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Best Camping Grill [2019]

Sale
Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Stainless Steel
  • 12,000 BTUs
  • 3-year warranty
  • 240 Square Inch Grill Grates


Cuisinart is a relative newcomer in the world of gas grills. However, they have a strong reputation for offering durable, well-designed cooking appliances. You see this in the Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, which is also backed by a three-year warranty.

This grill has a stainless-steel body as well as a lid with a built-in thermometer. The CGG-200’s propane element produces 12,000 BTUs. This heat is evenly distributed over the 240 square inch, porcelain-coated cast iron grill grates.

Straight out of the box there is little assembly required and comes set up to work on a one-pound propane cylinder. If you prefer, it can be easily adapted to work on a high-pressure regulator with a hose connected to a larger propane tank.

Cuisinart also offers an accessory stand that gives you a base when you are at camp. Still, this grill is nice enough that it could very well double as the daily griller on your deck.

Sale
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
  • 160 Square Inch Plated Steel Grill Grates
  • Charcoal Grill With Locking Lid
  • 10-Year Warranty


Charcoal grills have a traditional place in many campsite kitchens. In the past, they were seen as being excessively cheap or even labeled “Disposable.” Many people thought of them as being good for only one or two camping trips.

Weber turns these notions on their ear with their Go-Anywhere charcoal grill. Not only is it infused with Weber’s hallmark quality and backed by its impressive warranty program, but it also features thoughtful design.

It has a protective porcelain coating on the firebox and lid to help prevent corrosion. It also includes two aluminum dampers that help you carefully control the heat and manage any flareups. When you want to move it, the sturdy legs fold over the lid to lock it in place.

If you want a lightweight charcoal grill in your camp, that has the quality to last for years to come, then the Weber Go-Anywhere gives you the best chance to see a full return on your investment.

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
  • Collapses Into A Wheeled Cart
  • 20,000 BTUs Heating 285 Square Inch Grill Grate
  • 3-Year Limited Warranty


Coleman has been an industry leader in propane appliances for decades. The Coleman 285 is near the top of their diverse line of portable gas grills. It was designed for easy portability and performance.

The 285 has three independent propane burners that produce a total of 20,000 BTUs of heat. It’s originally set up to run off a single one-pound propane cylinder. Yet it will easily upgrade to an accessory regulator and propane hose for a larger tank. The burners all start from a single button electric ignition system.

The 285 square inch cast iron grill grates are coated in non-stick porcelain. The lower grease tray also helps with easy cleanup.

It includes a sturdy base in the purchase, which collapses down into a wheeled cart. This makes it stable enough to handle life at the campsite without eating up precious real estate on the picnic table.

How We Picked

When it comes to camping grills, portability and long-term quality are at a premium. When you’re packing the car or truck for your outdoor adventure, you don’t want a grill that will break back, or take up space reserved for other important gear.

If you are a camping enthusiast who takes multiple trips in the course of a year, you don’t want the “The Camp Grill” to be a financial black hole. There are a lot of cheap units on the market that will make it through a dozen or so trips banging around in the trunk and living on the picnic table, only to die on you at the worst possible time.

The best place to start shopping is with major manufacturers with an established reputation for quality. A product that is backed by a strong warranty should also be seen as a major feather in their cap. It’s essentially a statement from the manufacturer saying that the standby the products they are putting on the market.

Total square inches of grill grates space is also an important factor, as is overall BTU output. You need to have enough room to cook for everyone at the same time without leaving someone waiting for the second batch of food.

Of course, a good camp grill needs to be able to do more than cooking lunch and supper. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You want enough square inches to handle a frying pan for bacon, eggs or pancakes.

It’s also nice to have a camp grill that can put out enough heat to simmer a percolator in a reasonable amount of time. No one wants to wake up in the morning and wait half an hour for a cup of weak tepid coffee.

