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Let’s agree on one thing:
Camping isn’t just about disconnecting yourself from the busy urban life and reconnecting with nature. It’s also about having a memorable mealtime in the wilderness.
In fact, there’s nothing more exciting than smoking steaks, roasting chicken wings and grilling veggie kebabs on the go. And what’s a better way to enjoy a cookout in a campsite than with a portable camping grill?
To be clear, the best camping grill doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be good enough to get the job done and give you the best camp out experience.
But choosing a promising grill is not easy. You have to determine your budget, ask for recommendations, and compare and contrast the performance of different models.
Quite frankly, that’s just a lot of work for one person. So we did the heavy work and came up with this guide to help you get the best portable camping grills without spending a lot of time on research.
We’ve spent more than 100 hours on research, evaluated hundreds of customer feedback, followed up on community discussions, and hand-tested different grills to come up with this list. So, whether you want a propane grill, a charcoal grill or a hybrid option, this guide is for you.
But before we get to it, here’s a summary table of the winners just in case you don’t have much time:
Add a cooking and dining ecstasy to your outdoor adventure with Blackstone Table Top Grill. This propane grill takes the least space possible, making it an ideal option for a camper who prefers to go compact and still have a great mealtime in the open. Also suitable for picnicking, road trips, hunting, and tailgating, this is the right outdoor grill to buy for everyday use or occasional outdoor adventures.
Blackstone combines material and size in their right balance to ensure this grill is sturdy and space efficient. It’s made of stainless steel and it measures 17.5 inches long, 18 inches wide and 8.5 inches high. And it has a black powder coating on the rolled cooking surface for resistance against chopping, fading, and scratching.
Based on our testing, this grill performs well in terms of power output and heat distribution. The built-in electric igniter starts fire seamlessly and fast, even when it’s windy outdoors. And the h-burner provides 12,000 BTUs, which is a lot of power from a very small grill.
Blackstone promotes heat distribution from edge to edge of the cooking area. And it even lets you control temperature simply by dialing a knob.
With a cooking area of 260 square inches, this grill is about 70 square inches less than what you get from its 22-inch counterpart. We found it big enough to serve at most four people, but less useful when you have a large group to serve, unless you don’t mind grilling in shifts.
When it comes to ease of use, this unit won our hearts the very first time we tried it out. With just a pound of propane gas, you’re ready to go for a single round of better cooking. And there’s a grease catcher within the griddle’s surface, which ensures proper drainage and easy cleanup after use.
To determine whether this grill is easily portable or otherwise, we looked at its size and weight and compared these metrics to those of the other grill options.
We concluded that this unit was compact and suitable for small spaces, given its dimensions of 17.5 x 18 x 8.5 inches. And weighing just 25 pounds, Blackstone grill is more portable than some options in the same price range.
The stainless steel construction makes this grill one of the most durable out there. An additional black powder coating makes it rust resistant, so it can last even longer.
To us, Weber is a brand that takes quality seriously. And while many of their indoor and outdoor grills are high-end, the brand always has a way to justify the price. Apparently, Weber Q1000 model is one of the best propane grills in the brand’s product line and in the market at large.
Iconic in design, with an extended level of creativity and innovation, this model has honestly had us talking for a while now. We love the quality build. It’s lightweight and compact. And it’s cheaper than Coleman’s RoadTrip 285 model.
This grill’s body and lid are made of aluminum and the cooking grates feature a cast iron build with a porcelain finish. While not as strong as stainless steel, the aluminum still feels solid. Plus, the material is lightweight, which explains why this grill only weighs 27 pounds.
The lid makes Weber Q1000 feel like a camping grill with a bulky hood. It’s rather too big, looks a bit antique, but features an extravagant crockpot-like design. When you open the lid, you’ll see surfaces that lock out really well at the sides.
Weber takes away the need for a matchstick by integrating a push button ignition, which lets you light the grill in the twinkle of an eye. The stainless steel burner delivers 8,500 BTUs, which is a lot of heat for this compact build. More BTUs would be better, of course, but this grill is small, so it should max really well.
In our test, we had to wait for nearly 5 minutes for the grates to warm up before we could start cooking. And this seems like a little inconvenience that you’ll have to deal with.
Weber Q1000 cooks well once the grates heat up. The aluminum build ensures even heat distribution, enabling you to cook consistently and fast. The cooking area is 189 square inches, enough to grill up to 8 burgers and even cook a sizeable meal. However, such a small cooking surface can only make food for at most 3 people but more ideally for two.
From our testing and multiple uses in different camp setups, we found Weber Q1000 easy to use.
