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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Dishes

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need dishes? 

You probably want to eat while you’re backpacking, right? That usually requires something to eat on and with. 

This section covers cups, plates, bowls, sporks and spoons. And whether you should bring them at all.

Remember that more dishes means more to clean. The more you can eat out of a bag, the less you have to clean. 

The absolute minimum you’ll need if you are boiling water for drinks and food is a small pot. Use the pot to boil water for your bag meal and then boil again for a hot drink. Eat out of the bag and drink out of the pot. 

To eat from a bag, bring a long spoon or spork. The bags are usually tall so a taller utensil works better. Most utensils are short and result in sauce all over your hands. 

For cups, it depends on what you drink. If I’m not having anything hot to drink, I won’t bring a mug and just drink from my water bottle the whole time. I love a hot coffee in camp to start the day though so I almost always bring a lightweight mug. I boil water for coffee and then boil again for oatmeal in the pot. 

For plates and bowls, it depends on what you’re eating. If you’re eating bag meals or something in your 1 pot, you won’t need them. If you are sharing food, you might need something to put it all in. 

Only bring what you need

Once you know what you’re eating, you can plan your dishes. Only bring the necessities. If you are sharing food with someone else, share the weight and let them carry some of the dishes. 

Just eat in the bag

If you are eating dehydrated meals in the bag, you won’t need much for dishes outside of a pot and a long spoon. This means less dishes and easy cleanup. Many of the meal bags have some sort of foil or liner inside and can’t be burned. Pack garbage out.

Different materials

Most backpacking dishes are made out of metal or plastic. Both are durable and last a long time. Try to get lightweight where you can. 

Long spoon for bag meals

The bags made for dehydrated bag meals are usually quite tall. Some companies are catching on and making short, wide bags. If you only have a short spoon, you end up with a lot of food on your hands reaching into the bags. A long spoon or spork solves this problem. 

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