With these basic, yet essential criteria in mind, we filtered through the wide range of options to find the cream of the crop in the portable grill market.

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill

Specs:

  • 20,000 BTUs From Three Burners
  • 285 Square Inch Grill Grates
  • Runs On 1-Pound Propane Cylinder
  • Push Button Ignition
  • Collapses Into A Wheeled Cart
  • 3-Year Limited Warranty

Coleman originally made their name in the camping products industry with their quality gas lanterns. In the decades since they have expanded their line to include a wide range of gas grill. The RoadTrip 285 is a significant step up from their popular 225 model, yet it only costs about $30 more!

Coleman RoadTrip 285 folded

It has three independent burner elements that produce an impressive 20,000 BTUs of heat. It comes set up to run off a one-pound propane cylinder. If you want to use a larger tank, it will accommodate an upgraded regulator and propane hose. The RoadTrip 285 also comes with an easy to use push-button ignition system.

carrying the Coleman RoadTrip 285

The 285 square inch grill grates give you enough room to grill supper for a family four. It can also easily accommodate cast iron griddle for making breakfast the next morning. There’s also a built-in water pan/grease tray for easy cleanup.

It has two small side shelves to hold prep and serving plates. The sturdy base collapses down into a wheeled cart. It weighs in at just over 45 pounds, which makes it light enough to be portable, yet stout enough to handle life at the campsite.

What We Liked

In an ironic twist, the Coleman 285 competes with the Coleman 225. Yet everything is a step up from its small sibling, while only costing a little bit more. The 285 square inch grill grates let you grill for a family of four. In the morning you can even set it up to handle a coffee percolator while still having enough space to fry a cast iron pan of bacon.

Overall

Coleman has earned its trusted reputation in the camping product space. You see that reflected in the design and quality of the 285 RoadTrip. The side shelves are a little on the small side, but that’s hardly a knock when you consider that many of the competitors don’t have side shelves.

It comes set up to run on a simple one-pound propane cylinder. Yet you can easily upgrade it to a larger regulator and propane hose if you want to bring a larger 25-pound tank with you.

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill

  • High-Quality Gas Grill
  • Collapses Into A Wheeled Cart
  • 20,000 BTUs Heating 285 Square Inch Grill Grate

Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill

Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill

Specs:

  • 280 Square Inch Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Grill Grates
  • 12,000 BTU Propane Element
  • 2 Side Tables
  • Removable Catch Pan
  • Thermometer Built Into The Lid
  • Electronic Push Button Ignition
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty

The Weber Q2200 was designed with portability and quality in mind. The two side tables fold up into the compact body, which only weighs 42.5 pounds. The frame is built from glass-reinforced nylon for lightweight durability. Weber also backs the Q2200 with a five-year limited warranty.

Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill use for a BBQ

It’s almost fully assembled right out of the box. If you’re in a spot where your old camp stove died just as you are preparing for a trip and you need a new one quick, this is probably the trigger to pull.

The grill grates are made from cast iron and coated in non-stick porcelain. This gives them superior heat retention and searing, while also cutting down on the scraping portion of the cleanup. There’s also a large catch pan in the bottom to handle any grease or other excess runoff.

Carrying the Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill

The grates measure in at 280 square inches, which is more than enough space to grill for a family of four. The burner element produces 12,000 BTUs of heat, which is also aided by the heat retention properties of the cast iron grates.

It’s set up to run off a 1-pound gas cylinder. There is a push-button electric start ignition system that spares you having to fiddle with matches or a stick lighter.

The durable lid has a thermometer built into it, which might not sound impressive, but it’ somewhat rare for portable grills in this niche. This allows you to dial in low heat and trust that it’s in the range you want for things like bone-in cuts of chicken and fish.

What We Liked

When properly preheated the porcelain-coated cast iron grill grates maximize the heat produced by the 12,000 BTU burner. Careful attention to the lid thermometer lets you use this grill to do more than just sear the same old bratwursts and hamburgers.

