When you’re camping, the only amenities at your disposal are the ones you packed in with your backpack (or car trunk, cargo box, canoe, etc). Outdoor adventures inspire an appreciation for life’s simplest pleasures: a cozy shelter, a warm bed. And nothing makes those experience better than a hot meal, coffee, or tea. As such, you’re going to need a humble camping kettle to make that happen.
Most backpackers will use a simple titanium pot for cooking and boiling water, one that pulls double duty as a serving vessel. But take a visual survey of any larger campground and you’ll notice plenty of campers and hikers boiling water in larger cook pots and carefully pouring small quantities into seperate camp cups and mugs.
But there’s a better way: a camping kettle provides a more refined, more accurate approach to boiling water for that precious and always appreciated cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate—not to mention nightly bag dinner or morning oatmeal. It all tastes better in the woods.
In this feature article, we’re looking at what makes a camping kettle worth your time and hard earned dollars. Below is the breakdown, followed by our top picks. Scroll past the fine print to browse the nine products we’ve deemed the best camping kettles of 2022.
What to Look for in a Camp Kettle
The first step we recommend taking in your journey to find a kettle for camping is to consider how many people your hot water supply needs to support. A camp kettle’s material, weight, and pack volume are all traits that scale with and relate to that overall volume. Solo or duo campers can boil sufficient water with lower, teapot-sized volumes below one liter, while groups of three-plus might want to aim higher to keep the hot drinks coming.
Aluminum will often be the material of choice for smaller volume and lightweight kettles, while stainless steel and cast iron make up the other end of that spectrum. If you’re not particularly easy on your camping gear, it might be a good idea to consider stainless steel or hard anodized aluminum, which are more durable materials. (Quick tech brief: anodization is a nifty process involving electricity and a chemical bath that give metals a tough oxidized finish that prevents corrosion.)
Here’s our hard stance when it comes to outdoor camping kettles: spouts and handles are mandatory features for a bonafide kettle. Everything else is just a pot. All spouts are more or less created equal—though some are small while others are goose-necked—but when it comes to handles, we like those foldable flat kettles for packing and travel.