Cast iron is tough, heats evenly, and can last a lifetime. If its properly seasoned a cast iron skillet or pot will resist rusting and provide a non stick surface. A small downside to them is they are heavier, and require a little more upkeep.
Stainless is also heavy. A lot of the stainless pots/pans tend to be thin and you will easily burn your food that way, and the thicker ones tend to not heat evenly. In my opinion, stainless is a good alternative if you do not want cast iron, you want easier cleanup, lighter in weight, and are not as concerned about even heating.
I am about to purchase some campfire irons on the net, so I might fair better with the thicker cast iron cooking ware. I know nothing about seasoning and such though. I found a set at Bass Pro Shops and even a set at Walmart (with a griddle included) that say they are preseasoned. I may go that route. I definately want to be able to cook over the fire. Thanks for the get back. X
I did a little research, and purchased my first set of skillets today. I'll season them tomorrow. I'm still in need of a dutch oven, a griddle, and a pot and a coffee pot. I'm going to find a real antique campfire coffee pot somewhere. Something that has some history. John Waynes coffee pot was on EBay. Or a replica. He was an actor though. I want one with real historical significance. I'll probably invest more in the coffee pot than any other piece of equipment. Anyway, I'm the proud owner now of some premium cast iron. X
Keep in mind that this IS my first set. And they are pre-seasoned. But my research says to wash them anyway, in hot water only, and scrub them down with a plastic scrubber (never steel wool). Then you line the bottom rack of your oven with foil. When the skillets are dry, rub them down with a thin coat of Crisco or cooking oil, and place them upside down on the center rack and cook them at 350 degrees for an hour or so. Let them naturally cool, and repeat the process WITHOUT the prewash. Oil them down and cook them. Do this two or three times, and you have some well seasoned cast iron. I hear that nothing will stick to these after they are seasoned good. And the skillets will develope a nice patina (which is a coating of oxides and carbonates on the surface) and function better and better the longer they are used. As long as you take care of them. Never use soap. Warm water only. Allow them to cool completely everytime you use them before washing. Some people just wipe them out and never even use water, but I think there is some modicum of debate regarding rancid oils and bacteria growth. So I'll wash mine in warm water atleast. Then apply a nice thin coat of oil to store them. X