Generally, it has a large grip handle that makes it easy to transport and ergonomic side handles help with maneuverability.
The cast iron grates are nonstick thanks to the porcelain coating. This makes the unit easy to clean after cooking.
One of the things that we love about this unit is the aluminum construction, which makes it lightweight and easy to transport. At 27 pounds, though, this is not a suitable grill for backpacking. It’s only good for RV, car, or open air camping.
Weber Q1000 is one of the most durable propane grills yet. The aluminum build may not be as strong as stainless steel, but it’s too tough to break down to elements. The cast iron grates are strong. And the nonstick porcelain coating makes the unit more resilient against rust and corrosion.
Coleman RoadTrip 285 is one of the best propane gas grills in the market. Its design is up to standard and it includes the most important features that you need to get the most out of an outdoor grilling. Iconic in aesthetic and reasonably priced, with a good harmony between size and weight, RoadTrip 285 is, by all means, a unit that works as advertised.
RoadTrip 285 is one of Coleman’s well-built grills. To the eyes, it looks sleek. On touch, it feels strong and stable. Generally, it’s made of cast iron, the strongest and the most durable grill material yet. In terms of dimensions, this standup grill is 30.2 inches long, 12.2 inches wide and 16.1 inches high. And it weighs a little more than 30 pounds.
The unit features 3 burners, each with a dedicated temperature zone. You can run all of them at the same time or each independently depending on your needs.
We loved this unit right from the very first time we started using it. And while its performance isn’t unmatched, we’re more than willing to admit that it’s close enough. Lighting this grill is easy and straightforward. The option of using a matchstick is simply none existent. You simply push the Instastart ignition button and that’s it. You’re ready to get down to the grilling business.
Seriously speaking, this is the only best compact grill with 3 independent burners. That’s quite an upgrade in the Coleman’s grill product line. After all, it’s a much better version than the RoadTrip 225. And, at the very least, you get between 3,250 and 20,000 BTUs from the 3 burners.
The heat goes up to 20,000 BTUs if you set the burners to operate at full power. And what you get is enough heat to cook just about anything you wish, including seafood, vegetables, hotdogs, chicken wings, burgers, and steak.
And what about the temperature control? Well, we give it a big tick for that. In fact, the ability to control heat simply by dialing a knob gives you the flexibility you need to grill different foods at your preferred temperature.
Plus, you get 285 square inches of cooking area. That’s 60 square inches more than what you get from Coleman RoadTrip 225 version and it’s big enough to grill foods for at most 4 people.
We love this unit because it’s easy to use. And we’re confident that you’ll also have an easy time grilling different meals on it.
The Instastart ignition lets you light on the spot, even when it’s windy outside. The 2 side tables provide a nice space to hold utensils and ingredients. And the built-in thermometer lets you monitor temperature closely.
The drip tray isn’t easy to remove and put back in place, so you’ll struggle a bit here. Plus, it’s a tad hard to clean, not to mention that you have to wait for it to cool down before you can clean it up.
This unit is 30 lb 10 oz. To be honest, that’s a lot of weight for a grill this small. But then again, it’s made of cast iron, so it’s easy to see why it’s heavy. The problem is that this weight can be too much for one person. It may require at least two people to load it in an RV or camping car.
The lightweight aluminum legs fold down really well. And the rugged wheels make it easy to move from the car to the campsite. But still, you’ll feel the weight.
Cast iron is a strong, durable material. As such, what you get for the price is a unit that will last for a long time. As far as durability goes, theoretically speaking, you can use this unit for a lifetime, as long as you take good care of it.
Avid campers don’t consider Fold N Go as an absolutely best propane camping grill per se. But it’s a good option to consider because it’s affordable, lightweight, and compact. Plus, it’s a high quality product built by Coleman, a brand highly appraised for designing high quality outdoor recreational products.
Coleman gives strength and durability a priority as far as design is concerned. They use stainless steel, a material whose strength is close to that of cast iron and a good heat conductor just like hard-anodized aluminum. Also, Coleman maintains a good harmony between size and weight, because, apart from packing to a size relatively smaller than a briefcase, Fold N Go weighs just about 8 pounds.
The Fold N Go has a built-in handle to ease transportation and storage. It produces 6,000 BTUs across a grill surface of 105 square inches, a cooking area big enough to serve at most 3 people. And it has an adjustable horseshoe burner for precise heating control. InstaStart ignition button eliminates the use of matches and the removable cooking surface and grease tray makes cleaning a walk in the park.
