Whether you’re an espresso aficionado, a Neapolitan-pizza devotee, or a master of mirepoix, there is something for you in the wide world of portable kitchen items. (Photo: Ashley Mersereau/Tandem)

Upgrade Your Base Camp with These 5 Cooking Tools

From chopping onions to making a mean espresso, these products will help turn backcountry outings into something slightly more gourmet


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Another autumn has arrived, and with it, another complicated set of narratives regarding the safety of visiting crowded hotels and restaurants. Planning a vacation in the great outdoors to get away from it all? You don’t have to sacrifice the benefits of dining in a hotel. Whether you’re an espresso aficionado, a Neapolitan-pizza devotee, or a master of mirepoix, there is something for you in the wide world of portable kitchen items. These five tools can transform a humble campsite into a gourmet restaurant. Get ready to dig in.

If You Want to Make Pizzeria-Grade Pies

(Photo: Courtesy Ooni)

Founded by husband-and-wife team Kristian Tapaninaho and Darina Garland as a Kickstarter project in 2012, Ooni has captured the zeitgeist when it comes to Neapolitan-style pizzas. The company makes six portable pizza ovens, fueled by gas, wood pellets, wood, charcoal, or a combination, perfect for that next RV or car-camping trip. The Ooni Fyra 12 Wood Pellet pizza oven ($349) weighs in at a mere 22 pounds and can reach temperatures of 950 degrees. The result? Pizzas that cook in 60 seconds. Hardwood pellets add a little campfire whimsy to your pizza, and (bonus!) there’s no need to hook this oven up to any pesky propane tanks. My family is obsessed with this new addition and the charred, chewy pies it produces.


If You’re Sick of Instant Coffee

(Photo: Courtesy Wacaco)

A few years ago, stumped for holiday gift ideas for my espresso-obsessed husband, I stumbled upon the Wacaco Nanopresso Portable espresso machine ($70). Into the virtual cart it went. To this day he remains impressed with the design of this clever appliance, which includes a built-in, detachable cup. Add ground coffee and hot water, pump six to eight times, and espresso is served. The Nanopresso also comes with a storage case, for easy transport (helpful on many a trip, I can attest). Wacaco offers two other models, the upmarket Picopresso and the entry-level Minipresso GR; all three are excellent choices for the coffee lover who doesn’t stay put.


If You Need to Get Chopping—the Easy Way

(Photo: Courtesy Ayotee)

Something I loathe on vacation: chopping vegetables. Luckily, with Ayotee’s Wireless Portable Mini food chopper ($20), I no longer have to. Inexpensive and imminently useful, it comes in three sizes: 100 milliliters, 250 milliliters, and 300 milliliters. The smallest model weighs under a pound and will run for about a month following a three-hour charge. I’ve experimented with everything from garlic to nuts without breaking a sweat. Sure, it’s not the same as having my Cuisinart on hand, but for small jobs and small spaces, I consider this appliance a lifesaver.


If You Want to Enhance Your Sandwiches

(Photo: Courtesy Snow Peak)

Sandwiches may feel like de rigueur camping cuisine, but just because dinner is served between two slices of bread doesn’t mean it has to be ordinary. I wow my own children with the Tramezzino sandwich griller from Snow Peak ($100) a handheld, stainless-steal device that makes melty, toasted sandwiches right in the campfire. At only 1.8 pounds (a big sticking point for me, since I hate toting heavy things into the woods), this is quite nifty for backpacking. It’s made for more than just one function, too: come nightfall, use yours for s’mores that melt from the inside out.


If You’re Planning a Special Toast

(Photo: Courtesy the Cocktail Box Co.)

The Cocktail Box Co.’s portable cocktail kits ($23 each) can make a high-end bar out of a lo-fi campsite. (Added bonus: they make excellent stocking stuffers; just ask my husband.) Sold alone or in packs of two, these kits come in eight iterations: Moscow Mule, Manhattan, Mai Tai, Champagne Cocktail, Margarita, Mojito, Gin and Tonic, and Old Fashioned. Each contains everything necessary for bespoke cocktails (minus the alcohol) and makes three to six surprisingly good drinks; I’m especially fond of the Old Fashioned. Expect thimble-size bitters, minuscule tools, syrup packets, and even citrus zest.


Lead Photo: Ashley Mersereau/Tandem

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