Living off the land is an excellent way of taking a break from our busy modern lives. And when you are out there, you may want to fry up some eggs or sauté a fresh fish.
With a good camping frying pan, you can go beyond the basic need for nutrition and prepare delicious meals-almost resembling home food. A frying pan is a lifesaver for any camper, and depending on how you take care of it, it can last for a lifetime.
I have spent hours reviewing some of the best camping frying pans available to help in your search for a camping fry pan.
If you are car camping with the family, then the Lodge 17-inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet is the best camping frying pan for you. It’s big, robust, and perfect for the campfire.
On the other hand, a single person backpacking may find the light and small MSR Alpine Fry Pan to be ideal.
Do I need a Frying Pan when Camping?
If your outdoor culinary aspirations go beyond reconstituting dried foods or just making chili, then you need a frying pan. Of course, you can just visit your nearest thrift store and get a cheap pan that will save you a few bucks. But beware, for this may cost you in the future.
Whether car camping or backpacking, you want a pan that heats up fast, cooks evenly, and cleans effortlessly. Lightweight but durable frying pans designed for camping are my absolute best camping cookware.
What You Need to Consider When Choosing the Best Camping Frying Pan
Before deciding on buying a camp frying pan, you must first reflect on the type of camping you are to be undertaking. While car camping allows for flexibility on the size and weight, backpacking prioritizes low weight, small dimensions, and ease of cleaning.
When choosing a camping frying pan, you want one big enough to cook food sufficient for you or people you’ll be tagging along. It’s always important to consider your cooking habits or the number of people you’ll be cooking for.
When packing for only one or two, I recommend taking a small and light frying pan. More extensive options are excellent for family camping and those who frequently go car camping.
The size of a frying pan is determined by its overall diameter (wall to wall top) and not the cooking base size.
These dimensions are often rounded off to the nearest inch, so it’s common for the actual size to vary vs. the stated dimensions. Frying pans are typically available in 8,10,12, and 14-inch sizes.
As a guide:
- An 8-inch (20 cm) is sufficient for one person’s meal and comfortably fries two eggs, one steak, or one to two chicken breasts.
- A 10″ (25 cm) can conveniently cook three eggs or two chicken breasts and even sauté a large serving of vegetables.
- A 12″ (30 cm) is ideal for frying up to four eggs, three chicken breasts, and bacon strips without having to trim them first.
- A 14″ (35.5 cm) can fry up to six eggs and is more suited for car campers than for backpackers.
Cooking Performance and Weight
Camping frying pans come in a variety of materials. The most popular ones are stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, and cast iron. For me, choosing the material of the cookware is the most important. You don’t want to get stuck with a pan that takes forever to heat or clean.
Of the four, aluminum is the most popular among backpackers and car campers. It is lightweight and does a decent job at cooking.
In the past, there have been concerns about leached aluminum leading to conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Modern aluminum pans sometimes come with a hard-anodized layer that eliminates these risks. Furthermore, there’s no actual evidence of aluminum posing a health risk.
Regular stainless steel pans are a good compromise between durability and lightness. But with this, you’ll have to brace for hot spots and bring extra sponges and soap for rigorous scrubbing.
Titanium is an excellent option for backpacking in the countryside. However, due to the hefty price of the material, many manufacturers don’t offer much pure titanium cookware.
Although undoubtedly durable, cast iron pans are extremely heavy and wouldn’t make an excellent choice for a backpacker. These are perfect for car camping, especially for cooking on open flames. For an extensive guide on how to care and season your cast iron pan, check my blog on cast iron cooking and care.
Ease of Cleaning
However far you alienate yourself from civilization, someone’s got to do the dishes. When it comes to material, the dish washer will probably want to lean towards nonstick. A nonstick pan cooks up pretty well and makes cleaning a breeze.
Always do your research extensively on the type of material on the nonstick layer to ensure its safety. This guide to nonstick cooking safety offers some valuable information on the topic.
Heat Source Compatibility
Some frying pans are designed to work only with certain heat sources (gas, open flame, electric, induction). Ensure that the frying pan you get can work with the heat source you intend to use for your hiking adventures.
Sturdiness and Durability
Ideally, the best camping fry pan should boast excellent cooking performance and be durable to take a beating. Remember that you will use it in the wild, where the conditions might be extremely harsh and unforgiving.
If treated well, a good fry pan could serve you for a lifetime.
Handles are often the weakest spot of a pan. These can be the difference between enjoying a hot delicious meal, or nursing burn injuries with a pile of food in the dirt. Ensure that the pan’s handle is sturdy and locks tightly into place to prevent danger.
A camping frying pan with a folding handle (either flat-folding or by hugging the pot) is helpful for space-saving.
I prefer folding handles to detachable ones since you can lose some bolts or the handle itself.
Some feature rubber, plastic, or silicone coatings for ease of handling when hot. However, these tend to melt under high heat and are unsuitable for open flame use.
Best Camping Frying Pan
With a blend of elegance and versatility, this beautiful cookware can be used at home or over a campfire. If you cook for a family of more than five, then this is the pan for you.
