The Best Camping Grills for Cooking Off the Beaten Track

camping grills

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Cooking food on a grill in the great outdoors is one of life’s simple pleasures.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect portable grill to take camping with you and whip up some fantastic camp food, we’ve got some reliable recommendations for you! 

Top 5 best camping grills

1. Best overall grill for camping – Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill

Weber 50060001 Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill,Chrome

Portability is vital when it comes to a good camping grill, which is what makes the Weber Q1000 such a great choice.

At just 28lbs, this low-slung tabletop-style grill is powered by a single 1lb propane cylinder, which makes it light and compact enough to be easy to take camping with you.

Despite its smaller size, the single burner on the Q1000 still kicks out 8500 BTUs-per-hour and the Q1000 has 198 square-inches of porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking space, which is plenty for you to whip up dinner for your campmates on.

The Q1000 is also easy to get going, with push-button ignition, although it does need to be preheated for around 10 to 15 minutes on a high heat to get that cast iron grill up to cooking temperature. 

What we like:

  • Easy push-button ignition – The simple push-button electric starter means no fiddling around with matches. 
  • Light aluminum body – Using lightweight aluminum for the case cuts down on the weight and makes the Q1000 easier to transport.
  • High powered burner – The Q100 throws out 8500 BTU of heat, which is impressive for a grill that only has a single burner.
  • Small gas canister – Gas canisters are often the heaviest part of a gas grill, but the Q100 uses a lightweight 1lb cylinder making it extra portable.

What we don’t like:

  • Has to be preheated – It’s a minor complaint, but the need to preheat the Q100 slows everything down at just the wrong time, when people are hungry.

2. Best charcoal grill for camping – Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill

Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black

Cooking over charcoal adds a little extra to your camping meals, the use of charcoal as a fuel just seems a little more rustic, and some pitmasters will swear by the extra smokey taste that it adds to the food. 

The Weber Jumbo Joe which earned the top spot in our best portable charcoal grills guide is designed to be large enough that you can cook a decent amount of food on it, it’ll hold up to eight burgers made with a Weber burger press, and still be light enough to carry around, clocking in at about 18lbs.

The porcelain-enameled bowl and lid are rust-resistant, so it won’t mind a little rain, and the heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate is a fantastic heat transmitter. The Tuck-N-Carry lid lock, which prevents the lid from falling off during travel, also doubles as a lid holder during cooking, so you don’t have to put it on the ground.

The only downsides to the Jumbo Joe are that it’s a little harder to control the temperature of a charcoal grill and the added weight of the charcoal you’ll have to carry with you.

What we like:

  • Compact and lightweight design – The Jumbo Joe is simple to use and easy to carry, making it ideal for camping.
  • Lid lock/holder – The lid lock keeps the lid stable during transport and doubles as a lid holder so you don’t have to put it on the ground when cooking.
  • Porcelain-enameled body – Not only does the porcelain enameling make the Jumbo Joe easier to clean but it also keeps it rust-free.
  • Heavy-gauge steel grate – Making the part of the grill that sees the most action from heavy-gauge steel makes good sense and means you won’t need to replace it any time soon.

What we don’t like:

  • The need to carry bulky charcoal around – There’s a good chance that the bag of lump charcoal you’re carrying around to fuel the Jumbo Joe will weigh the same, if not more than the grill itself. 

3. Best pellet grill for camping – Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett 

Green Mountain Grill 2019 Davy Crockett Pellet Grill with Cover- WiFi Enabled

If you are looking to upgrade your camping or tailgating set up, then the Davy Crockett pellet grill by Green Mountain Grills might be right up your alley. 

Green Mountain Grills produce some excellent pellet grills that stand up to more established competition like Traeger, and the Davy Crockett is no different.

It’s not cheap, but the Davy Crockett does come with all the bells and whistles. The legs fold down to become handles for more comfortable carrying, the grill comes with an all-weather cover as standard, a meat probe, and even a peaked lid, so you can fit that all-important rack of ribs in.

It also comes with a comprehensive 3-year warranty.

On the tech side, the Davy Crockett comes with a thermal sensor that continuously monitors the grill’s temperature and transmits it to an app on your phone through your local home WiFi network, or, if you’re out in the woods, through a direct GMG Server Mode. 

All these flash features are powered by either 120AC or a connection to a 12V car plug-in or battery pack. 

