It's a little heavy, but entirely worth it.
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getty dutch oven
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It’s no longer unbearably hot outside (sometimes, like at night, it’s even kind of pleasant), which means the late-year camping season is finally upon us. It’s the proper environment for flannel shirts, roasting marshmallows, or sitting around a fire, all activities that constitute peak fall. Or perhaps you’re taking refuge from a hurricane in a state or national park—lots of parks offer discounted or free access to evacuees, so don’t overlook that offer.

Whatever the reason, if you’re enjoying the great outdoors you’re bound to get hungry, and camping-incited hunger is serious business. Our species mastered fire once before, and campside cooking is the perfect way to demonstrate that authority. I am no camping expert, just an enthusiast, but I’ve eaten enough to know that a properly cooked meal around the campfire will make sleeping on the ground a much more enjoyable experience. And while roasting a weenie on a stick is all good fun, it just can’t beat a meal cooked in a Dutch oven.

Watch: How to Make Foil Dinner Hobo Potatoes

No, it doesn't need to be a Le Cruset, just a plain old cast-iron Dutch oven. Like this one, which is a fraction of the price. Or this one, which is on sale and comes with a handy skillet lid. Unlike a lot of camping dinnerware and cookware, the Dutch oven isn’t finicky or compartmentalized. It’s stable and sturdy, because it’s iron. You load it, set it near heat, and leave it. You’re literally making a one-pot meal, just outdoors and without appliances. Instead, you have fire, foil, and coal. Take a look at our suggestions for cozy fireside meals below.

Check out this article for more on using a Dutch oven outdoors—and since you’re playing with fire, don’t forget the gloves or tongs.