
Can it take the heat? You can’t beat this classic option. Either you already have one, or you should get one. Consider a colourful enamel-coated option, which means that the pot won’t rust and doesn’t need oiling. R600 from Checkers Hyper stores checkers.co.za
Not a potjie king? Opt for a flat-bottomed cast-iron pot. It’s more versatile and can be used to bake bread, roast veggies or cook a meaty stew.
5. GSI Compact Scraper
One side of the pot scraper, which is designed for hiking, features a soft rubber blade and the other a hard, nylon edge that can scour non-stick surfaces. Its high-temperature silicone is durable and will stand up to heat. I used it to flip the omelette in LK’s frying pan, which worked a treat despite its credit-card size.
6. LK’s 13-Piece Camping Set
Pros: This is a great variety pack of cookware comes at an excellent price and includes four plates, bowls, a frying pan, a pot and a coffee percolator that can also be used as a kettle. It’s light and durable with a black enamel finish. The pan heated up very quickly and was easy to cook on, and its colour is the best for camping as black doesn’t show the burn marks.
Cons: The mugs are small and shallow, but the plates are a good size and sturdy.
Can it stand the heat? The handles heat up so be sure to bring oven gloves or a dishcloth. The pan is not non-stick by name, but the omelette slid around no problem and cleaning was a cinch.
7. Tonglite Braai Tongs
It’s not a new concept to combine tongs with a torch, but these ones are actually more than just a gimmick ‒ and they’re comfortable to hold. The serrated grip works really well (better than others I’ve tried) and the light is bright enough to check that your food is cooked.
8. 360 Degree Two-Person Cooking Set
Pros:Made from hard-anodised aluminium, the compact set heated up quickly with a boil time of just over three and half minutes.
Cons: The bacon and onions stuck to the ridges of the pan but it cooked quickly and evenly (not good for eggs though), and cleaned off fairly easily with hot water. The outside of the pot and pan will blacken heavily when used over a wood fire, so it’s best to use with gas. It’s
not the most durable material.
Can it stand the heat? This is a great budget option. For R350 pp you get a small bowl, spoon and cup each, and a pot, pan and dishcloth to share. All the pieces pack neatly into each other.
9. Stanley Adventure 700ml Camp Cook Set
Pros: This stainless-steel, lightweight set includes cups that nest inside the pot which has millilitre measurements on its side and a vented lid for more efficient boiling. The handle is high enough so that it doesn’t get too hot when it’s on the burner, and it locks in place when packed.
Cons: Water took a long time to boil (over seven minutes) despite its small size. Though the set has two cups, it’s best for solo use.
Can it stand the heat? It’s versatile and durable, and the plastic cups are thick and comfortable rather than gimmicky.
10. Victorinox Knife Set
This is an essential kit (and one that you shouldn’t skimp on) for the ammo box consisting of peeler, and a serrated and non-serrated knife, all of high quality. The implements are all sharp and performed well in the test. The set is available in a variety of colours.