Best Camping Grills for the Money
A few extra dollars usually mean a whole lot of extra product quality. That is why we will start with the best camping grills for the money. Now, I know that it might sound pretentious when a grilling system actually has “road trip” in the title. However, nothing screams “camping” better than the Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill LXE. Once we dive into its features, it will become clear why.
For starters, this unit is available in nine different styles. Red, maroon, blue, green, you name it – they are all there. Of course, the performance and the features aren’t different regardless of the color. The product comes with a cooking area of 285 square inches. That should be enough for preparing food for approximately 4-5 persons at once.
Coleman Road Trip LXE has two burners, and it is fueled with liquid propane. The total power of the unit is 20,000 BTUs. An excellent addition is that you can separately control the burner. That gives you a range of grilling options, including utilizing both direct and indirect heat at the same time. It is nice to see that the thermostat does its job correctly. In fact, the thermometer mounted on the lid shows accurate temperature and isn’t off by more than 5-10F. Starting the unit is also a piece of cake since it is equipped with an automatic ignition system.
Another remarkable feature that other grills in this category don’t have is the fact that you can change the cooktops. Aside from the grilling grates you get by default, you can also purchase a stove grate and a griddle. Switching between them is easy as ABC and takes only a couple of seconds. That also increases your cooking options and enables you to cook things like pancakes and eggs on this unit. Therefore, we can conclude that the Coleman Road Trip LXE is a complete camping package when it comes to food.
As for the facts, the product weighs less than 50 pounds and measures 34 x 13.5 x 19 inches. The side shelves are foldable, and the cart is collapsible. In the blink of an eye, you can prepare this unit for transport. The portability of the product is genuinely unmatchable, and you will enjoy taking it to any outdoor event.
Top Rated Camping Grills
I was thinking something. If I had to name a single grill manufacturer that has the best reviews online, I would be sure that it is Weber. After searching online for a bit, I found evidence to support my claim. Weber does have most of the top rated camping grills available on the market. But if you ask me, my favorite would have to be Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill.
After all, its name speaks enough about the intention the company had when designing it. The unit is intended for outdoor use on the go. One of the promotional pictures has a man carrying it like a briefcase. In fact, he looks more like a businessman than a person going grilling, which is a nice touch and speaks about the quality of the design.
Weber 121020 Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill has 160 square inches of cooking surface. The secret is in the rectangular design of the grates which enables to use its maximum potential. Thanks to that fact, you can maybe even cook for four people at once. The grill is fueled by charcoal, and it can easily be arranged on the coal pan.
The cooking grates are made of steel with a triple nickel-coated finish to improve durability. The handle is resistant to heat, and it remains cool to the touch. It is interesting to mention that there is a hanger on the side where you can put the lid when you open the cover. In that case, it will double as wind protection, which means you can use the unit even in windy conditions.
Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill weighs less than 15 pounds and measures 12 x 21 x 14.5 inches. The legs that are made of steel can be moved to sides to make the transport more comfortable.
Best Portable Camping Grills
It comes as a given that camping grills should be portable. However, some products are more mobile than the others. One of the best portable camping grills is Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s, Charcoal Grill. The manufacturer is known for its skillets, and it might be a surprise that they designed such a good grilling system.
The grill is made of cast iron which makes the product incredibly durable. It is very compact with measurements 19 x 8 x 10 inches. Regardless of the size, it weighs 30 pounds. While that is lightweight for a portable BBQ, it is sturdy enough to make this small camping grill extremely stable. The cooking surface provides 155 square inches of space. Thanks to its unique hibachi-style design, you can use maximum potential of this area.
Lodge L410 Pre-Seasoned Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill runs on coal. However, it won’t be a problem to use wood instead. That way you will get that unique flavor we all love. Accessing the charcoal bed requires no hassle thanks to the flip-down door located on the side of the unit. Once you get the fire going, you can regulate the heat by choosing one of two grill heights available. Although the grates are pre-seasoned, cleaning them up is a straightforward process because you can wash them by hand. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use soap precisely because they were pre-seasoned.
Although this product is compact, the manufacturer managed to implement an integrated shelf where you can set grilling utensils. When it comes to transport, it is a piece of cake to move it around. I recommend purchasing a cover that won’t cost a lot of extra money but will increase the durability of the unit and protect it during transport and against severe weather. There is a carrying handle that you can use to hold the product in your hand when moving its location. Once you want to use the Lodge L410, just push the handle to the side and start arranging the coals.
