In this article, we cover the big items that make up a rafting kitchen setup. These are stoves, blasters, tables, kitchen organizers and dishes. This isn’t a definitive guide, just what works for me and the equipment I prefer.
Partner Steel Stove
Price: $677 (4-burner)
Partner Steel out of Pocatello ID is known for making well-built, easy-to-maintain, easy-to-fix river camp stoves. I like the real estate of their six burner stove, but the 4 burner is the norm if you rent from a Grand Canyon company and works just fine for all meals. What makes these stoves great is their simple design that is easy to clean, take apart, troubleshoot, and repair. I also suggest spending a little bit more for the stove repair kit, sticking it in the bottom of your comm box and you likely won’t ever need it.
Complementing a Partner Stove is their griddles which are built to fit their stoves perfectly. One is fine, but you might as well get two for full coverage.
Also by Partner Steel, the appropriately named blaster is nice to have if you have plenty of propane. It heats water quickly, and it sounds like a rocket. You typically have to request it if you’re renting from a Grand Canyon outfitter. If you don’t end up with one, plan ahead by ensuring you get water on the stove or fire early. Finally, if you’re bringing a blaster, also have a propane Y-splitter. These allow you to run one propane tank for both the stove and blaster.
Long table price: $350
Roll-a-table price: $100
Three long tables and two roll-a-tables work well for a 16 person camp. If you want a designated serving table and dishes table, then bring more, assuming you have the luxury of space and the equipment. Larger groups can make it work with two long tables and a single roll-a-table, but it will be tight. It all depends on what kind of meals you’re cooking and how many people are on the trip. Throw some easy-to-clean tablecloths on those tables too. The kind you can wipe down with a sponge, nothing cloth. Remember to not put a stove on a tablecloth.
Utensil & kitchen organizer
Whether you place the basic silverware such as forks, spoons, etc in Tupperware or in a rolling organizer, it doesn’t matter. Implement a system and go with it. For the kitchen items though like knives, openers, etc, you’ll want a rollable, hanging setup that can be attached to the end of a long table. And speaking of knives, get knives with sheaths and don’t forget a sharpener and know how to use one correctly. Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones.
Dish set up
Exploring the different discussions of the best and safest methods of dishwashing and sanitation is worthy of its own blog post. People on the internet are very outspoken on this. I like the four-bucket system.
Bucket one: Pre-wash, cold river water.
Bucket two: Hot, soapy water.
Bucket three: Hot, non-soapy rinse water.
Bucket four: Cold water with a little bleach.
Tips: 1) Place a trash can at the front of the dish line to encourage people to use that instead of mucking up your first bucket immediately. 2) Designate a rubber spatula as the dish spatula and have folks use that for scraping into the trash. 3) Powdered or crystal bleach is easier to pack and less likely to spill. 4) Buy nestable, metal buckets with handles so you can fill them easily and heat them directly on a flame. 5) Run to your local hardware store and buy a paint scraper for easy cleanup of extremely gunked-up griddles. Your dish crew will praise you.
Finally, don’t forget the dish sling to attach to the dish table.