We all have that one friend who never seasons their food, and they would probably be okay if they went on a camping trip without a camping spice kit. But you and I wouldn’t, which is exactly why you are here!
What spices should you bring, how should you pack them, and what other things do you need to consider? The temperature and length of the trip will also affect the items in your camping spice kit, but certainly not as much as your food preferences!
Read on to see our tips on how to create your own camping spice kit so you never have to eat bland food while you’re enjoying the great outdoors!
The ideal spices to pack on a camping trip largely depend on what you’re going to cook. But in general, you’ll want to pack salt, pepper, sugar, and then any other spices that you use regularly. Whether it’s chives, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, or cinnamon – if you like it, there’s no reason not to pack it into your camping spice kit.
Don’t forget about the sweet spices if you plan on baking! Sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla are staples in most baked goods, and there are lots of other spices that can find their way into your kit.
There are a few more things you should consider packing, but that largely depends on the length of your packing trip and personal preferences. If you know you’re going to make sandwiches, it’s a good idea to buy mayo and ketchup in those small serving-size packets, instead of burdening yourself with entire bottles that you’re unlikely to use.
Also, if you plan on doing a lot of baking, you’ll probably want to bring more aromas and maybe even some alcohol. Rum and chocolate liqueur are common ingredients in baking recipes, and they add a bit of oomph to every dessert you make. Alcoholic beverages that are often used in cooking recipes can usually be bought in tiny 200 ml bottles. Or you know, nothing’s stopping you from bringing an entire bottle of rum on your trip.
And don’t forget about condiments! It’s easy to forget about mustard and barbecue sauce when you have a dozen different spices in your backpack, but they’re equally important for keeping your meals tasty.
Are you going camping for the weekend or are we talking about a two-week vacation? The amount of spices you need depends on the length of your trip. If you’re going away for two days, you’ll be fine with a pinch of salt, some pepper, and maybe a couple of extra spices. But camping for a week or two means a lot of different meals, and you’ll need to bring more than half of your spice rack to make things interesting.
Also, it’s okay if you forget some spices on a longer camping trip. Chances are you’ll have to go to a store at one point, and you can always pick up anything you forgot to pack.
Are you going camping while it’s warm or cold out? The temperature influences which spices you’re more likely to use, but also how it’s best to pack them.
Some liquid flavorings and seasoning will actually freeze in sub-zero temperatures, so you should be clever about packing them. If you’re going camping in extreme cold, avoid using glass bottles for liquid ingredients – if something freezes, it can actually break the bottle, and that’s much worse than having salt all over your backpack.
Also, the type of food we prefer to eat changes with the season. In the warmer months, you’re more likely to eat salads and lighter foods, so it’s better to pack more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, etc. And in the winter spicier and heavier foods are preferable – nothing can warm you up on a cold winter evening like a generous amount of Tabasco in your meal!
Having a lot of different spices in your camping spice kit is essentials for eating delicious meals, but it can be a hassle to carry so many different items. That’s why it’s best to create your own spice kit – there are a lot of different ways how you can improvise packaging for spices, from buying a single jar that’s divided into multiple sections, to cutting up plastic straws and storing spices inside them.
I’ll cover some of the best DIY options for carrying spices and I’ll include the best packaging that you can actually buy if you don’t have the time to create your own packets.
Liquids are technically not spices, but they function similarly. And I’m not talking about water – I’m talking about olive oil, vanilla, vinegar, and your favorite hot sauce!
Why bring an entire bottle of olive oil, if you’re only going to cook two meals with it? Some of the DIY spice kit options below can hold liquids as well as powdered spices, so don’t forget to add those to your kit!
Ziplock bags are a good option for storing spices because they’re thin and they take up very little space in your bag. Also, they’re flexible in terms of what they can fit inside, so they’re one of the best options if you’re more into fresh herbs than powdered spices. And no matter which DIY camping spice kit option you end up going with, put a few ziplock bags in your pack regardless – you never know what herbs you might encounter in the wild on your camping trip!
The best thing about ziplock bags is how affordable they are. A pack of 100 self-locking baggies runs for some $4, and that’s enough bags to create about 10 different camping spice kits. Also, they are resealable, so you’ll be able to use the same bags for several different camping trips.