Best Camping Grills Under $200
What Weber is for premium grills, you could say that Char-Griller is the same thing for grilling units designed to be budget-friendly. One of their top selling products is Char-Griller 2-2424 Tabletop Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box. There is no doubt that it deserves the place among the best camping grills under $200. The fact that it comes at an affordable price doesn’t affect its quality as it is a real miniature masterpiece.
The first thing you notice is the barrel design that Char-Griller applies to their standard-sized models. In fact, the 2-2424 Tabletop Charcoal Grill doubles as an accessory for large units made by the same manufacturer. You can attach them to any barrel-like Char-Griller grill and use it as a side fire box. If you are up for smoking some food Texas style, this is the perfect way to do it. In other words, with this item, you get two products in one.
As for the performance when it comes to grilling, the unit is powered by charcoal. The good news is that you can quickly arrange the coal on the pan predicted for it. You will also notice that dampers are adjustable, which provides you a way to control the heat within the cook box. If you take a look down, you will also notice a removable tray that collects any ash and another residue.
Heavy steel was used in constructing the unit. As a result, you get a sturdy product that weighs 40 pounds and measures 18.5 x 17 x 16 inches. The durability of the product is admirable, and it will deliver tasty food to your table for at least several years. One of the crucial reasons for that is the fact that the primary cooking grates are made of cast iron. They do an excellent job in retaining the heat, and they are simple to clean up after usage.
The lid handle of the Char-Griller 2 2-2424 Tabletop Charcoal Grill and Side Fire Box is heat resistant which means you can open the cover at any given moment without worrying that you will burn your hands.
Fuel Options for Camping Grills
For starters, we need to clear up what types of fuel are not suitable for camping grills. First of all, it is natural gas. You can assume the reason for this. If you want to use natural gas to fuel your grilling system, you will need a direct gas line and hose to connect it to your BBQ. It’s needless to say that it is not possible to find a direct natural gas line in nature where you are headed for camping. Rest assured, the alternative lies in using propane tanks, but we will talk about that later.
Also, you can’t use electric-fueled grills while you are away from home. Just like gas lines, electricity is not available in natural surroundings. On top of that, electric barbecues are not known to provide tasty food like when you use other types of fuel. That is why you should pick one of the alternatives suggested below.
You could say that coal is the first love of traditional grilling enthusiasts. There is no doubt that it is the most popular fuel type in the world. The food cooked on charcoal has exquisite and authentic barbecue flavor, which is the plus side of using it. Most of the coal units come with adjustable dampers that help you regulate the heat. In some cases, they also have catch pans that collect ash and another residue. That makes the cleaning process more comfortable.
However, grilling on charcoal does require some effort. For starters, you need to be ready to get your hands dirty while arranging coals on their bed. Starting a fire can also be tricky. You need to use matches, lighter, or papers and cross your fingers that everything will work. Sometimes you may not succeed the first time, which will take you a couple of extra minutes. On top of that, during the entire cooking process, you need to ensure that the fire is going and that the temperature is right. That is why it might take a couple of times of using the unit while you get used to how charcoal grills work.
Wood-fired BBQ systems are somewhat more expensive than both other alternatives listed in this section. The good news is that most coal grills can be fueled by wood. The process remains the same except you arrange wood on the charcoal bed. Of course, you need to make sure that logs and pellet you use are suitable for cooking. That is why we advise you to purchase from a reputable manufacturer. Alternatively, you can gather some wood from the surroundings where you are camping. However, if you want that recognizable flavor in your food, the sure path is buying high-quality fuel from a store.
If you are a person who considered convenience a priority, gas-fueled grills were made for your benefit. I assume you don’t want to spend hours grilling food. Perhaps you would instead chat with your friends and family who are camping with you. Propane gas BBQs will save you a lot of time and hassle every step of the way. Most of them are equipped with an automatic ignition system that guarantees 100% success when starting the fire. Temperature gauges allow you to set the desired heat and propane burns clean, which means that cleaning is a piece of cake, too. However, there is one thing to keep in mind. Not all temperature gauges are correct all the time. That is why you should be careful not to burn or undercook your food when using propane BBQ.
