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The 8 Best Portable Grills for Campers
Grilling out is one of the best parts of camping. The sound of a crackling fire and the smell of food cooking over the grill are inseparable parts of the camping experience. There’s something about it that takes us all back and makes us feel like kids again.
But to make a great meal, you need a great grill. And to take it with you when you go camping, that grill has to be compact and portable.
Choosing the right grill isn’t always easy. There are a lot of excellent portable camping grills out there, but also a lot of junk. I’ve owned far too many grills that have fallen apart or seized up with rust after a single season.
Also, take note: I’m not going to get into a gas-or-charcoal debate here. For the record, I’m on team charcoal, but I also totally get that gas grills have their advantages. Sometimes you get back to your campsite at the end of a long day, and you just want to be able to cook some hot dogs with the click of a button. No judgment.
Ultimately, this list includes charcoal grills as well as gas grills, because there are some truly great portable grills that fall into both categories. No matter what you want to cook and how you want to cook it, each of these portable grills deserves consideration for your next camping trip.
1. Weber Q1200
The Weber Q1200 is a great option for tabletop grilling at your campsite. It heats quickly, handles the wind well, and runs on commonplace liquid propane (LP) canisters. It has a battery ignition and a single large stainless steel burner that heats a spacious 189 square inch cooking area.
The built-in side tables on the Weber Q1200 are handy while you’re cooking, and the grill has an angled grease tray and catch pan, making it great for grilling burgers and other foods that release a lot of fat.
The only real downside of the Weber Q1200 is that it’s surprisingly heavy for a portable grill. But you can chalk that up to its sturdy construction and high-quality, porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates. This thing is tough and built to last.
2. Eureka! SPRK Portable Butane Camping Grill
New for 2021, the SPRK Portable Butane Camping Grill from Eureka! is a beautifully designed piece of equipment that takes camp grilling to the next level. It has a compact design with an integrated fuel canister compartment and a handy carrying case.
The grill has a 7,250 BTU burner that offers a 90-minute burn time on an eight-ounce butane canister (sold separately). It has an auto-ignition for quick starts, with an adjustable flame and 120 square inch grilling surface.
I really like a lot of the finer details that make the Eureka! SPRK is ideal for camping, like adjustable feet to keep it level on any surface. The non-stick ceramic grate and removable drip tray make it one of the easiest camp grills to clean.
3. CUSIMAX Charcoal Grill
There’s nothing quite like the taste you get from grilling on charcoal, but a lot of charcoal grills are far too big to easily transport. With a compact, easily portable design that still offers generous grilling space, the Cusimax Charcoal Grill is a great option for camping trips.
With a 17.5” cooking rack and a 15” warming rack, the Cusimax Charcoal Grill is perfect for barbecuing, and can also be used as a mini smoker. It has heat-resistant handles on either side for easy carry.
The lid and bowl are enamel-coated to make them easier to clean and help the grill retain heat. A bit of assembly is required, but the included instructions are clear and easy to follow. Overall the Cusimax is a sturdy, well-made charcoal grill at a very reasonable price.
4. BioLite CampStove Complete Cook Kit
When you get right down to it, the BioLite CampStove is a marvel of technology. This lightweight portable grill runs entirely on wood, including whatever sticks, twigs, and wood scraps you may find at camp.
With the Campstove you can grill, cook, and boil water quickly and easily on a smokeless wood fire that also – and this is the really amazing part – generates a 3W power source that you can use to charge your phone. It quite literally turns fire into electricity.
The grill top of the BioLite CampStove fits about four burgers, so it’s not especially spacious. Even so, it’s a remarkably engineered device. And the BioLite CampStove Complet Cook Kit also comes with KettlePot and CoffeePress accessories.
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5. Coleman Roadtrip 225 Propane Gas Grill
Coleman has long been one of the leading makers of camping stoves, and their Roadtrip 225 represents a great foray into grilling territory. It has a 225 square inch grilling area and two adjustable burners that put out 11,000 total BTUs.
