The right equipment and a few key tips will enable you to whip up gourmet food on the go, too
At the end of the night you’ll always have some embers burning down. Pack a small galvanized-steel trash can with a lid and a foldable camp shovel. Load the can with embers before you climb into your sleeping bag.
Cook with the Sun
Cook at sunrise to free up your day for hiking or surfing, and start prepping dinner two hours before sunset. Sure, you could cook with headlamps, but wouldn’t you rather be eating at magic hour?
Portion out Your Ice
Load ice into separate gallon-size freezer bags to prevent cross contamination, freeing you up to make camp-side cocktails at will. Pro move: Frozen meats and vegetables can double as auxiliary cold packs.
You Want a Cooler … and a Coolest
Use a lightweight, packable cooler to keep vegetables, condiments, and herbs cool. Store really precious items, like proteins and beer, in a super-insulated cooler you don’t open very often.
Buy local firewood to save space in your vehicle—and to keep non-indigenous pests out of the ecosystem. Pack a camp axe to split kindling. We like the Barebones carbon-steel Pulaski Axe. $142; barebonesliving.com.
Activate Your Ingredients
You want a short list of boldly flavored, versatile ingredients that will transform any provisions you buy at farmstands into a meal. Sea salt suppresses bitterness and amplifies the sweetness of just-picked produce. Lemons and limes reset the palate and balance out the flavor of wood smoke. Road-ready resinous herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme add tons of flavor and hold up on the grill.
California is full of campsites with fire rings, but some sites lack a showstopper view of the sunset. Bring a small charcoal grill to expand your options. Just make sure you’re respecting local regulations. We are fond of this smoke-sequestering rig from Biolite. $199; bioliteenergy.com.
Courtesy of Cobram Estate
Pack the Best Olive Oil Possible
Camp cooking is minimalist, so make sure every ingredient is top-shelf. Only low-grade olive oil has a low smoke point, due to old olives or adulteration. High-quality olive oil has a higher smoke point, allowing you to grill with it. Extra-virgin oil is the best way to go. We like Cobram Estate’s. $12.99; cobramestate.com