The Best Size Cast Iron Skillet For Camping In 2021

Ready to test your cooking skills in the Great Outdoors?

If so, then you’re going to need a skillet that offers versatility for those fried eggs, bacon and breakfast hashes.

What’s the best size cast iron skillet for a camping trip though? In simple terms, it depends on what you want to cook, and how many people you’ll be cooking for.

This guide will help you make the right choice, and explain the most important things to consider when adding this kind of cookware to your collection.

(My home cookware guide contains plenty more tutorials and buying tips!)

Recommendations

If you’re in a rush and just want a quick recommendation, the following are the most popular options in each size category.

Read on to the next section for buying advice, then a closer look at each one of these skillets.

BEST 8 INCH CAMPING SKILLET – Lodge

Lodge rules the roost when it comes to cast iron skillets that can take the rough and tumble of outdoor living. The company’s eight inch skillet is the perfect tool for the solo adventurer.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Mini...
  • Cast iron provides superior heat retention and is unparalleled for even cooking
  • Cast Iron Skillet is seasoned with vegetable oil for a natural, easy-release finish that improves with...
  • Easy care: Hand wash, dry, rub with cooking oil. Holder is designed to fit snugly on Lodge...

BEST 10 INCH CAMPING SKILLET – Lodge

Lodge takes the top spot for 10 inch camping skillets too, and it’s made of lighter cast iron. This particular pan also comes with a helper handle, which makes moving the skillet much easier when it’s full.

Lodge Chef Collection 10 Inch Cast Iron Chef...
  • 10 INCH SEASONED CAST IRON CHEF STYLE SKILLET. A versatile and classic piece of cookware for any kitchen....
  • EASY TO CLEAN. No need to dread clean-up after a delicious meal. Simply hand wash the skillet, dry it and...
  • THE CHEF COLLECTION DIFFERENCE. The Chef Collection features 15% lighter cast iron, ergonomically...

BEST 12 INCH CAMPING SKILLET – Home Complete

If you want the largest skillet size for your next camping trip, Home Complete offers the best balance between versatility and cost. It comes with both a helper handle, and pouring notches to make serving up nice and easy.

Home-Complete Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron...
  • Cook your best food ever! Forget all those non-stick flimsy pans you have in your cabinets Use cast iron...
  • Taste the way food was meant to be made! Cast iron is preferred by gourmet chefs around the world and its...
  • Fast (pre-seasoned coating) even heating high heat No problem! An important part of cooking is...

(Heads up! If you click on a product link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I never recommend a product I wouldn’t use in my own kitchen, and this helps keep the site running. Thank you.)

Buying Guide

Size is the most important thing we’re considering here of course. Still, there are other things to watch out for when researching your next camping skillet.

Let’s Talk About Size

There are always outliers, but cast iron skillets are typically available in the following sizes:

  • 8 Inches
  • 10 Inches
  • 12 Inches

Note that when manufacturers advertise the size of a skillet, they’re almost always talking about the cooking surface.

The handle won’t be included, so make sure you keep that in mind. If you’re carrying this thing around in a backpack, you won’t want the pointy end of the handle stuck in your back all day.

What about the depth though?

If you’re mixing up a lot of ingredients, a deeper pan can really help you get a bigger portion onto every plate. 

Most pans are around two or three inches deep. If you’re short on packing space, it’s well worth looking for something with a smaller – yet deeper – cooking surface.

That won’t be much help when you’re frying eggs, but making a big breakfast hash is a piece of cake in a deep pan.

It’s all about working out what you’re going to need for your party size and cooking preferences.

Take those fried eggs, for example.

Let’s say a typical fried egg is around four to five inches wide. In that case you’ll have no trouble making breakfast for one with an eight inch skillet.

Is that a big enough size for two eggs though? Probably not. It’s better to go up at least one more size.

Make Sure You Can Keep It Clean & Dry

Cast iron skillets are wonderful things, but they absolutely must not be exposed to moisture for any longer than is necessary. 

It’s very easy for a damp skillet to develop rust. Although surface rust can be removed with a vinegar soak, you won’t be able to do that when you’re out in the wilds.

This problem will eventually work its way deeper into the material too, and you’ll be back in the market for a new camping skillet when you get back home.

Make sure the pan you buy can be stored in such a way that you can clean and dry it quickly, and then protect the surface from rain or dampness.

Be Sure It’s Built To Last

When you’re working in a home kitchen, it’s tempting to go for one of the fancier brands such as a Le Creuset

These skillets come with enamel layers, which provide an easy-use, non-stick surface. This layer protects the cast iron too.

It’s not such a good choice for wild camping though. This thing is likely to get knocked around while you’re out on your adventures, after all.

So-called “raw” cast iron is a better option, although you’ll want to make sure the pan has been well-seasoned before you head out. Fail to do so and your food will stick to the surface.

Seasoning cast iron can be a pain at the best of times. It’s really not practical to even try to do this when you’re away from your home oven.

