Backpacking Kitchen Essentials to stay comfortable in the backcountry. Great list for beginners! - Campfire Chic

My Backpacking Kitchen Essentials

On my last backpacking trip, I decided I am a “comfort backpacker.” That means I’m okay carrying a little extra weight in my backpack if that means I’m a little more comfortable while away from home.

If you’re an ultralight backpacker, you’re probably going to scoff at my list of things I enjoy having when cooking in the backcountry.

My basic backpacking kitchen gear:

  • Stove – I use a Jetboil Flash when backpacking and keep it handy when car camping because it’s nice to have boiling hot water in a short amount of time. You can backpack without a stove to save the weight, but what is nicer than getting into camp after a long day knowing you get to have a hot dinner before bed? I like our Flash because the accessories and small fuel canister fit inside the pot portion of the stove.
  • Collapsible Cup and Bowl – We carry Sea to Summit collapsible cups and bowls for easy packing and storage. I did find a small hole in the bottom of my bowl after only two uses, but I’m hoping it’s from something in my pack stabbing through the material and not from a bad product. I plan on picking up a new one before our next trip, so I’ll report back if I have more issues. It may be cuter to carry those classic enamel mugs and bowls, but those weigh even more and hot water + enamel cup = sitting around waiting for the mug to cool down enough to not burn the heck out of your mouth. Cut isn’t worth a burned mouth!
  • Long Spoon – What happens when you forget to bring a spork and you have a deep bag of freeze dried lasagna that needs to be stirred? You find some other campers who are willing to let you borrow a spoon and get blessed with a long handled spoon! It’s amazing and we are guilty of keeping the spoon in our kitchen year-round. I could try to come up with another reason to have a long handled spoon with you, but reaching the bottom of a bag of food is reason enough for me.
  • Sporks – It is a small right of passage to pick out your first (of probably many) spork for your life of adventure. There are titanium sporks, which weigh next to nothing, but I have a habit of either losing my sporks or lending them out and not getting them back. With that in mind, I like Light my Fire brand sporks. They are BPA free and include a knife portion. They come in a variety of colors, are sturdy, and are not too expensive that I get emotional when one goes missing. Other lightweight cutlery: chopsticks and Yogurtland’s spoons!
  • Small Nalgene bottle – In addition to your usual 32 ounce water bottle, I suggest bringing a smaller bottle (like this 16 ounce bottle) for coffee or other flavored beverages. I like to keep my bottles separate if drinking more than water. These bottles are great for electrolyte drinks like Nuun.

As for what I like to have in my stash food-wise:

  • Tea Bags – I mentioned this tip in my trail report for the Waterwheel Falls in Yosemite National Park. I bring black tea for breakfast, ginger tea for during the day (in case there are tummy aches!), and sleepy tea for the evening. Tea bags are nice and light so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to bring some along for a hike.
  • Tuna packets – Tuna is an easy source of protein for the trail and comes in easy-to-carry packets. There is no “tuna juice” to drain and the packets flatten easily so it’s easy to pack out at the end of of your trip.
  • Condiment packets – I am guilty of snagging a few extra packets of relish, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Relish is great for adding to tuna for some added flavor, hot sauce (especially Tapatio, which apparently also comes in powder form!) is great with anything, and soy sauce is for the ramen noodles you’re bound to eat at one point on a trip.
  • Tortillas – You’ll read about tortillas a lot while researching backpacking food. If you are in bear country and required to bring a bear vault, tortillas are easier to carry than bread (we carry pita bread during day hikes instead). Tortillas give you around 100 extra calories a day and turn your food into a burrito, which is pretty magical, if you ask me.

You can get by with less and you could probably be even more comfortable with a few more items (like an insulated mug for your coffee to keep it warm all day). This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, it is just the basics to get you started.

I posted a quick question on Twitter recently asking for backpacking cooking must-haves and got some great responses.


 What do you include in your kitchen kit when backpacking?


