When the camping season comes around, most people are keen to buy a tent, protective clothing, lighters, and a torch. Camping plates are always the last items on the list. In most cases, most campers pack a few items from their kitchen to use during the camp. But did you know the best camping plates and bowls will make your experience much more wholesome?
There are many reasons to choose the best camping dinnerware. Unlike utensils made for your kitchen, camping-specific plates and bowls are highly portable and easy to care for – you need plates and bowls you can wipe clean. Although you will only camp for a few days, you need plates and bowls that can withstand the rugged use in a campsite. As such, most of the plates and bowls in your kitchen are not fit as camping dinnerware.
To create this guide, I considered the following factors:
GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set
Coleman 24-Piece Enamel Dinnerware
STANSPORT 24-Piece Enamel Tableware
GSI Outdoors Cascadian 1-Person Table Set
UCO 4-Piece Camping Set
Light My Fire 8-Piece Camping Set 2.0
Fozzils Solo Camping Pack
Camp Casual 12-Piece Dish Set
Wealers 24-Piece Stainless Steel Camping Dinnerware
Barbeqa Camping Mess Kit
You could just pack plates, bowls, and cups from your kitchen, yet you should get camping-specific sets. The plates and bowls you use at home probably feature breakable materials such as glass or stoneware. These delicate porcelains will break or shatter when you bump them or knock them over. You do not want to lose your delicate china or deal with shards of glass while you could be having fun with camping plates and bowls.
Plates and bowls you use in the kitchen weigh more than you might be willing to carry in your backpack. If the entire dinnerware set for one person weighs more than a pound, it is probably too heavy for your backpack. Again, most of the plates in your kitchen have bulky designs that may take up so much space in your backpack.
The material of the camping plates and bowls determine their weight, price, safety, and durability. The most common materials include:
Plastic dishes are light, unbreakable, and appear in many colors. Plates and bowls made of plastic are also affordable. The only challenge with plastic is that it might contain harmful chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A), which might transfer to your food and cause adverse health conditions. However, most manufacturers have come up with ways to manufacture plastic dishes without these harmful chemicals.
On the market, the most common plastics are polyethylene and polypropylene. The latter is more common on food-related plastic items such as plates and dishes. It is dishwasher safe and in most cases BPA-free.
If you need a classic style dinnerware for camping, enamel plates will deliver. The plates and bowls are lightweight and sturdy, although they are susceptible to chipping and other damages. To prevent damages, some manufacturers add a stainless steel strip along the edges of the dinnerware.
Aluminum plates and bowls are lightweight and more affordable compared to stainless steel. However, the plates feel soft and flimsy and are susceptible to dents if you drop them or knock them while in your backpack.
Stainless steel is strong, easy to wash, durable, and does not release any chemicals as plastics might. The only drawback with stainless steel camping plates and bowls is that they weigh more than plastics and aluminum.
Plates and bowls made of titanium are less common. Although the material is lightweight, food-safe and durable, dinnerware made of titanium costs more than the average camper can afford.
BPA, short for bisphenol A, is a chemical that makes plastics and resins. It has been in use since 1960, but only started gaining popularity in the early 2000s. The chemical appears on polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins used to make containers that store food and beverages. Epoxy resins are common as plastic coats inside metallic food containers.
With so many camping plates and bowls featuring polypropylene, a camper has reason to worry. Research shows that BPA can seep from the plastic and into the food or beverage. Exposure to BPA can cause adverse effects on the brain and prostate glands of fetuses. It can also affect children’s behavior. It is also linked to increased blood pressure.
With all these effects, no wonder most of the sets above carry a BPA-free label. Although the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration still insists that BPA is safe at low levels, it is advisable to avoid plastic containers that use BPA completely. When you use plastic plates and bowls, avoid eating hot foods from them.
What makes the best camping plates and bowls? After you pick the best and good material, consider the factors below.
You can buy camping plates and bowls separately or you can buy them as a set. A set comes with plates, bowls, mugs, and an assortment of other handy camping items for a great camping experience. Shopping as a set takes less time as you only pick the best set and run with it. Again, buying a set saves you money as manufacturers price sets cheaper than single items.
You might find a 24-piece set that costs less than $30 and serves four people and a 4-piece set made of the same materials that serve one person and costs $10 – if you buy four of these, you spend $40. If you decide to buy separate items from the kit, you will spend even more.
Items from the same set are stackable for portability. Instead of buying every affordable bowl you find online, pick a set of bowls and plates that fit into each other.
The number of campers you shop for determines whether you go for a set or separate items. If you need dinnerware for solo camping, you can comfortably buy one piece at a time. When buying for two or more people, I recommend purchasing a set. While at it, choose a versatile set – one you can use at the campsite, in an RV, and even back at home.
Portability matters when you are backpacking as every ounce added to your backpack slows you down. If you are driving to the camp location, a few extra pounds will not matter. When you go out camping, you will cook and eat smaller food portions than you eat at home. As such, you only need to go for plates and bowls that serve just enough. This will limit the weight you have to carry.
