Outdoor Gear Reviews, Tips & Adventure Stories to Inspire an Outdoor Life

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Seasoning a Camp Oven: A Step-by-Step Guide to Perfectly Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron camp oven over a campfire
Seasoning a camp oven is a skill that you’ll want to master to keep your cast iron cookware in great shape.

If you’re an avid camper or outdoor enthusiast, you know that having the right gear can make or break a trip. One essential piece of equipment that should be on every camper’s list is a cast iron camp oven. A camp oven is a versatile piece of cookware that can be used to make everything from stews and soups to bread and desserts. It’s rugged and indestructible, making it a perfect fit for the outdoor lifestyle

But like any piece of cookware, a camp oven needs to be properly cared for to perform at its best. One of the most important steps in caring for a camp oven is seasoning it. Seasoning a cast iron camp oven is the process of coating it with oil and heating it to create a non-stick surface that will make both cooking and cleaning a breeze.

In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to season a camp oven to perfection. We’ll also cover the benefits of using cast iron cookware and provide tips for maintaining a seasoned camp oven. Whether you’re a “seasoned” camper or new to outdoor cooking, seasoning a camp oven is a skill that you’ll want to master. So, let’s get started!

What You’ll Need

Before you start seasoning your camp oven, there are a few items you’ll need for the job. Here’s a list:

  1. Items you'll need to season a cast iron camp oven
    Items you’ll need to season a cast iron camp oven.

    Camp oven – Our seasoning instructions are specifically focused on cast iron dutch ovens, but can also be used for any cast iron cookware. Don’t have a cast iron camp oven yet? Check out this popular 6-quart dutch oven on Amazon.

  2. Oil – You can use a variety of oils for seasoning, such as vegetable oil, flaxseed oil, or canola oil. If you prefer to use oil that is specifically formulated for seasoning cast iron cookware, consider this cast iron seasoning oil from Caron & Doucet.
  3. Paper towels or a clean cloth – You’ll need something to wipe the oil onto the camp oven.
  4. Oven – You’ll need an oven to heat the camp oven during the seasoning process.
  5. Aluminum foil – Optional, but recommended for easy cleanup when you’re done seasoning your camp oven.

Once you have these items on hand, you’re ready to start seasoning your camp oven. Let’s move on to the next section for the step-by-step instructions.

Steps for Seasoning a Camp Oven

Step 1: Cleaning

Cleaning a camp oven
Make sure your camp oven is good and clean before starting the seasoning process.

The first step in seasoning a camp oven is to make sure it’s clean. Over time, moisture from cooking, cleaning, or storing can cause your cast iron cookware to rust. If there’s any rust or debris on your camp oven, it can affect the seasoning process and the quality of your food. Make sure your camp oven is good and clean before seasoning by following these steps:

  1. Scrub the oven with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush or sponge. Since you’ll be seasoning the camp oven shortly, this is one of the few times it’s recommended to use soap on your cast iron.
  2. Rinse the oven thoroughly with hot water.
  3. Dry the oven completely with a clean towel or let it air dry.

Step 2: Preparing your Home Oven

Once your camp oven is clean, you’ll need to get your home oven prepared for seasoning your camp oven. Here’s what to do:

  1. Preheat your home oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Line the bottom rack of your oven with aluminum foil to catch any drips. While optional, using aluminum foil under your seasoning cast iron will make clean-up a snap. Do it.

Step 3: Applying the Oil

Applying oil to a camp oven to season it.
Apply a thin film of oil on all surfaces of your cast iron camp oven.

Now it’s time to apply the oil to your camp oven. The goal is to cover the entire surface of cast iron with a light coat of oil. Applying too much oil can result in a sticky residue on your camp oven after the seasoning process. Follow these steps:

  1. Pour a small amount of oil onto a paper towel or clean cloth.
  2. Rub the oil onto the entire surface of the camp oven, including the lid and handle.
  3. Use a fresh paper towel or cloth to wipe off any excess oil. Again, the goal is a light, even coat of oil over the entire surface.

Step 4: Heating the Oven

Seasoning a cast iron camp oven.
Place your camp oven upside down on the middle rack of your home oven.

After applying the oil, it’s time to heat the cast iron oven. Heating the camp oven allows the light coat of oil you applied to set on the surface of the cast iron – resulting in a non-stick surface. Here’s what to do:

  1. Place your camp oven on the middle rack of your home oven, upside down.
  2. Bake the camp oven for one hour at 350°F (175°C).
  3. After 1 hour, turn off your home oven and let the camp oven cool inside the oven.

