4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

Are you looking for some easy camp Dutch oven recipes for your next backyard or wilderness adventure?

Here we have compiled a selection of 4 easy and tasty recipes to get you started, for both main course and dessert.

All these recipes are tried and tested and you can pick up all of the ingredients at your local grocery store.

If you need some Dutch oven and guidance on how to use one, we have put together a comprehensive article here.

Regardless, let’s get into the recipes…

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans from Scratch

A classic, hearty recipe that’s easy to cook and tastes delicious!

A lot of these ingredients are staples that you will probably have in your kitchen and the rest are easily purchased in your local store.

Ingredients:

  • 1 good slug of vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 large size onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium chillies finely chopped (leave out if you don’t like spice)
  • 1lb of bacon, sliced
  • 1lb of minced beef
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 3 cans baked beans
  • 6 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add the onion, garlic and chillies and fry until softened.
  • Now fry the bacon until lightly browned.
  • Add the minced beef and fry until the bacon and beef are both nicely browned.
  • Introduce the rest of the ingredients, stir thoroughly and cover with the lid.
  • Place a layer of embers on the lid and cook for around 30 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve with some fresh, buttered bread.
Campfire Dutch oven bread

Campfire Dutch oven bread

This is a delicious Dutch oven no-knead bread. Just be careful not to burn it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups water, around room temp

Instructions

  • Using a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt together.
  • Make a well and slowly pour in the water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go.
  • Once mixed, cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight to prove.
  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
  • Shape into a ball.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Sprinkle a bit more flour inside the oven and place the dough inside.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking the bread every so often.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  • Once brown, remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Serve with butter.
Campfire venison stew in Dutch oven

Campfire venison stew

A great tasty stew to warm to cockles. You can substitute the venison for beef if required.

Ingredients

  • 1 good slug of vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds venison, cubed
  • 4 green peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 8 small whole onions or shallots, peeled
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of whole peppercorns

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your Dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add garlic and onion. Fry until softened.
  • Add venison and brown.
  • Add remaining ingredients in order.
  • Stir thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for 45 – 60 mins, checking periodically.
  • Remove lid – serve and enjoy!
Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

A delicious and easy dessert to make over the campfire. The simple ingredients also make it an easy one to do.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cans of sliced peaches, in syrup

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Add the sugar and flour into the oven and mix together.
  • Pour both cans of peaches on top, and very lightly stir together with the sugar and flour mix. You still want some un-floured peaches showing on top.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for around 40 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve.

Serve with cream or evaporated milk.

And now for some entertainment…


Camp Dutch oven recipe cookbooks

For a few more recipe ideas, why not try some of the highly-rated books below.

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook
The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook – Robin Donovan

A nicely illustrated camp dutch oven specific recipe book, which keeps things simple by using only 5 main ingredients per recipe.

There is also a good amount of advice at the front, including oven maintenance and recipe preparation.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven
101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven – Vernon Winterton

There is plenty in here to keep you busy and develop your knowledge.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

We hope you decide to get out there and try our 4 easy camp Dutch oven recipes. They are all relatively simple to do and you will no doubt have a lot of fun while doing cooking them.

As mentioned above, we would recommend you have a look through our Dutch oven cooking article, which goes into the history as well as more practical matters, such as how many coals you should use and how you should care for and season your oven.

You can find that here.

What can you make in a Dutch oven while camping?

The great thing about Dutch ovens is they are extremely versatile and the more experienced you become with one, the more confident you will be as a cook and the world really is your oyster (in cooking terms).

You can bake, boil, fry steam in a Dutch oven, so you really are covered for most types of camp cooking.

How do you bake in a camp oven?

If we are talking about baking things such as breads and desserts, then we have two recipes here and this gives you a simple process to follow.

You can also see our charcoal guide here for more precise cooking.

How to Tie Different Paracord Knots

How to tie different paracord knotsHow to tie different paracord knots

There are a variety of paracord knots that can be used in bushcraft, each used for different situations and purposes.

In this guide, I will attempt to run through the most useful and widely used paracord knots for your bushcraft needs.

What is the easiest paracord knot?

The easiest paracord knot to tie has to be the overhand knot which we detail below.

With that being said, you can easily master many different knot types through practice, so don’t be overwhelmed.

Start with the overhand and then move on to the more advanced ones.

You will soon become a paracord master!

Rope terminology

Good quality paracord is supple and can be tied into a variety of knots very easily. It is therefore ideal for securing items and providing support.

There are various paracord knots that you can use, depending on what you are aiming to achieve.

Before we begin though, there are a few terms that we need to understand.

  • Working end: this is the end that you are tying the knot with.
  • Standing end: this is the opposite end to the working end.
  • Standing part: any part between the two ends.
  • Bight: a section of cord that is formed into a U shape, without crossing over the standing part.
  • Loop: formed by turning the working end back on itself and crossing the standing part.
Paracord length with working end to the right
Paracord length with working end to the right
Paracord bight
Bight in cord

Now we have the terminology sorted let’s move on to a selection of paracord knots that will cover most situations in the field.

Overhand Knot

 Overhand knot paracord
Overhand knot (double)

One of the simplest and probably one that most people already know is the overhand knot.

It can be tied on one piece of rope or cord or used to tie two pieces together in a parallel fashion.

