Camp Westfalia

Archive for Cookware

Setting Up Your Camper Van Kitchen

How to outfit and organize your campervan kitchen to make the most of your precious cooking and clean-up time!

The Westfalia Camper boasts a small galley kitchenette which includes a refrigerator powered by AC/DC electricity or by liquid propane, a two-burner LP stove for cooking, and a sink for food prep and cleanup. Storage for food and kitchen wares is provided by several cabinets.

Like most campervans and other small motorhomes, space is at a premium, so smart use of limited resources will help you stay organized and make cooking easy and fun. Here are some ideas for outfitting your own camper van kitchen.

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Dry packaged and canned goods are perhaps best kept in the two rearmost top-entry cabinets. A compact tea kettle with folding handle may fit inside the sink, along with Camp-Suds and scrubby for dishwashing.

Cutlery, knives, can opener, and most other cooking utensils will fit in the small drawer below the sink.

The large cabinet below provides pretty ample storage for pots, pans, griddles, and food storage containers. A dishpan serves as a handy ‘drawer’ to organize most cooking wares, and can also be used for its original purpose.

To prevent jostling and annoying rattles while driving, place thin rubber shelf liners inside cabinets, and dish towels and pot holders or trivets can be laid over the stove burners.

Just as at home, you’ll want to store leftovers or other unused foods for later use. Lightweight plastic food containers with snap-on lids save space, both when nested for storage, and when stacked for keeping food. Work well for dry goods and refrigerated items. Smaller quantities can be kept in zipper-lock plastic baggies. A few chip clips for resealing plastic food and snack bags.

Work Surfaces

Space for food prep is in short supply in the Westfalia, so be smart and creative.

The original Westy table can be mounted either directly behind the driver’s seat, or above the rear kitchen cabinets, and can be pivoted in a range of positions for best use.

If not immediately using the stove burners, flip down the stainless steel drain board, or close the lid completely to use the countertop surface.

When the popup roof is raised, there is a large ‘shelf’ offered by the folded upper bunk; this is a great place for ingredients, cookware, and utensils you’ll be using immediately.

A large cutting board makes for an additional, portable work surface for chopping vegetables, assembling sandwiches, and other food prep. Get one with raised edges to help contain messes.


Modern cooksets made for camping and backpacking offer several advantages over pots and pans from your home kitchen. Most can be nested inside one another, or feature folding handles, to save space and reduce clutter. They’re often made of aluminum or other lightweight materials. Many feature bottoms optimized for better heat dispersion when cooking on a camp stove or small burner, to avoid scorching.

Most such cooksets include a small- and a medium-sized pot, a small frypan, and a lid and handle/gripper to fit them all. When cooking for two, a 1 1/2-quart and a 2-quart pot should be sufficient; larger sets are available for larger crews.

Though small, the included frying pan does have its uses for light-duty heating, but you’ll probably want a larger pan for most frying, sautéing, and flapjacking. If your pan doesn’t include a lid, pick one up in a thrift store.

Oven mitts or pot holders protect your hands and countertops when handling hot pans.

A small set of kitchen knives of various sizes with snap-on sheathes will provide all your chopping, dicing, and mincing needs.

Two or three mixing bowls of various sizes; double as serving bowls for chips and other snacks.

Other typical cooking utensils: spatula, spoons, ladles. Smaller, lightweight camping versions save space and weight. Can opener, bottle opener, and corkscrew. Small multi-spice shakers. A grater for cheeses, vegetables, and other foods. A collapsible strainer for draining pasta.


Cooking in your campervan can be fun, but eating is even better! Again, lightweight and compact is the key here, and dining wares made for camping & backpacking are the ticket.

Stacking, plastic plates and bowls are durable and quiet, and help keep your food warmer longer, especially when dining outdoors.

Matching polycarbonate cutlery offer the same advantages: knives, forks, spoons, even the thrifty and versatile spork.

The same thermal beverage mugs or cups used when driving can be utilized at the dinner table, or use dedicated plastic cups and glasses for meal time.

