Campfires are a loved and indispensable outdoor tradition. Most campers have a campfire in the evening even if they don't plan on using it for cooking purposes. Its' always fun to tell stories while roasting marshmallows around a campfire; However, campfires can pose some serious problems. If this is your only way to cook, you just might go hungry if it rains. On the other hand, most outdoor camping stoves work well in all types of weather.
Campfire cooking is much different from cooking on an outdoor camping stove or outdoor portable grill. Campfire cooking is not for the person that is in a hurry to eat. It takes time to get the fire going and build up some coals for heat; However, it can be more rewarding as a campfire can be serenading with its' warmth, light, color, and is just relaxing. There is no way a camping stove can duplicate these. While some people want to use the flames to cook with, others prefer the heat from the coals for cooking.
If you are going to use a campfire to cook with, you will have to monitor your food much more closely from start to finish, campfires generate a lot of heat which will cause your food to burn much quicker. Whereas a camping stoves heat can be adjusted easily by the turn of a knob, you will have to spread the coals further apart to lower the heat in a campfire; However, this is not that easy and you will not get quick results. It is better to just have a way to move the food further away from the heat. A cooking grate like the Stansport Heavy Duty Camp Grill is highly recommended to place your food on, this allows stability for your food and makes it easier to move the food closer or further away from the heat.
Be prepared to spend more time on cleanup with campfire cooking. Campfire cooking will get your pots much dirtier than an outdoor camping stove will. Soot will build up and is much harder to clean off. Besides, most backpackers don't like the smell of smoke getting in all their gear. Even worse, sparks from the fire can burn camping gear. Also, campfires make it virtually impossible for the leave no trace ethic that many campers abide by. Try and only use a campfire if a campfire ring is available and if there is not a no fire burn restriction at the time.
If you plan on using an open fire to do the cooking on, it would be wise to always carry some type of outdoor camping stove or portable outdoor grill with you, unexpected weather changes or fire bans can put a damper on campfires. Also if you plan on building a campfire to cook with or just for lazing around, you need to abide by all campfire rules and never leave the fire unattended.