One use for the single overhand knot is to tie a stopper knot, to keep something in place on the cord.

Another is as a distance aid if you want to measure the distance you have travelled during navigation.

A simple overhand knot in a piece of cord every 100m will aid you when you come to total up the distance covered at the end of your walk.

The overhand knot is also very good for joining two pieces of paracord together, should you want to make a lanyard or form a loop of cord, as shown in the image above.

How to tie overhand knot:

  1. Take the section of cord that you want to tie a knot in and form a loop.
  2. Take the end of the cord and pass it through this loop and pull tight.

Simple!

The Reef Knot (Square Knot)

Reef knot square knot - paracord knots bushcraft
Reef knot

The reef knot, sometimes known as the square knot, is also well known.

It is a useful knot for tying two pieces of cord together for simple tasks and also provides a flat surface, which comes in useful if using it in certain situations such as first aid.

There are better and stronger knots available if you are looking to tie two pieces of cord together and put them under strain, which we will cover later.

Indeed, you certainly shouldn’t be using a reef knot for any type of load.

However, for a simple and quick knot for securing items, such as binding down equipment, etc, the reef knot is a valuable one to know.

How to tie a reef knot:

  1. Hold one end in your right hand (working end) and the other in your left hand (standing end), with both ends facing upwards
  2. Take the working end and pass it over the standing end, then tuck underneath and bring back up – both ends should now be on the opposite side to where they started.
  3. Then take the working end (now on left) and pass it over the top of the standing end, tuck underneath and bring back up.
  4. Pull together to form the knot.

Remember the adage: right over left and under – left over right and under.

Following the above will ensure that you tie the reef knot and not the less useful granny knot.

The Prusik Knot

Prusik Knot Paracord
Prusik knot

Designed by Austrian mountaineer Dr. Karl Prusik, the prusik knots original purpose was to allow a climber to ascend a rope in an emergency (or unplanned) situation.

More on this here.

However, aside from climbing, the prusik knot is also very handy for bushcraft and outdoor purposes.

One of the most common bushcraft/survival uses is for stringing out and tensioning a tarp whilst using a ridgeline.

How to tie a prusik knot:

  1. Create a loop, known as a prusik loop, by tying two of the paracord ends together. You can use a double fisherman’s knot for this or similar.
  2. Next, take the opposite end to the knots and form a bite.
  3. Assuming your chosen pole/branch/rope (that you want to tie onto) is laying horizontally, take your bite end and place over the top of this and then back underneath, so that your bite end and knot and are on the same side and pointing towards you.
  4. Take the knot end and place through the bite end.
  5. Dress towards the pole/branch/rope.
  6. Take the loop that is on top (that was the bite) and take it back over and around again, mimicking the first step.
  7. Again, take the knotted end and place through the loop.
  8. Dress this down to create the prusik knot. You should be able to count four wraps in total.

How it works:

When loaded, the knot tightens securely around its subject. It does this as it is a friction knot.

This allows the user to tighten and secure against this knot, allowing them a fixed point to secure to.

When the knot is unloaded and the tension released, the prusik should loosen, allowing the knot to slide along the rope and re-grip at the next intended point.

This allows the user to move the knot along the rope, to the next required point and then load again.

This allows for a very useful knot, that can be secured and quickly moved as required.

The Clove Hitch

Clove Hitch Knot Paracord Bushcraft Hub
Clove hitch

The clove hitch is used to tie onto a pole or branch and is a handy knot to start a lashing or binding with.

It’s not the best of knots if used on its own, as it slips quite easily and needs to be combined with another knot or lashing to be properly secure – but it is a handy knot to know nonetheless.

How to tie:

  1. Take the end of your cord and place over the top of the pole of or branch that you want to secure to.
  2. Take underneath and back around, so that the working end crosses over the first wrap of cord.
  3. Go around once more and feed the end underneath the ‘cross over’ loop that you just formed, so that the cord runs parallel with the tail end.
  4. Dress together and you will have a clove hitch. This can be confirmed by checking that you have a cross formation, as shown in the above image.

The Bowline Knot

Bowline knot - 550 commercial spec
Bowline knot

If you want to tie a fixed loop at the end of your paracord, the bowline knot is a solid choice.

This knot is great as it locks the loop in place and stops it slipping.

How to tie a bowline knot:

  1. Take the working end of your cord and form a loop in it, where you want the knot to form – the loop should follow an anti-clockwise direction, with the working end should sit on top, and should now be facing downwards, towards you.
  2. Take the working end and thread back through this loop, on the right-hand side, passing it behind the standing end and bringing it back around through the loop again.
  3. Pull tight to form your fixed loop.

You now have a bowline.

The Alpine Butterfly

Alpine butterfly Knot 550 cord green
Alpine butterfly knot

If you want to create a loop in a length of paracord, without having to get the ends involved, then the alpine butterfly knot is a good choice.

It enables you to tie a strong loop that you can tie onto, whilst maintaining the strength of the main line.

This provides a variety of possible uses, one example would be to provide the loops for a trotline, to tie your mono-filament hook-lengths onto.

All in all, a very handy knot to know.