Use placemats or a heavy vinyl tablecloth on untidy outdoor campsite picnic tables, especially if the previous occupant gutted a couple of brook trout on the table, or was an incontinent seagull …


Seldom the favorite part of mealtime, there’s no need for tidying up to be laborious. Like cooking, let’s keep it quick and easy.

Stow any leftovers away in the storage containers mentioned above. Scrape any heavy remainders from cookware using a thin plastic pot scraper.

A five-gallon plastic bucket with a padded seat, often used by hunters and fisherfolk, also serves as a convenient container for trash and recyclables when lined with a couple of trash bags.

Water can be heated in a teakettle while you eat, then used for dishwashing and cleanup. Simply pour it into the Westfalia kitchen sink or a separate dishpan, and add cold water to temper.

Conserve your biodegradable Camp-Suds by applying a few drops directly to your non-scratch scouring pad. Start by washing your least-dirty cups, cutlery, and plates first, followed by the messier, greasier pots and pans. Rinse cookware directly in the kitchen sink, and set out on the drain board to dry.

Synthetic microfiber dish towels are extra-absorbent and quick-drying.

Dirty dishwater should be collected in a gray-water container, and not drained directly on the ground. Empty the container in a campground toilet or a designated dishwater-collection receptacle.


Any ways in which you can get double duty out of your kitchen gear will save you space, expense, and time!

  • A large cutting board with raised sides can also be used as a serving platter for sandwiches, wraps, and other foods.
  • A flat grater for shredding vegetables and cheese takes up almost no space, and doubles as a pasta strainer!
  • Experienced backpackers often eat from the same pot in which they cooked, using the same spoon with which they stirred, to minimize clean-up time.
  • Slip dish cloths between pots and plates to protect non-stick coatings, and store towels and pot holders on the stove burners to help reduce annoying rattles while underway.
  • Mixing bowls can also be used as serving bowls for snacks, or use food storage containers for both!

Finally …

With some basic camp-cooking and serving wares, and some smart packing, you can make the most of your Westfalia Camper kitchen.

Find more ideas for packing and organizing your entire van here!

Got any Westy kitchen cooking & clean-up advice or tips? Leave a suggestion or question below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Using the Westfalia Kitchen Sink

The galley sink, like many other Westfalia components, is a handy and compact feature that makes cooking and kitchen cleanup easier, with no need to haul big jugs of fresh water around, or to wash your dishes out in the rain and bugs.

With a Vanagon Westfalia Camper, you have everything AND the kitchen sink!

Full operating instructions excerpted from the “Supplement to Volkswagen Vanagon Owner’s Manual” for the 1983 Camper can be found here >>


Tucked away beneath the main galley cabinet lid is the stainless steel sink, right next to the two-burner stove. The sink’s water is supplied by one of two sources:

Onboard water tank
Concealed beneath the rearmost galley cabinet is a 13.2-US-gallon (50-liter) plastic water storage tank. It is easily filled from a home or campground water hose via the external filler port, the rearmost of the three hookups located on the driver’s side (before filling the tank, be sure the drain cap on the underside of the van is secured). You’ll need a key to unlock the filler port, to prevent tampering. Inside the tank is a small submersible water pump, which sends water to the sink via a hidden hose routed behind the cabinets and fridge.
After a trip, this supply tank should be drained and cleaned and dried, for proper hygiene; see below.

High-pressure ‘City’ water connection
This is the forward-most of the external camper hookups, and accepts a standard garden hose. Connect the other end to a campsite water supply. The standard city water supply pressure of 40-50 PSI may be too much for the old plastic connectors and supply hose inside the van, so you may consider an aftermarket pressure regulator made for this purpose.

At 10.5 inches (265 mm) in diameter, and just 1.7 gallons (6.4 liters) capacity, the sink is … of humble proportions. But it’s large enough to fit a few plates and a couple of bowls, and is perhaps best used for washing dirty dishes individually.

It’s also just the right dimensions to store a vintage tea kettle (color matched to our Ivory Vanagon, and featuring the same number of dents), which I picked up in a thrift store several years ago while travelling. Such a kettle, or a modern equivalent, is great for heating water for instant oatmeal, coffee, or dishwashing. Or, of course, for tea.