Fortunately, cast iron is about as tough as cookware materials get. Even a basic cast iron skillet is perfect for taking away on your travels. 

Just make sure you grab a suitable spatula as well, so you don’t damage the seasoned surface while you’re away from home.

Need A Helper Handle?

Just a main handle is fine when you’re frying bacon and eggs.

A so-called “helper handle” can make life a lot easier when you’re cooking many things at once though.

These are found opposite the main handle, and allow you to carry the skillet like a tray. Handy stuff if you’re going from camper to camper to serve up!

Ingredients cooking in a skillet on a grill over a campfire

Camping Skillet Reviews

In the next section I’m going to highlight three different skillets, covering each of the three main sizes.

Each one has proved popular over many years, so all you have to do is work out the best size for your camping plans.

Lodge 8 Inch Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge is a very popular cast iron brand for both indoor and outdoor cooking.

The combination of craftsmanship and low weight (just 3.4 pounds) makes this the perfect 8 inch skillet for the solo camper who needs as light a load as possible.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Mini...
  • Cast iron provides superior heat retention and is unparalleled for even cooking
  • Cast Iron Skillet is seasoned with vegetable oil for a natural, easy-release finish that improves with...
  • Easy care: Hand wash, dry, rub with cooking oil. Holder is designed to fit snugly on Lodge...

It’s supplied pre-seasoned too. That makes it a good option if you’re in a rush before your next trip, although I’d recommend seasoning it at home if you have the time.

It also comes with a bright red silicone handle cover. This helps to protect your hands when you’re working with the unpredictable heat of a roaring campfire.

Just keep in mind that it is made of silicone at the end of the day, and so should be kept away from open flames.

All of Lodge’s cookware is manufactured at its US foundry, and it’s built to take a beating!

  • Size: 8 Inches
  • Weight: 3.4 Pounds
  • Handles: 1 x Main Handle (+ Silicone Grip)

Lodge 10 Inch Chef Collection Skillet

If you’re looking to go up a size, then I think Lodge once again has the best option in this category.

In terms of performance, things are much the same as they were with the eight inch version. You get the same heat performance, but a bigger surface area to work with.

Lodge Chef Collection 10 Inch Cast Iron Chef...
  • 10 INCH SEASONED CAST IRON CHEF STYLE SKILLET. A versatile and classic piece of cookware for any kitchen....
  • EASY TO CLEAN. No need to dread clean-up after a delicious meal. Simply hand wash the skillet, dry it and...
  • THE CHEF COLLECTION DIFFERENCE. The Chef Collection features 15% lighter cast iron, ergonomically...

Let’s talk about the differences, then.

Although this camping skillet is larger, the weight is mitigated somewhat by the lighter cast iron featured in the Chef Collection range.

Lodge claims this provides a 15% reduction in overall weight, which should make life on the camping trail that little bit easier.

It also features a helper handle that’s located on the opposite side from the main handle. If you’re cooking for more than one, the extra handle makes transferring the skillet around the camp much easier. 

Just watch your fingers though. The helper handle is much shorter, and so will get exposed to more of the campfire heat.

Even if you’re cooking at a very small scale, I’d be tempted to make room for this slightly larger – and more versatile – camping skillet.

  • Size: 10 Inches
  • Weight: 4.44 Pounds
  • Handles: 1 x Main, 1 x Helper Handle

Home Complete 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet

The Home Complete 12 Inch skillet is relatively heavy at 7.4 pounds, but that’s the nature of the beast when you’re moving up to the largest skillet sizes.

The reason I’m highlighting this one over an equivalent Lodge comes down to affordability and availability.

Home-Complete Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron...
  • Cook your best food ever! Forget all those non-stick flimsy pans you have in your cabinets Use cast iron...
  • Taste the way food was meant to be made! Cast iron is preferred by gourmet chefs around the world and its...
  • Fast (pre-seasoned coating) even heating high heat No problem! An important part of cooking is...

Larger Lodge pans are harder to come by at the time of writing this guide, but Home Complete offers similar performance at a similarly competitive price.

Like the 10 inch Lodge skillet, this also features a helper handle for easy transfer.

It also includes pouring notches on both of the sides that don’t have a handle. That means you can pour liquids out evenly, and without making a big mess of the campsite.

It’s a good all-rounder, in other words. If you can make room for a skillet of this size on your camping trip, you’ll find it a very versatile piece of cookware.

  • Size: 12 Inches
  • Weight: 7.4 Pounds
  • Handles: 1 x Main, 1 x Helper Handle

Wrapping Up

Hopefully that’s given you all the information you need to settle on the best size skillet for your next camping trip.

Even if you’ll only be cooking for one, try to make room for at least the Lodge 10 inch skillet in your backpack. 

Having a little extra room on the cooking surface will make life much more enjoyable, and isn’t too much of an extra burden to carry around with you.

Just don’t forget to store your cast iron correctly when you get back home, so it’s ready for the next adventure.

Happy cooking!