How to Make 3 Camp Cooking Rigs

Turn sticks into an improvised campfire cooking system

No matter if you're in a survival setting or you're just camping out with the family, it's handy to have a safe and efficient campfire cooking system. For either situation, you'll need practical ways to suspend your cookware over the fire to boil water and cook food. It's also nice if you can make this stuff in the field rather than lugging more gear around. With all of that in mind, here are three of my favorite cooking rigs, made with only a saw and a pocketknife.

stick crane for campfire
The crane campfire setup.Tim MacWelch

1. Carve A Cooking Crane

One long stick, a forked stick, and a hooked stick can create a very effective cooking crane over your fire. Cut two pieces of wood with side branches. One should be “right side up” for the fork, and the other should be turned “upside down” to make the hook (since branches don’t usually grow downward). Carve points on the ends of these stakes and drive them into the ground. The upward fork should be closer to the fire, and the downward hook farther away. Place the long pole in this rig and leverage will hold it in place.

campfire hook
Hook for a campfire.Tim MacWelch

2. Whittle a Hoop Hook

Need a hook to hang your pot from a spit or tripod? With a knife and a fresh cut branch, you can make your own pot hook. Select a slender hardwood branch about a foot long. Cut it so that there is a long slender tail connected to a hook-like side branch. With your knife, pierce the thicker end of the long tail and thread the thinner end through it – thus making a hoop. If your branch isn’t that flexible, wait until your fire is going to make the bend. Heat the slender end of the branch over the fire. This will make the sap turn to steam inside the wood, and make the branch far more flexible.

camp cooking stick
The "dingle stick" setup for the campfire.Tim MacWelch

3. Dangle a Dingle Stick

This rig has cooked so many meals for me, I couldn’t even begin to count them. While this is the least steady set-up presented here, it’s secure enough when you build it right and don’t overload it. And it’s one of the fastest cooking rigs to build. Collect a straight stick, 2-3 feet long. Carve a point on the thicker end, and cut a small notch at the skinny end (or leave a natural “fork” to hold your pot handle). Stab the pointed end of the stick into the ground on an angle. Place a big stone or log under the leaning stick to prop it up. If you think you need it, place another big stone over the part of the stick in the ground, to keep it from coming up out of the dirt. Hang you pot on the end, and adjust the height of the pot by moving the rock back and forth.

How do you set up your camp cooking? Please share your tricks by leaving a comment.