Avoid Burns in the Backcountry with a Good Camp Kitchen

For some reason, food seems to taste better in the backcountry. Maybe a hard day’s work makes it seem so, or maybe I just have more gratitude when I sit down on the ground to eat. It’s fun to cook a meal or make a pot of tea in a kitchen that I’ve carried on my back into the middle of nowhere. I like the sounds of a hissing stove and a crackling campfire.

Above, right, I’m making bacon at a not-so-backcountry campsite near Indian Creek, Utah, but I got to thinking about all of the different camping kitchen setups I’ve shared with friends over the years after writing an articled for the About.com Survival Skills site titled “Prevent and Treat Backcountry Burns.” Cooking in the backcountry–despite its joys–poses several burn dangers: hot pots, an open flame or campfire, boiling water, limited tools and resources, to name a few.

After writing that article, I felt thankful that I’ve never had to treat a kitchen burn victim in the backcountry. I felt even more thankful after I looked back at some of my camp kitchen photos and spotted some seriously shifty stoves and other burn dangers. First of all…here’s our winter camping ski kitchen at Halfmoon Pass, on the way to ski Mount of the Holy Cross:

I cooked some really cheesy pasta that night as three of us lay in the tent. It was storming outside, and the vestibule was packed with stinky boots…and the stove. In a warmer environment, my friend Cece hangs out by our stove, in the middle of what I’d call a backpack explosion:

The Alps kitchens are always my favorite…here’s my friend Andy relaxing after a day of climbing in the Aiguilles Rouges, waiting for a pot of snow to boil. We were up high and didn’t have a good water source, so we had to scratch snow from a dirty little patch and melt it for water.

This Alps kitchen at the Envers des Aiguilles hut above Chamonix’s Mer de Glace was pretty sweet–we were able to put the stoves on the picnic tables for a solid cooking surface, and we could get water from the hut…and we had a pretty stunning view while we cooked.

Some of these camp kitchens look more burn-proof than others, but all of them provided some of the yummiest, cheesiest pasta and most refreshing cups of tea I’ve had anywhere in the world.

Want to know more about backcountry burn prevention and treatment?
See my article on the About.com Survival Skills site:
“Prevent and Treat Backcountry Burns”
Burns are among the most common camping injuries. Camping and cooking in the outdoors can be dangerous, especially if you plan to cook over an open fire or if you light a campfire for heat…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.


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