Most sets stack on each other with much ease to occupy less space in your backpack. Stacking the plates and bowls together also prevents them from banging into each other.
A dinnerware that comes with a free carrying back comes as a nice bonus as it helps you arrange your backpack better. If there is no space in your backpack, you can always hang the utensils from a D-ring on the bag. Most free bags are not robust enough and you might need to upgrade to a better bag.
While some camping sites have sinks and running water, you might never enjoy such privileges when you camp in the wilderness. As such, you need plates and bowls that wipe clean with the little clean water that you may have.
Of all the materials described above, plastic is the easiest to clean as grease and oil do not stick on it as they do on other materials such as metal.
Although color doesn’t matter much, most of the plastic sets reviewed below come with color-coding. If a set serves four, it comes with four different colors. These colors come in handy when you are camping as a family as kids love the color. With color-coded dinnerware, you can assign different colors to your children to make them love camping. Again, some people hate bright colors on their dinnerware.
Check the style of the bowls and plates as some plates have an almost flat design with bowls that are only an inch deep. While such a style saves space in your backpack, the dinnerware might not be functional.
A carrying Bag – Most sets will come with a stuff bag, but most of them sport a mesh construction or not easy to sock away in your backpack. A good bag prevents loss of pieces, especially removable mug handles. Always choose a set that comes with a carry bag – you can use the bag for a few camping seasons before it breaks.
Drying Strap – You might need a hook to dry your camping dishes before you store them away. A simple strap has hooks and stretches between trees where you can hang your dishes in a mesh bag.
Storage Tray – This comes in handy when you do not have a storage bag or when you do not find the storage bag ideal. The tray features a lid that snaps to secure your plates and bowls.
Cleaning up material – Bring lightweight cleaning materials to help you maintain hygiene at the campsite.
|Image||Title||Number of Pieces||Number of People it Serves||Material||Weight (Pounds)|
|GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set||23||4||Aluminum and polypropylene||3.63|
|Coleman 24-Piece Enamel Dinnerware||24||4||Enamel and stainless steel||5.2|
|STANSPORT 24-Piece Enamel Tableware||24||4||Enamel and stainless steel||4.8|
|GSI Outdoors Cascadian 1-Person Table Set||6||1||Polypropylene||0.47|
|UCO 4-Piece Camping Set||4||1||Glass Nylon||0.6|
|Light My Fire 8-Piece Camping Set 2.0||8||1||Polypropylene||0.84|
|Fozzils Solo Camping Pack||3||1||Polypropylene||0.25|
|Camp Casual 12-Piece Dish Set||12||4||Melamine||0.99|
|Wealers 24-Piece Stainless Steel Camping Dinnerware||24||8||Stainless Steel||4.52|
|Barbeqa Camping Mess Kit||16||4||Polypropylene||1.9|
The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set might be among the heaviest camping dinnerware set on this list, but it is the most versatile set. It comes with not only enough cups, plates, and bowls to serve four people, but also additional items for cooking. It is an ideal set if you are looking to buy a complete camping set that might be cost-effective.
The plates, bowls, and mugs feature a durable polypropylene construction. These items come in different colors so you can assign them amongst four campers. To make them portable, GSI Outdoors uses a smart design where the handles either fold or are removable to make them more compact and portable. All the items, including the strainer, are strong enough to resist deformation when you pack.
With each package, you get a stuff sack that doubles as the set’s washbasin.
The Coleman Dinnerware set is for campers who need premium camping plates and bowls and additional items. It includes four dinner plates, four coffee mugs, four bowls, and four forks, spoons, and knives. The silverware come rolled up in a small pouch. Given the items in this set, you will enjoy your meal just as you would at home.
The enamelware spots a great looking speckled design for aesthetics and is double-fired for durability. The forks, spoons, and knives feature plastic handles so they do not transfer their cold to your hands when you are eating.
Like the Coleman Set above, the STANSPORT camping dinnerware set comes with mugs, plates, bowls, and silverware enough to serve four campers. It is an ideal set to use during camp, in a recreational vehicle, or even at home. Each item in the set sports high quality construction with double-coated enamelware for durability. The stainless steel cutlery is easy to clean and feels sturdy during use.
The enamelware features stainless steel edges to prevent chipping. On the other hand, the forks, spoons, and knives feature insulated handles to protect your hands from cold during cold days. STANSPORT designed these pieces to be compact and lightweight even as a complete dinner set.
If you camp solo, this might be a great camping dinner set. It comes with a plate, a bowl, mug, fork, spoon, and knife. These will give you the experience of eating at home.
The cutlery sports wide handles to fit on your gloved hands while plate, mug, and bowl sport a lightweight and compact construction for ease of backpacking. Even though it only serves one person (which makes it lighter than the sets above), it is still way lighter even if you bought four sets for family use.
