I have been cooking in the mountains since I was a child. I have had a lot of great food and I have had some epic fails. There is a lot of thought and experience that comes into play when you have that amazing trip with great food. If you do not have great food it is hard to have an amazing trip.
Epic fails are always very disheartening. My most memorable happened when I was in college taking a survival class. We were on a weekend class and our assignment was to prepare food that would be ready when we returned from our hike. I was totally on it. I had prepared many meals in a dutch oven over the years camping in the Beartooths with my family so I was not prepared for my epic fail. I had decided to prepare apple crisp. A very simple, straight forward dish to prepare and bake. I prepared my pit with nice coals placed my dutch oven down into it and covered it slightly. I was ready to go have a great time on the mountain. We were in central Utah where there is a lot of unusual hiking trails. We were to be gone about an hour. I was excited to return and share my apple goodness with my team. I was so shocked when I returned to find my Dutch oven had totally melted down. Truly, it was a mass of metal. So , note to self, do not use ALUMINUM Dutch ovens for serious cooking in the mountains. I had rented it from the college and boy, were they surprised when I returned it. THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT IS EVERYTHING WHEN PLANNING FOR SUCCESS.
Brian would often cook for Elk Hunts with an outfitter friend of ours. Deer creek pass in the Absaroka Mountains is a very long way from anything but extremely rugged country in the high country next to Yellowstone. On his first trip as cook John explained to him the first rule of thumb was to have hot coffee ready when the hunters crawled out of bed. After that they are a little forgiving with how things go. He learned to plan meals that are fast and filling in the morning so the folks can be out on the hunt. In order to accommodate them he would need good thick iron griddles and pans. The nice super light pans of today do not hold up and burn just about everything. Our outfitter was always trying to improve his camp and lighten the loads of the horses. A lot of the new fangled materials and ideas may be good for a week or two but for weeks in high country the old stand bys are the best; Cast iron Dutch ovens for baking pork chops, chicken, breads, cobblers etc. A good heavy griddle and fry pan helps with all the rest.
As we put together our Dandy Camp Kitchen we took all this into account and included high quality and reliable cooking equipment that will keep you cooking no matter where you are. It is so frustrating to have equipment break. In the middle of a storm when you are trying to get wood gathered is no time to break a saw blade. If you are looking at buying a saw that gives you “an extra blade”. That is a bad sign. That means the manufacturer knows you are going to break the blade and be in trouble so at the get go they give you an extra one. We always take a Dandy Saw. It has a life time guarantee and we have never had one break. We use the Rocky Mountain griddle because it is solid and able to stand up to rough wear and tear. It is thick enough to provide even and constant cooking. All our other choices and made to last, not melt or tear or fall apart. Always choose good equipment if you want great food regardless of where you are cooking.