What to Look for in a Portable Camping Gas Grill

The call of the great outdoors is heard by many and answered best by those who come prepared. While there are a lot of things you need to remember, the one thing you can’t forget is a good portable gas grill.

A portable gas grill is great if you’re staying in an RV and you want to be able to cook meals outdoors to keep the heat from competing with the rooftop air conditioner. Though a portable gas grill is downright critical if you’re staying in a tent. Especially if fire season or a local drought has prohibited campfires!

Though not all portable gas grills are created equal. The temptation to go with a larger gas grill can leave you lamenting all the storage space it takes up. Yet going to small could make it hard to cook for the whole family all at once.

To help you find the right size and type, we’re going to have to explore what to look For in a portable gas grill for camping.

 

The Different Types of Portable Gas Grills

You can break down the different types of portable gas grills for camping into three categories. Gas camping stoves, gas grills, and gas griddles. While they’re all very similar. There are a few distinct differences that might make one better for your camp cooking skills.

Gas Camping Stoves

Gas camping stoves like the Coleman Classic Propane Stove and the NomadiQ are utilitarian cooking devices with one or perhaps two burner elements that produce a concentrated flame. They were originally engineered to heat pots and pans that hold the food being cooked from direct exposure to the flame.

A few can run off white gas or propane. Most are designed to connect to 1-pound propane canisters, which are easy to take with you.

Portable gas camping stoves are handy if you’re an experienced cast iron chef, or you absolutely need to quickly simmer a percolator of coffee in the morning. Though they really don’t do a good job of letting you directly grill anything over an open flame. You might be able to quickly roast a hot dog or melt marshmallows for smores, but anything else will cause a big mess and maybe even a grease fire.

One of the other problems with gas camp stoves is that the shallow burner elements can be vulnerable to the wind. So, if you do want one, make sure to look for a model that has some sort of wind deflector to keep it from blowing out.

Gas Grills

Portable gas grills like the Pit Boss Grills PB100P1 Pit Stop, the Blackstone Grills Tailgater 1555 and the Cuisinart CGG-200B All Foods Tabletop are rapidly taking over as the best camp stoves on the market. They have true grill features like robust grill grates that mark and sear meat. Not to mention grease management systems and collection cups to minimize mess and make for easy cleanup.

One of the minor challenges with using a portable gas grill as your only camp stove is the way they broadcast heat across the grill grates. Sure, it’s handy for Grilling meat over consistent heat. Though it can make it hard to cook anything in a pan, pot, or griddle.

Your best bet is to use cast iron for pancakes and bacon. Then give the Frying pan or griddle extra time to absorb enough heat energy to truly sear and fry.

Gas Griddle

Portable gas griddles have become incredibly popular for use as camp stoves. Most of them like the Brasero Portable 26″ Outdoor Flat Top, the Megamaster 820-0054D, and the Razor GGC2030M 25″ have the beating heart and guts of a gas grill. Then they swap out grill grates for a smooth griddle surface.

Sometimes the griddle surface is made from cold-rolled steel or bare Cast iron where you need to maintain a seasoning layer. Some have a convenient non-stick porcelain coating that’s easy to clean and maintain when you’re camping.

The nice thing about portable gas griddles is that they spare you having to bring a separate frying pan. You can instantly make bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and sautéed vegetables on them. They can even sear off and cook most of the same meats you would make on gas grill grates. A few even let you swap out the griddle for accessory grates.

The challenge with a portable gas griddle is that you don’t have access to any direct flame. If you want to use it for doing things like boiling a pot of water or making coffee in a percolator, the gas griddle can take a frustratingly long time.

 

What Size Gas Grill Do I Need for Camping?

When it comes to being able to cook for everyone, the size of the portable gas grill you need for camping matters. Start by asking yourself what kind of foods you usually cook or grill in the great outdoors.

If you love pancakes for breakfast and burger patties for lunch, you’ll need a larger portable gas grill with 500 or more square inches of grill grate or griddle space. If your main style of camp cooking is hot dogs and brats with an occasional grilled cheese sandwich, then you can probably get by with a smaller portable gas grill in the 250 to 300 square-inch range.

The happy medium here is a gas grill with around 400 to 500 square inches like the Brasero Portable 26″ Outdoor Flat Top, or the Pit Boss Grills PB100P1 Pit Stop, which are popular with a lot of outdoor enthusiasts. They typically have enough space to grill a full meal for a family of four, while still being very compact and easy to pack.

How Many BTUs Do I Need for a Camping Gas Grill?

Ideally, you’re looking for around 10,000 to 12,000 BTUs per burner element. Though you can get by with 8,500 BTUs as you find in the Weber Q1200, if the grill grates are made from heat-absorbing cast iron.

How Many Burners Do I Need For a Camping Gas Grill?

The typical portable gas grill or camp stove that you see at a lot of drive-up campsites and RV parks has two burners like the Coleman Classic Propane Stove. This gives you enough room to fry or grill food over one burner while boiling water or percolating coffee over the next.

If your camping style is more about hiking in, then weight and size are going to be major factors in choosing the best portable camping gas grill for you. In a case like this, a one-burner model like the NomadiQ is probably going to be your best option.

 

 

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