Paper or plastic, or something else?

What do you guys use for plates? Paper plates or plastic or something else? What's considered the norm in this area?

I have been using paper plates. Its just always made sense to me and I only ever use one plate at night. After its used if it is dirty it goes into the campfire(easy cleanup, gets rid of some food smell for critters, and one less thing I have to pack out). Now with a family we use 10x the amount of plates in a day and this has me thinking its pretty wasteful.

It sure would be nice to have a more sturdy plate, but now I would have to clean it after every meal which seems like a lot of work, but also requires water, which seems like a waste if you have limited water resources.

So do you waste paper products or water?


I switched to paper plates after realizing how much of my precious (10 gallon tank) on-board water I use doing dishes. Still, I'll re-use my paper plates until they're really dirty.


Heavy melamine. Wash with water. Of course... now I have a dog

one of the key selling points for me was that they are square, easier packing efficiency


Well-known member
We use stainless steel plates from Wealers. They pack small and are really easy to clean. If water is that big of a concern they can just be wiped off with a damp rag.

Dishes can be washed with *very* little water if you're careful about it - I learned this from backpacking, where every drop of water needs to be pumped by hand...You just might have to slightly modify your criteria for what constitutes "clean".


Grumpy Old Man
Blue enamel metal plate. Beagle prewash, spray with 10% bleach solution, wipe - done. Liquid used for cleaning = maybe 5 cc?
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Metal plates are heat sinks - I have some nice vintage melamine plates that I picked up at a thrift store (new in package) - a bottle of spray cleaner and a quick wipe as above if in a dry place - otherwise I have a collapsible dish pan and a stove to heat some water on.


I use paper plates over my blue metal plates that I warm first so they don't suck out the warmth of my meal. Easy to do by placing them over the cooking pan for a few seconds.
The paper ones seem to have a plasticized coating that wipes easily, depends on the greasiness of the meal. I also use blue shop towels, they last a lot longer than the ordinary paper towels. More often than not they can be used several times. Clean utensils first, cups second then dishes and finally pans.
I have also used the left over coffee out of the last in the pot for the pan I cook in as it is already warm and would be dumped out anyway.
Sometimes I just eat right out of the pan I cook in, just like in college, over the sink. So much depends on the particular situation.
I do wash everything when I get home, some things go in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning and get put away in the kitchen box for the next adventure.
Water is best used for drinking or just making coffee.

Happy trails


It's hard for me to imagine washing a bowl that held something oily and soupy like chili with a 1/4 cup of water - unless I lean hard on wiping with paper towels ahead of time. But I believe you it can be done. Maybe I need to watch Youtube videos on how to wash dishes :)


Active member
hated washing up plastic- switched to Corning Corelle a few years back. Lightweight, very tough (but not unbreakable) and doesn't suck the heat out of the food like metal....happy to use the same set every day in both rented accommodation and camper as we alternate between locations
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