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in Adventure, Backpacking, Camping

Book Review - Sixty Meters to Anywhere - Campfire Chic

I finished Brendan Leonard’s Sixty Meters to Anywhere while on a flight to Portland two weekends ago and I’m still thinking about it.

This isn’t a long book, so savor the time you get to spend learning about Brendan’s past. Brendan has a degree in journalism, which is refreshing after reading several outdoor-related books and stories over the years that aren’t written by professional writers. The pacing keeps you wanting to continue reading long after you told yourself you needed to go to bed. While the book is not overly emotional, he had me tearing up while reading about the end of his relationship and my heart bursting with a mix of pride and excitement as he described his mom taking up rock climbing.

To save you time, go ahead and order this book right away or put a hold on it at your local library.

Don’t read this book if you’re looking for tales of daring adventures in the mountains. This is an origin story of sorts for Brendan, so he is focused on where it all began: recovery, hiking up his first mountain, and learning how to live without alcohol.

Don’t read this book if you’re not interested in reading about finding a version of rock bottom and working your way out of it. But you stick with this book, you’ll be rooting for Brendan then entire time.

Read this book if you’ve ever read anything by Brendan Leonard. If you subscribe to, follow him on Instagram, read Funny Shit in the Woods, or The New American Road Trip Mix Tape, you’ll want to pick this one up.

Read this book if you think you’re too old to start your outdoor adventures. I assume any “big” person in the outdoor industry started climbing (or whatever their activity) since birth. It was nice to learn that starting later doesn’t mean you’re starting too late. Brendan learns how to pitch a tent and takes rock climbing classes while in graduate school, and like I mentioned earlier, his mom takes up rock climbing! It’s never too late.

Buy Sixty Meters to Anywhere on Amazon

Want more adventure? Check out my Fall Reading List and my Adventure Books page.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may result in a commission for me at no extra cost for you! This helps me buy more books to review, products to test out, and buy scrapbooking supplies. If you’re not into affiliate links, feel free to search the title of the book using year favorite search engine. 


in Adventure, Books, Review

Waterwheel Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park - Campfire Chic

Waterwheel Falls Hike in Yosemite National Park

Amie, Alex, Josh, and I tackled the 7.5 mile Waterwheel Falls hike during our recent Glen Aulin backpacking trip.

A ranger at the backpackers’ campground let us know we should keep our expectations in check for Waterwheel Falls (the water levels are low in late summer when there isn’t a good snowpack earlier in the year), but encouraged us to go on the six mile hike because everywhere in Yosemite is beautiful.

After a great breakfast, we packed snacks and lunch and headed out. The trail took us from the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, over a great spot to watch the sunset, and down into the canyon. Josh navigated us from the Glen Aulin backpackers’ campground into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.

Hiking the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne - Kam Campfire Chic

Hiking Through Yosemite Backcountry - Grand Canyon of Tuolumne with Kam of Campfire Chic

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne Hike to Waterwheel - Campfire Chic

We checked out out California Falls and LeConte Falls and took a ton of photos as we slowly made our way to Waterwheel Falls.

Hiking Through Yosemite Backcountry - Waterwheel Falls Hike with Kam of Campfire Chic

Waterfalls in Yosemite - Campfire Chic

I wanted to start heading back to camp before a thunderstorm started, so Alex and I did not make it all the way to Waterwheel Falls. To learn more about the actual hike, read Josh’s Hiking to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne & Waterwheel Falls in Yosemite National Park.

Tip: Bring tea bags on your next adventure.

Tea bags weigh next to nothing and it’s nice to have something warm in your system after a long day. The bonus was having tea after getting caught in the thunderstorm! I brewed ginger tea for Amie and I to warm up after getting caught in the thunderstorm. Alex and I also split a hot chocolate. Hot chocolate packets weigh more than tea bags, but if you need to add some calories to you day, I say it’s worth the weight!


in Active, Adventure, California, Hiking, National Park, National Parks

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - yosemite national park-campfire chic

Weekend Adventure: Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip

Alex and I secured permits for our almost-annual Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip in March and Josh and Amie from California Through my Lens decided to join us for a long weekend in Yosemite’s backcountry.