This propane gas grill is also heat efficient. It can provide heat for up to 3.5 hours from a 16.4oz Coleman propane cylinder. And it has a Perfect Flow technology that maintains a steady flow of heat when cooking.
This unit is fairly easy to use. You start by pushing a button to ignite, cook easily by adjusting the horseshoe burner and even use a dishwasher to clean the removable grease tray and water pan.
Your camping has never been easier with a grill that is uniquely foldable, sleek and compact. You have all you need within a volume of 16.6/14.5/6.8inches. The grill is fitted with a handle that adds on to the portability because there are no stands to drag along.
Fold N Go may not have a large cooking area like Blackstone. But it’s one of the most durable propane grills in the market today thanks to the stainless steel construction.
Blackstone Outdoor Flat Top Griddle Station is one of the best grills for the money, a good pick for someone who’s looking for a professional grade build. This grill is mostly common in restaurants. But you can also use it for outdoor adventures like RV and car camping.
Blackstone Griddle Station features a stainless steel construction with a black powder finish. It has a 470 square inches flat top surface that allows you to grill food for several people. It even features a battery-powered ignition system such that by pressing a button, food starts to cook. The top grill is removable and the foldable stand is fitted with wheels to allow you to push the grill around easily.
This grill uses propane to cook and saves you the strain of using kerosene and charcoal. The ignition is instant and you have two independently controllable steel burners that give out 30,000 BTUs each.
The grill has a strong stand that puts at bay the stress of bending while operating on it. The adjustable heat-zones improve the versatility of cooking because you can cook several foods on the go. Or even better, keep the ready meals warm while cooking some more.
We love this grill because it’s easy to use. And we recommend it because it’s easy to manage. Grilling meals is easy and how fast food cooks depends on the temperature range that you choose.
The four wheels on the stand are strong. You can even lock them in position with the caster property before you start cooking. Plus, it’s very easy to clean after use.
When removed, the top section of Blackstone Griddle Station reduces bulkiness and enhances portability. The wheels fitted on the stand saves you the trouble of lifting the grill and you can push it as much as you want. The legs are also foldable to fit in a car’s trunk.
One of things we love about this portable grill as far as durability is concerned is the black powder coating. In addition to resisting elements, it’s less subject to rust and durable to last for a lifetime. The thick cold rolled steel cook-top and the stand are strong and unbreakable.
If you’re looking for a portable camping grill with a cooking area big enough to make food for at most four people, then Cuisinart All Foods Roll Away Gas Grill is a good option to consider. From our firsthand experience, we strongly believe that you will love this grill because it’s versatile in the sense that it allows you to cook a variety of foods with ease. Whether you’re a vegetarian or you prefer meat and adore pizza, this device can get you grilling tasty meals in minutes.
Cuisinart engineers this revolutionary grill with spot-on versatility, ensuring it has sufficient space for grilling and a full-size height.
The hide away shelves on the sides allow you to keep some ingredients that you’d like to cook. And the rollaway foldable cart may be helpful when you need to save on space during transportation, not to mention the ease of transporting it enables.
Cuisinart All Foods Roll-Away gas grill gives you a state of the art performance, starting from the dependable Twist Start electric ignition that saves you the trouble of matchboxes.
The masterpiece design wouldn’t be complete without the 15,000 BTU stainless steel loop burner and the 240 square inches porcelain coated grilling surface.
The temperature panel enhances even heat distribution in the grill. And the precision temperature gauge keeps you posted on the internal heat level of the grill.
Anyone can operate the Cuisinart grill because the process is simple right from the ignition step. The full-size height, supported by rigid stands, ensures that you don’t have to bend a knee to reach and operate the grill. It’s even easier to grill because the shelves on the sides can hold whatever you want to cook.
Cuisinart All Foods Roll-Away gas grill can fold to occupy a smaller space because the stand is collapsible. The grill measures 44 x 23 x 21 inches, and when packed down, the size reduces to 41 x 23 x36 inches. You also have the option of pushing it on balconies, campsites, or tailgates on its two wheels.
Of course, the only downside you will have to gripe with is its whopping 41 pounds of weight. Like us, you’ll find that much weight a contentious affair especially when lifting the grill to your car’s trunk.
The shelves on the grill are made of stainless steel, which increases longevity by eliminating rusting. The material used to make the cooking grate is enameled porcelain cast iron, which should last through a century.
Hibachi grills were among the first metal frameworks made of cast iron. They became popular because of their durable construction and standard performance. When Hibachi moved overseas, their work became cheaper and these grills eventually vanished.
