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What You Need In Your Overland Kitchen

What You Need In Your Overland Kitchen

When you think about preparing your Overland kitchen, your first inclination might be to consider what you want to eat while you’re camping. But before you get too busy preparing spices and sides for your camp meals, you might also want to think about your Overland camping gear–particularly the gear for your kitchen. 

Camping cookware and dinnerware is only the beginning of what you need to consider for your Overland kitchen. You’ll need to think about the following four areas:

  • Food storage and refrigeration
  • Food prep and cooking
  • Dinnerware
  • Clean up

Let’s look at the options you have when looking for Overlanding gear for your kitchen on the trail.

Food Storage and Refrigeration

The easiest part of storing food for Overlanding is considering where you’ll put the non-perishable food. You have a lot of options here, including plastic tubs, cargo cases, or cargo drawers in your SUV or camper van. The only thing to consider here is making sure that the food is easy to get to when you start preparing your meals. 

Choosing gear for cold food is a bit trickier. A quality camping cooler is a good choice if you’re going on a short trip or a trip where you can get ice every few days to replenish your supply and keep the cooler cold. Camping coolers like those from ProMaxx and Dometic can keep ice and food cold for a few days when used properly.

If you’re going on a longer trip and don’t want to worry about finding ice every few days, you might consider a 12 volt cooler or a portable fridge freezer option. The former option is essentially like a mini-fridge that can run off your vehicle’s 12V power. This can help you stretch your ice supply for some additional days.

A portable fridge freezer such as the ones by Dometic is more efficient and reliable for long trips. It’s important to note that any cooler or fridge running off your 12V outlet can and will run down your battery if you leave it plugged in while your vehicle is off. For long trips off the grid, investing in a dual battery setup or investing in a portable power bank is a good idea. 

Cooking and Food Prep

Now that you have a way to store and chill your food, let’s talk about preparation and cooking. You can obviously go super-simple with dehydrated food pouches or other already-prepared food, or you can make meals like you would at home.

The center of your cooking setup will naturally be your camping stove. These come in a range of styles. Many use propane as a fuel source, but you can also get camping stoves and grills that use hardwood pellets or cook on a charcoal grill

Even though you can cook many food items directly on the grill, it’s useful to consider other cooking implements like pots and pans. This gives you more flexibility in what you cook. The other side of cooking is the prep stage. For this, you’ll want at least a cutting board, mixing bowls, stirring spoons, tongs, spatulas, and a versatile chef’s knife


Once your meal’s done, you’ll need something to serve your food with and a way to eat it. Plastic dinnerware is popular due to the ease of cleanup. For drinkware, you’ll probably want to use insulated stainless steel tumblers and coffee mugs are also common. However, one thing to consider in your camping dinnerware is how you intend to clean them.

If you need to conserve water and it’s not a problem to dispose of your trash at the campsite, it might be better to bring disposable dinnerware. At the very least, you might consider bringing both disposable dinnerware and non-disposable. 

Clean Up

Finally, it’s time to clean up. A folding or collapsible camp sink can definitely come in handy if you need to clean pots, pans, and dinnerware. A camp sink can help you conserve your soapy water for multiple dishes. A good method is to use two basins: one with soapy water for cleaning and one with fresh water for rinsing.

Make sure to pack plenty of dishtowels, preferably ones that are super efficient in drying and that dry quickly after you’re done with them. As mentioned above, if you decide to use disposable dinnerware options to save on water, you’ll need to consider a trash bin or transport that can be stored outside of your vehicle. 

To sum up, your Overlanding kitchen can be as basic as you want it to be, or if you have a big budget, it can be quite extravagant. A lot depends on the duration of your trip, your camping setup, and where you’ll be camping.

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