When camping, it’s usually not a good idea to bring your ceramic plates from home. The obvious reason is that they are likely to break during the trip. The less obvious reason is that they are heavy. And when you are backpacking for long stretches of time, every ounce counts. Deciding what kind of camping plates to get can be dauntless, but we’re here to help.

Deciding on a material for camping plates

  • Aluminum plates are lightweight and tend to cost less than the other metal choices. Unfortunately, aluminum is softer than other materials which makes it more likely to get dented.
  • Bamboo is great for those who are eco-conscious. They are eco-friendly, lightweight, and durable. They are dishwasher safe and BPA-free.
  • Enamel plates are stainless steel plates covered in enamel. They are classy and more durable than conventional stainless steel. They are also on the heavier side and can chip with rough handling.
  • Plastic plates are lightweight and less likely to break. It’s also usually cheaper than the other choices. They can contain chemicals such as BPA that can leech into your food. Additionally, there’s a chance bits of it can transfer itself into your food. It’s more porous and more likely to harbor bacteria. Due to its low melting point, it’s harder to sanitize. If BPA is a concern, there are higher quality options that are made without it.
  • Silicone is a new challenger that has entered the foray. It’s BPA-free and has a high melting point for easier sanitation. These “plates” are also usually designed as collapsible bowls which can collapse into the shape of a plate. This makes them more versatile and space-efficient.
  • Stainless steel plates are durable and harder than aluminum. Their disadvantage is that they are a bit heavier.
  • Enamel plates are stainless steel plates covered in enamel. They are classy and more durable than conventional stainless steel. They are also on the heavier side and can chip with rough handling.
  • Titanium has the best of both worlds. They’re lightweight and durable. The only problem is that they’re the most expensive of all of these choices.


Aluminum camping plates are cheap, lightweight, and safe for all types of food. They don’t “rust” (more on that later), but are soft. They are three times or more lighter than stainless steel. After so many uses, it will dent a lot. Another option is to go with anodized aluminum. It goes through an extra process which makes it harder and more expensive. To take a step back, aluminum does “rust,” but not in the way iron does. Aluminum rust is quite hard and even serves as a protective layering. On top of which, it’s even the same color as aluminum so you might never even notice it.


The main advantage of bamboo is that it’s a highly renewable, eco-friendly resource. Bamboo is a renewable resource that can be grown without pesticides and with very little water. They are safe, non-toxic, BPA-free, dishwasher safe, reusable, and biodegradable. But as warning, bamboo is not microwave safe.


In order to address the disadvantages of steel, there is the option to cover it in enamel. This makes it safe for all types of food. The problem is, this bumps up the price and makes it the heaviest option. Additionally, the enamel coating is also likely to chip with rough handling. The inner material is either made of steel or stainless steel.


Plastic is great for the casual camper. It’s cheap, lightweight, and less likely to break. Unfortunately, plastic is not meant to be used forever and will show its age after a certain amount of uses. It’s also be a health risk if it contains BPA.


Silicone is great because it’s lightweight and food safe. Its flexibility makes it versatile because it can be compacted to save space. It’s also microwave safe and heat-resistant up to 480 degrees Celsius. Since it’s constantly being opened and folded, it won’t last as long as titanium, but it is much more versatile than titanium. You would also need to do your research to make sure it is made of pure silicone and not contaminated with plastic.

Stainless Steel

A disadvantage with stainless steel camping plates is that more often than not, they are made with grade 410 stainless steel. While grade 410 stainless steel is harder and cheaper than grade 304 and 316 stainless steel, it is less resistant to corrosion and rust due to the lack of nickel. This makes it less ideal for acidic food such as tomato-based recipes. Additionally, stainless steel kitchen knives are made with the same grade of stainless steel, which will create scratches with use. For more details on the difference between different stainless steel grades, click here.


For the hardcore backpacker, titanium camping plates are the way to go. They are lightweight and will last a lifetime. Their only con is their price.


PriceWeightDurabilityOther notes
Plastic★★★★★★★★★★★★★★☆Health risk
Stainless Steel★★★★☆★★★☆☆★★★☆☆