Imagine waking up in your tent in the morning and stepping outside to a chilly morning in the mountains. You’ll probably be looking forward to a hot cup of coffee to ease you into your day. Or perhaps you’re exhausted from setting up camp after a long day of hiking and the sun has gone down, making the air cold. After building a campfire, you may reach for your campfire mug to drink some hot tea or eat a meal.
So what is a campfire mug?
A campfire mug is a lightweight enameled or steel mug that you can take with you while camping to drink or eat from while sitting around the fire or campsite.
Here’s what we will cover so you know everything about campfire mugs
- How to choose the perfect campfire mug
- Eating and Drinking with a campfire mug
- Other uses for a campfire mug
- Related articles
How to Choose the Perfect Mug
When choosing a campfire mug, there are several things to keep in mind.
First of all, the mug must be lightweight enough that you can take it with you on all your adventures.
If you are backpacking, the size and compactness of the mug will be a bigger consideration. You’ll need to think about how much space it will take up in your backpack and how much the mug weighs because the heavier the backpack, the more fatigued you’ll be while hiking.
The weight of the mug depends largely on its materials, with many mugs being made from stainless steel, aluminum, silicon, ceramic, stoneware, or enamel. Each material has its own set of pros and cons so a little research will be necessary to find the one that works for you.
Enamelware cups are very durable, lightweight, and can be placed right into the fire. This can be very timesaving if you want to heat water for tea. Just fill the mug, place it in the fire, and toss in a teabag.
A good camping mug may also have insulation built in to keep drinks hot or cold. This will allow you to take a drink with you on the go and not worry about having to stop and reheat your coffee or have a cold drink become hot during the day.
Mug design is also important because this will lend itself to how convenient it is to use. The traditional campfire mug has a large C-shaped handle that is easy to grip, even if you’re wearing gloves. Having something to grip will make it easy to warm your hands and hang onto your drink even when you’re cold or tired.
However, if it’s more important to be able to put your mug into the side pocket of your backpack and take it with you while hiking, a tumbler or thermos style would be better suited.
Contemporary versions of the mug also come in a wide array of colors and can be customized with photos, quotes, favorite animals, or your name. The popular flecked ceramic mug usually comes in a neutral color like navy blue but you may want to consider a brighter color like red or orange in case you lose or drop your mug somewhere along the way.
The mug should also be durable to stand up to the outdoors. If you drop it, knock it over, or if it falls into the fire, it shouldn’t break easily or be damaged by heat. Because you’ll be using it a lot, it should be easy to clean between uses so you can rinse it out, clip it to your bag or stow it in your pack, and hit the trail.
Not all camping mugs have a lid but, if it’s important to be able to make coffee over the fire and then head out while you finish it, then a lid may be necessary. Make sure it is designed well and latches securely to prevent spills, messes, or burns from dousing yourself with hot beverages.
Another important consideration is how big the mug is. Smaller mugs usually hold 12 ounces while others increase to 14 or 15 ounces and the largest are 20 ounces or more. If you plan to use your mug for cooking, a larger one would be better. You should also look for one that has an internal volume scale if you’ll be mixing ingredients or making recipes in the mug.
Finally, look for a mug that is dishwasher safe so you can thoroughly clean it once you get home so it’s ready to go for the next trip. You’ll also be able to use the mug at home for your everyday drinks in between your next excursion into the outdoors.
Campfire Mugs for Eating & Drinking
The obvious use of a mug is to sip all your favorite warm drinks. While camping, this usually means a piping mug of coffee in the morning or some hot tea at night to warm up. You can also sip hot chocolate for a sweet treat and even water is delicious when drank from a campfire mug.
If you’re camping to celebrate a romantic anniversary, grab a matching pair of his and hers mugs and pour yourself some wine or champagne. Or warm up with some whiskey or other alcoholic beverage during a winter camping trip.
After you’ve had some coffee in the morning, a quick rinse of the mug will mean it’s ready to be used for your breakfast. Mix some oatmeal or cereal in the mug for a filling start to the day.
In the evening you can put your dinner in, warm it up over the fire, and eat directly from the mug. Because of their versatility, mugs allow you to take one item and not have to do the dishes to eat meals during your trip.
While the possibilities are almost endless, some easy things to eat from your mug include:
- Hot cereals: oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat
- Eggs: scrambled eggs, quiche, frittata
- Soups: chicken noodle, instant Ramen, tomato soup, chunky potato soup
- Stews: beef stew, chili, corn or seafood chowder
- Vegetables: baked beans, creamed corn, mashed potatoes
- Fruits: apple sauce, fruit cocktail, fresh fruit salad, baked apples
- Pasta: spaghetti and meatballs; macaroni and cheese
- Rice: stir fry with vegetables and meat; rice and beans
- Salads: potato salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, three-bean salad
- Grains: lentils, quinoa, couscous, buckwheat
If you have dehydrated meals, just pour them into your mug, add water, and cook them over your campfire. You could even make a chocolate cake in the mug by mixing your ingredients and “baking” the cake right over the coals.
Even if you don’t plan to eat directly from your mug, it is useful to use while cooking it is helpful to use it for mixing, measuring, or heating water if you didn’t bring a pot or kettle. If you have bigger cooking pots or a Dutch oven, a mug can be used as a ladle to serve portions into bowls.
Other Uses for a Mug
In addition to eating and drinking, a mug has other uses around the campsite and while out hiking or spending time in nature.
Instant Hand Warmer
When full of a hot beverage, a mug can double as a hand warmer, making you feel extra cozy. You’ll appreciate having the mug along especially if you forgot your gloves or weren’t expecting chilly weather. Drinking a warm beverage can also help you heat up before crawling into a cold sleeping bag.
Storage & Protection of Valuables
If you don’t want to take up room in your backpack, just clip the mug to the outside with a carabiner. Mugs that have a lid can double to hold things such as a handkerchief, chapstick, or extra pair of socks.
When packed inside your bag, stuff the mug with anything that you don’t want to get broken or damaged, such as a phone when not in use or camera lenses if you’re outside taking photographs of nature.
Transporting Water & Cleaning
Around the campsite, a mug can be taken to a water source and filled to douse a fire or help fill a pot or pitcher. Fill it with soapy water and rinse or wash your utensils or other items inside to conserve water.
If you aren’t using it to eat or drink from, repurpose a mug at mealtimes to make a vase for flowers to create a centerpiece or decoration in the middle of your picnic table. Or fill it with utensils and napkins so they’re in easy reach and don’t blow away.
At campsites where there is running water and a shower available, toss your toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, and other toiletries into your mug and take them to the bathroom. The mug will keep everything in one place and help you not to forget anything behind when you’re finished cleaning up.
During hikes in bear country, if you don’t have a bell or don’t want to make noise vocally, a metal or enamel mug can double as a noisemaker. Tap a metal utensil or carabiner against it to let wildlife know that you’re nearby so they don’t get startled.
Campfire mugs are a modern twist on the old tin cups that were used by farmhands, ranchers, and cowboys. They are an essential part of any packing list and will always come in handy when hiking, camping, or backpacking.
Even though they are small and may seem insignificant compared to other survival gear, this little accessory will undoubtedly become one of your most used and beloved items. Each scratch or ding will be reminiscent of an adventure and fond memories of meals eaten with friends around the campfire will last a lifetime.