Just to the left of the sink, mounted to the underside of the kitchen cabinet lid, is a protective heat shield. On Canadian models, this deflector is permanently affixed; on US models, this heat shield can be unsnapped and hinged downward to lay flat, to serve as a drain board when washing & drying dishes (note the angled surface and small drain slot over the sink).

NOTE: Many new Westfalia owners mistakenly assume this heat shield/drain board is a griddle or hot plate. It is not, and this will quickly discolor and buckle the heat shield, and food will stick and burn. DO NOT USE IT AS COOKING SURFACE.

Checking the Water Level

Turn on the main switch (G) on the kitchen control panel. The left column of lights indicates the remaining volume of fresh water in the storage tank as follows:
(C) Green: 13.2-10.5 US gallons (50-40 liters)
(D) Yellow: 10.5-4.0 US gallons (40-15 liters)
(E) Red: 4.0-0.8 US gallons (15-3 liters)

Turning on the Taps

Before using your kitchen sink, be sure to remove the drain cap located on the underside of the van, just behind the left-front wheel. Replace after using.

The knob on top of the sink faucet controls the water flow: turn the knob counter-clockwise in the direction of the “T” mark to activate the tank pump and draw water from the onboard storage tank, turn clockwise toward the “C” mark to draw city water when connected to an external supply.

If your sink has not been used in some time, it may take a few tries for the pump to prime the supply lines and for water to flow from the tap.

You can also install an aftermarket hands-free foot switch to turn the tank pump on/off, which makes rinsing dishes and cookware easier.


Just like your kitchen sink at home, the Westy sink has a drain stopper/strainer so you can fill the sink right up. When done washing, simply rotate the stopper to allow the water to drain out, straining large food particles and debris which might otherwise plug your P-trap or drain line.

Whether camped in an established campground or in the backcountry, it’s important that “gray” water—used dish and hand washing water—not be dumped on the ground. Connect a hose to the drain outlet on the underside of the van and run this to a campsite wastewater collection hookup, or use your own portable gray water collector.

Water System Care & Maintenance

After each trip, as part of your basic routine, pour a half-gallon of hot fresh water down the sink drain to flush any debris from the P-trap, then rinse and dry your gray water bag.

Remove the cap from the bottom of the water storage tank to drain the unused water, and maybe drive around like this for a bit to allow any remaining water to slosh out.

If you notice stale tastes or odors from your Westfalia water system, try adding an ounce of RV water freshener to each tankful. This can help reduce the taste of plastic, metal or sulfur, and eliminate algae and slime buildup in your water tank.

For more seasonal care to keep your water system clean and healthy, see “Winterize Your Westfalia for Storage.”

Finally …

Along with the stove and refrigerator, the water supply and sink system is just another of the ingenious features that makes a Westfalia Camper a home. We use ours regularly, and besides the periodic cleaning and maintenance mentioned here, have only recently had to replace the original 35-year-old main water pump.

It’s a convenient feature for meal prep and cleanup, and provides cool drinking water and hot coffee in the morning. Heck, I once even replenished a leaking engine coolant system with water from the kitchen sink!

Have any questions or comments about the Westfalia kitchen sink and water supply? Post ’em below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Product Review: Thermos Sipp Travel Mug

This sleek stainless steel 16-ounce travel mug with leak-proof lid keeps drinks hot and cold for hours.


Dimensions: 3.5 Dia x 5 Dia x 8 Height inches (89 x 127 x 203 MM)
Capacity: 16 fluid ounces (470 ml)

  • Keeps liquids hot for 5 hours and cold for 9 hours
  • Leak-proof lid with one-hand push-button operation
  • Lid is BPA-free and has a built- in tea hook for tea bags or most loose-leaf infusers
  • Cleans easily

On a long road trip, especially if you’re starting early each day or driving late, a caffeinated beverage is often your best companion. You know, after your actual travelling companion …

And a dependable travel mug is a crucial component of that caffeine-delivery system, one that keeps hot stuff hot, or cold stuff cold, as needed. One that doesn’t leak or spill, and which feels good in the hand. We’ve gone through a few mugs over the years of Westy travelling, in a variety of materials and shapes and prices. And we’ve frequently been disappointed after a while, for one reason or another.