But the design of cast iron grills didn’t stop after the disappearance of Hibachi grills. Lodge has upheld the value of the material by creating the Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s grill which became popular because of its unique construction and durability.
This camping grill is made of 100% cast iron. While the material isn’t lightweight like aluminum or stainless steel, it’s the most durable of them all.
The grill is 19 inches long, 8.25 inches wide and 10.25 inches high. Its size makes it suitable for car campers and RV enthusiasts who prefer small grills to bigger ones.
Lodge Sportsman’s output power and heat distribution are up to the standard. The front door gives you easy access to the fire pit, allowing you to add charcoal or wood depending on the type of fuel you prefer to use.
The sliding button at the bottom of the vent gives you full control over temperature, letting you decide just how much heat is appropriate for your personalized cookout.
Plus, it’s heavy for a reason: the overall mass of the cast iron body locks in heat for a long time, allowing you to grill meals to the best flavor.
But the cooking surface of this Hibachi style grill is very small. The 120 square inches is just not fair for the price. It’s too small to serve more than 2 person yet quite expensive.
Although this cast iron is easy to use, it requires a lot of care. If you season it properly, store it in a dry place, and oil it frequently, it will last for years.
You do have to be very careful when handling it. The exterior surface can get too hot to handle. If you must hold it when grilling, wear some thick gloves.
Again, the outer build can easily crack with quick changes in temperature. So you should not douse it with cold water when it’s still hot.
While cast iron is durable, it’s the heaviest material ever. That explains why a grill this small weighs 33 pounds. It’s less heavy than Char Broil’s Big Easy TRU, but Lodge hasn’t optimized the weight well enough to make it suitable for backpacking.
You can expect this grill to last for a long time. But there are conditions. Keep in mind that it comes pre-seasoned. If not thoroughly cleaned after use, it will begin to rust and damage over time.
The Kamado Joe Jr Charcoal Grill is a mini version of the well-known Kamado Joe Classic Grill. The body is made of ceramic and the grilling grate is pure stainless steel. Both materials are popular because they are strong, durable, and thermal efficient.
During our testing, we noticed how fast the ceramic body heat up. And we loved how it retained the heat throughout our grilling session. The material also locked in moisture quite well, allowing us to add just the right flavor and taste to our cooking.
The stainless steel grate also did work quite well. The even heat distribution was up to the standard, so much that it didn’t take us more than 30 minutes to grill meat, a few chicken wings, and some steak. The temperature range of between 225 and 750 degrees gave us full control over how hot this unit gets, allowing us to grill at a heat range just right for us.
However, this unit earned a lower performance rating because of the small cooking area. You only get around 149 square inches, which is sufficient for just 2 people. It would have been great if the cooking area were a little bit bigger. So you’ll have to look elsewhere if you intend to grill for 3 or 4 people in a campsite.
You can consider an option like Blackstone Table Top Grill, which has a cooking area of 260 square inches. Or you can go for Pit Boss Grills 75275 Portable Grill, which has a sizeable cooking area of 276 square inches.
This Kamado Joe model is simple in design and easy to operate. It takes just a couple of minutes to setup. And once you have the charcoal burning at the right temperature, you’re good to get down to grilling.
Also, the grilling grates are easy to clean thanks to the nonstick stainless steel surface.
This is by far one of the heaviest grills in this guide. At 75.6 pounds, it can be difficult to move. So while it’s a good option for car and RV camping, it’s not an option you would consider for backpacking.
This camping grill is durable, but only if you handle it with care. While the ceramic used is a good material because of its heat retention and distribution power, it can easily crack if mishandled.
The cast iron does provide some level of stability, but you still have to keep an eye on the ceramic material every time you use this grill.
If you’re in the market for an affordable grill with a fire pit, then you should consider UCO Flatpack. It takes up less space and it’s one of the most lightweight charcoal grills on this list. This unit is a good option for 1 or 2 people. And it’s an ideal choice for a camper or backpacker on a budget.
UCO uses stainless steel to design this grill. The material is stronger than raw and hard-anodized aluminum. Unlike ceramic, the stainless steel is not subject to cracking. And just like aluminum, it locks in heat well for better cooking performance.
UCO Flatpack is currently available in two sizes, each sold separately. The regular option is a 13 by 10 inches grill. And the mini version measures 9 by 6.75 inches. Each option packs small, easily folding down to about 1.5 inches thick.
This grill works well with charcoal as well as wood pellets. Its vents provide sufficient air circulation to start fire and keep it burning. And the stainless steel construction provide good heat conduction and even distribution to the grilling grate to enable you make your food with ease.
