Gear Guy

Q:

What’s the Best Portable Camping Grill?

I love to grill—steaks, veggies, sausages, anything. How can I bring my grill camping with me?

What’s the Best Portable Camping Grill?
Not this. (Delmas Lehman )
A:

Portable grills provide better, more consistent heat and easier cleanup than backpacking stoves or open fires, and they're not all the car-camping behemoths of yesteryear. Modern grills vary a great deal in their weight—from three to 24 pounds—and use either wood or propane as fuel. Wood-fired ones are generally lighter to carry in, and can be carried onto planes. Propane units are obviously less fuss, since they heat consistently for over three and a half hours on a standard one-pound canister.

Before you buy, consider whether you need a grill at all. The easiest solution would be to toss a steel grate over two flat rocks in your fire circle and be done with it. That’s not a bad idea, especially if you carry along an easy-to-clean stainless steel cook surface such as Rome’s Pioneer. But stand-alone portables provide more even heat for your culinary adventures, and they can be set up anywhere. Here are our favorite new entries and old stand-bys.

BioLite Portable Grill
Esbit Foldable Barbeque Box
Coleman Fold N Go Grill
Camp Chef Rainier 2 Burner Grill
Pro-Iroda O-Grill 1000

The Best Camping Grills: BioLite Portable Grill

BioLite Portable Grill camping grills bbq outside gear guy
BioLite Portable Grill. (Courtesy of BioLite)

Next month, BioLite will release a grill attachment for its unusual wood-burning, fan-powered stove. When we first tried the BioLite, we were impressed with the concept, a cookstove that runs on sticks and forest debris and charges your cell phone via an embedded thermal generator.

The stainless steel grill will benefit from this technology, since the BioLite’s internal fan blows air through the wood, ensuring consistently high heat. The steel refueling lid on one edge makes it easy to toss in wood, and the fold-up legs add stability.

WEIGHT: 3.0 pounds (including the weight of the stove)
COOKING AREA:
55 square inches (about two hamburgers)
PRICE:
$60 (ships in April, and requires BioLite Camp Stove, $130)

The Best Camping Grills: Esbit Foldable Barbeque Box

Esbit Foldable Barbeque Box camping grills bbq outside gear guy camping grills
Esbit Foldable Barbeque Box (Courtesy of Esbit)

This nearly microscopic German grill packs down to a mere two and a half inches high in its included nylon pouch and runs on wood or charcoal. To set the Esbit Box up, you unfold it like origami to its full height of 5.3 inches. The stainless steel grate has a comfortable handle and a height adjustment on two levels.  

WEIGHT: 3.2 pounds
COOKING AREA:
55 square inches (about two hamburgers)
PRICE: $90 (Sold in the U.S. by L.L. Bean)

The Best Camping Grills: Coleman Fold N Go Grill

Coleman Fold N Go Grill camping grills cooking cookout beach trips bbq outside gear guy
Coleman Fold N Go Grill. (Courtesy of Coleman)

At 11 pounds and change, Coleman’s Fold N Go Grill weighs around the same as the company’s classic two-burner green suitcase stoves. But the porcelain-coated grate provides a surface to grill anything, and with a removable water pan and grease tray, it's ready for even the juiciest steaks. The Fold N Go has a dome-shaped lid for slow cooking and a carry handle for hauling from car to cabin. Like the other propane units here, it runs on standard one-pound propane tanks, available at any hardware store. We recommend getting the cast aluminum griddle for pancakes, but not the push-button ignition, which we found to be finicky.

WEIGHT: 11.3 pounds
COOKING AREA: 220 square inches (about four to five hamburgers)
PRICE: $80

The Best Camping Grills: Camp Chef Rainier 2 Burner Grill and Stove Combo

Camp Chef Rainier 2 Burner Gril camping grills cooking cookout bbq outside gear guy
Camp Chef Rainier 2 Burner Grill and Stove Combo. (Courtesy of Camp Chef)

The Rainier 2 serves double duty as a stove and grill, so you can get some fish sizzling on one side and a pot of stew on the other. The push-button ignition fires up 8,000 BTUs on the grill side and 10,000 BTUs on the burner—more than enough to handle whatever you're cooking up. We liked the carry handle, as well as the handy stainless drip tray and wind barrier

WEIGHT: 11.5 pounds
COOKING AREA: 180 square inches (about three to four hamburgers)
PRICE: $110

The Best Camping Grills: Pro-Iroda O-Grill 1000

Pro-Iroda O-Grill 1000 camping grills cooking cookout bbq outside gear guy
Pro-Iroda O-Grill 1000. (Courtesy of Pro-Iroda)

The O-Grill is the Bentley of portable grills, and it weighs as much as one. At 24 pounds, the unit features a porcelain-coated, cast-iron grate and 9,000 BTUs of heat. It also has automatic ignition, a removable grease pan, and retractable legs. Despite its heft, the O-Grill is the most rugged and gourmet-worthy of the bunch, and makes a perfect car-camping accessory for big outings.

WEIGHT: 18 pounds
COOKING AREA: 164 square inches (about three hamburgers)
PRICE: $159

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