The items feature recyclable polypropylene with no ecological footprint. This material is durable and does not hold any tastes or odors.
This is another solo-camping table set with a plate, bowl, a three-in-one spork, and a tether. The tether secures all the three items together and secures anything you might have put inside. Because the plate acts as a lid to the bowl, you can store and transport a meal in the kit.
The 3-in-1 spork has a spoon on one end and a fork on the other with a serrated knife on one of the prongs on the fork. The bowl and plate feature rubberized grips at the base to prevent them from slipping during use. All the items in the kit are dishwasher safe and are free from chemicals that might absorb odors and tastes.
The Light My Fire Meal Kit 2.0 includes a lid that acts as the plate, a bowl, a SnapBox, an oval SnapBox, a cup, a strainer which also double as a chopping board, a spork, and a harness. All the pieces fit in the bowl and lid, making them compact and portable. The SnapBoxes feature tight-fitting lids so you can use them to carry food. Better yet, the pack-up cup expands during use and collapses when packing.
All items feature a high-quality polypropylene construction that will not melt at high temperatures or absorb smells and tastes. The material is safe to use in a microwave and wash in a dishwasher.
The Fozzils Solo pack is the ideal camping solo set when you need a compact set. It features three items (cup, bowl, and dish), all of which pack flat. All you have to do is open the clips and the items open up flat. This saves so much space in your backpack. The items are also very light at only 0.25 pounds, which means you can have them in your backpack for days.
The non-stick polypropylene material is easy to clean and free of chemicals. Your bowl, plate, and cup are transparent and you can pick between a blue and a spring green set.
This dishwasher-safe camping set includes 12 pieces; four dinner plates, four salad plates, and four bowls. The set is versatile as you can use it at home, for camp, in a recreational vehicle, and tailgating.
Camp Casual uses melamine for this dinner set which feels and looks premium and also comes with a premium price tag. It is a set for the camper who wants to bring the home dining experience to the campgrounds. Even though the set features high-quality items, it is still lightweight at barely a pound. Every item in the set looks appealing with art and words.
The Wealers 24-Piece Dinnerware set is ideal when camping as a group. It can serve up to 8 people with each having a dinner plate, a salad plate, and a bowl. The plates and the bowls come in different sizes, making the set ideal when you are camping with your kids.
For durability, the set features heavy-duty stainless steel construction. This material is food-grade certified, rustproof, and scratch-resistant. It is also easy to clean and dishwasher safe. If you are camping with children, the plate and bowls resist the impact of falls. With the package, you get a compact travel case.
The Barbeqa complete camping dinnerware includes four plates, four cups, four sporks, and four bowls. All the items feature polypropylene construction, which makes them lightweight and durable. It also makes it an ideal kit when you are camping with children as the plastic camping plates do not break.
You can assign the camping plates and bowls based on colors; orange, red, green, and blue – which further makes the set ideal for family camping. The set comes in a mesh bag where you can stash everything for easy backpacking.
If you are not using the bowl to make any soup, you can use it as a cup. You can also use the cup to make soup if you have no beverage to take from the cup. The two are from the same material, making them easier to clean whatever you take from them.
Yes. Although a few sets are not safe in a dishwasher (there is none in the list above), most of them clean fast and safely when you get home.
Tableware with enamel coating will last for many years as long as the coating does not chip. Once the coating chips, the steel underneath will rust almost immediately and this makes the tableware unsafe for use.
A mess kit with a spork is lighter than one with separate spoons, forks, and knives. The spork has a spoon on one side, a fork on the other, and a dinner knife on one prong of the fork. Although the spork is versatile and makes your set light, it is not as functional as having separate cutlery. The knife on the spork almost never cuts as a dinner knife should. Again, you do not have access to a fully-functional spoon or fork. If you can carry the extra weight, a set with separate cutlery comes in handy – it gives you the experience of eating as you would at home.
The best camping dishes are ideal for both adults and kids. Ensure that the set you choose is impact and scratch resistant as kids are bound to drop their tableware often.
The best plate size should be a little (like half an inch) smaller than the plates you have in your kitchen. While camping, you will eat fewer food portions than you do at home and, therefore, a large plate will only add weight and occupy more space. You can carry the same size of bowl you use at home.
All the plates and bowls above are great for any camper looking for the best camping plates or bowls. Most of them offer you extra items to spice your camping experience and make you feel like you are home away from it.
The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Camper Cooking Set is my recommendation for campers who are looking for a complete set that balances durability, lightweight, functionality, and price. It has plates and bowls enough for four campers, but it also has so many other items including pans to make it a complete set. It is a plastic set with anodized aluminum pans for durability and portability.
If you’d rather eat from a premium set, the Coleman 24-Piece Enamel Dinnerware give your plates and bowls and also comes with additional items such as mugs, forks, spoons, and knives to make your experience wholesome. It is also light and compact with the dinnerware featuring enamel construction.