How to tie the alpine butterfly:

  1. Take some slack and wrap the cord around the palm of your hand 3 times.
  2. Take the middle section and tuck it underneath the right-hand section.
  3. Bring it around the front, to the left, and over the original left-hand section.
  4. Take it underneath the other two sections, and bring out on the right-hand side.
  5. Grip the loop on the right and pull the two rope ends to form the fixed loop.

You now have the alpine butterfly.

And now the video run-through of the above…

I hope you find the above article useful for learning and tying your paracord knots. Please let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

James

Bushcraft Hub

Bushcraft Gear List

Bushcraft Gear - Bivvy Bag

What is the best bushcraft gear you can buy?

Below, we have compiled a bushcraft gear list detailing the top equipment that is currently on the market.

Unless you want to do the whole ‘naked and marooned‘ approach, you will need to take some gear with you.

With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to create a list of what we would recommend kit wise.

As you will see, we haven’t gone for cheap rubbish here! We are firm believers in always buying the best you can afford.

Good kit will last you many years, even a lifetime, and is usually worth the extra few bucks.

You will end up with good quality gear, that is usually better to use – and if you ever want to sell it on, there is usually a market for the decent items.

This can’t always be said for some of the cheap rubbish that you see peddled out there.

Go for the best and build your kit up slowly. It will be worth it in the long run.

Anyway, on to the gear…

Trousers (Pants)

Best Bushcraft Trousers Pants
Classic (but pricey) bushcraft trousers

If you want the best bushcraft trousers out there (or best pants if you’re over the pond), then the Fjallraven Vidda Pro are one of the best options available.

There’s no shortage of people using these, but for a very good reason though…they’re solid trousers and made for the job.

Designed in Sweden, Fjallraven has an excellent reputation for quality – and if you go for these trousers you will not be disappointed.

Fjallraven Vidda Pro video
Bushcraft Trousers Pants Fjallraven Vidda Pro Best Buy

They aren’t cheap and are by no means completely necessary, however, we consider it an investment worth making if you are serious about your gear and overall comfort.

Product links: USA | UK | CAN

Backpack

Karrimor SF Sabre 75 rucksack - Bushcraft Gear
Karrimor SF Sabre 75 rucksack

You need something to carry all that kit in.

There are numerous rucksacks out there, with varying qualities and features.

Our opinion is that you want to keep it simple. You want a solid, hard-wearing pack. that will last for years and not let you down.

Our favourite is the Karrimor SF Sabre 75.

For a daysack, this may be a little on the big side, but if you are out for an overnighter or multi-day trip, then it’s not hard to fill up a bag like this with all your kit.

Highly recommended!

Product link: here

Looking for a bit more of a rundown on bushcraft backpacks? Check out our article here.

Knife

Bushcraft Gear - Knife - Morakniv Companion
Morakniv Companion – this one needs a clean!

A fundamental tool in the field and therefore an essential piece of equipment, your knife has a multitude of uses – which makes it a vital tool.

One of the most popular knives out there is the Morakniv Companion.

These just can’t be beaten for functionality and price.

Sure, you can spend a lot more and get a fancier knife – but you don’t need to!

One of these knives will do everything you want it to and more and will last a very long time.

And you won’t be crying if you ever lose it!

The only thing you need to decide is if you want to go for carbon or a stainless blade.

The carbon blade is easier to sharpen, but oxidises easier and needs more care to prevent it rusting.

The stainless blade is slightly harder to sharpen, but is lower maintenance and therefore probably the best option for all-round use.

Or, considering the price – why not get both!

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Firesteel

Firesteel Ferro Rod - Light My Fire - Bushcraft Gear & Equipment
Light My Fire ferro rod and striker

You need a reliable way of starting a fire, whether rain or shine!

There comes no more reliable than the trusty firesteel.

These always work and don’t require any special storage, so are a great item to carry in your kit.

There are many different types available, you can even make your own by purchasing a blank and then fashioning your own handle, from deer antler, etc.

However, for a ready to go option, the Light My Fire is a solid choice – from a trusted brand.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Axe

Granfors Bruks Small Forest Axe - Bushcraft Axe
Granfors Bruks Small Forest Axe

If you are going to chop wood, you need a decent axe.

There comes no finer than Gransfors Bruks of Sweden.

Their Small Forest Axe is a great size for all-round camp activities.

It’s powerful enough to chop hefty logs while being compact enough to carry on your person – making it perfect for bushcraft purposes.

Each one of these axes is individually hand made, with the blacksmith’s initials stamped onto each one.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Folding Saw

Folding Saw - Bahco Laplander - Bushcraft Gear

Carrying a folding saw is a great, portable way of sawing smaller branches around camp.

They are fairly small and super sharp when needed.

One of the most popular is the Bahco Laplander. They come in green and are tried and tested.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Boots

Hanwag Tatra Top GTX Boots - Bushcraft Equipment
Hanwag Tatra Top GTX Boots

A good set of boots are essential for ankle support and comfort and another critical item on your bushcraft gear list.

If you are active around camp or hiking – you need some sturdy boots.

Investing in a good set from the start is money well spent.

Make sure you allow some time to wear them in though before going on any extended trips.

There are a few good makes, however, one of the notable ones is Hanwag, with their Tatra Top GTX boot being extremely comfortable for all manner of outdoor activities.