This grill is such a tiny stuff. The regular model has a cooking area of just 130 square inches. And the mini version has a grilling surface of 60 square inches. The mini option is a single-serve option. And the regular option can serve at most 3 people.
Adding charcoal to this unit is somewhat a challenge. You have to lift the grate to do this. Controlling heat is also a big problem.
UCO Flatpack is a very well laidback unit. It took us only 30 seconds to set it up. And we are confident that it will take you roughly the same time, maybe even less. Adding charcoal and controlling heat may be a bit of a hassle, but it’s possible.
It will develop a copper coating after the first use, but that’s nothing to worry about because it won’t stay shiny forever anyway. It’s easy to clean after use, even when it’s messed up by chunks of roasted meat or smoked steak.
We love how small Flatpack charcoal grill packs. It folds down to an inch thick and ends up taking a very small space in a backpack. You even get a handy canvas case that you can use to store the grill and the grate filter when they are not in use. At just 3.2 pounds, this grill is lightweight and easily portable, thus a good option for backpacking.
UCO Flatpack is more durable than Kamado Joe KJ13RH thanks to the stainless steel construction that isn’t subject to cracking.
PK Grills has been in business since 1952. And its Original Outdoor Grill & Smoker is one of the top high-end options in today’s market.
This grill is made of aluminum for durability and better heat conductivity. It features a capsule-like shape and it has a flat bottom that makes it easy to put charcoal to the edges for smoking and direct cooking.
The aluminum capsule provides superior heat conduction and locks in heat for consistent grilling even when it’s extremely cold outdoors. The air vents, two on top and two at the bottom, create two separate heat zones for direct and indirect cooking.
If you want direct cooking, which a perfect option for searing meals, place the food over hot charcoal and keep all the four vents open. For indirect cooking, place food on the far end of the oven and open once cylinder vent. This vent will pull in air, move it through the hot coals, and slowly cook the meals.
With a cooking area as large as 306 square inches, this grill is big enough to prepare food for at most 6 people. And you can grill pretty much anything you want, from chicken wings and turkey ribs to meat steak and everything in between.
We found this unit generally stress-free to manage. It’s easy to setup, easy to clean after use, and it demands very little effort to maintain. You should clean it the same way you clean your camping cookware and then use the carrying case to cover it when it’s not in use.
The PK grill weighs 45 lbs. To us, that’s a lot of weight for a small unit. But we love how the brand optimized it for mobility by adding two wheel at the base of the control tower. This makes it easy to push without feeling the actual weight.
The aluminum used isn’t stronger than cast iron or stainless steel. But it’s durable. That means you get a valuable grill that you can use on many camping adventures to come.
Homemaxs isn’t a camping gear specialty brand. But their BBQ Grill made it to our list because it’s compact, lightweight, and versatile. And unlike Char Broil’s Big Easy Smoker, it’s quite inexpensive.
Because of its weight and size, Homemaxs BBQ Grill is a good option for backpackers, campers, and hikers who love lightweight camping gear that pack small.
Measuring 16 by 13 by 14.3 inches, this one is so compact that it takes up just a little space. Add to this the fact that it folds down to 16 x 7.1 x 6.3 inches, and what you get for the price is a unit that you can pack down and fit in your backpack.
Good to see a brand in the multi-product business producing a high quality grill that campers can use to enjoy a mealtime outdoors.
Homemaxs isn’t the best performing grill on our list. But it doesn’t disappoint either way. Based on our testing, fire was easy to start. We added a few dry twigs and leaves to the heat area and then added charcoal on top. The leaves and twigs enabled us to start the fire fast. The 12 airway vents provided just enough airflow to start the fire and enhance even flow of heat. And in just 10 minutes, we were ready to get down to serious business.
This grill does a great job when it comes to making barbecues. Its 208 square inches of cooking area is enough to serve at most 4 people. And as far as its versatility goes, you can use the roast meat, cook veggies, and smoke fish.
Homemaxs is easy to use, but it has a few limitations.
First, there’s just no easy way to control the temperature of this thing except by using your eyes and personal judgment. Too much charcoal and you could burn your food. Too little and your meals can take age to cook.
While the lift handle makes it easy to add charcoal, there’s just no way to scoop coal from the grill in case you need to reduce heat. We also found that spreading charcoal, especially when the cooking area is full, is somewhat a pain.
Homemaxs BBQ is a truly portable camping grill. At 6.7 lbs, this unit is one of the most lightweight options in this guide. It also takes up less space, especially because it folds down to almost half its size. The ergonomic handle also helps with portability.