This grill is designed with sturdy heat-resistant legs for tabletop grilling and has InstaStart match-free ignition. The two-piece grill grate is fully removable and can be swapped with other Coleman cooktops, so you can potentially grill your main course while your side dish cooks in a pot side-by-side.
The Roadtrip 225 takes standard 16.4 oz propane cylinders, and can also be connected to a larger propane tank. It comes with a solid 3-year limited warranty. Coleman also makes a stand-up version of this grill with a built-in table and wheels.
6. Weber Jumbo Joe
Chances are, most of us have used a Weber charcoal grill at some point. They’re true classics, and the Weber Jumbo Joe has a simple, intuitive design that makes it an excellent choice for charcoal grilling at your campsite.
The compact, lightweight Jumbo Joe has an enameled bowl and lid for heat retention and corrosion resistance. The integrated legs and drip catcher make it great for tabletop grilling, and the dampers allow easy heat control.
With an 18″ diameter grill grate, the Jumbo Joe is a size up from Weber’s popular 14″ Smokey Joe grill. The extra size makes this ideal for larger groups of three or four people, but it’s still very easy to pack and transport.
7. UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill
Here’s one for all you minimalist campers and backpackers. The UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill is one of the lightest and most compact grills on the market, and it’s perfect for the trail, beach, or campsite.
The UCO Flatpack folds down to less than 1.5″ thick, and it’s small enough to stow in a backpack. It doubles as a firepot, with wind-blocking sides and a 13″ x 10″ grilling space (there’s also a ‘mini’ version with a 9″ x 6.5″ grate). It burns wood, charcoal, or both.
A stable base makes the UCO Flatpack grill well-suited to grilling on the ground or tabletop. The stainless steel construction is durable and rust-resistant, and at 3.3 lb It’s one of the lightest grills available (the mini weighs just 2 lb).
8. Adjust-A-Grill Camping Grill
Cooking over an open fire is one of the best parts of camping, but the crusty, rusty fire pit grills provided at most campgrounds tend to be questionable at best. Luckily, there’s the Adjust-A-Grill Camping Grill, which turns any fire pit into a perfect grill. Voilà!
This rugged 18″ x 18″ grill is perfect for cooking and grilling over wood or charcoal and comes with a sturdy 24″ stake that you can drive into the ground. The stake offers great stability.
It’s also easy to adjust the height of the grill above the flames. The Adjust-A-Grill is ideal for bushcraft cooking and for anyone who really likes to rough it. In addition to grilling, you can also use the grill as a base for cast-iron cookware and making camp coffee.
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Portable Grill FAQs
There are countless styles of portable grills, but most of them fall into one of two categories: gas grills and charcoal grills. The choice, ultimately, is a matter of personal preference, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Both gas and charcoal grills are great for camping. Charcoal is considered by many to be more “authentic,” and there’s certainly a unique grilling flavor that one only gets from charcoal. But charcoal is also time-consuming, and many campers favor the speed and convenience of a gas grill.
Size is certainly an important consideration. Look for a grill that’s small enough to easily pack up and transport, but that has enough space for your grilling needs. If you’re camping solo, you can get away with a tiny grill, but larger groups may require something bigger. You may also want to look for a grill that has:
- An easy to clean design
- Non-stick grate
- Removable grease catcher
- Sides that block the wind
- Corrosion-resistant coating
- Adjustable legs
- Heat-resistant handles
- Adjustable flame and matchless ignition (if it’s a gas grill)
- Adequate ventilation and heat control (if it’s a charcoal grill)
Many camping grills are very affordable, and you can get a solid portable grill for under $100 (charcoal grills, overall, tend to be cheaper than gas grills). There are also some high-end grills that cost significantly more and have more advanced features.
At the end of the day, you should spend based on your needs, and on the amount of use, you plan to get out of your grill. You often get what you pay for in the sense that expensive grills tend to outlast more budget-friendly models.