The Dutch Oven (DO) was often one of the very few cooking items that pioneers used, mostly because these rugged pots can withstand an open flame. As time has gone on the famous ovens that helped win the west have been neutered and homogenized, turned into little enamel-covered things that aren’t even fit for going on an extended survivalist vacation to your favorite bug out spot. We hate to see that happen, but thankfully there’s still a few manufacturers fighting the good fight and making Dutch ovens that are still as steadfast as America, and just as unyielding.
When you’re buying a dutch oven for outdoor use, the thing to consider is what it is made of. If you’re a real traditionalist, you reach for the cast iron variety, because it can fight off weather, deal with just about any camping conditions, and work in your home as easily as out in the bush. These are the standard if you’re going outdoors, but you can also rustle up a few in aluminum or copper that will work for you. Or, rather than guess, you could just get one of our 6 best dutch ovens for camping and trust your cookout will be a success.
Texsport Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Pro: Deep and well-suited to baking
Con: Only 10-inches in diameter
Starter Set: DO’s are troublesome for some people, since they require patience, a keen eye, and a steady hand to cook properly with them. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe in, but aren’t ready to make a big commitment, this Texsport is a reasonable jumping off point. With a 4 quart capacity, you’re not going to be overloaded, and since it’s a little off-brand, you’re also not paying too much. The distributor has been having trouble keeping them on the shelves, and indeed, at publication time they’re sold out, again. This seems to be because their high quality has earned many a convert from other companies and they haven’t realized yet that they’re sitting on a gold mine. Even if you aren’t sure you need one, this can work as a backup, but we love it for the easy use and gentle learning curve it offers to the Dutch oven world.
Lodge Logic Camp
Pro: Fits into motorcycle saddlebags
Con: Lid lacks a loop
Single Serving: One of the major drawbacks to the standard Dutch oven is the size. 12 quarts is just what you need if you’re making chili for the 503rd Airborne Regiment, but if you’re a solo camper, or maybe just a couple who wants that cast iron flavor without taking out a 30 pound pot – you need something small. At a single quart, the Logic is small enough for eating light, and won’t add needless bulk to your car. It can be used for backpacking, though you’re still going to want to draw straws to see who’s going to drag its bulk up the hill. It’s a Lodge, so there’s no question about the quality, and though small in stature, you can easily get coals over and under this compact cooker.
Lodge L12DCO3 Deep Camp
Pro: American made
Con: Handles tend to scrape the sides
Simple Standby: Lodge is the most common American iron cookware maker around. Nearly every home that is blessed to bear a skillet, a pan, or an iron pot probably has at least one Lodge item. Their reach is wide and far because they make quality that can suit most budgets without draining the reserves. You can choose a 5 Qt., an 8 Qt., or a 10 Qt. model with the Deep Camp line, and with a little care, it will last you for many seasons. The lid can be inverted to provide you with a quick griddle should you feel like flapjacks, and the legs are ideal for keeping it above your coals but not so far it doesn’t hold the heat. Lodge even throws in a cookbook, “Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101″ with every oven.
Coleman Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Pro: Recessed lid for holding coals while camping
Con: Requires stand to work over coals
City Boy: Make a note that while this is a camping Dutch oven, it does not come with legs. We selected it because not all camping is done over fires, and casual renegades who like to pitch a tent a couple times a year don’t need a full fireside-ready oven every time they hit the brush. Put this over a grill or snap up a basic stand for it, and you’ll be richly rewarded with quality heat distribution throughout and protection from scorching your food, even if you’re new to the Dutch oven cooking style. If you decide to switch to an RV or just need an extra pot for your home, it transfers from fire to burner to oven without a hitch. 7.5 quarts in size, and bearing the beloved Coleman seal of quality, it’s the cookware of the everyman.
GSI Outdoor Hard Anodized Dutch Oven
Pro: Cooks clean
Con: Lid is not good for frying
The Slothful Solution: Cast iron is the route that many of the best Dutch ovens go, but GSI has won awards for their cooksets and decided they wanted a challenge. What they did was use hard-anodized aluminum that’s nearly a third of the weight of an oven of comparable size crafted out of iron. The aluminum they use is non-reactive and isn’t coated with any unusual compounds, so you won’t be adding any strange byproducts into your food through the heating process. You get the same slow heating, even cooking that iron provides with a body that doesn’t require seasoning and maintenance the same way iron does.
Camp Chef Deluxe
Pro: Cleans with just a quick wipedown
Con: Made in China
Newcomer: In the world of iron cookware meant for camping, 25 years isn’t a long time. Since 1990, Camp Chef has come to prove that it belongs among the top tier names when it comes to outdoor cooking, and with this offering, we’re inclined to agree. Able to contain up to 12 Quarts, this is a beast, but recognize that all of that isn’t in the main body itself, as the lid is its own pan, accounting for part of the beastly package. This double-decker look and feel is a game changer when it comes to cooking for large groups, or whipping up complicated meals during an evening far from the city lights. A thermometer channel makes getting a roast or a cake to the perfect temperature effortless so if you have a gourmet on hand, this is the tool that will make his trip, while the food he prepares will makes yours.