But, like finding the perfect roadtrippin’ partner, I think we may have found The One.

Get the Thermos Sipp here

First Impressions

Thermos has been making vacuum-insulated beverage flasks for over 100 years, and they know their stuff. Their Sipp travel mugs are tall, slim, stainless steel flasks, narrow at the bottom and tapering to a wider top, and they fit well in your hand.

The screw-on plastic lid has an integrated valve operated by a small button, which securely seals the beverage inside to prevent spilling or heat loss.

On The Road or In Camp

The Thermos Sipp fits well in nearly all beverage holders, and is a perfect match for our Sports Imports Folding Cup Holders. When travelling, it’s easy to grab, depress the push button, and sip your favorite beverage.

The Sipp keeps coffee scaldingly hot for a couple of hours, and amazingly drinkable for a couple hours more. Cold beverages stay cold even longer.

Though tall and potentially top heavy when full, the Sipp has never toppled out of our cup holders, and even when knocked over on a picnic table the sealed lid prevents spills.

The Sipp is available with or without a handle, and comes in six colors. Most colors include a white lid, but the Silver model comes with a Black lid, which can sometimes make it difficult to see the two sipping slots. I simply marked my lid with a Sharpie, to prevent embarrassing dribbles.

Cleanup is easy with a good wash and rinse, though the underside of the lid’s valve will benefit from a periodic disassembly and a thorough cleaning, especially if you often enjoy cream, flavored coffees, or sugary beverages.

In The Long Run

We’ve been using our Thermos Sipps for a few years now, for Westy travelling and for everyday driving. I even use mine for multi-day kayak-camping trips, the no-leak lid allowing me to carry hot coffee ready at hand, strapped to my foredeck.

Setting out for a day of windshield touring, we can easily make it all morning with two steaming mugs of coffee or tea, and the Sipp’s no-spill design is perfectly suited for the rough-and-tumble environment of a camper van.

On those long driving days, the Thermos Sipp travel mug is the perfect travelling companion!

Hits: keeps beverages hot and cold for hours, stylish design fits well in hand, no-spill lid, easy cleaning
Misses: can be somewhat tippy when full, lid valve requires periodic disassembly for cleaning

Get the Thermos Sipp here

10 Great Van Camping Accessories

Any day spent on the road is better than a day spent at work, and a good piece of travel gear can make it even better.

gazetteerDeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers

Vanagon campers tend to take the road less traveled, beyond the borderlands of Wi-Fi, cell service, and flush toilets. The DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers will help you find your way there and back again.

These large-format topographic atlases offer comprehensive details: back roads, backwater lakes and streams, boat ramps, forests, wetlands, trailheads, campgrounds, public lands, prime hunting and fishing spots, and countless landmarks and points of interest. Available for all 50 U.S. states.

Get the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers here.

outdoor-products-mammoth-duffel-bag Outdoor Products Deluxe Duffle, Mammoth Size

This large-capacity duffle bag fits perfectly in the Westfalia’s overhead luggage rack, and carries loads of outdoor camping gear. The round barrel shape (18 x 18 x 41 inches) organizes your camp furniture, tarps or flies for rain or shade, small coolers, and other camp gear, freeing up space inside your Vanagon. The water-resistant oxford nylon fabric will protect your gear, and the 2″ web handles make for easy carrying.bungee-net

Get the Outdoor Products Deluxe Duffle here.

Keep the duffle bag and other gear securely in place with this elastic bungee net.


gsi-salt-pepper-shakerGSI Outdoors Salt & Pepper Shaker

This compact, lightweight, dual-compartment shaker holds your salt and pepper, or any other spices you use in your camp kitchen. The waterproof screw caps keep spices dry, and the dispensing screens and caps are easily removed for cleaning and refilling.

This shaker neatly fits in the small Westfalia silverware drawer, so it’s always ready to lend some seasoning to your campsite meals.

