Wood fire cooking: treat yourself in the wild

[note]Editors note: This is a guest post from Stuart, founder of Camping Recipes, a website listing the best cooking recipes for backpacking and camping, check it out![/note]

I don’t think there is any backpacking cooking method that tops a basic wood fire. Many people aren’t afforded the luxury of real wood fires when out in the wilderness due to fire bans and the like, but up here in the Pacific Northwest the world is still wet enough, even in the middle of a hot summer, that we can usually get away with a little open flame, permits and regulations permitting, of course.

“Salmon on the camp fire”
by y_katsuuu,
some rights reserved.

The simple ring of rocks and whatever wood you can find lying around is an undeniable classic, but not the best way to get your cooking done. For that, there are some great gear options out there.

I’m personally a big fan of the Sidewinder Tri-Ti by Trail Designs. As long as you already have a pot picked out, you get a perfectly fitted stove that burns relatively clean, at least for a wood burning stove, and gets water boiled as quickly as possible, due to the fitted design. It’s also lightweight and easy to use, which is about all you can ask from any of your outdoor gear.

I compliment that with a titanium MSR pot. Titanium is expensive, but I try to baby my gear as much as I can, and I look at supplies like this as an investment. I buy the good stuff now, and try not to break it too quickly.

When it comes to the actual cooking, I’m not exactly inventive. One of the reasons I started the Camping Recipes website is so that I could get my hands on everyone else’s best recipes (If you have a favorite camping or backpacking recipe, I’d love to ‘borrow’ it…). I do, however, have a few of my own favorite camping recipes, many of which don’t even require a pot, just some tinfoil.

One is freshly caught fish. Salmon, trout, or anything else you can get your hands on will do. I’m lucky in that the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of fish, and you often don’t even have to catch them yourself, depending on whereabouts it is you’re doing your backpacking. I’ve done the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in BC a few times, and had the chance to buy fish, crab and a whole host of other treats in between camp sites from locals.

“sweet potatoes roasting on an open fire” by Ironchefbalara, some rights reserved.

A freshly caught and gutted fish is a great treat, and one of my absolute favorite meals while backpacking. My personal favorite method of cooking something like that is to stuff the fish with a few spices (dill is great), and some butter or oil if you’ve got it. All you need to do after that is wrap the whole thing in tin foil and stick it in the coals for 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how big it is.

If you really want to get fancy with something like that you can always bring a few more spices and ingredients from home, but if you want details on that you’ll have to check out the Camping Recipes website.

Intro pictures by jjay69, some rights reserved.