The porcelain coating also keeps food from sticking, which is really nice if you’re going to be camping for more than a couple of days. If some stubborn material is stuck on the grates, you can wash them in soapy water, and the porcelain coating will protect them from rusting.

Overall

The Weber Q2200 is sturdy and reliable. It’s backed by Weber’s reputation for quality. The grates and lid thermometer also make it easy to inject a little variety into the things you cook. It would be nice if it came with a wheeled base or a cart, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.

Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill

  • 280 Square Inch Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Grill Grates
  • 12,000 BTU Propane Element
  • Accurate Thermometer In The Lid

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Specs:

  • 160 Square Inch Plated Steel Grill Grates
  • Uses Charcoal
  • Legs Provide A Sturdy Base
  • Locking Lid With Two Aluminum Dampers
  • Lightweight, Durable Construction
  • 10-Year Limited Warranty

While portable gas grills are very popular, there are still many people who love the traditional fire kissed flavor and aroma of charcoal. This also means there are a lot of cheap “Disposable” charcoal grills on the market.

Meat on the Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

If you are looking for a portable charcoal grill, that’s worth the investment, you need to prioritize quality. In this light, few can stand up to Weber’s reputation for producing quality charcoal grills of just about any size. As a testament to this fact, Weber backs their Go-Anywhere charcoal grill with an industry-leading 10-year limited warranty!

Carrying handle of the Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill’s body and lid are made from premium grade steel and coated in durable porcelain. This helps prevent rust and corrosion issues that lead to an early death with so many other portable charcoal grills.

Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill on a camping trip

The lid has two aluminum dampers that help you carefully dial in heat control and manage any flareups. The handle is also made from heat resistant glass-reinforced nylon. The legs fold over the lid to conveniently lock it in place when you want to take it on the move. Then they fold down to create a surprisingly stable base when you want to use it.

The grates are made from plated steel, which gives them the gleam you expect from Weber’s charcoal grill brand image. This does make them a little bit sticky for times when you are grilling lean meats. Lighting glazing them with an oil-soaked paper towel will help prevent food from sticking.

What We Liked

The protective porcelain coating on the lid and base, as well as the aluminum dampers and legs, help prevent rusting. This goes a long way toward making sure you see a return on your investment many times over.

The fact that the legs securely lock the lid is also a nice touch. It allows you to pack some simple grilling tools inside, without having to worry about them accidentally spilling out.

Overall

Weber has a reputation for quality built by over five decades of providing high-quality charcoal grills. If you want a portable charcoal grill that won’t leave you with buyer’s remorse, this is the place to start shopping. The Weber Go-Anywhere was designed and built to last for years.

Sale
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

  • Lightweight Portable Charcoal Grill
  • Designed and Built To Prevent Corrosion
  • Sturdy Legs Also Lock the Lid

Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle

Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle

Specs:

  • Portable Propane Griddle
  • 24,000 BTUs On An H-Style Burner
  • Integrated Grease Management System
  • Adjustable Feet
  • 1-Pound Gas Cylinder Or 20-Pound Tank
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee and 1-Year Warranty

A propane grill that is fitted with a secure griddle top like the Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle is very handy for campsite cooking. The flat-top lends itself well to cooking things like bacon, eggs, and pancakes. It also does a great job of searing off burgers, steaks, and chops. The 24,000 BTU, H-style propane burners produce more than enough heat to simmer a coffee percolator.

Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle

The cold-rolled steel griddle top needs to be “Seasoned” with a layer of flaxseed oil. Blackstone includes easy to follow instructions on how to do this. It provides 330 square inches of cooking space, which is more than enough room to prepare food for up to six campers. It also has a built-in grease management system for easy cleanup.

The Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle comes set up to run off a one-pound propane cylinder, or it can be easily adjusted to run off a regulator and a hose attached to a larger propane tank.

Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle

It has a stainless steel face for sleek looks and corrosion resistance. The base also has adjustable rubber feet, which allows you to level it on uneven surfaces.

Blackstone has worked hard to carve out a niche in the grill market with a strong line of gas-fired grills and griddles. They back this particular model with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, and a one year warranty.

Blackstone also sells some popular accessories for this griddle. There is an accessory lid that helps trap heat for low heat meats like bone-in chicken.

They also sell a companion cover to help keep it protected when not in use.

What We Liked

The grease management system and the adjustable feet are particularly nice for cleanup. Especially for those times when you set up your camp kitchen on an uneven picnic table.

The 24,000 BTUs of is impressive for a grill this size. It’s also concentrated nicely into the griddle surface for the times when you really want a high heat sear, or you simply want a quick pot of coffee.

Overall

Gas grills with a built-in griddle are surprisingly versatile. The Blackstone 22” spares you having to drop extra money on having to buy a cast iron pan or griddle. Just make sure you properly season it with flaxseed oil and make sure to maintain it as you go.

Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle

  • 24,000 BTU H-Style Propane Burner
  • 330 Square Inch Cold-Rolled Griddle
  • Integrated Grease Management System

Pit Boss Grills Pit Stop Single-Burner Portable Tabletop Grill

Pit Boss Grills Pit Stop Single-Burner Portable Tabletop Grill

Specs:

  • 205 Square Inch Grill Grate
  • Stainless Steel Construction Throughout
  • 10,000 BTUs Of Evenly Distributed Heat
  • Push Button Ignition
  • Pull Out Grease Tray
  • Stable Folding Legs
  • 5-Year Warranty

Pit Boss originally made its name by selling high-quality smokers and wood pellet grills. With a more established market presence, they have now expanded into the portable gas grill market with their Pit Stop model.

Pit Boss Grills Pit Stop Single-Burner Portable Tabletop Grill

It features a single U-shaped 10,000 BTU stainless steel propane burner with a heat deflector. This helps to redistribute heat across the entire cooking surface. It also has a push-button ignition system and comes set up to run off a one-pound propane cylinder.

Pit Boss Grills Pit Stop Single-Burner on a camping trip

The grill grates are made from stainless steel, like the rest of the Pit Stop. The primary grate is 200-square inches. The warming rack is built into the lid and provides an additional 100 square inches. It’s also close enough to the heat when the lid is closed to let you cook things like vegetables or lightly toast buns.

Pit Boss Grills Pit Stop Single-Burner and food

The Pit Stop’s lid latches tightly, and the legs fold up for compact storage as well as easy portability. When the legs are folded out they are surprisingly sturdy.

When it comes to clean up the stainless-steel grill grates are a little sticky. Lightly greasing them just before you place the meat will help minimize the scraping you need to do later. The pullout grease tray is shallow, yet large. It’s easy to pour out after you are done cooking.

What We Liked

The Pit Stop is a great marriage between quality stainless steel construction and price point. When you also consider how convenient it is to store and pack along with you, the Pit Stop is a great value as a camp stove.

Overall

This is a visually attractive stainless-steel grill that was built to last, without hurting your budget. The large grilling space and warming rack give you more than enough real estate to cook for the entire camp. Just keep in mind that the edges and corners can be a little sharp, and it might help to lightly deburr them with a fine-toothed mill file.

Pit Boss Grills Pit Stop Single-Burner Portable Tabletop Grill

  • Quality Stainless Steel Construction
  • 10,000 BTUs of Evenly Distributed Heat
  • Compact and Portable

Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Stainless Steel

Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Stainless Steel

Specs:

  • 12,000 BTU Propane Burner
  • 240 Square Inch Cast Iron Grill Grates
  • Temperature Gauge In The Lid
  • Detachable Side Tables
  • 3-Year Warranty

Cuisinart isn’t necessarily the first name you might think of when it comes to grills. Yet they have a long-standing reputation for producing quality cooking appliances, including the CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill. They even go so far as to back it with an impressive 3-year warranty.

Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Stainless Steel

It is largely based on stainless steel construction. This includes the lid with its built-in temperature gauge. The propane element and heat deflectors are also stainless steel and produce 12,000 BTUs of evenly distributed heat. It comes set up to run on a single one-pound propane cylinder. Yet it’s easy to convert over to a 42-inch propane hose, which can be connected to a large tank.

Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Stainless Steel

The 240 square inch cast iron grill grates have a special porcelain coating. This gives them non-stick properties while also helping to absorb heat. Just make sure to give the grill a solid 10 to 15 minutes to fully preheat. At that point, it will give a nice flame-kissed sear to burgers, chops, and steaks.

The side panels are sturdy and can be left on for the times when you need a little extra space for a prep tray or serving platter. They also detach easily if you need to pack or store the grill away. A

Cuisinart also offers some key accessories worth considering. Their CFGS-150 Folding Grill Stand is designed to perfectly accommodate the CGG-200. This means you can use it the daily griller on your deck, while it performs double duty as a portable camp grill.

They also offer a cover that is designed to match this grill, which helps keep it protected in storage or on the go.

What We Liked

There are a lot of things to like about the Cuisinart CGG-200. It’s compact, lightweight and easily portable. It can be at home on your deck as well as on your grill.

The porcelain-coated grill grates are an especially nice touch. Their ability to retain heat imparts a nice sear, while also helping to make the most out of the 12,000 BTUs produced by the burner element.

The fact that it’s backed by a 3-year warranty is also a strong statement.

Overall

This grill has all the bells and whistles where you want to see them. It’s versatile, easy to pack and use. It can accommodate a one-pound gas cylinder or easy convert to a tank and hose. Perhaps one drawback worth mentioning is the lack of height under the lid. This probably isn’t the right model if you love to grill beer can chicken.

Sale
Cuisinart CGG-200 All Foods Tabletop Gas Grill, Stainless Steel

  • 12,000 BTUs
  • 3-year warranty
  • 240 Square Inch Grill Grates

George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

Specs:

  • Portable Electric Grill
  • Detachable Base
  • 200 Square Inch Ceramic Grill Grates
  • Nichrome heating element
  • Large Drip Tray
  • 3-Year Limited Warranty

Electric grills have been growing in popularity in recent years. This has also been met by an increase in electric hookups at campgrounds, RV parks, and designated tailgate areas in stadium parking lots.

George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

The George Foreman GFO201RX was designed to be lightweight and durable, while also holding true to the hallmarks of the line. It has a nichrome electric element, which essentially acts as a large resistor. It develops heat which is then delivered to the ceramic grill grate.

George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill in the kitchen

The 200 square inch, non-stick ceramic grill top also helps divert grease and excess juices away to a collection tray, which is dishwasher safe. This makes the GFO201RX very easy to clean and maintain.

George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill used indoors

The lid is tall and helps trap heat for low-temperature cooking applications. It’s especially nice for grilling bone-in pieces of meat like chicken breasts and stuffed pork chops.

The detachable base means you can use it on your deck or take it with you to camp as a tabletop grill. If you want, you could even use it for tableside service. This is an especially nice option if you have a motorhome or RV camper with electricity and it rains when you wanted to grill.

What We Liked

For an electric grill, the George Foreman GFO201RX has a lot of convenient features. Being able to use it indoors, or under a pavilion is really nice for those times when you might have planned for a grilled meal, only to have it rain on you.

It’s also large enough to serve as your daily griller. Many apartments and condos will allow this type of grill, which only serves to increase its long-term value.

Overall

If you want a convenient grill that can serve double duty on your deck, in your RV, or on the campsite picnic table then the George Foreman deserves a good look. Just keep in mind that you do need to have a reliable source of electricity available, like a parking lot power post, campground shore power, or an RV’s generator.

