10 Pounds of Kitchen, in a 5 Pound Box

One of the most critical parts of any outdoor adventure is a hot meal at the end of the day. And perhaps the most critical is a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. In this post we will unpack Founder Matt Smith's rafting kitchen box. Or just watch the video:


A few types of outdoor adventure allow you to really go wild on the gear included in your "kitchen," and that means the eating's usually good. Car/RV camping, overlanding and rafting are three types of adventure that fit this description. Enter the kitchen box: the one kit you grab that has everything needed to set up a great camp kitchen. In this post, I'll unpack my own kitchen box, giving you insight into some of my favorite tools, hopefully inspiring you to post pics of your own Kitchen box and maybe even enter our Kitchen Box Showdown competition.


What you're looking at is primarily a rafting box designed to be packed in the back of my boat with all my gear, as opposed to a more traditional aluminum box set into the raft frame. When I set out to build this box, there were a few constraints that decided the direction early on.


1.) I wanted to maximize space and build a really dense efficient box

2.) I didn't want it to take up too much space in my frame

3) I wanted my kitchen box to be big enough to accommodate a group of eight-to-12 people, but not groups larger than 20


I settled on the NRS Canyon as the base box. It's made from durable, rotomolded plastic with a built-in sealing gasket. I don't expect it to fully sustain a submersion, but it'll keep the splashes off the paper towels. A wet kitchen is not a trip-ruining affair.



From there, I built a set of custom wooden shelves and dividers so I can keep the two-burner stove on top, have room for a metal utensils and a nick-knack drawer, and extra compartments to keep items organized. (Important note; as the owner of a kitchen box you are signing up to either:


a) gradually increase your cup, plate, mug and utensil count or...

b) constantly be asking, "Who left this _____ in the kitchen?


I'm a fan of the first option.

Once unpacked, you can see how much gear fits in this small container.



I use a three-bin dish-washing station, where one bin is for rinsing, one is for soap, and one is for bleach. This is a common setup. (By the way, be sure to run the water through a strainer prior to dumping to get all the food bits out; campsite etiquette 201, and Leave No Trace ethics 101.


The nesting plastic bins are the catch-all for all items, including pots, pans, spices, sauces, etc.



Pots and pans require serious consideration. Sea To Summit makes a great set of collapsible kitchen components -- including a pot -- that nest perfectly in my fry pan. All the collapsible containers work great for sides or making a salad, then act as great seal-able leftover containers.


And there you have it, from two-burner stove to pots and pans, to utensils, to dish-washing station, to the CRUCIAL French press, and a dish drying rack on a tiny canyon box. For a list of my favorite items, see the below links. As usual, I'll provide my favorites; Sometimes those aren't depicted, but they're certainly what I would buy given a second chance.




The major items:


1) NRS Canyon Dry(ish) box.

2) Two-burner stove. This one depends on your budget. I've been running the old Coleman for years without issue. Camp Chef has good reviews, and the super high-end is the Partner.

3) Plates and Bowls: Any will do, but I chose these square plates for space efficiency, along with the matching bowls. I split the colors so they're easy to count at a glance.

4) I like non-stick pans when cooking outside for ease of cleanup. This one, by GSI, has been great.

5) The collapsing pot and containers by Sea to Summit are the key to space efficiency.

6) I tend to splurge on the French press and bring a really nice one from home, but choose your own adventure here.

7) For utensils, I keep a large stash that I have collected over the years in a storage bag, but I personally prefer the Outdoor Edge chow-pal all in one. This thing is money. See my ammo can post and video for more info.




Check out the Kitchen Box Showdown on instagram and facebook where we will host a competition where you and the rest of our users can duke it out to win the best kitchen box award as well as some fun prizes.