Ultimate Base Camp: Eight things to bring culinary cool to your camp kitchen

Just like fixing bikes, mobile meal making gets easier with the right tools

Gear Travel

UBC Camp Kitchen Cover

This article is part of Mtbr’s Ultimate Base Camp feature. See all the stories in this special section here.

Grizzly 75 Cooler

If bears could read, they’d probably be pretty damn pissed about the Grizzly Cooler. That it’s specifically designed to preclude their access is one thing, but to actually name it after one of their subspecies, well that’s just taunting. The name does however aptly describe the cooler’s rugged personality, and with exceptional insulating qualities, a configurable interior, and the aforementioned bear-resistance, the Grizzly might just be the ultimate basecamp food storage solution.

Much like our refrigerator at home, the cooler became the center of our camp kitchen. Its 75-quart capacity made it not only big enough to store our iced, cold storage items, but by inserting or removing any of the three interior divider panels, we segmented part of the space as a critter-proof pantry for dry foods as well. Grizzly claims their coolers–insulated with a high-effectiveness, enviro-friendly foam–will keep ice for an astounding 19 days.

What little runoff we experienced in our much shorter trips flowed into a channel molded in the cooler’s floor then dispersed to the unit’s dual two-inch drainage ports–a configuration that made cleaning and drying a breeze as well. Other premium touches include a refrigerator-like rubber gasket, rope carry handles with comfortable nylon sleeves, a stainless-steel hinge pin, durable stretch rubber latches, and slots for tie-down straps.

UBC Grizzly 75 Cooler Details

Sets of holes molded in both the tub and top make the cooler lockable, and a pair of padlocks is required to meet bear-resistant standards, though we secured ours with a single caribiner. Had we been in bear country, we’d definitely go with locks.

At $430 the made-in-the-USA Grizzly 75 is expedition-grade and priced. It’s available in five other sizes–16-, 40-, 60- and 400-quarts–and numerous colors including custom tones. It’s both designed to last and backed-up with a limited lifetime warranty.

More info: grizzlycoolers.com

UBC Stanley Cooler

Stanley Thermoses, Coolers and Containers

Call me nostalgic, but there’s something about the hammered green steel finish of a Stanley thermos that sends waves of anticipation down my spine. Growing up, a Stanley came standard on family fishing adventures, and even if the fish weren’t biting there was always something good in the thermos. It was one of those comforting prerequisites, as necessary as a pole, fishing hooks, and bait.

And while a thermos is perhaps a little less essential when it comes to mountain biking, using the Stanley gear to-and-from the trailhead proved a good call. Their new-for-2014 ultra-insulated Adventure Cooler ($40) boasts a 7-quart capacity and accommodates up to nine beverage cans, though we usually loaded it up with a balance of recovery drinks and snacks to help ease that post-ride famished feeling.

The plastic cooler features thick, insulated walls as well as a gasket-seal lid, and is rated to 27 cold hours. An adjustable elastic tie-down on the Cooler’s lid lets you secure a thermos or drink bottle, though we frequently ended foregoing such and using the tough little chest as a stool or seat.

A pair of specialty bottles–their One Hand Vacuum Mug ($25) and Classic Wide Mouth Flask ($25)–do yeoman’s duty for the transport and distribution of requisite mountain biking caffeine and alcohol. The former, Stanley’s take on the travel coffee mug, features the same vacuum-insulated steel construction of their thermoses, and adds a push-button lid that fully disassembles for deep cleaning.

More info: stanley-pmi.com

UBC Primus Firehole 200

Primus FireHole 200 Propane Camp Stove and LiTech Super Set Cookware

Campfires are great for heat, camp ambiance, and making s’mores, but when it comes to cooking on a mountain bike trip, we prefer the convenience and reliability of a quality camp stove.

Primus’ FireHole 200 takes the idea of the classic Coleman stove and adds Ferrari-like looks and performance. The 24,000-BTU, piezoelectric ignition, dual-burner stove runs on standard 16-ounce propane cylinders, and boasts a three minute boil-time.

We found cooking on the $175 Primus mostly on par with home kitchen cooktops when using high heat, but like many camp stoves, finding a low simmer setting is tricky–the finicky valves required a deft touch to get the flame really low without going out.

Though compact, the 14-pound unit boasts ample room for using a frying pan and boil pot simultaneously, particularly if you use a camping-specific set like we did.

Primus’ LiTech Super Set aluminum three-piece cookware kit features a 7-inch, 1.4-quart small pot; a 7.5-inch, 1.8-quart large pot; and an 8-inch frying pan, all clad with a non-stick titanium coating for easy cleanup. The set serviced up to four people nicely, and worked well for the medium-complexity meals we tend to prepare for such trips.

The $64 set weighs a scant 1.8-pounds and includes a pot gripper, an indented lid that works on both pots, and a convenient vented stuff sack.

More info: primuscamping.com

Continue to Page 2 for more camp kitchen prodcuts and full photo gallery »

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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  • Evil E says:

    But is any of it Enduro compatible?

  • trailsnail says:

    I’m gonna throw a plug in for the Coleman duel fuel two burner camp stove. If you can get the old version #520 I think with the Leather baffle on the pump- even better. These are 5* stoves.

    • trailsnail says:

      And as for the utensils I vote for Wendy’s sealed knives, forks and spoons. Yep each one sealed individually. Cheapster – but always clean and disposable:)

  • rowevelo says:

    I second the cleman dual fuel and even upped it with a primus $24 conversion. Now its a 3 fuel dream. Throw in a proper perculator I’m one happy camper.

    • Mtbr says:

      Row, Love to hear what your setup for java is. We’ve been doing Aeropress and digging it. In fact, we should have included it!

  • danny sintov says:

    i have seen a grizzly pounding away on a bear proof steel garbage container trying to open it and there’s no way that this plastic box is bear proof – it may be a good cooler but im sure if it was put to the test that a grizzly would rip that thing apart in a matter of seconds

    • Mtbr says:

      Danny – All we can do is relay that the manufacturer says it passes the standardized test for bear-proofness. We know bears in Yosemite have peeled car doors back like the top of a sardine can to get at errant french fries in the back seat…so yeah a grizzly could probably get in. For the most part we camp in raccoon territory and are happy to report those little b*stards have yet to infiltrate!

  • Erik says:

    Freeze 1 gallon water bottles, use them instead of ice. Melts into drinking water with no mess. If your cooler is good it will last a solid 4 days of camping.

  • xjcrawlr says:

    I am glad your Primus stove was so nice. I purchases one too, only to promptly return it. What junk. The grates were warped from welding and out of alignment by over 1/2 an inch. The metal was flimsy as a paper plate, and those little magnets to hold the side panels…please, my 5-year old blew on it and they folded.
    I will never get rid of my 1971 Coleman 426 stove.

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