Homemaxs uses iron, chrome, and stainless steel for design. And if anything, we’re more than willing to admit that they’ve invested quite a lot of creativity, resources, and time to make a grill that’s both functional and durable.
In addition, the grill is scratch-resistant, so it can easily stand up to unfriendly weather conditions outside.
Imagine the convenience of grilling, roasting, and smoking your meals with just a single portable grill. It saves you money because you don’t have to buy separate units to grill, smoke, or roast independently. The Char-Broil Big Easy is such a 3-in-1 unit that cooks well without altering the taste of your meals. It’s small but somewhat heavy, a good option for car camping.
The Big Easy features a stainless steel build with a porcelain coating. It’s 23 x 23 x 36 inches with the lid closed. And it weighs 50 pounds in total.
While Big Easy is a good option for car and RV camping, the brand doesn’t optimize the weight enough to make it suitable for backpacking. At 50 lbs, the Big Easy is too heavy to guarantee easy movement. And if portability is anything to go by, this one is less than ideal for a backpacker.
We haven’t come across a 3-in-1 camping grill that performs better than Char Broil’s Big Easy. Like Camp Chef’s BB30L Professional Barbecue Box, the Big Easy relies on a TRU infrared cooking technology for a tasty cookout. Whether you love smoked steak, prefer roasted turkey, or you simply crave for some thoroughly grilled meat, this is the best grill to use if you want your meals tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Big Easy TRU has a 1200 square inches basket and a 180 square inches infrared grilling surface. Combined, they give you a decent cooking area that you can use to smoke, grill, and roast foods like veggies, wings, steaks, burgers, chicken, and chops.
The automatic ignition system makes the grill easy to start. So even if it gets extremely windy in your campsite, you should still light this up on the go. The 18,000 BTU burner provides consistent heat for convenient cooking. Not only is the heat distribution in the basket and on the infrared grilling surface even, the unit locks in heat quite well to bring foods to the right temperature in just a short time.
Propane gas is the primary source of heat for this grill. But if you want to go a bit economical, you can use wood chips. The wood chip tray can hold up to half a pound of chips, which should bring your food to the right flavor.
After testing this in different campsite, we found it quite easy to use. The user manual helped a great deal with the initial setup and the unit was easy to manage thereafter.
It takes only a few minutes to remove and clean the grease tray. And there are no water pans and/or air dampers to deal with, hence little maintenance.
Granted, this hybrid camping grill is compact. But as much as it takes up less space, it’s quite heavy on the side.
And if you think about it, 50 lbs is just too much weight for a camping grill. Fine if you’ll use it for car or RV camping, but duff if you’ll be on constant move.
The carrying handle help with movement, but who really wants to hang such a heavy grill on a backpack, not to mention carrying it when hiking?
Expect this grill to last for long because it’s made of high quality, sturdy stainless steel that’s element resistant. The porcelain coating also adds a layer of protection against rusting further enhancing the unit’s durability.
From its founding to this very day, Camp Chef’s goal has always been to give you a memorable grilling experience far away from home. And with their BB30L Professional Barbecue Box, a grill with patented heat diffuser and cast iron grates, you can easily grill your favorite meals to their tasty flavor in just a couple of minutes.
The stainless steel build makes the outer part of the model, giving the entire unit a strong and stable feel. The grill grates are made of cast iron, a material known for being tough, durable, and a good conductor of heat.
When it comes to cost, BB30L is one of the most inexpensive options in the market today. It’s therefore an ideal option for campers and backpackers who’re looking for camping grills under $100.
At least in our experience, this model doesn’t disappoint when it comes to heart distribution. The patented heat diffuser quickly coverts flames into infrared heat, which then heats up the cast iron grates to sear meat to its flavor.
The grates come pre-seasoned ready to use. And they heat up quite fast. The hinged lid lets you lock in more heat for a quick cookout. And the even heat distribution on the grates lets you grill fast even with less heat from the diffuser.
Camp Chef Professional Barbecue box doesn’t have a drip tray. And it doesn’t actually need one because the infrared heat technology infuses grease in your meat to give it a rich aroma. Because the integrated temperature gauge gives you full control over heat and smoke, you’re free to customize your cookout by sealing in the flavor for a tasty mealtime.
This Barbecue Box has a cooking area of 224 square inches. That’s decent for grilling foods for solo camping or 3 people at most. In our experience, you can’t use this model for a large gathering, unless you don’t mind several rounds of cookouts.
You will love Camp Chef Professional BB30L Barbecue Box because it’s easy to use. It takes only a few minutes to setup and it works really well with any Camp Chef 16-inch camping stove.
