Survivorman Les Stroud Shares Tips For Successful Campsite Cooking - Exclusive

Cooking out at a campsite need not be a messy affair — just ask "Survivorman" Les Stroud, someone who has prepared hundreds of meals while out there in the wild. These aren't foods retrieved from an oversized cooler tucked into the back of a car parked by a campsite, either. Stroud's meals are usually harvested right from the wilderness around him.

That said, he's all about making the experience of campsite cooking as comfortable, clean, convenient, and as enjoyable as possible. During an exclusive interview with Mashed, he shared more than a few tips about campsite cooking.

"I think one of the keys is the perfect fire. Naturally, with a guy like me, you'd think, okay, that's going to be something that I would go to," Stroud said. "And I do, because if you can set up the perfect fire with the right sort of areas and the right heat capture and [control] where the coals are going to be, then that enables you to cook well over the top of that fire." Of course, once you get to your campsite, Stroud advises taking a half-hour to remodel the fire pit on site. "Because most people just destroy it and make a silly fire pit. But you can make it for cooking," he said.

"The next thing is just like cooking in a kitchen: It's all about time, preparation, and space to work," Stroud said. One of his major campsite cooking pet peeves is when he has all of his food laid out on a tarp and someone steps right over it. "You just flicked pine needles up into the salad, right? That kind of thing," he said. "So there's some advice for you. Advice you probably didn't expect it to get, but there you go."

Les Stroud on the challenges of finding food in the wild

Should you come unprepared to your campsite, Les Stroud has some serious words of wisdom for anyone who thinks it's easy to find food in the wild, namely ... it's not. If he makes it look easy on "Survivorman," that's partly decades of experience, and partly editing for time.

"[Finding] food is incredibly difficult," Stroud revealed. "Whatever you see on television and in films is not the way it really is when you get out there. So often the misunderstanding is: 'Oh, you're going to be there? Oh, you'll be fine. You just gather blueberries.' Sure. If I'm there for the 11 days that the blueberries are ripe and ready to be picked and eaten. People don't understand that it's all about seasonality, whether or not something is ready. I think a big misunderstanding is availability." Stroud pointed out that we all know someone with a peanut allergy, and sometimes those allergies can be deadly. "Remember that about wild foods," he explained. "So you can't just grab and eat something you've never eaten before. You got to make sure you're not allergic to it. Just like if you were allergic to peanuts, it's the same thing."

"So yeah, I think there's a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to getting wild food out there," Stroud said. "But the biggest of all is that it's just all there and that it's all readily at hand. And that's not the case. It's often quite a search."

From foraging to fishing, you can learn more about Les Stroud's adventures in his new book, "Wild Outside: Around the World With Survivorman" or by watching episodes of "Wild Harvest" on your local PBS station.