Step 5: Cooling and Repeating

Once the camp oven has cooled, you’ll want to repeat the process several times for the best results. Building up a few light layers of seasoning on your cast iron will make it a cinch to both cook and to clean. To repeat the seasoning process:

  1. Repeat steps 3 and 4, applying oil and heating the oven, three to four more times. A total of 5 rounds of seasoning is ideal for a new cast iron camp oven.  If your camp oven comes pre-seasoned, we recommend still going through this process 2-3 times to ensure your non-stick surface is set and your cast iron properly protected.
  2. After the final seasoning, let the camp oven cool completely inside the oven.

Congratulations, you’ve now successfully seasoned your camp oven! It’s important to maintain the seasoning of your camp oven to protect the cast iron surface and to retain the non-stick properties of your cookware. In the next section, we’ll outline some tips for maintaining your seasoned camp oven.

Camp Oven over a campfire
Proper maintenance will keep your camp oven in great condition.

Maintaining a Seasoned Camp Oven

Now that you’ve seasoned your camp oven, it’s important to maintain it to keep it in top condition. Here are some tips for maintaining your seasoned camp oven:

  1. Clean your camp oven after each use. Use hot water and a stiff brush, sponge, or chainmail scrubber to clean the oven. Once clean, rinse the oven thoroughly with hot water and dry it completely with a clean towel.
  2. Avoid using soap or harsh detergents to clean your camp oven. Soap can strip the seasoning from the oven, and harsh detergents can damage the non-stick surface.
  3. Never soak your camp oven in water. Moisture can cause the oven to rust and damage the seasoning.
  4. Store your camp oven in a dry place. Moisture can cause the oven to rust and damage the seasoning.
  5. Re-season your camp oven as needed. Over time, the seasoning may wear off, especially if you use your camp oven often. If you notice food sticking to the surface, it’s time to re-season it.

By following these tips, you can keep your camp oven in great condition and enjoy amazing meals on your next camping trip. Happy cooking!

The Bottom Line

Seasoning a camp oven is an essential step in ensuring the longevity of your cast iron cookware and improving the quality of your cooking. By following the seasoning steps above and maintaining your seasoned camp oven, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious, perfectly cooked meals on your future camping trips.

Remember to always clean and dry your camp oven thoroughly after each use, avoid using soap or harsh detergents, and store it in a dry place to prevent rust. Re-season your camp oven as needed to maintain the non-stick surface and avoid cooking acidic foods that can damage the seasoning.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy many tasty meals with your seasoned camp oven for years to come. Happy camping and happy cooking!

Just getting into camping? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Camping for tips on how to make your first few first a huge success!

Check out this camp oven and accessories to keep your cast iron camp oven in tip-top shape!

We Tried 3 of the Top Freeze-Dried Backpacking Meals on Amazon

Top freeze dried backpacking meals on amazon
We brought freeze-dried backpacking meals along on outdoor trips we’ve taken the past few weeks to see how easy they are to prepare, how they taste, and how filling they are.

We recently ordered freeze-dried meals from the 3 top brands on Amazon and tested them each to see if freeze-dried food can be any good.  On a recent trip to the outdoors, we brought the meals along to see how easy they are to prepare, how they taste, and how filling they are. Here’s how they stacked up.

In our experience, meals just taste better in the outdoors. Cooking over the campfire while camping is always a memorable experience and car camping can provide the ability to bring an entire kitchen to prepare the outdoor meals of your dreams. But even when you are backpacking and short on space, you deserve a quality, hot meal once you settle in for the evening.

Backpackers are experts at balancing the most calories in the smallest amount of space. They burn thousands of calories each day trekking through the wilderness only carrying what will fit in their pack. Out of necessity, backpackers are kings of food creativity.

Luckily, the outdoor gods have provided a great solution for those venturing outdoors with limited space – freeze-dried meals in a bag.

We were curious if freeze-dried meals were any good.  Sure, they are convenient, but do they do justice to their home-prepared versions? We ordered meals from 3 of the top brands to find out. Within minutes of starting our search, we had a Cuban Rice Bowl from Good To-Go, Pad Thai with Chicken from Mountain House, and Beef Stroganoff from Peak Refuel headed our way.

A few days later, thanks to the magic of Amazon Prime, we had our freeze-dried meals in hand.  We also picked up a portable butane stove and a lightweight pot set to make our tests as authentic to the backpacking experience as possible. We already had a trip to the mountains planned, so we brought the meals along to review.

Good To-Go’s Cuban Rice Bowl

We arrived in the mountains just after dark, unpacked our portable stove, and fired it up. The instructions were easy to read on the back of the package and seemed straightforward. We quickly brought 550ml of water to a boil.  We tore open the top of the Cuban Rice Bowl pouch, poured in the hot water, gave it a quick stir and resealed the package. Per the instructions, we waited 12 minutes, stirred it again, and dug in.

