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How to make toast whilst camping - or without an electric toaster

How do you achieve real toast without the convenience of an electric toaster?How do you achieve real toast without the convenience of an electric toaster?Bet you never thought you’d be reading an article about how to make toast did you? Thought you had that one down didn’t you? I’ll bet you never even gave it a thought until the realisation that there is no electric toaster to call on in the wilds! I mean sandwiches are OK, and cereal will get you by, but in my opinion nothing quite compares to the satisfying, day-fuelling power of a slice of toast (or two) for your breakfast – especially if you pair it with eggs.


Of course we could have an actual toaster on board for when we’re plugged in to on-site electric hookup but for all the space one would take up it just didn’t make the cut – plus there’s still the question of what to do when off-grid wild camping? There are hundreds of gadgets out there dedicated to achieving toast in the wilds, but which ones actually work?


Keep scrolling to see what we decided on below, and what else seems to do the trick for other campers:


The dry-fry:

You might not even need a gadget if you have a frying pan with you! Get the pan nice and hot and essentially dry fry your bread, pressing it down gently to toast evenly. Flip it over to toast the other side and you’re all done! It all happens quite quickly, though the bread retains a degree of moistness in the centre so not as satisfying a crunch when you bite in, in my opinion, Ryan isn’t a fan of dry crunchy toast so he actually prefers it this way.

An added bonus is that if you toast your bread after cooking bacon etc you get a nice bit of flavour-transfer going on and end up with something in between toast and fried bread if there’s still some fat in the pan…


We like (no wait, we absolutely LOVE!) our Netherton Foundry iron ‘glamping’ pan. It’s made from naturally non stick iron, spun rather than cast for less weight, with a handle that can be folded into the pan itself for stashing conveniently away in backpacks and small cupboards.


Folding stove-top toaster:

For me personally toast has to have a good crunch to it, and this fold-flat toaster certainly gets the job done! It’s what we used for a couple of years on board Waki - until we installed the gas grill anyway. Ours lasted for a good couple of years before we installed the gas grill in Waki but was still in good working order, albeit looking a bit of a mess when it was ‘retired’. Well worth the money spent, which let's face it wasn’t a lot to start with!

It’s compact, extremely lightweight, and works over the flames of a gas hob/trangia stove. It takes a lot longer to brown the bread than pressing the bread in a frying pan, and you’ll have to do a bit of slice rotation to ensure it toasts everything evenly but it does make ‘proper’ crunchy toast so is a pass in my opinion!


Over the fire:

Admit it, this is what you had in mind when you thought of making toast whilst camping isn’t it? The smoke flavours mingle with the bread until you feel like a real mountain man/woman. Make sure with any cooking fire that you’re using a non toxic kind of wood so you don’t accidentally make anyone ill!

The simplest way is to use the wire grill from a BBQ, rake a portion of the fire out into hot coals and position the grill a few inches above. Ideally you don’t want actual flames licking around your bread or it will in all likelihood catch fire itself! Alternatively you can thread your bread onto some long-pronged toasting forks like the set below and hold it over the fire until done to your liking (of course this method will result in wavy toast with some holes in it!).


In my opinion a set of toasting forks totally win the whole multi-use utensil argument since you can also use them to make kebabs, cook sausages and bacon, and of course (the ultimate of toasting-craft) marshmallows! This particular set of forks are telescopic meaning they allow you to keep yourself and the handle safely away from the heat and smoke of the fire as well as pack down into a small bag, and even feature attractive colour coded rings to help keep track of whose fork is whose.


Gas Grill:

There are so many variations of grill to choose from, and for those of you in camper vans, caravans, or motor homes it might even be installed already. The benefits of a gas grill is that it gets to working temperature quickly and is so very efficient on fuel. Perfect for large groups of campers or families who’ll be wanting a lot of toast on demand!


This grill and double hob combo by the popular brand CampingGaz is currently a best seller on Amazon and means you can still use the hobs for cooking the rest of breakfast / making the morning tea at the same time.



The panini-press:

A pressed toasty is especially nice to hold with chilly fingers in some windswept place whilst you huff the steam from the hot cheese... These cast iron panini presses are designed to stand in the hot coals of your campfire (very cool!) or even work in or on top of a wood burning stove, use the weighty lid with a little extra encouragement to magically press your otherwise boring cheese sandwiches into crisp-gooey wonders. It also makes good naan and bannock bread. Experimentation has seen us learn that it works equally well on both a gas and electric hob, though can take a few minutes to get up to a toasting temperature.

The panini press also serves to make toast in the dry-fry method (if not pressed to death anyway); get it up to temperature, pop in your bread and gently place the lid on top without pressing. After several seconds, depending on the temperature of the press, flip the bread over and allow to toast on the other side until done to your liking. I’ll let you into a secret - the beautiful toast in the top picture was made using our panini press!

Being cast iron, they are of course extremely heavy so not something you’re likely to want in your bag for a long hike, but perfect for the camper van or if the car will be close by. I’ll admit that at first I was slightly annoyed at another one of Ryan’s impulse purchases, but I’ve quickly come around to love it!


Which is your favourite method of making toast? And more importantly, what do you like to have on your toast?


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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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