The experience of cooking over an open fire is one of the great pleasures of a camping trip. I always look forward to the privilege of the taste, smell, and warmth of campfire cooking.
But, boiling water or cooking over an open fire is not as simple as picking up the cheapest kettle you can find and getting to work. If you’re not careful you could end up with melting handles, warped metal, and even holes burnt right through your equipment!
So I’ve put together some of the best tips around and a list of ideal kettles for open fire to help you find something perfect for your adventure.
Best materials for campfire cooking
It’s probably more useful to remember the kinds of materials that are definitely not suited to campfire cooking. Silicone, and really any type of plastic, although often advertised as ‘melt-proof’ or something similar, will never hold up in the long term over open fires.
So keep a lookout for kettles made entirely from metal, as this will give you the best chance at a flawless cooking experience over an open fire.
The most common materials you’ll see that are usually great for open fires are cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium.
Each has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so keep reading for more information on each.
Best camping kettles for open fire
If you’re heading out solo or as a couple, this hugely popular stainless steel cook set from Stanley will serve you well with its capacity of 24 oz (700ml). The stainless steel construction will hold up perfectly on an open fire or over hot coals, and the two included cups pack away extremely neatly.
It also has an array of features to keep you safe – a vented lid that lets steam escape, a lid-lifting tab that locks upright, and a sturdy locking handle.
From the stainless steel to the BPA-free 10oz cups, all the materials here are built to last and will hold up well to years of rugged use.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Two nesting cups included
- Locking lid tab on the vented lid
- Graduated marks in oz and ml
- Folding handle to save on space
If instant coffee just won’t cut it for you while you’re out on your adventures, this French press kettle would be the perfect match. A capacity of 750ml (25oz) and a weight of only 220g (7.8 oz) means it’s big enough for multiple people, and still highly portable.
The main body is made entirely from titanium and it comes with a high-quality stainless steel coffee filter insert. Whether you’re using a fire pit, campfire, or hot coals, it will hold up great and can be suspended using its notched handle.
Of course, for the times when you’re just looking for hot water, the coffee filter insert can be removed. With the heat efficiency that titanium is known for – you’ll have boiling water and freshly brewed filter coffee in no time.
- High-quality French press insert
- Graduated marks in oz and ml
- Notched hanging handle
- Lightweight titanium build
- Super lightweight – 220g (7.8 oz)
Here we have another French press style kettle, except this one is built from the slightly more affordable stainless steel. Although heavier than the titanium equivalent listed above, it is double-walled for better insulation and also slightly larger with a capacity of 32oz (946ml).
Another thing to note is that the insert on this kettle is made from melt-resistant nylon rather than metal. So, although it can be used over open fires just as well as any other product on the list, it might just need that extra bit of watching to ensure there’s no direct contact between the nylon parts and open flames.
Apart from that, Stanley has a 100+ year history of making super high-quality and trustworthy camping equipment, and this kettle comes with a lifetime warranty to put you totally at ease. You can trust that it will do the job it was built for over and over again in the toughest of environments.
- High-quality French press insert
- Tough and durable stainless steel construction
- Compact design with foldable handle
- Dishwasher safe
- Lifetime warranty
Check price on: Pomoly
Another super lightweight titanium kettle, this time from POMOLY. Here you can expect all the traditional advantages you get from titanium products – high heat efficiency, ruggedness, no rust, and a great weight to capacity ratio.
The locking handle, filtered spout, and vented lid on this kettle are great for ease of use and will help to keep your cooking setup super safe. In addition, the handles have a groove that makes it well-suited to hanging over a fire from a stand or tripod without any tilting or spilling.
A capacity of 1 L (33.8oz) means you’ll have more than enough water for yourself and your buddies, and to top it off, it weighs just 192g (6.7oz)!
- Ultra-lightweight Titanium build
- Efficient – heats water quickly
- Filter design perfect for tea/coffee
- Mesh storage bag included
- Locking handle keeps it cool
While not strictly a kettle designed just for water, this cast-iron Dutch oven will still boil your water and offer you a whole lot more on top.
You quite simply couldn’t find a better cast iron pot for use over an open fire. The built-in legs on the main pot as well as the lid make them both perfect for standing over hot coals or wood fires, and there’s a strong handle if you’d prefer to hang it.
The lid doubles as a griddle pan, and the oven interior is vast enough for cooking a whole chicken or crafting a huge stew for all the troops.
It also arrives pre-seasoned and therefore won’t have as many of the non-stick problems you might expect from cast iron. You’ll have a great surface for frying, braising, and stewing all of your culinary creations.
- Huge 5.7L (6 Quart) capacity
- Super rugged cast iron build
- Long legs for clearance over fires and coals
- Arrives pre-seasoned
- Lid lifter included for ease of use
If you know you need to serve the needs of a larger group with your kettle, this one from Granite Ware has a capacity of 100 oz (2.9L).
The body is made entirely from high-grade carbon steel and is beautifully enameled with a black, speckled finish. This makes it great at boiling water quickly, while also being really easy to clean and maintain.
- Large 100 oz (2.9L) capacity
- Made entirely from carbon steel
- Beautiful speckled enamel finish
- Secure hinged lid
- Perfect for cowboy coffee
Check price on: Amazon
The Fire-Maple Antarcti kettle is hugely popular and consistently well-reviewed, and for good reason. This kettle is made from stainless steel, has a beautiful mirror finish, and is perfect for cooking as well as simply boiling water.
The indented locking handle is perfect for suspending from a cooking setup, and it’s large enough to accommodate a soup or stew for two.
The tapered base also makes it perfect for stoves, so if you want the option to switch back and forth between gas and open fires, this might be the perfect one for you!
- High-quality stainless steel construction
- Angled handle perfect for hanging
- Beautiful mirror finish
- Easy-pour spout
How to choose the best campfire kettle
As with anything related to camping, the weight of your gear can be a really important factor if you’re planning a backpacking or bushcraft-style trip. Saving those precious few extra ounces can pay off if you’re carrying your backpack for miles each day.
The leader board of heaviness goes iron, stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium at the lightest end. There are, however, quality considerations to take into account at the same time – for example, aluminum is not known for its durability whereas stainless steel more often is.
If weight is not really important to you because you’ll always be with your car or RV then I’d highly recommend the cooking experience you can get from cast iron.
The most cost-efficient kettles will usually be made of aluminum or stainless steel. In my opinion, high-quality stainless steel in particular will give you a good trade-off between a more affordable price on one hand, and still solid and reliable quality on the other.
If you have a bit more of a budget, I highly recommend titanium as it is highly heat efficient and super lightweight – both things that will be very handy on long trips.
Bear in mind that there are often hidden costs when buying camping equipment such as the cost of replacing it if it breaks or wears out. Most of the time I think it’s best to invest as much as you can in a piece of camping equipment so down the road you don’t have to shell out money all over again when a cheap piece disintegrates.
Lastly, think about what kind of cooking setup you have. If you have a tripod or frame that you’re dying to use, kettles with notched handles will be great for hanging over the fire, with the ability to adjust the distance to control the heat.
And, if you know that fuel efficiency is going to be key to your trip to save on weight, then a highly efficient and light material such as stainless steel or titanium should be your priority.
Hopefully, with these tips and our list in hand, you’ll be boiling and cooking over your very own campfire in no time. Nothing beats the rustic feel of cooking over an open fire so enjoy!