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  • Writer's pictureWandering Aus.

Camp Oven Comparison

Is there anything better than cooking on a fire? The satisfaction that comes from waiting hours around the campfire as you slow cook the perfect casserole or roast? Camp oven cooking and camping goes together like ham and cheese toasties go with jaffle irons, it's fundamental!

Just like the cars and setups that take us to our favourite campsites or even to the next leg of our big trips, camp ovens come in all shapes, sizes and materials. This blog is aimed at shedding some light, from our own experiences.

We’ll start by saying no camp oven is the wrong camp oven, they all have a perfect place by the fire, but which one suits your needs best?

When you mention camp ovens, we’d assume the first thing that comes to mind is the trusty old cast

iron dutch oven. Heavy duty and rugged in looks, almost as if it survived one or more the world wars. The cast iron camp oven comes in many sizes, the most popular being 12 quart. As previously mentioned they are heavy duty, thick cast iron; making them well heavy. The thick walls hold the heat and once hot they stay hot, so naturally making them great for roasting, however suitable for all types of cooking.

Like all good things, they are not without their flaws. Due to their heavy duty cast iron design they are heavy, much heavier than some of their camp oven counterparts. They can also be prone to cracking over time, dependent of course on how they are stored and the sort of treatment they get. But buy good quality, look after them with a good seasoning after cleaning and they’ll repay you for many many years to come.

Next on the list is the opposite end of the camp oven spectrum. The spun steel camp oven. Made famous by Dr Livingstone’s Bedourie. The spun steel camp oven adds a few different features to the cast iron camp oven over. Made from - as the name suggests ‘spun steel’ these ovens come in two sizes 12 & 10 quart. Due to their spun steel construction rather than cast iron they are much lighter. The bonus is the 10 quart fits inside the 12 making it the Matryoshka (Russian) doll of the camp oven world. An added feature of the spun steel ovens other than the weight is the lid can be flipped and used as a frying pan.

Again all good things have flaws - the thinner spun steel walls don’t hold heat as well as their cast iron cousins. This can make it trickier to regulate heat whilst cooking, so more care is needed when placing coals or adjusting heat whilst cooking. We have baked everything from a rolled pork roast with crackling to scones and muffins in our Bedourie, so it’s not impossible.

Another addition to the camp oven line up is from Hillbilly Camping Gear. A spun steel style camp oven with a range of accessories including height extensions for bigger roasts and even veggie rings for the perfect roast veg.

With all the camp ovens mentioned cooking in a camp oven can take time and practice. There are so many variables when cooking, even coming down to the type of wood you’re burning in your campfire, not to mention what you are cooking. Heat distribution, where to place your coals and how many coals come down to what you’re cooking.

Camp ovens are designed around convection ovens, so roasts for example 75% of the heat needs to be on top of your oven. Trivets are great accessories to have, especially for roasting.

They lift everything you’re cooking off the floor of your oven preventing it from burning.

For casseroles all of the heat needs to be underneath the oven (unless you’re cooking damper dumplings/rolls on top of your casserole, then chuck a few coals on top to crisp them up).

Practice, start small and don’t expect to be the next campfire master chef on your first attempt.

We have experience cooking both styles of camp oven, but currently run - a 12 quart and a 10 quart spun steel bedourie. Our reasoning, they’re light and we can carry two without taking up more space in our setup. We use each of them for different purposes, the 12 quart we use for mainly baking and roasting + the lid as a fry pan, the 10 quart for casseroles, spag bol and curries.

Some of our Favourite camp oven dishes just to name a few, but the possibilities are endless.

- Roasts

- Casseroles

- Spag Bol

- Curry

- Nachos

- Stir fry

- Fried Rice

- Damper / Bread

- Scones

- Muffins

- Chocolate self saucing pudding

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