Get the GSI Outdoors Salt & Pepper Shaker here.

kampnikKampnik Campground-Finder app

This smartphone app helps you quickly and easily find a great campground while on the road.

Built on the venerable database of more than 13,000 campgrounds in the United States and Canada, Kampnik allows you to find public campgrounds in National Parks, National Forests, Provincial Parks, State Parks, City and County Parks, and more on federal, state, provincial, and local lands. Find campgrounds by browsing a map, or search by name, park, or forest name.

Kampnik should be in the pocket of every Vanagon traveler!

Get the Kampnik Campground-Finder app here

Stack the interlocking blocks to create a solid 'ramp' on which to park.Tri-Lynx RV Levelers

RV leveling blocks keep your Westy interior more comfortably ‘on the level’, and help prevent permanent damage to your Dometic fridge.  The Tri-Lynx “Lynx Levelers” include ten sturdy interlocking blocks, packed in their own zipper pouch. The whole pack fits nicely under the Vanagon rear bench seat, and are a smart solution to a common problem.

Get the Tri-Lynx RV Levelers here.

GearWrench 12-piece Metric Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

The wise traveler will always carry at least a few tools when rolling in a vintage van, but storage space is always at a premium. These combination wrenches include standard open-end jaws plus ratcheting box ends, all in one slim tool great for fitting into confined spaces.
Includes 12 metric sizes: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 mm.

Get the GearWrench Metric Ratcheting Wrench Set here.

tool-rollTool Roll Pouch

Keep your wrenches, sockets, and other important fix-it stuff organized and ready. This compact tool roll includes a variety of pocket sizes for all kinds of tools. The adjustable quick-release buckle fastens the pouch when not in use, and the carrying handle makes for easy transport.

Get the Tool Roll Pouch here.

jiffy-popJiffy Pop Butter-Flavored Popcorn

Imagine my recent gustatorial elation when I spied a pack of Jiffy-Pop popcorn on a grocer’s shelf while on a road trip far from home. That night back in our campsite, this classic blast from the past tasted every bit as good as my childhood memories …

The Jiffy-Pop self-contained easy-pop foil baskets include all the popcorn and oil you’ll need, so just heat it up on the Westy stovetop or campfire (shake vigorously), and you’ll have a quick and easy snack in just minutes. The magical self-rising foil dome provides a bit of much-needed entertainment value for the bored kiddies, making it almost as much fun to watch as it is to eat!

Available in regular and butter-flavored.

Get Jiffy Pop Butter-Flavored Popcorn here.

gasbuddyGasBuddy Mobile Fuel-Finder app

GasBuddy is the world’s largest community-based fuel app, with over 60 million downloads worldwide. Using information provided by users, you can easily find nearby fuel stops, and save money and time.

Get the GasBuddy Mobile Fuel-Finder app here.

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo folding fry panGSI Outdoors Bugaboo Folding Camp Fry Pan

A lightweight, compact non-stick frying pan with folding handle for van-camping and travel. Featuring quality construction, a durable non-stick coating, easy cleaning, even heating, and compact folding design.

The 10-inch Bugaboo pan fits nicely on the Westfalia stove top without crowding out other pots on the adjacent burners, and easily folds up and is stowed with the other pots and pans in the lower kitchen cabinet.

Read the full review here.
Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here.

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Product Review: GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Folding Camp Fry Pan

A lightweight, compact non-stick frying pan with folding handle for van-camping and travel


  • Durable high quality aluminum
  • Easy-to-clean Teflon® Classic non-stick surface
  • Folding handle makes it easy to pack and easy to store
  • Available in three sizes:
    8 inches (20 cm): 12.8 oz (363 g)
    10 inches (25 cm): 17.7 oz (502 g)
    12 inches (30 cm): 1 lb,. 12 oz (794 g)

The GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan claims to offer all the durability and even heating of a conventional home frying pan, but in a compact and lightweight design suitable for backpacking, kayak-touring, and car- and van-camping. But can any one pan meet all these requirements without sacrificing function and easy cleaning?

Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of frying pans for van-camping and kayak-touring. Typical home-kitchen pans, though offering good non-stick surfaces and even heating, are heavy and bulky, while dinky lightweight backpacking pans are often too small for more than two eggs at a time, and often lack permanent handles, relying instead on separate pot grippers.

Many cheaper versions of dedicated folding camp frypans seem to skimp on wall thickness, resulting in uneven heating and burnt-on food. Even their non-stick coatings seem to be little thicker than spray paint, and soon begin flaking off after a few camping seasons, making both cooking and clean-up more difficult.

The GSI Bugaboo seems to have done the thing so obvious that no one else has thought of it: combine the best of both into one easy-cooking and easy-cleaning, compact folding pan.

Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here

First Impressions

GSI-Frypan-2On first appearance, the GSI Bugaboo seems little more than a conventional home-kitchen frying pan, but with a simple folding handle. The pan body itself is a fairly thick-walled aluminum with nicely curved sides, nearly two inches deep. The interior is coated with one of the smoothest Teflon® surfaces I’ve seen, certainly more slick (and less stick!) than the previous camping frypans we’ve used.

GSI-Frypan-heat-ridges-bottomNearly the entire outer bottom surface of the pan bears deep grooves, which keep the pan from sliding around on a stovetop and to help evenly disperse heat.

The handle, which folds into the pan interior for storage & transport, easily pivots out and snaps solidly into its hinge/retainer. The heavy-gauge stainless steel wire handle is coated in black vinyl to offer some heat protection for the hands.

On the Road or In Camp

So far so good, but we care less for looks than for function (after all, we drive a Vanagon). So, how does the Bugaboo actually cook? After an initial washing at home, we chucked the GSI into the van and hit the road for our next weekend getaway.

The next morning found me uncharacteristically eager to whip up some breakfast, and I started by gently sauteing a diced onion in the Bugaboo with some butter, followed by a few scrambled eggs. Halfway through, I was surprised by how evenly the eggs cooked without requiring much prodding, and what little stirring I did easily drew errant egg from the sides of the pan with no sticking.

But the real test of any pan is a fried egg, and this Lorie did the next morning, with similar results. When she finally brought the hot pan out to the campsite picnic table and lightly stumbled on a stone, the perfect over-medium eggs nearly slipped right out of the pan and onto our plates.

Of course, the real real test of any pan is cleanup, and today was my turn. Not surprisingly, the Bugaboo needed little more than a quick washing with hot water and CampSuds, requiring no scrubbing or scraping.

GSI-Frypan-Westfalia-stoveThe 10-inch Bugaboo pan fits nicely on the Westfalia stove top without crowding out other pots on the adjacent burner. This size is a bit too large to entirely fit into the Westy kitchen sink, but its excellent non-stick interior is easily washed and rinsed over the sink; the 8-inch Bugaboo should fit inside the sink nicely.

We very seldom cook over an open campfire or coals, and the Bugaboo is not designed for this, as its non-stick coating and rubber-coated handle can be damaged by excessive heat.

Once washed and dried, the Bugaboo easily folds up and is stowed with the other pots and pans in the Westfalia lower kitchen cabinet.

In The Long Run

The GSI Bugaboo’s high walls easily contain plenty of food without spilling over (extra cheese, please), and the gently rounded interior fillet makes for easy sauteing and quick cleaning, with no tight corners for food to become stuck in.

The versatility of the Bugaboo can be further improved with the addition of an aluminum pan cover from a thrift store, but unfortunately is not offered as an accessory by GSI.

While camping, we’ve cooked everything from the typical eggs with bacon or sausage and pancakes, to grilled-cheese sandwiches, burgers, stir fries and skillet pizzas. Since switching to the Bugaboo we’ve found ourselves trying more new and tasty meals than before, mainly due to the ease of cooking and cleaning. The Teflon non-stick interior has held up well through years of camping and cooking.

The GSI Bugaboo allows us to spend less time on the chores of camping, and more time enjoying al fresco dining in camp …

Hits: quality construction, durable non-stick coating, easy cleaning, even heating, compact folding design
Misses: no cover available, not suitable for use over campfire

Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here

What do you think? Leave a question or comment below, and use the social links to share with friends!

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