The air is fresh, the scent of trees is invigorating, and you’re ready to begin your next adventure outdoors with your tent as shelter. Whether you see yourself as an established outdoor chef or a minimalist just looking for sustenance, you have probably thought to yourself whether or not it is safe to cook in your tent.
The answer is simple: it is never safe to cook anything in your tent! Beyond that, it is not a good idea to store food or anything with a scent within your tent at any time during your camping trip. In all National Parks and forests, they will consistently warn you about these practices, and require you to adhere to their rules against them.
However, it is always safe to cook outside of your tent, typically (at least ) 10 yards away and on a flat surface- as long as everything you have used is properly stored in a locked car or bear box after you are done.
Why it’s Not Safe to Cook in a Tent
While you are out camping, safety should always be a primary concern. It is especially imperative that you know certain “dos and don’ts” of camping safety… turns out cooking in your tent is a definite “don’t” for many reasons:
Wild animals – While majestic and exciting to see, they can be very dangerous under camping malpractices. Bears, raccoons, squirrels and more will do whatever it takes to grab a bite. Bears are dangerous for obvious reasons, but even if you are not in bear country, raccoons can be equally dangerous: they can carry a multitude of diseases and, being the cutest jerks you’ll come across, are very confident and aren’t afraid to bite. Squirrels and other rodents are found in nearly every ecosystem, and can also carry diseases that can be passed on to humans. You do not want to mess with wild animals!
Fire Safety – The last thing you want is to catch your tent (or yourself) on fire. Cooking meals in such a small vicinity is clearly a hazard, and many things that you require in your tent are not flame retardant. Besides, an avid outdoors-person would never want to be the source of a forest fire!
Carbon Monoxide – When you cook any food, you’re releasing carbon into the atmosphere, but when that carbon isn’t allowed to be released properly, you will feel the deadly effects. Even your rain fly will allow the holding of carbon within your tent. This is why you’ll always want to cook in an open environment, or with plenty of ventilation.
How do You Cook When The Weather is Bad
If you are a seasoned camper, then you know that the weather doesn’t always cooperate. If you are a newbie, keep this in mind when planning your camping trips. Just because the weatherman calls for sunny skies, doesn’t always mean that’s what you’re gonna get.
This is why it’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan when it comes to meal planning. Sure, a grilled steak with a baked potato sounds much better than a ham and cheese sandwich, but when it’s pouring cats and dogs outside, grilling just isn’t possible. Especially now that you now know that cooking inside a tent is not safe.
My wife always has a few easy-to-make meals ready just in case we need something to eat in a pinch.
Usually, some deli meats, as well as some chips and other dried goods, is all you’ll need.
However, if you want something a little fancier, then check out his website I found. They give you a ton of different recipes that you can pre-make for your camping trips.
Safety Tips for Cooking at a Campsite
While there are plenty of ways to cook at your site, there are many ways to do it all safely so everyone can enjoy their time and their meal. If you’re cooking with a stove:
Double-check everything – Make sure all hoses and tanks are in pristine condition and that the exterior (hood, wings, etc) of the stove are tightened and secure.
Never leave unattended – Enough said! Once your stove is on, always make sure at least one adult is supervising. Also, always have enough water by just in case the stove decides to act up.
Clean Spills – It happens. Just make sure to completely clean any spilled flammable liquids. Starter fuel, butane or propane, anything that says “flammable” needs to be handled with extreme delicacy.
When you’re cooking over an open flame, like a fire pit, keep in mind that you cannot control it the same way that you can a regular stove- there are no dials this time! Here are some tips when cooking over an open flame:
Build the right fire – There are so many creative and sustainable ways to build a fire, but a great one for cooking is the “hunter’s fire”: Place two logs in a “V” position, place tinder in the cent of the V, and build a teepee using smaller wood over the tinder. The fire can be regulated easier this way.
Be patient – Don’t throw all of your logs in at once for a giant fire, especially if you’re cooking. You’ll want a small fire that won’t burn your food right away. If you’re getting the help of coals, be extra patient. Managing heat is difficult and can be very inconsistent so always make sure you’re food (especially if it’s raw meats) are cooked thoroughly.
Put it out properly – With ay open fire, make sure to extinguish it completely. Let the wood burn until it is ash and drown the fire in water, or dirt and sand- as long as all of the material is cool enough to touch.
Choosing the Right Cookware for Camping
There are so many products to use when outdoor cooking, and while we won’t attest that one product is better than the other, there are a few key factors in choosing the right materials:
Cast Iron– Very tough and can withstand higher levels of heat, but its heavyweight could pose risks; make sure you can handle cast iron properly. Sometimes, looks can be very deceiving and it can weigh much more than you think.
Titanium – Very lightweight without sacrificing sturdiness and offers rapid heat up times. However, it can be easily overheated, especially when under an open flame.
Aluminum – Also lightweight and commonly the most affordable option, but that is because it is typically prone to damages. Scratches and dents are okay, but keep an eye out for more serious damages that could potentially make its use dangerous.
Stainless Steel – Tougher than aluminum, but similar to titanium in that its heat conduction is usually less even, causing hot spots or uncooked areas within your food.
One of the best parts of camping is the food- everything tastes better when it’s made with love, at a campsite. However, when you are camping sometimes you have to expect the unexpected and there are many preemptive practices that will ensure you have a great time all while keeping you safe.
If there is anything you should learn after reading this, it is to never cook inside of a tent- it is not safe and could lead to a ton of dangerous scenarios.
Besides, who wants to be cooped up in a tent when you’re enjoying the outdoors, right?