The 10 Best Cooking Tripods
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Nothing beats sitting around a campfire after a long day's hike while a delicious meal or refreshing cup of coffee is being prepared over the flames with the help of one of these handy cooking tripods. With close attention to the coals, they can make gourmet meals a possibility even when deep in the wilderness. We've selected large, robust units as well as light models for backpacking. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 22, 2021:
Being awfully simple devices, cooking tripods haven't seen any recent updates. The Lodge ATP2 is still our favorite for hanging Dutch ovens, although the Camp Chef Dutch Oven is nearly as good and notably cheaper. The Solo Stove is a similarly designed model made from lightweight materials, so if you need to lug it a long ways to get to camp, it's an ideal choice. The Coleman Hanger and Wimpy's Swing Away both let you turn a simple grille into a suspended campfire grill, although it won't be the most stable cooking surface. The Rome Products 117EZ makes up for this a bit thanks to the novel construction of its legs, which allows them to sit vertically during use and keep the grille frmo swinging too far in any direction.
March 26, 2020:
Because we are concerned about the long-term durability of the Sunnydaze Set, we've opted to remove it; there are plenty of durable models to select from, so there's no reason to sacrifice longevity. When it comes to these long-lasting models, the Camp Chef remains hard to beat, and we've added the Lodge ATP2, from a popular maker of cast iron products. Both are strong enough to hold a Dutch oven, and the latter is even offered in several sizes. If you're looking for alternatives that are more budget-friendly, the Texsport Campfire and the Coleman Hanger are ones to consider. The Coleman model is perhaps the least robust of the bunch, so it's best for those who will use it occasionally, rather than for weekend warriors who camp out every chance they get.
As for models that are a little different, we've kept the diminutive Camco Little Red and its bigger brother, the Camco Big Red. These are designed to work with the company's line of portable campfire units, although you can also use them (carefully) over a regular fire. We've also opted to add Wimpy's Swing Away, a campfire grill designed with user safety in mind. It's easy enough to set up, but it isn't as portable as some. You might consider it for home use or for car camping that doesn't involve walking too far from your vehicle.
Bayou Classic 30-Gallon When tasked with feeding a huge family or small army, you may need the Bayou Classic 30-Gallon. It places a seriously massive jambalaya cooker at nearly waist height, and while it's not at all portable, the troops will come to you, if they're hungry enough. The lid is sold separately, though. bayouclassicoutlet.com
Cowboy Cauldron Co. Wrangler You could buy several brand new iPhones for the cost of the Cowboy Cauldron Co. Wrangler, but it's definitely a statement piece that is sure to catch the eye of all your guests. It arrives with a 60-pound tripod, the Wrangler cauldron, a cooking grill, and more, making it an excellent choice whether you're creating ambience or preparing meals. cowboycauldron.com
Why Tripods Are The Best Way To Cook While Camping
Some may think that if they're going to use a tripod, they may as well just lug their grill out to the woods.
Every avid camper knows about this painful irony: you're never as hungry as you are after a long day of hiking to the spot where you'll set up tents, and yet, that location is incredibly difficult to cook in. When you want a genuine, off the grid experience — perhaps because you've heard that leaving an urban environment for a green one is good for mental health — you'll quickly realize that means you're away from electricity, ovens, and the other modern luxuries that usually make it rather simple to whip up a meal. But that shouldn't turn you against camping altogether. A cooking tripod can solve the issue.
If you're thinking you can get around using a tripod by simply holding skewers over an open fire, you may be mistaken. For starters, holding a skewer for the duration of the time it takes to bring chicken kabobs from raw to cooked is exhausting on your arms. And when your arms become tired, you may start to let them drop just a little, and put yourself at risk of a burn. Manually keeping your food over the fire also takes you away from the more enjoyable parts of camping, like relaxing in a chair listening to nature sounds or sharing stories with friends. A cooking tripod positions your food safely over the flame, and it can hold more items than your two hands can, moving the meal along quicker.
Some may think that if they're going to use a tripod, they may as well just lug their grill out to the woods. But this is easier said than done. Even the most compact grills are no fun to carry in a hiking backpack. And don't forget that they can require add-on items like propane or charcoal. Bringing a grill along may be okay for RV camping, but when your intention is to trek deep out into the wilderness without the comfort of a vehicle, bringing along a grill just isn't practical. A cooking tripod is compact and lightweight, so it won't weigh down your already over-stuffed pack.
The Top Foods To Make On Each Style Of Tripod
Whether you're far away from home, making a meal on a mountaintop, or you're just consuming more of your food outdoors because you've learned to do so can enhance healthy mindful eating, there are some recipes that just lend themselves best to a cooking tripod. If you have the type that can support a grill pan, try making hangar steaks and flatbreads. These are also ideal for making grilled zucchini, eggplant, and other vegetables that taste good a little charred. And, of course, there's nothing like waking up to yummy eggs after a night of camping. If you don't have the means to bring the fresh stuff, try powdered eggs. Both varieties are great on a grill pan over an open flame.
These are obviously ideal for stacks of pancakes and strips of bacon, the smell of which will draw everyone out of their tents.
If your tripod is designed to hold a giant stew pot, then you can make some truly hearty meals. Jambalaya is the perfect slow-cooking recipe to make in one of these. If you are camping, just make the rice at home before your trip, and add in the other ingredients at the site. This way you don't need to lug along extra water. Naturally, this style is also ideal to make your favorite chili recipe. Another popular kind of tripod holds a hanging dutch oven, and if that's your style, there are some great things you can make in that, as well. These are perfect for the protein and fiber-heavy baked beans that can get you through a big hike, and they can even turn a mound of dough into a loaf of bread to dip in your chili.
Some tripods hold large cast iron griddles. These are obviously ideal for stacks of pancakes and strips of bacon, the smell of which will draw everyone out of their tents. You can also toss burgers or chicken breast on them for dinner. When you're in need of comfort food, these make a flawless grilled cheese sandwich. Cooking on a tripod doesn't have to limit the types of recipes you can make, so you can enjoy all of your favorites in the great outdoors.
Important Rules For Cooking Over An Open Fire
Considering that humans are to blame for 84 percent of wildfires, anyone who cooks outdoors has a responsibility to educate themselves on making food over open flames. The novice nature chef should use coals rather than wood. It's too easy to become frustrated with wood fires, and in your impatience, use the wrong amount of wood or a dangerous amount of lighter fluid.
Whether you go with coals or wood, don't wait to start your fire until the moment you're hungry.
If you know you're a pro at building wood fires, it's always good to refresh yourself on some rules. Add wood slowly. It's always easy to pile more on, but it's nearly impossible to take some off once a flame has sparked. And lighting too much wood at once can leave you with a flame larger than you anticipated — one that can rapidly reach the tree branches above it and start a fire. Whether you go with coals or wood, don't wait to start your fire until the moment you're hungry. That will probably drive you to make other risky maneuvers. To be safe, and give yourself the time to work in a conscious manner, start your fire at least 15 minutes before you'd like to begin cooking, if not longer.
Make sure you have all the tools and ingredients you'll need by the fire before you begin cooking. If you have to go back and forth between the flame and a cooler or prep area, you won't do as thorough a job of monitoring the food and preventing accidents. And on the topic of focusing on the food, it's best to ask your dining mates to steer clear of you while you're cooking, so you can pay attention to what you are doing. Unless of course, they want to help. In which case, let them chat away as they do.