This grill might be a little on the slow side when it comes to simmering a coffee percolator. The ceramic grill top is also the better option for this, as the Teflon coated grill top is vulnerable to scrapes from direct contact with bare metal.

George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

  • Quality Electric Grill With Nichrome Element
  • Detachable Base
  • 200 Square Inch Non-Stick Grate

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Hibachi-Style Charcoal Grill

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Hibachi-Style Charcoal Grill

Specs:

  • Cast Iron Construction
  • Reputation For Durability
  • Hibachi-Style Charcoal Grill
  • Flip-Down Access Door For Easy Reloading

Cast iron was the original go-to metal for cookware construction a century ago. In fact, Lodge made their name as a US manufacturer of cast iron pans, griddles, and Dutch ovens. Today they also carry that reputation over into the world of portable grills with their Sportsman’s Hibachi charcoal grill.

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman's Hibachi-Style Charcoal Grill outdoors

This isn’t necessarily the type of grill you are going to take with you “Glamping.” It’s a relatively no-nonsense piece of metal that will produce a fire hot enough to sear burgers and steaks. When the coal bed is set up just right and the grate is moved to its lowest setting, it will even heat a percolator for “Cowboy Coffee.”

BBQ on the Sportsman's Hibachi-Style Charcoal Grill

Of course, the cast iron needs to be seasoned and maintained. This typically involves rubbing it down with flaxseed oil. Though you can get by out in the bush with some vegetable shortening or perhaps some peanut oil. If you don’t maintain the protective seasoning layer, the grill can and will rust up on you quickly. Yet if you take care of it right, your grandchildren could end up using it on their camping adventures.

The cast iron oval grill grate provides 144 square inches of cooking space. This is enough to grill for two or three campers.

The durable cast-iron firebox is meant for jumbo lump or charcoal briquettes. If you are in a pinch out in the bush, it is more than strong enough to handle pieces of relatively dry hardwood. The convenient front access door also allows you to easily reload the firebox without having to lift the grill grates. This is something relatively unheard of in the hibachi niche.

What We Liked

The cast iron is very durable. So long as you maintain the protective seasoning layer, this grill will last you for decades to come.

The front access door is also nice for reloading the firebox. It allows you to keep the grill running as an all-day camp stove for those times when you might have multiple people coming and going from base camp.

Overall

This stove doesn’t have a lot of frills, bells or whistles. Still, if you take care of it right, it has the staying power to return your investment over the course of decades.

It doesn’t come with any sort of lid or cover, which means you will need to keep it under a pavilion roof or some other enclosure. In the event of a freak rainstorm, you can try to simply cover the top with a couple of sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Lodge doesn’t offer a specific warranty program or satisfaction guarantee for their cast iron line. However, they do have a strong reputation for good customer service, and the website boasts about their willingness to work with customers to resolve quality issues.

Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Hibachi-Style Charcoal Grill

  • Durable Cast Iron
  • Front Access Door For Convenient Reloading
  • 144 Square Inch Grill Grates

Buyers Guide

As we discussed earlier portability and long-term durability are top criteria when considering a portable camp grill. A grill that packs down nice and tight leaves room for other important gear in the back of your car or truck.

Space and Portability

When you’re in camp the space on the picnic table or truck’s tailgate is at a premium. So, it’s also nice if the grill comes with its own stand, collapsible legs, or has a reasonable footprint. Something that locks the lid or secures the components firmly is also a nice touch.

Manufacturers who have invested a lot of time and energy into building a reputation for quality products are a great place to start. Yet there are some newcomers in the portable grill market that are worthy of a good hard look. One way to help sort out quality is to look for a grill that’s backed by a warranty, or some type of satisfaction guarantee.

Grill grate space is also a counterbalancing factor when choosing a portable camp grill. Ideally, you want it to be small enough to not dominate your storage space, yet you also want it to have enough square inches to cook for everyone in your group.