It’s also easy to clean because there’s very little grease to deal with. And even if gets heavy with grime, you can use a power washer and a degreaser to clean up fast.
Although stainless steel and cast iron are heavy materials, Camp Chef tried to optimize them to make this grill as lightweight as possible. But at 19 pounds, the BB30L model is too heavy to use for backpacking. It may be good for car camping, but it won’t suffice for a backpacker who prefers a lightweight camping grill like UCO Flatpack Fire Pit.
Designed by a brand that has been in business since 1990, what you get for the price is a grill that will last for year – if not for a lifetime. Both cast iron and stainless steel used make the grill sturdy, resilient, and downright durable.
There are many options for cooking grills available, and their different prices might make you think twice before investing your hard-earned money in one, especially if you do not know whether you’ve gotten a better deal for much less.
The question therefore should be: how do you choose the best camping grill that will suit your needs without impinging so deeply on your pockets?
As camping experts and enthusiasts, we believe that these are the questions that should quickly come to mind as concerns a camping grill:
In answering the questions above, it is also imperative to have hard data collected from factual studies and experimentations to provide a sure-footed ground on which good decisions can be made.
The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association has been conducting several polls in which they have managed to come up with interesting statistics that are valuable in helping you make a choice of which cooking grill to go for.
Some of the interesting statistics include the fact that most grills that operate on gas will generally cost $300 and less and their lifespan is estimated to be about 3 years on average.
On top of that, we have gone out of our way and put the different grills to test in order to provide you with fully reliable data to base your decisions on.
As such, we have curated below a list of the most important factors you should put into account when choosing the best grill for camping.
There are three types of portable grills in the market: propane gas, charcoal, and the hybrid models. Each type comes in different sizes, is made of different materials, and prices vary from brand to brand.
Blackstone, Coleman and Weber are the brands most renowned for manufacturing the best gas camping grills. For hybrid models, we recommend that you check out Camp Chef Professional Barbecue Box or Char-Broil Big Easy TRU-Infrared Grill. If you’d rather buy a charcoal grill, check out the Kamado Joe Jr, Lodge or UCO Flatpack grills.
At the end of the day, the type of grill you choose depends on your personal preference as well as how much you’re willing and able to pay.
Measured in degrees Fahrenheit (°F), British Thermal Units (BTUs) is the total amount of heat energy a grill generates. The BTU rating of your cooking grill will show you the maximum amount of heat available for the main grilling area, which is where all the action takes place.
However, the BTU rating does not cover other areas in the cooking grill, such as the side burners, the warming trays and the rotisserie burners. You should be aware that there are unscrupulous manufacturers who will lump all these areas together and increase the BTU rating to make it look like a bigger number than it actually is.
In theory, a cooking grill with a higher BTU heats up fast and the one with a lower rating takes somewhat longer to preheat. In reality though, the BTU rating does not conclusively say how hot your cooking grill will get.
Other considerations such as the type of material used to make the grill, the size of the unit and the overall design of the grill can greatly affect the same.
Thin, thermally inefficient materials will only allow heat to escape.
Again, think about what you would like to cook before making a decision about the BTU output. If you intend to grill simple foods like veggie kebabs, brats, and burgers, a grill with lower BTU output should be good enough to get the job done.
A camping grill that doesn’t feature a temperature control option can be ineffective, inefficient, and frustrating.
For example, UCO Flatpack is a lightweight model for backpacking and camping, but there’s just no easy way to control heat when the temperature gets too high. This is fine for small, short time cooking, more so in cases where you feel you can control the heat manually.
But for a serious cookout that will demand a lot of time as well as serious temperature control, it would be best to consider options like Blackstone Table Top and Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s grills.
Each unit in this guide has a different grilling surface area. At the very least, they all fall in between 120 and 350 square inches. The option you choose will depend on the number of people you would like to grill foods for in a single cookout.
A cooking area between 100 and 150 square inches is suitable for 2 people. And the one between 150 and 300 square inches can serve up to 4 people. If there are 5 or more people in a campsite, then you should get a non-portable camping grill or cook meals in shifts.
A good way to estimate the number of people a grill will cook for is by assuming that 100 square inches will serve one person. Therefore, dividing the total number of the surface cooking area by 100 should give you a rough idea of the number of people you can budget for with a given grill.
If you want a gas cooking grill that will last, then you will require burners made out of stainless steel or brass. This is due to the fact that aluminum grills tend to burn out while cast iron grills inevitably rust.
Not all stainless steel will cut it though!
You need stainless steel with an 18-8 rating or a 304 grade for it to make the cut.
