A camper can never have enough gear. Or at least it's fun to believe so and to always keep an eye out for the next piece of camping gear to enhance the camping experience. Although, every camper has a few gear items that nearly always makes each camping trip because of its usefulness and durability. One such gear item is a cooking tripod, but more campers go without one than those who do.
Once experimented with, the versatility of a cooking tripod is soon revealed and added to the "must pack" list. A tripod is not for backpacking — too long and awkward to carry — but fits a car camping checklist. A cooking tripod consists of three sturdy, steel legs, a supporting hook attached to the center of the joining legs at the top, and a length of chain to connect a pot or grill to the tripod.
The cooking tripod provides an easy method to handle camp cooking duties over an open fire. Advantages of a cooking tripod, in addition to easy packing and handling, are the ability to quickly and easily adjust the cooking temperature — no matter what pot or pan type or size being used. Simply shorten the supporting chain to raise the cooking utensil to lower the temp and lengthen the chain to put the utensil closer to the campfire for more heat. Before starting the cooking chores, and before building the campfire, set the tripod up and adjust the legs to ensure there is ample space between the future fire and where the pot, pan, or grill will hang.
A cooking tripod will support a suspended Dutch oven efficiently. A common campfire cooking practice is to slowly stew a soup in a Dutch oven hanging from a tripod over an open flame. Or, hang a Dutch oven from a tripod to keep a previously cooked meal warm for later. Other, more modern design pots also work well with tripod cooking techniques. Heating water for use in creating other dishes is easily accomplished by hanging from a tripod.
Available as a cooking accessory for tripod campfire cooking is a grill grate that is suspended by three chains to the tripod's center hanging hook. The tripod grill takes a few seconds of effort to find the balance to provide a level grilling surface. Once the grill is hung level, adding food to grill can begin with ease. A coffee pot can be set on the grill, but be careful not to get the grill swinging to the point the pot spills and douses the fire.
Either for grilling or simmering a hanging pot of chili soup, a tripod works well. After a few camping trips, your skills at setting up a tripod strategically and centered over the campfire will sharpen. Experiment with adjusting the chain and hook points (with leather gloves) to enhance your campfire cooking talents. There is something special about scooping out a bowl of steaming soup from a cast iron pot hanging over a campfire.