Freeze Dried Backpacking Meal - Good To-Go Cuban Rice Bowl after hydrationHow it looked

Chefs often talk about how you “eat with your eyes first”. Most backpackers don’t care what their meals in a pouch look like, but we do.  So, here’s our visual review.

Our now-hydrated Cuban Rice Bowl looked a lot like we would expect a Cuban Rice Bowl to look.  The black beans, plantains, and tomato flakes provided a nice contrast with the rice.  It looked to have plenty of seasoning with the pepper and cilantro being readily visible. It was a bit more watery than we expected, but for a dehydrated meal, we’d rather have a little too much water than not enough.

How it tasted

Our first taste was filled with lime, pepper, and cilantro flavors – some of our favorites. It has a small bit of spice that really adds to the overall taste.  We could have used more, but as this is for a mass audience, a small amount is probably the right call. The garlic comes through – especially lingering behind in the aftertaste.  It’s not overwhelming so you won’t have to avoid speaking directly to your partner after eating this meal. All of the elements were hydrated well without any crunchy or chewy bits.  We were surprised not to find even a random chuck of plantain that was a tad tough.

This meal from Good To-Go has a ton of flavor.  The drawback to so much flavor is that the plantains, beans, and rice are a bit overwhelmed by it.  Every bit tastes exactly the same.  Nevertheless, we’d more than welcome a hot serving of this Cuban Rice Bowl after a long day outdoors.  In fact, the more we ate of it, the more we enjoyed it. This is a really good vegetarian meal with a lot of protein (30g in the pouch).

Mountain House’s Pad Thai with Chicken

We brought this pouch along on day-trip snowboarding.  At lunch, during a break from the slopes, we set our portable stove up on the tailgate of our truck in the ski resort parking lot. This meal called for only 325ml of water with a 10-minute wait time.

How it looked

Mountain House Pad Thai with Chicken - Freeze dried backpacking mealOpening the pouch after 10 minutes, the pad thai waiting inside was full of color. There are a lot of colorful vegetables in this meal – bell peppers, carrots, and green beans. Like the Cuban Rice Bowl, it’s more watery than a typical plate of Pad Thai. The noodles are cut small – probably to aid in the hydration process.  It only generally looks like Pad Thai, but it does look appetizing.

How it tasted

First of all, Mountain House’s offering smelled really good.  Tired from being on the mountain, we were anxious to dig in. The first taste yielded mild flavors, but it definitely tastes like Pad Thai. It has a good amount of chicken which you can taste in each bite. The small-cut noodles have a good texture and, like the Good To-Go meal, everything in this pouch has rehydrated nicely. Like you’d expect in a good Pad Thai recipe, the unique flavor of the fish sauce comes through in this version. It has a really good flavor that isn’t overwhelming.

As we finish the meal, we don’t find any unmixed bits at the bottom of the pouch, a sign that it’s mixed and rehydrated well. This is a surprisingly good meal – especially from a freeze-dried pouch.  We finish it all and are left wanting more.  This turns out to be our only real problem with this Mountain House Pad Thai – there isn’t enough of it.  While it claims to have 2 servings in the pouch, there are only 480 calories and 20g of protein in the entire pouch.  If this was shared between 2 people as it suggests, the 240 calories per serving it provides won’t get you very far.

Peak Refuel’s Beef Stroganoff

Having been pleasantly surprised by how good the first two freeze-dried meals were, we eagerly tore open the pouch of the Peak Refuel Beef Stroganoff.  Checking the instructions on the back, we were surprised to learn that this meal only calls for 178ml (6oz) of water – half of the water the Mountain House Pad Thai required and a third of the water the Good To-Go Cuban Rice Bowl needed. Only requiring 90 seconds or so to heat up this small amount of water,  this is the quickest meal of the 3 to prepare.

How it looked

Peak Refuel Beef Stroganoff Freeze Dried Backpacking MealAfter 10 minutes and stirring multiple times, what was looking back at us when we opened the pouch wasn’t good.  While the other meals were a bit watery, this meal was clumpy and dry-looking. The beef stroganoff was colorless and looked unappetizing. It looked the least exciting of the 3 meals and it wasn’t close. As a single clump, we couldn’t tell where the noodles ended and the beef started. Undeterred, we dug in.

How it tasted

Chefs must know what they talking about.  We were turned off by the appearance of our newly-hydrated beef stroganoff and the pain only continued as we took our first bites.  We do eat with our eyes, but food that isn’t good probably also doesn’t look very good.

In our opinion, Peak Refuel’s Beef Stroganoff wasn’t good. Its texture was dense and mushy seemingly lacking moisture. If we had a second pouch, we would try using more water in a second run.  Even with added water, we’d prefer to let someone else have the second run because the flavors of this meal also aren’t amazing.  The beef chunks are chewy and the salt in this recipe overwhelms everything else in it. The flavors did improve as we worked deeper into the pouch – a sure sign that it needed more water and more stirring. As we finished the pouch, we discovered some unmixed powder at the bottom.  Using such a small amount of water also meant that this meal wasn’t as hot – something that’s important to us after a long day on the trail. It’s edible, but now that we’ve seen how surprisingly good these freeze-dried meals can be, this one underwhelmed us big time.