Grill vs Griddle

In the past, traditional camp stoves had grill tops with grates. Then campers simply accepted that they would have to back along with an extra frying pan or griddle. Today portable grill manufacturers are offering gas grill bases with attached griddle tops.

It lets you make breakfast quickly, and other dishes. At the same time, if you go to a lot of popular hamburger restaurants, you will see meat patties on flattops, rather than grill grates.

Choosing The Right Fuel Type

Fuel type is also something to keep in mind. Thirty years ago camp stoves and grills were predominantly charcoal grills. Some were so cheap, you used them for a trip or two and then left them behind. Fire hazard problems with charcoal grills also prompted campsites, and tailgate areas in arena parking lots to limit their use.

Of course, this opened some new market space for gas grills. These days natural gas isn’t viable for portable camp grills. It only has around a third or the energy density of propane. So, if you want to turn away from traditional charcoal, you’re really only looking at propane-fired grills. Most of them come set up to work on a one-pound gas cylinder.

If you want to run them off a larger propane tank, you can usually convert it over to an accessory regulator and hose. Just double-check that the manufacturer accounted for this. Some lesser value propane grills can’t be converted.

It’s also worth noting that electric grills have recently started to carve out a little niche for themselves in the camping market. More and more campgrounds, RV parks, and stadium tailgate areas are offering electricity access for a very reasonable fee.

They make very little smoke and no exhaust. It’s a great option for those times when you want to grill a meal on a rainy day and you have a roof to keep it under. These indoor-outdoor units might also serve a double role on your kitchen countertop for added value.

Clean Up Matters

Convenient cleanup is an important factor for any grill. It’s especially important for camp grills.

Excess grease and food material give off appealing odors into the surrounding environment. There’s been more than one campsite that was trashed by a raccoon or black bear that was lured in by the succulent smell of a dirty grill.

Even if the grill has a convenient pull-out grease tray, you still will need to scrape down the grill grates. Not only will this reduce the chances of nocturnal scavengers visiting your camp, but it’s also a nice food safety thing. No one wants something from the last meal sticking onto the meat for this meal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Are BTUs?

A: BTU stands for British Thermal Units. It’s become the standardized unit of measuring a device’s heat output over the course of an hour. It is essentially the amount of heat necessary to raise the temperature of a single pound of water by a single degree Fahrenheit.

The higher a gas grill’s BTU rating is, the more heat it can put out to do important things like simmering a coffee percolator or preparing warm water for washing dishes. Just bear in mind that the higher the BTU rating the faster it will go through propane.

It’s also worth noting that there are some lower quality propane grills that have astronomical BTU ratings, based on how much propane they burn. Yet their design might end up losing a lot of that heat to the surrounding environment.

When it comes to camp grills and stoves, a single burner unit producing more than 12,000 to 15,000 BTUs likely has heat efficiency issues.

Q: How Much Gas Do I Need?

A: To the uninitiated, it can be hard to know just how much propane you need to run your grill. Especially if you are new to how a specific model performs. The last thing you want is to run out of gas in the middle of a meal, or deep in the bush. This worry has even prompted some shoppers to stick with charcoal camp grills.

If you want to do the math, a standard one-pound propane cylinder, like the DOT 39, holds around 21,600 BTUs of gas inside it. However, you rarely get 100% of the liquid propane out of it. You can safely round it off to 20,000 BTUs. Then factor it into the BTU rating of your grill.

For example, let’s say that your gas grill is rated to produce 10,000 BTUs per hour. A one-pound DOT 39 should then provide you with 2 hours of high heat. In the case of a steak, you will need around 10 minutes to preheat the grates. Then five minutes a side for medium-rare.

In this case, you could fire up around six steak dinners off a single one-pound cylinder of liquid propane. Just keep in mind that these numbers go down in cold and windy conditions where heat loss is a factor.

