Camp Toaster Info Guide (2021 Review)

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Camp Toaster Info Guide (2021 Review)

A classic mainstay in almost every modern kitchen, toasters have been keeping food crisp, crunchy, and tan since at least 500 B.C. While the idea was originally exported from ancient Egypt to Rome, it wasn’t until the turn of the 18th century when Scottish scientist Alan MacMaster invented the first modern-day toaster (in 1893).

Originally used as a method to preserve bread and prevent mold, toasting food has evolved into an entire culinary discipline, with full-length books and classes about toasting. Luckily for us, this article is about camp toasters, which still rely on the basic method that the Egpytian’s first used: fire, food, and something to rest your food on.

In this article, I’ll discuss some brief history and science behind toasting food, the different types of camp toasters and uses, and provide a high-level guide to my favorite camp toasters.

Why Toasted Food?

Before we talk more about camp toasters, we need to have a hard conversation about an even tougher question.

No, I’m not talking about politics, religion, or the origin of life. I’m talking about something much much bigger. A single question that could very well be the most compelling of our time (spent reading this article):

Why do humans like toasted food, and why does toasting food matter?

Ok- sarcastic writing aside, let’s just assume that toasters are only significant in the world (and this article only exists) because most humans like toasted food.

But why?

History is Crispy

As I mentioned in the intro, the first record of humans “toasting” food was in ancient Egypt and Rome. This was done specifically as a means of preventing mold growth on bread.

However, if we go back even further (some two million years ago) there’s an evolutionary connection that likely plays an even bigger role in our affection for toasted food: the discovery of how to start a fire and the ability to make crispy, crunchy treats.

One of the leading experts on the historic relationship between humans and food is John S. Allen; a research scientist at the University of Southern California.

In an interview with the now-defunct website, extracrispy.com (but referenced from Sodelicious.com), John S. Allen spoke about this evolutionary leap and the connection to our preference for crunchy food:

In Allen’s words, “sometime between one or two million years ago, our ancestors started to make and use fire to cook food. This made available to them a whole new world of energy-rich foods to eat. Cooking introduced a different, ‘unnatural,’ source of crispy foods (e.g., the crust of meat) and gave the nutritional bonanza that cooking provided our ancestors, it was very useful for our ancestors to be attracted to cooked and crispy food”.

Science is Crunchy

In his book, “The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship with Food”, Allen elaborates even further:

“We like crunchy food because it is an indication that the food is fresh. The actual action of chewing crunchy food and the sound it makes is shown to be satisfying, like a form of catharsis. Studies have shown that stressed individuals prefer crunchy/salty foods as comfort food.”

Full circle back to camp toasters.

While there are surely many other factors influencing our taste for toasted food, at least one of them appears to be our primal pursuit of crispy, crunchy food.

And in the context of John Allen’s research, it appears as if there might just be a direct primal relationship between camping and toasters.

Now crunch on that for a second.

Types of Camp Toasters

Camp toasters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually designed to be used with a specific type of heat source such as an open flame campfire, a gas grill or stove, or a charcoal grill. Whether you’re backpacking, car camping, or glamping, there’s a growing list of camp toasters to fit most use case scenarios.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of camp toasters below.

Cast Iron

Square Pie Iron - Cast Iron
  • Make kid-pleasing toasted sandwiches or fruit pies
  • Extra-long handles with wooden grips
  • Includes lots of delicious recipes
  • Perfect for camping or the backyard fire pit
  • Seals the edges as it warms the filling

In most cases, cast iron camp toasters are actually designed to cook sandwiches and other food- not toast specifically. That said, cast iron is a do-it-all type of cookware that excels at cooking just about anything you can throw at it- toast included.

This makes cast iron sandwich cookers and toasters a versatile option for minimalists (like me), who like to reduce the number of cooking tools in their kitchen set.

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Excels at cooking other foods besides toast
  • Affordable
  • Easy to clean
  • Non-stick
  • Holds and distributes heat well

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • In some products, equal heat distribution can be a problem

Best Use Case

Due to the size and weight of cast iron toasters, these are best used in a car camping or front country setting.

Recommendation

The Rome Square Pie – Cast Iron is a compact and affordable option that is well known in the outdoor and camping world.

Grill Basket

Rome Industries Campfire Toaster
12 Reviews
Rome Industries Campfire Toaster
  • A must buy item.
  • Built to last.
  • Great item to Give as a gift.
  • Package dimensions: 24.25inches L x 4.5inches W x 1.25inches H

The most basic type of camp toaster, grill baskets are another versatile option that can be used to toast your food or cook an entire meal. These work by simply placing your food in a mesh or wire basket connected to a pole, and rotating the basket over an open flame.

Pros

  • Light
  • Portable
  • Affordable
  • Easy to clean
  • No need for a gas stove or charcoal grill

Cons

  • Requires active participation to get desired results
  • Limited toasting capacity in most baskets

Best Use Case

Grill baskets are a great option for all types of camping. However, unlike bigger and heavier camp toasters, grill baskets are a great choice for backpacking due to their lightweight, size, versatility, and portability.

Recommendation

Another item from Rome Industries, the Campfire Toaster is a lightweight grill basket that also has adjustable depths for thicker slices of toast (or sandwiches).

Wood Burning

REDCAMP Wood Burning Camp Stove
1,297 Reviews
REDCAMP Wood Burning Camp Stove
  • ▶MATERIAL: After we listening to the customer's adivce we will tear off the...
  • ▶STABLE AND SAFE: 304 Stainless Steel grid backing plate creates a stable...
  • ▶VARIOUS FUELS: The stove accept various fuels like leaves, twigs, you can get...
  • ▶FOLDABLE AND LIGHTWEIGHT: Easily collapsible and lightweight, Unfold size:...
  • ▶100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: REDCAMP offers a 360-day limited manufacturer...