The only issue with these is that they are not 100% reliable. Chances that they’ll open up and spice up your backpack are small, but that could happen and it will be nightmarish to deal with if it does. I would recommend storing all the tiny plastic bags in one larger ziplock bag, so in case one of them does burst, at least you don’t have cayenne pepper all over your backpack.
Single-use plastic straws are extremely bad for the environment, but they’re one of the best ways to pack spices. They’re basically a waterproof container that takes up very little space and adds almost no weight to your backpack, which makes them so popular for camping.
How exactly do you turn a plastic straw into a spice container? Easily – all you need is a lighter. Squeeze the end of a plastic straw with your thumb and index finger and apply heat until the plastic melts together. Put your spice in the straw, repeat the process on the other end, and voila – you have a sealed and waterproof container for your spices.
Another upside of this is that you’re the one dictating the size of the packaging. Cut up the straws into smaller pieces for spices you won’t pack a lot of and use bigger pieces of straw for the spice that you’ll use a lot. Also, use clear straws so you can easily tell the spices apart.
Tiny glass jars or mini vials are perfect for all of you who are trying to avoid single-use plastics. They are affordable, reusable, and feature cork lids that tightly seal the spices inside. Best of all, these are available in a wide variety of sizes from 0.5 ml to 50 ml, and they usually come in packs of 10-20 mini vials.
It’s best to get two sets of these – a set of tiny vials that you can use for the stronger spices like curry and garlic powder, and a set of bigger vials for those spices you’ll use more generously (salt, pepper, sugar, etc.).
Another upside of these vials is that you can also store liquid spices in them, which isn’t the case with some of the other packaging options. The major downside is that they’re kind of bulky, and nowhere near as convenient to carry as straws.
Plastic bottles are a good option for packing spices, especially if you’re making spice blends. You can get those TSA-friendly ounce bottles – one is more than enough for a generous amount of a particular spice blend, and you usually get three or four bottles in a pack.
Plastics might not be the most environmentally friendly option, but they are also better for packing liquid ingredients in the winter. Stuff like olive oil and vinegar can freeze when it’s below zero (Celsius), so it’s better to pack those in plastic instead of glass bottles, just in case.
If you’re not up for DIYing a spice kit, you can just buy a multi-spice jar for some $6. There are a few different options out that can usually fit from two to six different spices, but I think the one in the photo is by far the best option. It’s very affordable, it’s already filled with six different spices, each container has a flip-top shaker lid, and you can reuse the jar when you’ve used up all the spices.
The issue with this particular multi-spice jar is that you’re not the one dictating which spices you’re packing. But you can always transfer these to a different container and swap them out for whatever you like. Just don’t let others handle the spice jar if you’ve changed up the spices, as it might be confusing to some people to have a greenish powder in a container labeled as cayenne pepper.
If you like the idea of a multi-spice jar but want to use your own spices, you can get an empty plastic container.
Glass droppers are great for liquid spices you want to use sparingly. They’re really cheap to buy, and you might even have some already at home. And they come in a wide variety of different sizes, so you can easily pick up a bigger bottle for Balsamic vinegar and a smaller one for vanilla extract.
The best thing about glass dropper bottles is that they make it so easy to dose just the right amount of flavoring.
Those tiny perfume sample bottles that have a miniature wand in the lid are perfect for carrying aromas. When you’re baking something, you rarely need more than a couple of drops of any given aroma. The vials will fit more aroma than you need, and you can fit a dozen of them in the pocket of your jeans.
Also, they are really cheap to get – a pack of a hundred of these vials will set you back only some $9. You could always use any vials that you have lying around at home, but you’d have to make sure that the scent of perfume is long gone. After all, you want to season your cupcakes with vanilla and not with Dior’s Sauvage.
Spice blends can save you some space and reduce the amount of packaging you have to carry on your hiking trips. If there are any spices that you often use together, just pack them together. You can also create cuisine-specific spice blends that you will use when cooking a particular meal.
This makes it so much easier to carry a lot of different spices, especially if you will end up mixing them anyway. You can make spice blends for Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, and any other cuisine that you genuinely enjoy eating.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.