If you do go for a set of these, make sure you get the wide option if you have medium-wide feet, as the standard fit is quite slim around the toe area.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Socks

Thorlo KLT Hiking Socks - Bushcraft Gear
A good set of socks is essential for your comfort

If you are wearing boots, you want a good set of socks.

The thin type that you might wear day to day, just ain’t gonna cut it.

Invest in a few good sets and your feet will thank you for it.

One of our favourites is the Thorlo KLT Hiking Socks.

They provide great cushioning and will help keep your feet warm in colder conditions – while still wicking away sweat when your feet get warmer.

Purchase links: US | UK | CAN

Tarp

A good tarp will help keep you and your kit dry

If you are staying outside you will probably want a shelter of some sort.

One of the most versatile is a good quality tarp system. They can be used in a multitude of ways and will keep the worst of the rain (or sun) off you.

You can go larger for groups etc, but a good standard size for personal use is 3 x 3 metres.

One of the best is the DD Tarp 3 x 3.

Product links: US | UK | CAN

Meths burner

Trangia Alcohol Burner - Meths Stove
Trangia alcohol burner

If you want a low-tech, reliable stove, then a meths burner may be a good fit for you.

They are super simple and just work.

The two contenders are the Trangia and the Esbit burner. The Esbit is slightly more user-friendly than the Trangia as it has a small handle to operate the simmer ring.

However, the Trangia is slightly better built and is, therefore, our burner of choice.

Get the full rundown on bushcraft stoves here.

Purchase links: US | UK | CAN

Paracord

Paracord-Hanked-550-Green
Paracord is an essential item for your kit bag

Paracord is just one of the things that you need in your kit. Its uses are almost limitless.

If you do buy some, don’t buy the cheap stuff, it will only let you down.

Go for real paracord, which is made in the USA by Government approved suppliers.

This is the only way you can guarantee you’re getting the real thing.

You want their commercial-spec or their mil-spec. The mil-spec will cost more but is the exact same cord that the US military get.

The same manufacturers commercial-spec will usually be equally as good strength and material wise.

So in general, the commercial is the one to go for, as it balances quality with a sensible price.

Make sure it is USA made though. We have more on this in our article here.

For the UK we recommend Clutha Paracord, which is 100% genuine – USA made cord.

For the US and Canada, Tough-Grid cord is your best bet.

Purchase links: US | UK | CAN

Bivvy bag

Bushcraft Gear List - British Army Bivvy Bag Green
Using a bivvy bag is a great way to help keep you and your kit dry

Using a bivvy bag is a great idea if you are sleeping out. They provide you with some extra protection from the elements, increasing your chances of a good night’s sleep.

They can, of course, be used on their own, with your sleeping bag inside, using the bivvy as your sole outer protection.

This is great for sleeping out under the stars, in good conditions.

They are also great when used in conjunction with a tarp or basha – which is the preferred method if you are expecting rain or snow.

This can be done straight on the ground, or in a hammock setup.

You may even want to use one inside a tent, affording you a bit extra warmth when needed.

Most are breathable and waterproof, but the quality does vary.

British Army Bivvy Bag

One of our favourites is the no-nonsense, British Army Gore-tex bivvy bag that is pictured above.

As with most equipment designed for the military, these are solidly made with fully taped seams and a drawstring hood section.

They are heavy compared to others, but this is made up for by the excellent, bomb-proof quality that they afford.

They will last you for years.

There is no zip on these, so you have to slide in and out, but on a plus point, this means there is less to go wrong.

As they are made with Gore-tex, they are relatively breathable, while still providing a good degree of all round water protection.

They are designed to be used underneath a tarp as the hood does not completely cover you, but you can sleep out in them on their own if the weather is dry.

If it does start to rain though, you can always roll over and sleep on your front if necessary.

The only problem is that these bags are not easy to come across these days, especially new.

If you can get one though, we would recommend them for a heavy-duty bag.

Due to the sourcing problem, we will recommend another which is more widely available, this being the Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag.

Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag
Snugpak Special Forces Bivvi Bag

These are not Gore-tex, but do incorporate Snugpak’s Paratex Dry Fabric, which is designed to do a similar thing, in that it allows moisture from your body to escape, while not letting any outside moisture in.

They feature a central zip, which helps with getting in and out of them, as well as being very lightweight and packable.

Some users find that they get a condensation build-up in these bags, but this will depend on the conditions and sleeping bag used etc.

They are ultimately, a well-made bivvy bag for a reasonable price – that you can actually get hold of!

Product links: US | UK | CAN

Sleeping mat

Thermarest ProLite Plus - Rolled up in hand
Thermarest Sleeping mat

A sleeping mat, although not completely essential, is a great way to aid a good nights sleep.

They generally come in 2 forms. One being the standard foam type that rolls up into a tube otherwise known as a roll mat.

The other type is the inflatable, which has become much more popular over the last few years, as the technology has improved.

The inflatable type allows you to carry a mattress in a relatively small package and then inflate to a usable size very quickly when needed.

One of our favourites is the Thermalite ProLite Plus which we have reviewed previously here.

It is lightweight and packs into a small stuff sack, so will not take up much room – but still gives you some decent padding during sleep.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Hammock

Image: DD Hammocks

A hammock is a great way of sleeping off ground, keeping you away from the cold floor as well as any bugs or other creatures that might be crawling around camp.

