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For canoe camping with a large group (say 10-15 people) for 3 days, what/how much should we pack for cooking equipment/supplies (minus the actual food) and eating utensils?

The group is relatively inexperienced at camping. We are going to the US Northeast in October, so it can get a little cold (30-40F at night). Fires are permitted. We'd maybe be 30-60 minutes from the nearest place to buy supplies, so it would be preferable to bring everything.

  • 6
    Lots of variables here... Depends what you're cooking...A good example to illustrate this is corn on the cob. Two options bring a bunch of pots and many L of water as well as plenty of fuel OR simply place the cobs with their husk on into a fire. I believe you need to narrow the scope of your question. – AM_Hawk Jul 29 '14 at 16:09
  • Where are you going? paddling through Northern canada where it can be very cold or southern United States where it can be very warm? Will you be responsible for all supplies as in very remote area or can supplies be purchased near your destination, are fires permitted? Is your group fit and experienced in the outdoors? – AM_Hawk Jul 29 '14 at 16:24
  • My eating utensils are a light weight knife fork and spoon, but my other half was gifted a swiss army knife style utensil set that all fold out that is nifty. We have different ones because of preference. We both use a mess tin nowadays as I prefered them. – Aravona Jul 29 '14 at 18:06
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    Communal cooking/eating combined with bad potty hygiene is apparently the main cause of backpacker's diarrhea (which for decades had been blamed on contaminated backcountry water). Your safest bet is individual cooking, which can be done easily and conveniently with the freezer-bad cooking technique. More info here: lightandmatter.com/article/hiking_water.html – Ben Crowell Jul 30 '14 at 1:51
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The key here is to plan the meals. If you know all the dinners you will make you will know what pots etc you need. That said:

  • Plates 1 per person + 2 or 3 for cooking purposes
  • Mugs 1 per person, more if oatmeal is a morning thing for you
  • knives, forks, spoons 1 per person
  • wooden spoon, tongs, flipper, ladle (or mug as ladle) according to the meals you plan
  • 1 large pot for rice or pasta for the group, and its lid
  • 1 smaller pot for sauce to go on that rice or pasta
  • 1 stove [*] (Cook sauce first and set aside then cook starch, or cook one pot stews etc) and enough fuel to run it for the total time all your meals, morning coffee, dishwater, and washing water will need
  • a camping kettle
  • a non stick skillet for pizza, first night steaks, morning bacon, English muffins etc
  • sharp knife and thin cutting board
  • something you can measure "1 cup" or "300 ml" of wet or dry ingredients with
  • washing up bowl(s) - see https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/5980/163
  • Nalgene bottle for soaking dried meat in all day or beans overnight - reserved for this, don't use someone's drinking bottle

Work through your meals to see if you need a grater, strainer, can opener etc. You can usually get by with less but one of the luxuries of canoe camping is being able to have cooking equipment.

And of course you'll need your ingredients, spices, salt and pepper and the like.

[*] I would NOT recommend a two burner Coleman-type stove. I've done it, but it's just too heavy and too hard to carry in a backpack. We save that stove for car camping these days. I've used a wide variety of stoves over the years and am now happy with my WhisperLite, though it is famous for not simmering well. If you choose to take two stoves - and when a group gets above 10 you may need to use two pots to cook enough volume for that many - I would recommend two different stoves (so their strengths and weaknesses balance) that use the same fuel. But the details of what stove to get probably belong in another question anyway.

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Going to make some assumptions here.

  1. Communal cooking
  2. People bringing own ingredients, contributions

Given the two above

  • Reasonably large pot (two liter)
  • Reasonably large pan (more than 8")
  • Grill surface/fuel. It is hard to advise here without knowing more. But something like this coleman would work. If you are SURE you can have a fire, just grab a actual grill surface.
  • Lightweight spatula
  • Lightweight large spoon
  • Tell everyone to bring their own bowl/cup/utensils. I strongly advise against sharing utensils.

That list should do you for cooking most things. That being said, as noted in the comments, a more sophisticated list requires knowing more about your situation.

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    +1 own utensils. Bring some form of hand sanitizer or soap as one individuals lack of person hygiene after going #2 in the woods can contaminate the entire food supply for everyone else... – AM_Hawk Jul 29 '14 at 19:29
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Here's what I've done for group camping (both car & canoe camping).

  • Communal food & cooking. It's just easier.
  • Cooking equipment. You bring what you need depending on what food you buy, or buy food that can be cooked with the equipment you have.
  • Some details.
    • Pot/pans. Think about what you may be cooking at the same time. Are you going to boil water & make spaghetti sauce at the same time? If so, you'll need 2 pots.
    • Plastic cooking utensils. Lighter weight makes it easier to carry, and less rattling noise. Wood not recommended because it can carry germs easily.
    • A cutting board / prep surface. Or 2.
    • I like paper plates/bowls/cups, then burn them in the fire after use.
    • A common set of eating utensils. These I use metal as they are easiest to clean and I have to wash the pots/pans anyway. And if they are from the same set, they will stack together when packed.
    • Cooking with the campfire. You can use the campfire, but that's a PITA. The only thing I cook in the fire are hobo packs. Otherwise, bring a large grill and make sure you can find enough large rocks to support it.
    • Camp stove. This is what I use. A nice big, 2 burner stove. With large groups, we bring 2 stoves. And again with large groups doing car camping, I hook the stoves up to a large propane tank (5 gal). I haven't tried this with canoe camping, and wouldn't bother if it's just one night.
    • Food. The less that has to be refrigerated, the better.
    • Ziplock baggies and/or plastic storage containers for food that has been opened.
    • Coffee. I find it's easier to use those new instant coffee pouches (Starbucks or generic) that only require hot water, rather than a peculator. They actually taste pretty good.

Did I forget anything? Probably. :-)

  • I knew I forgot something: Kitchen knives.
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I have cooked for 19 people on a five day trip around Stewart Island in New Zealand.

We were eating dehydrated meals (from Backcountry), so our cooking requirements were three large billies and cookers to boil lots of water. Pretty simple stuff.

My main advice to you is about serving. The first night, I tried dealing with all the "can I have less of that if I have more than that" and it took ages. The second and subsequent nights, I told everyone to put their plates or bowls on a table and then go away. We served equal amounts of everything into every bowl. If people wanted less peas but more potato then they could swap with someone else who wanted more potato and less veges. Much, much easier on the cooks.

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