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September 2023

Gear Review: GSI Camp Kitchen


Guest Authors: Nathan Slater & Sanesh Iyer from @alittlepaddle

When you're going on a camping trip, there a number of things you have to bring. A shelter, of some sort. Something warm to sleep in, usually a sleeping bag. Something to cook on, a stove or a griddle or the like. And so on. As you're planning your trip, the gear quickly whittles down based on how much you can carry, what your trip objectives are, and what you have. It's also expensive to replace big pieces of gear, so often you'll stick it out with something sub- optimal because it's what you have, and it works. We support that.

For our 140 day expedition, from Victoria BC to Alaska, we carried primarily lightweight (but not ultralight) backpacking gear. However, when you're out for that long, it's nice to have some creature comforts. Even on a weekend trip, it's nice to have a way to relax and enjoy your time outside. Even better, is when these creature comforts don't add much cost, weight, or complexity to your kit.

I've really enjoyed reading on our rest days on this trip. I've read a bunch on this trip, some favourites books are Into Thin Air, The Rheology Handbook, The Starship & The Canoe, and The Culture Map. Naturally, it's nice to have Tea or Coffee with my book, so I keep my GSI Insulated Container full of something hot and tasty. Having hot tea is also good for safety, in the event of an unplanned swim or a particularly cold night, a hot drink goes a long way to warming me up. We typically fill up on hot tea once a day, in the morning and in the evening, making this an indispensable piece of gear.

Relaxing at camp is also synonymous with fire. Having a warm fire is a great way to stay warm on cold nights, dry out wet or freshly washed clothes, and deter animals from visiting your campsite. If you bring a grill along, you can also cook on your fire! Theres a lot of reasons to make a fire at camp, as long as you do so responsibly – follow all fire bans & local rules, burn below the tide line, use only driftwood, burn all your wood, and bury the embers. Adding a GSI Grill to your kit adds very little weight or volume, but opens up the ability to boil water or cook at camp. We started running low on fuel when we discovered white gas was hard to come by in many towns. Having the option to cook over fires helped us reduce our fuel consumption too.

Which brings us to cooking. Sometimes it makes sense to have boil-water-only meals. But it's way more fun to have lavish meals like chilli & mash potatoes, or poutine, or chicken Alfredo, at camp. It's good for morale. And it's tasty. We brought a couple different GSI pots on this trip. We have two Glacier Pots, which are stainless steel and good for use over the fire. The smaller one often gets used as a mixing bowl when we make pancakes. We've also got a 4L GSI Bugaboo non-stick pot, which is great for cooking in and makes cleanup very easy. Having these 3 pots doesn't take up any more space than the one 4L pot we'd need for the two of us, so having a few around that let us mix batter, cook over the fire, and even bake brownies, adds a lot of joy without any hassle.

The same can be said for having the right tools in the kitchen. Sure, you can slice your shrimp with your pocket knife. But do you want your pocket knife all shrimpy when you want to go start a fire with it? If you're cooking outside regularly, having proper utensils makes cooking easier, more fun, and also cleaner. You can keep your cookware isolated in your bear containers or kayaks, so that you don't bring any residual animal-attracting smells into your tent with you. And having a cutting board to keep the sand and dirt away from your food? Awesome. The GSI kitchen kit has a number of small things that can add a lot of pleasure and ease to your next trip. We don't bring every item on every trip, it's a balancing act between weight, volume, and comfort.

Even when you're going on a trip that requires that you leave most of the comforts of home behind, there are often some little things you can bring along to add pleasure to the experience. Even better, when these add-ons can help make your camping trip safer. Not every upgrade to your camping experience has to come from a fancy & expensive piece of gear, it's often the small things that make a big difference.