They take a bit of getting used to at first, but once you learn how to sleep in them they are a great way to camp out, assuming you have something to tie them to of course.

Two decent trees are ideal, but anything that will provide a strong anchor point will do.

The fact that they can be packed away into a small stuff sack or similar makes them a great addition to your portable sleeping system.

One of the best out there for the price is the DD frontline, which includes a bug net and has proven itself all over the globe.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

First aid kit

Lifesystems Pocket First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is a must

It’s always sensible to carry a first aid kit with you in your pack and have it close by.

During bushcraft activities, you will be often be using knives, axes etc, as well as being around open flames.

Accidents can and do happen, so it’s best to be prepared for this, especially if you are a long way from medical assistance.

What you need to carry will depend on where you are going and what activities you intend to do once there.

A good option is to make one up yourself, which can then be tailored to your exact needs.

You may want to buy an off the shelf kit and then add to this as necessary.

There are plenty of these available at a good price. We have included links to some decent kits to start off with below.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Water filter

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System - Bushcraft and Survival Water Filter
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

Obtaining clean drinking water is a must. You do not want to be getting ill.

There are a number of options for purifying water, including boiling, sterilization and filtration.

Water purification tablets are one option, but they do leave a bit of a taste in the water. The Katadyn tablets are one of the best if you do go down this route.

Boiling is another option but does require you to have a heat source, which is not something you are able to do – or have time for.

The modern water filters are one of the simplest and convenient options.

You can go for the bag type such as the Platypus Gravityworks, which is a good choice for around camp, but if you want something a bit more portable, then the Sawyer mini below is a great choice.

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

The Sawyer Mini Filtration System is a multi-functional water filter that is lightweight and easy to carry.

It can be used with the squeeze pouch that is provided, with your own bottle or bag – or placed on your hydration bladder hose, to filter water on the go.

The filter unit can be cleaned out and reused, so should last you for a good while indeed.

The units are USA made and a great price for what you get.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Water bottle

Nalgene Narrow Mouth Water Bottle - Bushcraft Gear
The Nalgene is the best water bottle – bar none

You need water! It’s vital for your survival and general well-being.

To store it, you are going to want a bottle of some sort.

If you want a straight-up water bottle, then there is no finer than Nalgene bottles.

These are quite simply the best plastic bottles out there and we use ours daily.

Made in the USA, they come in narrow or wide mouth versions and are also BPA free.

We use and far prefer the narrow mouth 1 litre (33oz) everyday bottle, as they are far easier to drink from than the wider type.

Drinking from the wide ones usually ends up with you spilling water down the sides of your face as you drink.

Go for the narrow type if you are using the bottle purely for drinking.

If you buy one of these, you are unlikely to regret it.

They are bombproof and are everything that a water bottle should be – solid and no fuss.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Dutch oven

Lodge Dutch Oven - Bushcraft Gear Cooking

If you are at camp for a while or have the ability to transport one, a dutch oven is a great option for your cooking needs.

Get the full lowdown on camp dutch ovens in our article here.

If you want the quick answer on the best one to get, then we recommend Lodge dutch ovens.

They are tried and tested and with a little care, will last you a lifetime.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Binoculars

Leica Trinovid HD binoculars - Bushcraft Binos
Leica Trinovid HD binoculars

A good set of binoculars (sometimes known as binos) are a great asset to have with you.

They let you scan areas in the distance with ease and come into their own when wildlife spotting or during hunting activities.

It’s not just the size that matters!

The optics are the most important part of the binoculars, far more than the actual size of them.

A smaller, but higher-quality set, will let in far more light and be far sharper visually than a lower quality, larger set.

It, therefore, pays to invest in great optics, especially if you are using for hunting etc in low light conditions.

Binoculars are one of those items that you really notice the extra quality on, so it pays to spend a bit on them if image quality and light gathering matter to you.

In low light, such as dusk, a good set will pick out the animal or object long after a bad set will, which can make all the difference to your day or hunt.

Once you have decided on a good brand for optics, then size plays into it.

Size selection will depend on whether you want an ultra-compact pair or are happy to lug around something a bit chunkier.

For a good all-round pair, that will work well in woodland and out on the open hill, a set of 8 x 42’s are a great choice.

There are a variety of good makes to choose from, including Zeiss, Swarovski, Kahles, Steiner etc, all of which are a great choice.

Our current favourites are the Leica Trinovid HD 8×42, which are German made and top-quality.

Like the others, they cost a bit to purchase, but presuming you don’t lose them, should last you a lifetime.

Purchase links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

We hope this list gives you a good insight into what we feel are the best items to buy if you are looking for any of the above kit.

It is by no means exhaustive and we will be adding updates to this as time goes on.

It does, however, give you our position on what we recommend for each item. We hope you found it useful.

If you would like to let us know your favourites or something you would like included, please do so in the comments.

We would love to hear from you.

James

Bushcraft Hub

Camp Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans

Dutch ovens provide a fantastic way to cook outdoors.

This article guides you through everything you need to know about camp dutch oven cooking, from selection to care and maintenance.

There are also some tasty recipes to try out!

Let’s jump in!

What is a camp Dutch oven?

A dutch oven that is designed for outdoor use, is commonly known as a camp dutch oven.

