Roasting s’mores and hot dogs over an open fire — this is what we envision when thinking of camp cooking. As tasty as these traditional treats are, it’s easy to get fed up with hot dogs and pre-packaged chow on extended camping trips. And although portable backpacking stoves have been a staple camping kit for decades, nothing beats the taste of grilled veggies and meat. Cue the camping grill, which ensures you’re never without the best steaks, burgers, or bratwurst, even when you’re miles from civilization.
These travel-friendly cookers come in a variety of designs, sizes, and shapes. So, whether you’re planning a backyard camping night, a family car camping adventure, or a dispersed camping trip this spring, read on. These are our picks for the best camping grills, from lightweight models to larger (but still portable) alternatives that can cook up dinner for the whole crew.
Blending Japanese minimalism with modern functionality, Snow Peak designs some of the world’s best (and most handsome) outdoor gear. The brand’s Takibi Fire & Grill is no different. Constructed of stainless steel with an innovative, modular design, it’s durable and packable. It’s also versatile, so it can be used as a grill, a compact fire pit, or a hibachi — either while car camping or in your backyard. The five-piece kit includes a fireplace, grill net, grill bridge, baseplate, and carrying case.
For those who prefer to travel lighter — leaving propane tanks and jumbo-sized charcoal bags at home — an over-the-fire staked grill is a great option. The Breeo Outpost 19 features a dead-simple, two-piece design with a ground stake and a handled grill platform that mounts to that stake. The surface can be raised and lowered to decrease or increase the cooking temperature. When your food is ready, just swing the grill plate away from the fire to take it off the heat, unlike most other over-fire camping grills that fold out over the fire and can be hazardous to retrieve. It’s a sturdy, stable, no-nonsense alternative to traditional fuel-powered grills.
Even if you’re into lightweight backpacking, you don’t have to suffer from boring packaged food or goop you have to cook in a canteen cup. The Pack Grill from Coghlan’s is a simple and elegant on-the-go grilling solution; at just over 6 inches wide and 12 inches long, it can fold down to fit into just about any pack, and its over-the-fire design means it’s just about foolproof. Cook meat directly on the rack or place your cup or pot on it for a stable cooking platform.
At a mere $10, the Coghlan’s Pack Grill is a cheap piece of equipment to add to your backpacking loadout. There’s also athat measures roughly 12 inches by 24 inches, but it’s obviously not as portable given its size.
The idea of a fabric grill seems about as useful as a submarine with a screen door. But, the revolutionary new GoBQ’s Grill uses foldable, fire- and heat-resistant fabric in a one-of-a-kind design. The entire kit weighs just 9 pounds and collapses down to 17% of its full volume, so it fits neatly in a backpack, overhead bin, or even an RV kitchen drawer. The proprietary fabric base not only withstands the high heat associated with most campsite grilling, but it also cools seven times faster than metal. Plus, it takes just 20 seconds to set up.
All of our picks are pretty portable, but they’re still fairly bulky as far as camping gear goes. Our final propane-powered camping grill is another one from Coleman: The Fold N Go weighs in at just 10 pounds and is perfect for a lone camper looking to cook dinner for one. Naturally, with a grill as small as the Fold N Go, you’re sacrificing cooking surface area for portability. Don’t expect to cook anything other than light breakfasts for more than a single person.
Nonetheless, if you’re not cooking for a family, the Coleman Fold N Go’s easy-to-use design, unmatched portability (for a propane unit), and excellent value make it the best super-portable propane camping grill out there right now.
Anyone familiar with grilling knows there’s a subset of die-hard meat lovers who insist that nothing makes beef, pork, and chicken taste as good as an old-fashioned charcoal grill. Thankfully, the Weber Go-Anywhere camping grill means you don’t have to give up the flavor of charcoal-grilled meat when you’re on the go. Its cooking surface has 160 square inches of space (enough for about six burgers), and since it uses charcoal, you don’t have to mess around with costly propane canisters.
When not in use, the legs fold up around the lid to hold everything together in a package about the size of a fishing tackle box. The Weber Go-Anywhere charcoal camping grill is an excellent value, too, at around $60.
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