Q: How Do Wind And Cold Affect A Smaller Grill?

A: Cold temperatures before 45 degrees Fahrenheit can rob the heat energy from a grill. A model with a lid that seals tightly helps reduce these problems while allowing more heat energy to absorb into the grates.

Gas grills also tend to be vulnerable to very windy conditions. Inexpensive gas grills with shallow fireboxes can be particularly prone to “Blowing Out” in a strong gust. Even if you have a quality grill with a deep firebox to seat the element, you might want to take additional measures to protect it on a windy day. Sometimes all you need is to repark the truck to buffer straight-line gusts.

Q: What’s The Best Way To Put Out A Charcoal Grill?

A: There are times when it’s just not wise to leave a charcoal grill burning. Stray embers and sparks can be a real fire hazard, especially if you are camping during a dry spell.

The temptation is to dump a bunch of water in the grill and let nature take its course. Unfortunately, ash and water combine to make a highly corrosive substance that will accelerate the risk of rusting. There are even some charcoal grills with fine print that voids the warranty if you use water.

Ideally, you should close off all dampers to suffocate the flames. However, this can sometimes take up to two hours.
If possible, you could dump the charcoal into the fire pit. Another option is to carefully move the hot coals to a metal bucket then fill it with water.

Q: Does The Type Of Grill Grate Matter?

A: Grill grates might affect the performance and value of a grill, more than you might think. The earliest grills on the market tended to use expanded metal and rolled steel rods, which were prone to rust. With these, the grate was long-degraded or too unappealing to use while the firebox itself was still sound.

Cast iron is often prized for its heat retention. Not only does it create a strong sear, but it also helps to make the most out of the grill’s available BTUs. Yet cast iron itself is prone to sticking and rusting. So, it needs a protective porcelain coating, or you will need to properly maintain a protective seasoning layer.

Q: Do I Need To Protect My Camp Grill At Night?

A: There are some rustic campgrounds where wildlife is a constant factor. So-called primitive campgrounds are a frequent target for a “Gaze” or band of raccoons, with a chance of the odd black bear wandering in.

Sometimes even the most well-cleaned grill will still have enough scent left in it to tempt a hungry animal to invade. If you are camping somewhere with tree or “Bear Hangs” you might want to think about securing your grill inside a plastic tote or plastic bag. In a scenario like this, you might want to prioritize a camp grill with a detachable base or removable travel cart to save space in the tree hang.

Q: What If I Want A Grill and A Griddle or Frying Pan?

A: There are some people who want a camp grill to cook up their burgers, and brats, yet they also want a flat surface for making breakfast. Sometimes a deep, frying pan is an even better idea for a fisherman who wants to pan-fry their catch or make shore lunch.

In most of these cases, cast iron with a protective non-stick seasoning layer is the ideal choice. A cast-iron pan holds enough oil to deep fry. If you are just looking for a way to make some bacon and eggs or the occasional batch of pancakes, you should look for a griddle with a drip edge. Just make sure to give the cast iron a solid 10 to 15 minutes to fully preheat.

Some popular options to consider are the Lodge 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet with Cover. You might be tempted to forgo the cover, but it will come in handy in the event of a grease fire.

If you are in the market for a cast iron griddle, you might want to start by looking at the Lodge LPGI3 Pro-Grid Cast Iron Reversible 20.

Conclusion

If you spend enough time looking, you’ll find that the portable grill and camp stove market is rife with options. Though not all of them have the quality to make them worthy of a long-term investment.

If you camp on a frequent basis, or you are looking to spend more time in the great outdoors there are some essential attributes that will help you find a great grill amongst a sea of flimsy options. Prioritizing reputable manufacturers, who back their product with a warranty, while also balancing size with portability will help you find a grill you’re going to love at the campsite. Who knows, you might even find one that can pull double-duty living on your deck.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2019-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API