You also want to look for burners that have a metal deflector between the grate and burners. This helps to protect the burners from grease and also helps in producing more heat and doing away with the perennial problem of having hot spots on the grate.
Your choice of grates will have important consequences on the food you prepare and on the amount of money you will spend annually maintaining your cooking grill.
Grates are important because they hold the heat within the cooking area and also conduct heat to the food being prepared. They are responsible for the characteristic char marks you know and love.
The type of material used to make the grates portends different fates for your camping endeavors.
Chrome- and nickel-plated grates have a wire core, are lightweight and do not hold the heat very well. The plating also tends to chip away, meaning the grate usually rusts after some time.
Cast iron grates will hold and conduct the heat for preparing the food very well. However, if you do not treat them with oil after cleaning, they will eventually rust. This is why people with cast iron grates are encouraged to spray their grills on both sides with some oil after cleaning.
Grates made of stainless steel are usually very easy to clean and also work to your satisfaction.
Heat-treated porcelain on cast iron is also used in making grates. This combination of materials produces excellent results but is heavy and the porcelain is at risk of cracking or chipping away slowly, leading to the cast iron grates rusting and requiring replacement.
If you are in the market for grills that can be moved from one camping site to the next with ease, you are better off going for stainless steel grates.
Does your grill have a spark ignition system or will you need a box of matches or a lighter with you all the time? What happens when you eventually forget the box of matches and have to light a fire like ancient humans?
The good thing is that most gas grills have spark ignition systems that run on a battery or operate using the friction of a push button or dial to provide that initial spark that gets everything rolling.
The best cooking grill is one that has the spark ignition system and a manual plan B just in case plan A fails. In most cases, this is a manual ignition hole that will accept anything from a candle lighter to a long, wooden fireplace match.
Remember that when buying grills, the same principles that apply to buying anything else of value also apply. This is especially so in the quality of construction.
You will get what you pay for, and as such you should ideally be willing to spend more for better quality.
Safety should be one of your biggest concerns, because you will be dealing with flammable material and gases at a very close range, possibly in areas where medical assistance may be long in coming.
While lightweight materials are preferred because of their ease of transporting, these materials may end up being flimsy and incapable of handling the stress of cooking for several camping trips. They might work if you camp once or twice a year and do not use the grill any other time.
However, if you are a frequent camper, then you might want to spend a little more on heavy materials and also endure the burden of transporting the grill from one camping site to another. The upside of this is that your grill’s durability is guaranteed.
The more stable the barbecue stands, the safer it will be. You should also check working areas for sharp edges that can inflict cuts on curious children or get snagged on clothing and fall, leading to injury and damage that could be avoided if you chose a cooking griller with softer edges and surfaces not prone to getting caught on people’s clothing.
Look for grills that have been made of cast aluminum, cast iron, enameled steel or stainless steel.
While heavy and costly, the Kamado Joe Jr is a grill we can use as an example of what a really high-quality grill should match up to.
Make sure you ask yourself the following questions to gauge whether your cooking grill is easily transportable or not:
For the gas grills, it’s best to use the propane tank recommended by the manufacturer. As such, you will want to consider compatibility with your preferred propane fuel tank.
What size of fuel tank are you comfortable with?
Small camping size fuel tanks of propane or any other cooking gas are good for only one or two meals before they need to be replenished with more gas.
However, if you think your camping trips will last more than three days, then a conversion kit that can be bought for about $100 will be more than enough to satisfy your needs. The conversion kit will allow you to access a 20 pound propane tank that will definitely last for a couple more meals before requiring a refill.
You should also be concerned with the strength and sturdiness of the shelves, as they should be strong enough to withstand the weight of a sizeable plate(s) of food. The shelves should also be adequate enough for holding sauce and utensils that are needed during your camping trip for the cooking grill.
Some of the most common accessories that you can expect to find with any cooking grill are utensils, BBQ recipe books and maybe a stand or a cart.
You may find all or some of these accessories with your purchased grill. If they are not included, you may have to incur an extra cost to have these important items, and this should be factored in your budget so that you do not end up spending more than you had bargained for.
Many of the portable camping grills in this guide come ready to use straight out of the box; no assembly required. All the parts are in their right places.
However, if you choose to purchase any other grill, you will have to consider whether you will have to assemble the cooking grill yourself or whether it comes readily assembled.
Is there a good manual written in English that you can understand and filled with relevant pictorial diagrams?
Grills made in Asian countries might come with incomprehensible manuals, and being ready for this shock is better than assembling a grill using an eye of faith.