Our Conclusions

We knew that freeze-dried backpacking meals are convenient. Heating up water and throwing it in a bag doesn’t get any simpler. But now we know that they can be really good too. We were also surprised when scanning the packages that are seemingly pretty good for you – made with simple and good ingredients.

At $13-15 per pouch on Amazon, these meals aren’t exactly cheap. But the combination of convenience, healthy ingredients, and solid flavor can make them a great value.

Our favorite was the Good To-Go Cuban Rice Bowl – at 1070 calories, it had the most calories per pouch of the meals we tested.  It also tasted really good.  We loved the flavors of cilantro, garlic, and pepper that lingered (in a great way) on our tastebuds after the meal. Its 31g of protein is a good amount – especially for a vegetarian meal.

The Mountain House Pad Thai with Chicken also tasted great, but with only 480 calories and a cost of more than $15, it’s the worst value in the bunch.

The Peak Refuel’s Beef Stroganoff‘s flavor didn’t compare well again the others, but with 810 calories and a whopping 41g of protein, those looking for the best price/gram of protein should consider it.



Have a favorite freeze-dried backpacking meal we should try?  Let us know below in the comments.


Coleman Classic Propane Stove Review

Our Coleman Classic Propane Stove review looks at a classic camping staple countless families have lugged into the wilderness. This stove is the standard upon which all other propane stoves have been built. Its a simple and inexpensive 2-burner stove that’s the perfect purchase for beginner campers.

Coleman Classic Propane Stove review
The Coleman Classic Stove is an iconic part of American campsites.

Our Verdict:

Coleman Classic Propane Stove review
Our Coleman Classic Stove has been heating up our morning coffee & tea for more than 30 years.

The Colemen Classic Propane Stove is a no-frills 2-burner camping stove that gets the job done. The simple green clamshell design hints at the military use that Coleman was founded on.  Our stove was passed down from our parents, proving its ability to stand the test of time. As our oldest piece of camping kit, it has a nostalgic feel that we love each time we cook with it.  It’s portable enough to be taken on both short and long trips and its simple setup and tear-down keep us using it on every trip.

Despite having both a larger, 3-burner Camp Chef stove as well as a smaller, isobutane portable stove, our Coleman Classic gets the vast majority of use when we are outdoors.  The combination of its size, portability, and ability to handle entire meals make it our primary camping stove and the center of our camping kitchen.


  • 2 adjustable burners
  • up to 20K total BTUs
  • Fits a 12″ and 10″ pan simultaneously
  • wind-blocking panels
  • Dimensions: 13.7″L x 4.1″W x 21.9″H


Overall, the design of the Colman Classic is simple.  There’s nothing fancy about this stove.  It has a green textured enamel surface that holds up against scratches. Designed to utilize the smaller 1lb propane bottles, this stove is designed to set up and pack away in seconds. The clamshell design keeps the burners protected when closed and the wind out when opened. When packed away, the Coleman Classic is thin enough to not take up a huge amount of real estate.

The size is large enough to hold both a 10in pan and a 12in pan at the same time, making it great for cooking an entire meal for 2 or more.  The adjustable burners can be difficult to dial to the desired heat.  The blue propane flames can be difficult to see to gauge the size and temperature.  We often use the sound of the burner to determine what setting we’re on.  The louder the “jet engine” sound of the burner, the higher the flame.  The 20K BTUs are plenty to cook with.  We’ve cooked just about every kind of meal – from fish to steak – with this stove with great success.


We’re not sure exactly how old our Coleman Classic is, but our parents used this stove when they camped and passed it on to us when we began venturing outdoors.  Our stove is at least 30 years old, has been used heavily, and is still going strong.  The simple components of this stove have all held up over the years and our stove works as well as it did fresh out of the box.

The rugged exterior of the Coleman Classic allows the stove to be thrown around when you’re packing for your trip.  Built well with solid materials, this stove doesn’t need to be delicately handled.  You can beat it up and it will just keep doing its job.

Features We Love:

  • The burner sizing and spacing allows for 2 larger pans to be used at the same time.  Many smaller stoves only allow smaller (8″ to 10″ pans at the same time.  We like having the extra space for cooking meals.
  • Durability – there are not a lot of items in our camping kit that we expect to last 30 years or more.  Our Coleman Classic has already lasted 30 years and we’re confident it will last another 30.

Do you have a Coleman Classic Propane Stove?  Has yours been as durability as ours?  Let us know in the comments.

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