One part barbeque grill, one part oven, and one part toaster. Wood-burning camp stoves are an interesting outlier when compared with traditional camp toasters.

Wood burning camp stoves work by burning small pieces of wood, twigs, coal, leaves (you name it) in a fire chamber at the bottom of the unit. Food is placed on the top of the unit and grilled/toasted to your preference.

Pros

  • Small and portable
  • Fun novelty item
  • Can grill/toast other food besides toast
  • Relatively affordable

Cons

  • Limited toasting space
  • Requires a small fire (be aware of current fire regulations and fire bans)
  • Can be difficult to clean

Best Use Case

While wood-burning camp stoves can be surprisingly light, I can’t imagine a scenario where I would want to hike one into the backcountry. Less is more when backpacking and you’ll be better off using a small gas camp stove.

That said, wood-burning camp stoves can be a great addition to any front-country camping trip.

Recommendation

The REDCAMP stainless steel wood-burning camp stove is small, light, and portable. The ability to fold and store in the included travel case makes this option a standout among other wood-burning camp stoves.

Box Style

Sale
Camp-A-Toaster
207 Reviews
Camp-A-Toaster
  • Package Dimensions: 9 L x 2.5 H x 5 W (inches)
  • Package Weight : 0.63 pounds
  • Country of Origin : China
  • Part number: CT1

Box style camp toasters generally consist of an open stainless steel box with a tray or trays to place toast, sandwiches, or other food. The box toaster is placed on a charcoal grill or propane camp stove, where the food is toasted directly from the stove or grill, or by radiant heat that’s emitted from the steel box.

Pros

  • Quick (faster than most electric toasters)
  • Evenly distributed toasting
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Produce a lot of heat (which can easily burn toast if you’re not careful)

Best Use Cases

While some box-style camp toasters collapse into a smaller size, they are still relatively bulky and I wouldn’t want to take one backpacking. However, they’re a great option for any kind of front country camping or picnic.

Recommendation

At less than a pound and less than 9 inches long, the Camp-A-Toaster is a well-established toaster that will take up minimal space in your kitchen kit.

Toaster Rack

Coghlan's Camp Stove Toaster
3,366 Reviews
Coghlan's Camp Stove Toaster
  • Diameter: 9 inches
  • Coghlan's Camp Stove Toaster
  • With exclusive sure-grip toast holders
  • Toast the way you like it outdoors
  • Folds to dinner plate size, 9 inch diameter

While some of the other options for camp toasters allow you to cook foods other than toast, in most cases toaster racks are designed specifically for cooking toast. Similar to a toaster box, toaster racks are for use with gas stoves, gas grills, and charcoal grills. Toast is placed on (what are usually upright) racks while radiant heat is directed into the center of the rack, which heats the toast.

Pros

  • Quick (faster than most electric toasters)
  • Evenly distributed toasting
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Toast will cool down quickly due to open-air rack
  • Requires manual flipping of toast

Best Use Cases

Like box-style camp toasters, toaster racks are best suited for front-country camping. While you could take a toaster rack backpacking, my preference would be a collapsable basket toaster.

Recommendation

The Coghlans Camp Stove Toaster has a minimalist design and is a great option for conserving space.

Solar Camp Toasters

Kalorik Stainless Steel 2 Slice Toaster
48 Reviews
Kalorik Stainless Steel 2 Slice Toaster
  • 4 functions with a LED light indicator for each: cancel toasting at any moment,...
  • Seven Level Adjustable Browning Controls- Shade control setting offers a full...
  • Each toaster has two slots that are 1.25 inches each that allow for a wide...
  • This toaster also provided electronic assistance- Includes and auto pop-up and...
  • Powerful 700 watts heats up your toast or bagels quickly so that you can get on...

This category almost didn’t make the cut. The reason being that I didn’t want to conflate camp toasters (which are almost always non-electric) with traditional toasters (which are almost always electric). I ultimately decided to add it because there are a few solar-powered outliers that deserve an honorable mention.

Now that we’ve cleared that up- solar-powered toasters are either powered by electricity that’s generated from the sun, or from direct solar energy (heat).

Pros

  • The sun is your energy source
  • No need for gas, charcoal, or fire

Cons

  • The sun is your energy source (no sun, no energy to toast food)
  • Expensive

Recommendation

In all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend a solar-powered charger unless you have a capable solar setup (including panel and battery bank). If you fall into that category, look for a low-wattage toaster like the Kalorik 2-Slice Toaster. The Kalorik uses very little energy (for an electric toaster) and can even be run off of a car adapter- though they recommend keeping your car running if you go that route.

FAQ

Why aren’t there more solar-powered toasters?

Solar technology has advanced very rapidly in recent years. Manufacturers have opted to focus on developing solar panels and power stations that can power all of our normal appliances (instead of integrating solar technology directly into appliances).

Check out this article for more information about solar camping gear: Must-Have Solar Camping Gear

What’s the best all-around camp toaster?

As I alluded to earlier in the article, I’m a minimalist camper and I like my camping gear to be practical for both backpacking and car camping. Because of this, I personally prefer grill baskets.

However, for someone that leans more towards car-camping / front-country camping, cast-iron toasters are an awesome option.  Not only can you toast bread, but you can also make paninis, square pies, waffles, and a whole host of other delicious food.

Conclusion

From the discovery of fire and the creation of “crunch” to the preservation of bread- humans have been toasting food for thousands of years. While technology has evolved, the underlying method for toasting remains unchanged: fire, food, and something to rest your food on.

So satisfy your primal instincts and find a camp toaster that’s right for you. It’s make your next camping adventure that more enjoyable.

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