This need for electricity, coupled with the rarity of wood pellets compared to good old fashion charcoal, are some of the only downsides to this excellent grill.

What we like:

  • WiFi app-enabled – You don’t have to babysit the Davy Crockett, you can go and enjoy yourself and get monitor the grill’s temperature from your phone.
  • A direct connection mode – WiFi isn’t always available out in the woods, so having a direct connection mode is ideal.
  • Can use multiple energy sources – Being able to power the Davy Crockett through a generator, plug-in, or battery makes it far more versatile.
  • Legs fold up for transport – Having folding legs might make the difference between getting the Davy Crockett in the back of the truck or having to leave it behind.

What we don’t like:

  • Pellets aren’t as readily available as charcoal – Not every gas station has a stock of wood pellets, so make sure you take a few extra bags with you.
  • The need for electricity – Taking a generator with you is more glamping than camping and won’t appeal to those looking to get back to nature as much as possible.

4. Honorable mention – The Coleman Roadtrip Propane Grill

Coleman has a pretty solid reputation for the quality of its products, and the Roadtrip Propane Grill is no different.

Designed specifically for use on the move, the Roadtrip skill has lots of cooking power. It delivers 20,000 BTUs of heat over 285 square inches of cooking surface, but also has a collapsible design that makes it very portable.

The side tables fold in, and the folding legs have chunky casters on to help you move the Roadtrip over rough ground. You can also switch out the Swaptop interchangeable cooktops for griddle or stove grates for more utility, although these are sold separately. 

What we like:

  • The foldable design – The Roadtrip folds away neatly and this makes it much more portable. Ideal if you’re short on car space.
  • The chunky casters – Chances are, you’ll be pulling the Roadtrip over rough ground where having solid chunky wheels is going to make all the difference.
  • The powerful burner –  20,000 BTUs means you can get cooking quickly and get a good sear on a steak.

What we don’t like:

  • An unreliable ignition – The push button ignition is often the first thing to break on a gas grill and some users have reported that the Roadtrip’s instant start button isn’t reliable.

5. Best camping griddle – Blackstone Tabletop Grill

Blackstone Table Top Grill - 17 Inch Portable Gas Griddle - Propane Fueled - For Outdoor Cooking While Camping, Tailgating or Picnicking

We’ve spoken about how great the Blackstone Tabletop grill is before, but we can’t overstate how good this little portable griddle is. 

At just 17.5 x 18 x 8.5 inches, the portable griddle is easy to travel with but still throws out 12,000 BTUs of heat across its 260 square inches of cooking surface.

You’re not going to feed an entire campsite on this griddle; it’s really designed for smaller gatherings or families out camping. That being said, if you are looking for a way to cook up food like pancakes, eggs, or fried rice, (which isn’t possible on a traditional grill grate), the Blackstone Tabletop is the answer to your prayers.

What we like:

  • The compact and transportable 17-inch design – The lack of a stand and wheels means the Tabletop is easy to pack and doesn’t weight much.
  • The powerful burner – The 12,000 BTU burner means you can go from cold to frying eggs in a matter of minutes.
  • The corrosion-resistant stainless-steel cooking surface – The last thing you want to be worrying about with a camping griddle is rust, which is why a stainless-steel cooking surface is crucial.

What we don’t like:

  • The cooking surface is slightly on the small size – If you’re expecting to cook breakfast for the entire campsite, you might need a bigger griddle, but the Tabletop has more than enough cooking space for a small family.

Things to consider when choosing a camping grill

Now that you’ve gotten a look at some of the better products available on the market, you’ll need the right information to pick the best camping grill to suit your needs. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on that front as well!

Here are some things to look out for when choosing your travel grill.

Performance

If you’ve bigged up your camp cooking skills to everyone, there is nothing worse than forlornly watching as an underpowered grill takes all night to cook your food while everyone stares at you in a hungry expectation.

The baseline for an excellent compact grill is between 60 and 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface. To find out if the grill you want is up to standard, just divide the stated BTUs by the area of the cooking surface.

In the case of the Coleman Roadtrip, for example, that would work out to 20,000 divided by 285 or around 70 BTUs of heat per square inch, which is ideal.

Materials

Camping grills are a bit of an oddity, in that you want them to be sturdy enough to last, but light enough to be easy to transport.