Featuring a diameter of 17 inches and a 2-inch depth, it can sauté, sear, roast, braise, bake, fry, and simmer. You can explore endless recipes with this pan without the worry of having too little to eat.
I love the two short handles instead of just one long one; this makes the pan so much comfortable to handle. This pan is also available in 10.5″ and 12″ models.
This Godzilla skillet can make a variety of meals in my kitchen and when camping with the family. And is it me, or does cast iron just make food taste better?
- Chic and classy
- Different sizes available
- Suitable for campfire use
- Two short handles make it easier to handle
- Too heavy and bulky
- Need to season before first use
This griddle is great for a 2-burner camping stove. With a 161/2 by 10″ capacity, you can look forward to eggs, pancakes, burgers, bacon, sausages, hotdogs, and pork chops both in your kitchen and when adventuring outdoors.
There are several reports of the griddle warping with open flame use. It even says on the label not to expose it to extreme heat or heat it too quickly. If using over an open fire, definitely use a grate to raise it above the flame.
For me, this is just one of that cookware that performs well in the kitchen and is not so great in the field. It’s also too thin and prone to overheating.
- Perfect capacity for 2-4 campers
- Great value
- Easy to clean
- Integrated hook to store
- Easily warps when exposed to high heat
- Teflon coating
- Thin and prone to overheating
Lodge is one of those brands that are doing it just right. This 9″ ( 22 cm) skillet can fry, sauté, sear, and even bake for 2-3 people. The fact that it is made of cast iron means that it’s not only durable but also features superior heat retention and even cooking.
As with much Lodge cast-iron cookware, the pan comes pre-seasoned and ready to use. But anyone who owns cast iron cookware knows you still need to reseason the pan before use.
This is available in a range of sizes from 3.5″ to 15″; thus, perfect for both solo adventures and family camping. I wouldn’t recommend this to a backpacker because of its hefty weight. It also lacks a foldable handle; hence, packing might be a hassle.
- Nonstick surface that lasts for a long time if reseasoned correctly
- Suitable for all heat sources, including open flames
- Requires much maintenance
Having produced a range of reputable and reliable cooking gear for years, you can count on MSR to deliver a high-quality fry pan.
Their fry pan features stainless steel plus aluminum material; thus, it’s free of potentially hazardous coatings. It’s durable, can endure aggressive scrubbing, and cooks efficiently.
I like the removable handle that makes it convenient for compact packing. I also love the V-shaped crimp that allows for easy pouring of liquids. With a 7.5″ diameter, this is a solid pan for frying and searing for a solo adventure. The model is also available in two, three, and four packs.
- V-shaped crimp that allows for easy pouring of liquids
- Suitable for backpacking
- Removable handle
- Nests with other MSR cookware
- The handle arrives taped to the bottom of the pan with a hard-to-remove tape that leaves a residue.
- Reports of sticking issues
- Limited capacity
Weighing just 1.64 pounds (0.7kgs), this pan easily tops my list of the best lightweight camping pans. It boasts a 4-layer nonstick surface, so nothing sticks, which means cleaning is as easy as wiping it down.
Although the foldable handle seems excellent for space-saving, it is flimsily made. It breaks after a while, which is unsafe and frustrating to use. There are also several reports of the pan losing its nonstick ability after a time.
Aside from that, the 10″ model is perfect for group camping (2-4), while the 12″ comfortably serves a group of five.
- Easy to clean
- Great price
- Perfect capacity
- Flimsy handle
- Reports of losing the nonstick ability
With a 10″ capacity, this frying pan is excellent for duo-hikers. Its fully aluminum design ensures even heat distribution. With a nonstick coating, you can expect ease of cooking and cleaning.
Although suitable for open flame use, you should be careful only to use it under low temperatures as the coating can burn and peel under high temperatures. Be sure to use non-metallic utensils and soft sponges to avoid scratching the surface.
I love the sturdy and stable folding handle for space-saving and storage, plus it works well when cooking.
The model is also available in 12″ (3-4 people), and 14″ (4-6 people) for those with larger size needs. The 14″ version comes with a detachable handle.
- Folding handle
- Available in a range of sizes
- Easy to clean
- Teflon coating
- Heavy for backpacking
- Not suited for open flames
- Reports of the nonstick layer peeling over time
My Overall Best
I would choose Lodge 17-inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet as the best camping frying pan. I would opt for this if I were to car camp with family, without the worry of having added weight.
I love that the pan can cook any food and that it comes with two small handles making it so easy to handle. This beauty is also suitable for campfire uses and remains nonstick forever if cared for well. If the size is an issue, you can opt for smaller models (10.5 and 12″).
Best Backpacking Skillet
If looking for the best fry pan for backpacking, I recommend the MSR Alpine Fry Pan. It has the perfect capacity for one, features a foldable handle, and can stand up to heavy use.
I’ve reviewed more of the best backpacking frying pans, if you are interested in alternatives.