Put simply they are a cooking vessel, constructed of heavy, cast iron material, that allows you to cook efficiently over an open fire.

These ovens enable you to cook a wide variety of foods, from bread to more exotic main meals and will serve you well for your camp cooking needs.

This article explains what they do and how you can use them within bushcraft and other outdoor activities.

Camp Dutch oven cooking coals on lid

History of the Dutch oven

The dutch ovens of today owe their original design to Englishman, Abraham Darcy after he travelled to Holland to look for a better way to mould metals.

At the time, the Dutch were experts in casting brass pots using sand, which was a different method to that of loam and clay, which the Brits used.

He returned to England and decided to use cast iron instead of brass to make the pot, and the first incarnation of the cast-iron ‘dutch oven’ was born.

During the American colonial era, legs and a lid flange were added.

This version of Dutch ovens (legs or without) is what we know these days as a camp Dutch oven and were the cooking vessels favoured by the early American pioneers.

Often mentioned in peoples wills, as to who they should go to upon the owner’s death, they were an item of great importance and value.

They were the oven of choice for the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 – 1806, as they travelled and mapped the waterways from Pittsburgh in the East, to the Pacific coast out West.

These days, dutch oven cooking is very much alive and well, with a multitude of organisations around the world, such as the International Dutch Oven Society, still practising this fun, tasty and authentic way of cooking.

Design and features

Most ovens are made of cast iron and black in colour (unless rusty) – and have a pot and lid section.

There are some aluminium dutch oven designs out there, such as the GSI version, but these are not so common.

Most designs usually have a large carrying handle, which also allows the oven to be suspended over a fire, using a purpose-made tripod or pot hanger.

As above, most camp-style ovens also have 3 legs on the bottom, which are designed to let the oven sit directly in the fire’s embers, whilst providing stability and keeping the main pot raised above the coals.

Some users prefer not to have these legs though, which we will get into later.

As a large part of the camp Dutch oven cooking process comes from the heat above it, they all include a lid that is designed to have embers placed on top of them.

This allows heat to come from above and below.

This lid features a lip around its edge that stops the embers from falling into the pot when the lid is lifted – and into your food!

Due to their cast iron construction, they are heavy, so are not really suited to any hiking activities!

However, if you have a vehicle to transport it in, such as a car, 4wd or canoe, they are an excellent option for your campfire cooking, especially if you are staying put for a while.

Why do some Dutch ovens have legs?

Lodge Camp Dutch Oven

As above, you can buy a camp-style dutch oven with legs, or without legs.

The rest of the oven is generally identical.

What you go for will depend on how you intend to use the oven and your needs.

Indeed Ray Mears comments in the video below that he prefers a dutch oven without legs, due to the possibility of them breaking when being stored and transported in vehicles.

Take a look at Ray baking some bread below to see what I mean – it’s also a good recipe!

As you can see, he’s opting for no legs, due to the portability factor.

Our opinion:

We would argue that the legs are very robust, and do not get damaged with normal use and transportation.

You should be storing your oven in a better manner if that’s a problem, but everyone has their views, and they do indeed have the potential to catch on things.

If you are solely going to cook on a tripod with your oven, above a fire, then the legs may not be necessary for you and it may be best to go for a simple legless pot.

If however, you are only going to buy one oven, and want to be able to use it straight on top of embers, with the added functionality of still being able to use it on a tripod, we would opt for the legged variety, as it allows you to comfortably do both.

Of course, the best thing is to have two ovens, one with legs, one without and you can then choose which one is best suited to your trip – or take both.

How to season a cast iron Dutch oven

As with all cast iron cookware, a dutch oven will need to be seasoned before it can be used.

Many ovens now come pre-seasoned, so you can technically cook on them straight away.

However, this factory seasoning can almost always be improved on, so it would be wise to season the oven yourself before use regardless.

This is an essential process to get your oven off to a good start.

Does a Dutch oven need to be seasoned?

Cast iron in its raw state, will rust and is not non-stick.

In order to make it non-stick, we must first correctly season the iron.

This seasoning process applies a very thin layer of oil to the metal surface of the oven, which is then placed inside a larger oven or stovetop and heated to a very high temperature.

This process ‘bakes’ the fat onto the metal, to form a hard and protective layer on the oven surface, known as seasoning.

This technical name for this is polymerization.

This ‘baked-on’ layer (which is actually a chemical reaction between the hot iron and the fat), stops the oven from oxidizing, keeping rust at bay.

Done correctly, this now provides a natural, non-stick coating to the surface. 

This aids the cooking process and obviously helps prevent food from sticking to your pot.

With care, as you use your oven in the future, this protective layer will build and improve further.

How to season a cast iron Dutch oven and lid

If your dutch oven comes with a yellow waxy coating on it (which is a rarity these days) this will need to be completely removed before starting.

This waxy coating has been placed on by the manufacturer to protect the oven from rust during transportation and storage.

Wax fully removed, start by cleaning away any surface residue from the cast iron.

You need to get down to the bare metal.

To do this, use a scouring pad or some steel wool with hot soapy water, and scrub well, all over the pot and lid.

Rinse all surfaces well with clean water.

TipIf you have a used, rusty pan, follow this process also, until all the surface rust is removed and you are back down to the bare metal again.