We made our way up to Mammoth Lakes, California late Friday afternoon. We got in around 10:00 p.m. and even though I was bummed we didn’t get to spend more time in one of my favorite places in the world, the familiar smell in the air as we opened the doors at our motel for the night had me at ease. It was a longer than usual drive to Mammoth thanks to traffic and I was tense from the time spent in the car, but one deep breath of fresh Mammoth air had me the most relaxed I had been in weeks.

Day 1: Getting to Camp

I hadn’t been sleeping well that week and that night was no exception. I gave up around 6:00 in the morning and walked to Stellar Brew for our first round of drinks and breakfast burritos. We told our friends we would meet them at 7:45 at the cafe to discuss our plan for the day, but I wanted a walk in the cold air and to have some time to let my burrito settle before heading into Yosemite for a long weekend.

The plan: get into Yosemite National Park and get our permits before 10:00 a.m. and get to the trailhead by 11:00 a.m.

We were on the trail at a great time and the weather was perfect for our adventure. The water levels were very low to non-existent along the trail, but the views were still impressive. Alex and I have only backpacked in this area in July, so a difference of two months is noticeable.

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - Kam of Campfire Chic - Backpacking with Teton Sports Ultralight Backpack

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - Glen Aulin Hiking Trail in Yosemite National Parks - Campfire Chic

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - Hiking to Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp and Backpackers Campground - Campfire Chic

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - Hiking to Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp - Campfire Chic

Time from trailhead to camp: 3 1/2 hours. We didn’t stop for a proper lunch but there were plenty of short breaks for photos and time-lapse videos.

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - backpackers campground in yosemite national park-campfire-chic

We set up camp away from the high sierra camp and Josh found a great tree for his hammock. Our campsite was big and there weren’t many people staying in the campground so we were able to spread out a bit. The views we had were great and we could tell that sunset was going to be amazing. Alex decided he wanted an extra photo and took a bit of walk to the other side of the cliff and zoomed in a bit to take the photo above to show off our kickbutt camping spot.

We spent some time down by the waterfall (I washed a lot of trail dust from my legs and face in the ice cold water) before making dinner and setting ourselves up on a cliff above the camp to catch the beautiful sunset.

Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip - sunset at glen aulin high sierra camp in yosemite national park campfire chic

Day Two: A Very Active Rest Day

Sunday was our rest day. We got up at a leisurely time and decided to head out on a 6-mile hike to the Waterwheel waterfalls.

It ended up be a lot more hiking than I expected and we got caught in a wonderful afternoon thunderstorm. The upside? We ended up having a cloudless sky in time for dinner and another beautiful sunset!

I will share more about the Waterwheel hike in a future post.

glen aulin backpacking trip to the high sierra camp backpackers campground sunset view-campfire chic

The weather cleared up before dinner and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky by the time the sun set.

Day 3 – Packing Up and Getting Fries

Packing up the next morning was slow but once the sun made it to our campsite, we were ready to go. We were in the last group of hikers to leave the campground that morning. Many hikers were continuing their journey to different campgrounds and others (like us) were returning to the trailhead and home. We didn’t run into many dayhikers until we were about a mile and a half from the trailhead.

glen aulin backpacking trip with a girl in the wild on instagram

It took about 3 1/2 hours to get back to our cars because I needed to take some extra breaks at the start…there is just so many stairs! I could power up a few switchbacks but quickly burned out. We had a good constant pace and the group was good about stopping at important junctions of the trail to make sure we were all in one piece.

That morning we discussed stopping for lunch at the world famous Whoa Nellie Deli. We knew Alex and Amie would need to order the famous fish tacos and Josh and I were up to the challenge of ordering something delicious when we arrived. Knowing that french fries were in my future helped me power through the hike and get to the car quickly.

