Every year millions of Americans take to the open road in RVs, trucks, and cars loaded to the gills with camping gear. The call of the great outdoors is a strong one. Yet trying to cook over a campfire grate is often a recipe for burned food and singed off arm hair.
This drives many people to invest in a camp stove or camp grill, in hopes of infusing a little bit of the convenience of home with the adventurous great outdoors!
Is It Better To Buy A Disposable Grill Or A Portable Grill?
A decade or two ago disposable grills were all the rage with families who wanted to go camping and didn’t want to sink a lot of money into a camp grill to make a few burgers or bratwursts. This was largely in response to the previous generation of portable grills being cheap, as well as over-priced.
Many of these families only went camping once or perhaps twice a year. So, for them making an investment on something that would rust out over the winter didn’t seem to make much sense. Of course, disposable grills also mean that at the end of the trip you’re not just throwing away a cheap piece of metal, you’re also throwing away a handful of your hard-earned dollars. Given enough time this can add up to a serious chunk of change!
In recent years advancements in materials and machining quality, as well as improved access to high-quality campgrounds have reinvigorated the appeal of a portable grill that is well worth the investment. This even means grills made from things like commercial grade stainless steel, thick gauge steel with heat-treated powder coating, and even a few wood pellet grills that were designed with portability in mind.
One could even argue that people who are in the market for a camping grill worthy of their investment are a little spoiled for choice!
Don’t Underestimate Cleaning Features
In a perfect world, the grill grates would have some degree of non-stick properties. This makes scraping down stuck-on grease, bits of meat and caramelized marinade a breeze.
Unfortunately, this is somewhat are in small camp grills. Most of the time you see chrome-plated or stainless steel grates, which can be a little bit on the sticky side. Especially with lean cuts of meat. One way to minimize this problem is to lightly grease the grill grates right before you place the meat.
You also might want to keep your eyes out for a camping grill with some type of grease management system or at least a large dripping tray. If you are going to be transporting it with you to and from camp, you don’t want to worry about greasy deposits and leftover juicy runoff in the firebox escaping to stain the back of your SUV or minivan.
Being able to simply pour out a drippings cup or a grease tray will buy you a lot of peace of mind when turning a sharp corner or having to brake hard in traffic.
Size Matters With Camping Grills
Unless you are “Glamping” in a class A motorhome or you have an established hunting camp, then chances are space is at a premium while you travel from point A to point B. This is even more likely to be an issue if your storage space is the trunk of a car or the cramped back of a minivan.
This begs the question: How small is too small?
To a certain degree, this is a matter of personal preference and the places you will most likely be camping. Most people are looking for something they can tuck into the back of an SUV or the trunk of a car, with the capability to grill for a family of four. If this sounds like you, then the ideal range for grill grate size is probably going to land between 130 to 280 square inches.
A portable grill with features like a locking lid or collapsible legs and feet is also a nice touch. Not only can these features help minimize the cubic square inches it takes up in transport, but then can also let you keep everything neatly packed in one place!
Best Small Camping Grills
Pit Boss Grills PB100P1 Pit Stop Single-Burner Portable Tabletop Grill
Cuisinart CGG-049 Searin' Sphere Portable Gas Grill
Smoke Hollow VT280SS1 Vector 3-Burner Tabletop Propane Gas Grill
Coleman 2000014017 NXT Lite Tabletop Propane Grill
Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill
Weber Q1400 Electric Grill
Portable Griddles For Camping
In recent years portable griddles have grown in popularity. Especially in the camping and tailgating niche. They can double as a camp stove for the times when you want to fry bacon, eggs, and pancakes. Yet they can also grill up supper. Some have removable griddle tops that can be swapped with grill grates, while others simply have a fixed griddle top, which still sears up a nice hamburger patty, steak, or bratwurst.
Best Portable Griddles For Camping
Megamaster 820-0054D Propane Gas Griddle
T-fal OptiGrill XL GC722D53 Stainless Steel Indoor Electric Grill
Brasero Portable 26 inch outdoor Flattop Gas Griddle
Large Grills That Remain At Camp
Though there are certainly exceptions to this notion of small being ideal for all situations. For example, a hunting base camp or a four-season bunkhouse type of cabin might need a larger grill to stay at camp. The sort of thing that lives indoors or in a shed when not in used but can be pulled out and fired up when you first get there. If this sounds like you then size might be limited only by the width of the main door.