Dry thoroughly with a tea towel, ideally lint-free.

Once towel dry, let the oven air dry, or even better place in another low-temperature oven, so that any moisture is completely removed from the surface.

You can also place the oven on a burner and watch the surface change colour from the bottom upwards, as the water evaporates.

This ensures the metal is completely dry.

Now leave to cool.

With the oven now completely clean and dry – apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to all of its surfaces – inside and out, on both the pot and lid sections.

Wipe off the excess oil, so that it looks like the oven is almost dry again.

Don’t worry, there will still be a very thin layer of oil on the surface, which is what you want.

The best oils for seasoning cast iron

It’s best to use vegetable oil – which can be made from soybean, canola (rapeseed) or sunflower oil.

However, all cooking oils and fats can be used for the seasoning process.

100% pure flaxseed oil is very good, although this can be expensive.

Alternatively, you can also use melted shortening.

You ideally want a ‘drying oil’, that hardens as it heats and doesn’t leave an oily residue.

I keep it simple and use standard vegetable oil.

In the UK is usually either rapeseed oil or sunflower oil.

This currently works well for me.

Heating process

You now need to get the dutch oven very hot in order to seal it.

You will need to use your kitchen oven if your camp oven will fit inside.

Alternatively, you can use a kettle type BBQ so that the lid creates an oven in itself.

As the dutch oven now has a thin layer of oil on it, this process can cause some smoke, as the oil heats up.

Therefore, this process is best done outside if you can, but if you have to do this inside, prepare accordingly by ensuring good ventilation.

As with most things like this, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular dutch oven.

As a general guideline, you will want to get your oven up to around 205 ℃ / 400 F for the seasoning process to work correctly.

Once complete, this process seals the oven, protecting it from rust and giving the oven its natural non-stick coating.

If you are looking for a perfect finish, this process may need to be repeated a few times (4-6) to get the desired result.

With careful use, cleaning and storage, the oven should not need seasoning again and the seasoned layer will actually improve over time.

If it does need doing again, and your pan starts to rust, or the seasoned layer is just not up to standard anymore, simply follow the steps above to restore it back to its full glory.

The short Lodge video below also goes through a similar process.

Fuel for Dutch ovens

You can use a variety of fuels with your oven.

If out in the woods, you may have some decent dry firewood available to you.

If using this, you want a type that produces a good bed of embers when it burns down, as these are what provides the majority of heat for your oven.

Go for hardwoods like Oak and Ash if you can, as these will produce a good bed of embers.

Softwoods will burn quickly and will work, but will not produce as good a bed of embers like the above hardwoods will.

How to use a Dutch oven with charcoal

You can also use charcoal, which is a popular choice, which you can bring with you.

This generally comes in either lump wood or briquette form.

Either is good, but the briquettes seem to hold the heat for the longest time and give a good steady burn.

Tip – If using charcoal, an easy way to get your coals going is to use a chimney starter, such as the Weber version pictured below.

Charcoal chimney starter for camp dutch oven cooking - bushcraft cooking
A chimney starter gets the coals lit using just newspaper – no lighter fuel required!

How many coals do I need for a camp oven?

If using wood, it’s a bit more of a guess as to the number of embers that you need.

It depends on the wood used and oven size.

Experience will help you get a good idea of cooking times and temperature for your oven, so get cooking and find out what works.

If using charcoal, the rough rule of thumb is to use twice the amount of coals as to your oven size.

So, if you have a 12″ oven, then you need 24 coals.

This is quite simplistic but is a good rough guide.

For a more exact heat and coal number, including the amount that should be placed above and below – the table below shows the suggested amount.

Dutch oven coal temperature chart

Dutch oven coal temperature chart

Cleaning a camp oven

A good cleaning and maintenance regime will keep your oven in tip-top condition.

Clean your oven as below:

  • Scrape all food residues to loosen them from the surface and remove.
  • Pour in some hot water and scrub with a brush until all food residue is removed. Use some washing up liquid if necessary.
  • Rinse out with fresh water and dry with a lint-free tea towel or similar and leave to air dry.
  • Now place a small amount of vegetable oil in the pan, and wipe this around both sides of the pot and lid, so that all the surfaces are coated with a very thin layer of oil.
  • Your oven is now clean and ready for its next use.

Can you use soap to clean a dutch oven?

The short answer is yes. There is no issue using a mild detergent, such as washing up liquid to clean a dutch oven.

There is a common misconception that the soap will remove the seasoned layer, as soap breaks down fat and it is this fat that forms the seasoning.

However, the fat has gone through a chemical process when the oven was seasoned and is chemically bonded to the metal through this heat process.

It will therefore not be removed with soap, so feel free to use it if required.

How to store your cast iron Dutch oven

Store your oven in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area.

Your oven should have a very thin layer of oil on all of its surfaces to protect it during storage.

Do not use lard or similar, as this can go rancid if left for a long period.

Use vegetable oil and wipe off any excess.

If storing the pot and lid together, leave a small gap by placing a folded up tea towel or similar between the pot and the lid. 

This will allow fresh air to circulate inside the oven, allowing any moisture to escape and help prevent any rust from forming.

What utensils do you use with a Dutch oven?

You can use all normal cooking utensils in your oven, both wood and metal, without them damaging the seasoned layer.