Alex and Amie got the fish tacos, Josh got a grilled chicken sandwich and added bacon, and I went all in with a bacon cheeseburger and fries with a Pepsi. We ran into each other again in Bishop at The Looney Bean, which is a favorite stop of ours, and we split up a the last McDonald’s on the route before we headed into the desert…Josh and Amie love the $1 iced tea!

You can watch our trip in Josh’s video on YouTube!

The best thing I did was pack a hot/cold reuseable bag with some snacks to stow in the bear lockers at the trailhead. I left a gatorade and some nectarines in there, which were nice and cold when we returned a few days later. Plan to not have very much space in the bear lockers and be considerate of other trail users by not having too much to stow in there. You do want to remove anything from your vehicle that has a smell including wrappers, fruit peels, and lip balm. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

You can find Josh and Amie’s adventures on California Through My Lens, Josh’s Instagram, and Amie’s Instagram.

This wasn’t our first time heading to Glen Aulin:




in Active, Adventure, Backpacking, California, Camping, Hiking, National Park, National Parks

After seeing Carrot Quinn was interviewed on Nicole Antionette’s Real Talk Radio podcast, I ordered Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart right away.

Thru-Hiking WIll Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn - Book Review by Kam of Campfire Chic

Book Reivew: Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn

I should start by saying that I haven’t listened to the podcast episode yet. It was honestly one of those moments where a blogger/podcaster/human on the internet who I think has good taste said, “hey this is cool!” and I’m over here throwing my money at whatever it is…and I’m glad I did.

I wasn’t following Carrot online at the time and I didn’t read the synopsis before hitting the ‘buy now’ button, but I had a feeling I would like this book. I read I Hike and  A Walk in the Woods and have watched several documentaries put together by thru-hikers (including Embrace the Brutality by Jester), so I kind of knew what to expect when it came to reading about hiking long distances, the common stops along the Pacific Crest Trail, and the lingo that came up in the book. I’m the ideal audience for this book.

In this book you’ll follow Carrot her trailer in Portland, Oregon to the trailhead of the Pacific Crest Trail. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience with long distance hiking, let alone going on a months-long adventure on her own. She has some trouble along the way, learns how to take better care of her feet, starts calling her sleeping quilt her “fluffer puff,” and eats the amount of ice cream coach potatoes like us can only dream of. She doesn’t hold back in her descriptions and keeps it real: thru-hiking isn’t easy and isn’t for the faint of heart.

Don’t read this book if you’re looking for an elaborate story about some romantic version of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. This isn’t about a woman who intentionally goes looking for companionship as she walks from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. This isn’t about somebody showing up at Carrot’s tent with flowers and asking her out for a date. There’s some snuggling, that’s for sure, but don’t expect romantic love to be a heavy theme throughout the book.

Read this book if you ever considered disconnecting from the world for a few months and being a way more prepared version of Wild as you take on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Read this book if you like reading journal entry style books and want to hear about a hike that takes months to complete. It’s a modern day adventure that you can feasibly tackle! In fact, it inspired podcast host Nicole Antionette to solo hike the Oregon portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which after reading Carrot’s book sounds like the part of the trail that I would would like to hike the most.

Honestly, just read this book. If you like hearing about the adventures of your favorite Instagrammers (or even just me!) and want to dive into a story about leaving behind your life and living out of a backpack for a few months, this is for you. If you ever find yourself looking up ways to lighten your backpack for hikes and how to train to be a better hiker, this is for you.

Can you tell I liked it? I will admit that it took a few days for me to get into the story, but as soon as Carrot got to the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off event, I was hooked. Why? Because I was there the same year that Carrot was there! She mentions getting new socks and I whispered out loud, “what if I was the one who gave her those socks??” and I recognized one or two of the hikers she described meeting along the trail from the event. I was so in.

Buy Thru-Hiking will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn on Amazon

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may result in a commission for me at no extra cost for you! This helps me buy more books to review, products to test out, and buy scrapbooking supplies. If you’re not into affiliate links, feel free to search the title of the book using year favorite search engine. 

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in Adventure, Books, Review