Portable camping grills, in most cases, use 1-pound propane bottles. However, you can buy an adapter or choose a unit that you can connect to a 20-lb tank.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Camping Grill
Now that you know about various types of fuels, let’s take a look at other factors you need to keep in mind when selecting the best camping grill for your needs:
The first thing you need to consider is that you are going camping. Perhaps you will go by car or use your trailer. However, there is a good chance that you will do some until the desired location. That is why you want to ensure that the grill you take with you isn’t huge. It is desirable for it to have a carrying handle or maybe even a bag.
When considering size, you should also keep in mind the available cooking surface. Approximately 200 square inches should be enough to serve a party of four at once. You should avoid buying those units that have over 400 square inches of space because it will be hard to fit them into a trunk and take them with you.
You don’t want to end up dragging hundreds of pounds through nature and cursing that you agreed to go camping and buy a BBQ system for that occasion. That is why you should look for lightweight models. The general rule is that camping grills shouldn’t go over 40 pounds, although a few more than that can be tolerable.
It is crucial to keep in mind another thing. You need to add the fuel weight to your calculations. For example, you will need at least several propane bottles, depending on how long you will stay camping. Make sure to take that into account and make enough room for the fuel, too.
Quality of Construction
This depends on your preference and budget. You can decide to splash the cash and pay hundreds of dollars for a camping grill. In that case, you will be making a long-term investment in the unit will serve you for the years to come. If you are a dedicated camper, we suggest looking for a premium BBQ and don’t worry whether your grill is in good shape.
Alternatively, you can buy one of the fundamental models that are available at an incredibly affordable price. Their performance will be as expected, but please note that their durability is often questionable. In other words, they might last a season or two before they rust entirely and you can’t use them anymore. If you plan to use your grill only several times per year, you don’t need to look the highest quality of construction, and a cheap model can do the trick.
Extra Features to Consider
Here are some other things you can keep in mind when buying a camping grill:
- Side shelves or tables – some models offer extra space on the sides. You can use this space as a prep or work area or rest grilling utensils and platters. In most cases, these shelves are foldable to make transport more comfortable
- Warming rack – aside from the primary cooking grates, some units also come with a warming rack. It is usually located on the grilling surface and serves to keep your food warm
- Stand – you have two options when it comes to camping grills. You can buy a tabletop unit or buy a BBQ system that comes with a stand or cart. You might have a bit more to pack that way, but you will have more options when it comes to placing the product in the desired location. Aside from that, a stand will elevate the height of the item and make the grilling process more comfortable
Camping Grilling Safety Tips
Tasty food is directly related to camping. However, safety must be your primary concern when cooking. Here are some tips to note when you are grilling outdoors.
Positioning the Grill
The first thing you want to do is to find the right location. For starters, make sure that you don’t set your grill under branches that are hanging low. Also, don’t place the unit in an enclosed location, such as inside a tent. It is vital that you put it in an area that is well-ventilated.
If you take children or pets camping, make sure to keep them away from the grill. In fact, you might establish something like a “safety zone” around the product. Make sure that no one but you can enter closer than three feet to it.
It is also a good idea to put a grilling product far from areas that are considered playgrounds or where there is possible foot traffic.
The other thing you should take care of is food. First of all, when transporting raw chicken or other meat, I suggest packing it into the cooler directly from your fridge. You don’t want to leave the meat out on the counter. It should be your primal concern that the food is kept cold otherwise you risk the number of bacteria in it. Also, pack the meat in plastic bags or containers to ensure that there is no cross-contamination.
As for cooking, the critical thing to know is that you need to complete grilling a piece of meat once you start. It’s not advisable to start cooking it now and finish later. Also, make sure to cook the meat correctly. Some food might quickly get brown on the outside. However, you need to ensure that it is also done inside. That is the way to destroy all the bacteria and secure that it will taste great. You might consider purchasing a meat probe.
Finally, don’t use the same platters you used for raw meat once you cook it. The raw pieces might have left some juices that contain harmful bacteria. To be on the safe side, use another plate. As for leftovers, if you bought a cooler, you can place them there. However, make sure not to leave them outside for more than approximately 60 minutes. Also, you should use shallow containers to store food for later.