Just use them with care though and don’t be too rough.

How long will a camp dutch oven last for?

Properly cared for, your oven should easily outlast you and can be handed down to the next generation.

They should easily last 100 years or more and there is no reason why they can’t last for a few hundred years.

There is something deeply satisfying about owning and using something that you know will still be able to be used by your family, long after you have gone.

Not the dying bit though!!!

Purchasing one should definitely be considered an investment and is why I would recommend purchasing a good quality one from the outset – and looking after it.

What size dutch oven should I buy for camping?

The 8-quart (12 inch) is a good size for cooking larger meals, for multiple persons, but is also fine for smaller meals too.

We have this size, as it is a good all-rounder, whatever you decide to cook.

We’re also gluttons when it comes to food like this, so having some extra available is no bad thing in our opinion – it will all disappear 🙂

There are different sizes available to suit your needs, so go with what you feel is best for you.

A smaller size will do if you generally only cook for 1-2 people.

What is the best camp oven to buy?

Camp Dutch Oven Cooking - Lodge - Cowboy Beans
Rustling up some Cowboy Beans

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

There are multiple brands of camp dutch ovens on the market, with the cheaper ovens often being made in China.

These are often of a much lower quality than the USA or European brands – that’s just a fact.

If that’s all you can afford, or just want to dip your toe in and try dutch oven cooking, then these will certainly have their uses – you may end up disappointed though.

We always strongly recommend going for the best kit you can afford – it usually works out cheaper in the long run.

If you go for one of the decent makes, and your dutch oven ends up lasting you 100 years or more, that initial investment will seem quite insignificant, given the years of use and enjoyment that you and your family get out of it.

With that in mind, we would recommend either Lodge or Petromax dutch ovens.

Is Lodge a good Dutch oven brand?

Camp Dutch Oven Stew

Yes. They are considered the best brand out there.

We personally own and currently use the Lodge 8-quart 12 inch – deep camp dutch oven.

We went for this as Lodge, in our opinion, make the best ovens and have a great pedigree. 

They are made in Lodge’s USA factory, to a very high standard. 

They are pricey, especially in Europe, but as above, we view it as an investment and see it as great value considering what you are getting in return.

No-nonsense and great looking, these will last you and your family a very long time indeed.

Links: US | UK | CAN

Petromax Dutch ovens

Petromax Camp Dutch Oven

A good alternative to the Lodge is the Petromax oven.

They also produce camp dutch ovens with leg and non-leg options.

The lid on these is a bit more elaborate than the Lodge’s and are a bit harder to keep clean, but is not so much of an issue that it should stop you from buying one.

Where are petromax Dutch ovens made?

Petromax are made in Germany, not China like so many other brands – so this gives you some peace of mind over their build quality

They certainly look nice and are a great alternative to the Lodge.

Links: US | UK | CAN

Camp dutch oven inspections

When you receive your dutch oven, new or otherwise, take a few moments to check its build quality.

  • Place the lid on the oven and make sure that it’s a tight fit all around.
  • Make sure that the lid does not rock and sits flat on all sides.
  • Spin the lid to make sure that it easily rotates and is circular.
  • Check the oven sidewalls to make sure they are of equal thickness all around.
  • Inspect all surfaces, inside and out, for any notable cracks or blemishes on the metal’s surface.
  • Ensure that the bail arm is secured to each side of the oven, at opposite sides to each other. These alternate fixing points prevent the handle falling off if the oven tips to one side when carrying the oven.

Camp dutch oven accessories

You don’t necessarily need any special accessories to use your oven, you can use what you have in the kitchen – even a stick to lift the lid if necessary.

If you want the correct kit, however, you may want to take a look at the below.

Camp Dutch Oven Lid lifter

One item that you will need when cooking with these ovens is some form of lid-lifter.

You can use a claw hammer or a strong stick, but a proper tool for the job is a purpose-made device such as the one made by Petromax below.

Petromax dutch oven lid lifter
Petromax lid lifter

This has the added advantage of being able to be used as a poker for the embers of your fire.

Links: USA| UK | CAN

Campfire Dutch Oven Tripod

If you want to raise your dutch oven above the embers and also have somewhere to hang your camp kettle, a tripod may be a handy addition to your camp set up.

The Lodge version features an adjustable chain so that you can vary the height and therefore the temperature of your cooking.

Lodge campfire dutch oven tripod
Lodge tripod

Links: USA | UK | CAN

How do you make a camp oven tripod?

Want to make your own? Here’s a great DIY option from Mr Mears…

Cast Iron Chainmail Cleaner

Chain Mail Cleaner
Chainmail cleaner

To keep your oven in tip-top condition, a chain mail cleaner, such as the Petromax one above is a good addition to your kit.

As mentioned previously, a good maintenance regime will keep your oven in tip-top condition for many years to come.

These are therefore a worthwhile investment.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

Camp Dutch ovens are a fantastic time-tested cooking vessel.

Large and heavy they may be, but if you are staying at camp for a while, they are usually worth the effort of transporting and setting up.

They create delicious meals and are a joy to cook on.

If you haven’t tried one yet, I hope this article has at least spiked your interest to do so.

It might even be the start of a lifelong obsession!

As ever, thanks for reading.

James