Look for grills that have a corrosion-resistant outer body, like galvanized aluminum, and a heavier cooking surface, ideally a ceramic coated steel for easy cleaning.

You’ll also want to prioritize grills that come with a warranty on parts like the push-button igniters as these smaller delicate parts are usually the first to fail.

Compact size

Obviously, you’ll want your camping grill to be as easy to get to the camping ground as possible. That means looking up the weight and dimensions of all the grills that catch your eye. 

All the grills we’ve chosen above are either small and lightweight or have a collapsible design to aid with transport. Remember, no matter how good the grill is, it’s not a camping grill if you have to rent an extra trailer to bring it with you.

Power source

This one is critical. You need to know how much power or fuel you need to run your grill for the time you need it. Be that just a weekend away or two weeks at the cabin.

Propane bottles and charcoal, we suggest lump charcoal for cooking, are easy to find at almost any gas station. However, if you’ve chosen a pellet or electric grill, you’ll need to make sure you have enough pellets or batteries to last you without running out or draining your car battery.

Wind resistance

Cooking outdoors does have its drawbacks, like how the wind has no regard for the fact that you’re trying to cook dinner.

A good camping grill will take the impact that medium to high winds can have on how easy it is to start your grill and the overall cooking time by building in windshields and burner covers to the design.  

Who would benefit from a camping grill?

Camping grills are ideal for those who always find themselves on the move. It doesn’t matter if it’s a beach party, a tailgate, a camping trip, or just a weekend at the lake, every outing is improved by the ability to make hotdogs quickly .

Having a lightweight and compact camping grill to hand makes it easy to just throw it in the car, or in some cases a backpack, and head out. 

Having access to an easily stored alternative to your regular household cooking equipment is also a good idea. 

It means that should you suffer a power outage, a hitch in the gas supply, be caught in a storm, or any of the other situations where you might not be able to use your kitchen appliances, you can still cook up hot food.

Camping grill vs. camping stove

When looking for the right camping grill for you, you might have heard the words grill and stove thrown around a lot, sometimes to describe the same thing interchangeably. 

The difference between them is reasonably straightforward. 

  • A grill has a cooking surface that you cook food directly on, like a BBQ. 
  • A stove is what you used to cook food in pots and pans.

Stoves usually just have a pan stand above the burner, rather than a slotted grill grate.

Since we’ve recommended the Blackstone Tabletop Grill, we should also cover the difference between a grill and a griddle

Unlike a grill, a griddle has a single flat cooking surface as you might see in the back of an old-school diner. This means you can cook foods on it that are semi-liquid in certain states, like eggs or pancakes, or that are granular, like rice.

You can also use a griddle for cooking standard BBQ foods like burgers and sausages as well, making them fairly multi-purpose.

Butane camping grills vs. propane camping grills

A lot of smaller portable camping grills are powered by gas because it’s compact and easy to use, but you might notice that there are two types of suggested gas fuel, butane and propane. 

Both propane and butane are safe, non-toxic, clean-burning fuels that come from natural gas processing and oil refining. There isn’t a whole lot to choose between them when it comes to their use as a fuel except for one salient detail, their boiling temperature.

In order to burn effectively, both gasses have to be above their boiling point. Propane has a low boiling temperature of -43.6°F (-42°C), while butane has a higher boiling point at 28.4°F (-2°C). 

This means that propane is more effective in conditions when the needle drops below freezing. So, if you spend a lot of time camping in the winter, or you’re looking for a stove that will help you brew coffee while you’re out ice fishing, you’re probably best opting for one that runs on propane.

If you don’t spend a lot of time in sub-zero temperatures, butane and propane are relatively interchangeable as a fuel source. 

Wrapping it all up

So there you have it, a finely curated selection of the best camping grills on the market, and all the vital information you need to pick the one that’s right for you. 

We hope you have an excellent time out in the wilds and cook up the best camp meals!

Do you have some tips on getting the best out of your camping stove? Perhaps you’ve got a fantastic recipe that’s becoming a standard of your outdoor cooking recipe book? 

We’d love it if you’d share in the comments below!

Last update on 2020-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

John McCloy

John McCloy

Formerly a brand manager for the UK high street, John gave up that life for the far less stressful job of running his own business. He now likes to spend as much of his free time as possible hunched over a grill, reading about grills, or staring forlornly out of a window as the British weather makes it impossible to use his grill."

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