Nomad Grill Review: Impressive Build Quality & Portability

nomad grill review

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The Nomad is a portable “suitcase” style charcoal grill with premium build quality and a price to match.

I have been using this grill for over a year and a half now, and I have thoroughly tested this thing out with over 50 different cooks.

I will share my experience cooking on the Nomad to help you decide if this is the right portable grill to add to your BBQ arsenal.

Nomad Grill & smoker overview and first impressions

Coming from a background of mainly using a pellet grill for BBQ, I had a bit of a learning curve on temperature/vent control.

Once I had a few cooks under my belt and learned the best ways to use the air vents, it was straight forward, and there was no looking back on using the Nomad regularly.

Over the last 18 months, a lot of people have asked me about using this grill.

The Nomad comes in at a price point of $649, and there’s no denying that there is a bit of an upfront investment required to purchase this grill especially when you compare it to something like the Weber Go-Anywhere, which will have you charcoal grilling on the go for well under $100.

Nomad Grill & Smoker specifications:

Dimensions20.5″(W) x 13.5″(L) x 9.5″(H) – smoker mode
20.5″(W )x 27.5″(L) x 4.75″(H – grill mode
Weight28 lbs (with single-grate – as sold)
31 lbs (with optional second grate)
Total Cooking Area212 sq. in. – smoker mode
425 sq. in. – grill mode
Cookbox MaterialAluminum
Grates MaterialStainless steel
Fuel TypeCharcoal
PriceCheck Latest Price

I have left the Nomad out in the rain and the snow many different times, and the weather has yet to affect the quality of this grill. It’s made of aluminum cook boxes and has an outer anodized finish. I find I get a lot of peace of mind knowing that my equipment will not rust out.

Nomad has designed their product with an advanced thermal build that keeps the outer shell temperatures low, which allows you to grill safely on virtually any surface.

This makes using the Nomad much safer than other grills, especially when placed on a picnic table with people moving around.

Nomad Grill and Smoker temperature gauge

What I like:

  • Quality: when you purchase this grill, you can be confident that this will last for many years.
  • Portability: it doesn’t take up a lot of space and you can easily grab its durable handle and take it on the go with you camping or tailgating.
  • Multi-purpose: it has a dual purpose and works as a grill or a smoker.
  • High-quality accessories: Nomad offers many great products that you can purchase to compliment your BBQ experience.

What I don’t like:

  • Upfront cost: MSRP goes for $599 and their accessories are a bit more expensive being a higher quality product.
  • Smoking meat: You are somewhat limited on smoking larger cuts of meat due to the size of the Nomad.
  • Air vents: there is a limitation of air control through the vents since they are smaller in size.

Smoke and grill on the go

One of my favorite features of the Nomad is that it has a dual purpose for cooking as you can use it as a smoker or a grill.

It has two vents – one on the bottom and one on the top- allowing you to control the airflow and temperatures accurately.

I have smoked many things on the Nomad, from pork belly burnt ends to a whole pork butt, and it always gets the job done.

The size of it will limit you as to what you can do.

It works great for reverse searing steaks, smoking chicken wings, or making smaller batches of burnt ends.

A large piece of meat is doable – as I previously mentioned, I smoked a whole 8-pound pork butt on it. For larger cooks that require more time and space, I would recommend going with an alternative option that is a bit larger.

What’s the size like

The Nomad comes in at a closed dimension of 20.5 W x 13.5 D x 9.5 H and a fully open measurement of 20.5 W x 27.5 D x 4.75 H and weighs 28 pounds.

These measurements and weight bring pros and cons like any grill depending on what you are in the market for. With 425 total square inches of cooking, you can cook up to 30 burgers (15 on each side).

a side view of the Nomad Grill and Smoker

I regularly use this grill during the week cooking food for my family of 5. If you want to do some grilling for a larger crowd, the Nomad will work great if you purchase an additional grill grate.

This will allow you to open it up all the way so both sides are flat and grill on both the top and bottom parts of the grill.

Grill grates

The Nomad’s honeycomb-shaped cast cooking grates are durable and easy to cook on. With the right amount of charcoal, they can get scorching hot, helping give you a great sear on your meat.

a close up view of the Nomad Grill and Smoker grates

I love the magnetic grill grates as you know they are properly set in place and won’t move around on you as you use them.

You can also stick the grates on the inner top part of the grill when you are igniting your charcoal on the bottom side.

Air vents

There are two air vents on the Nomad, and they each have a couple of different settings you can set as you’re cooking – fully closed, halfway open, and fully open.

I personally would like to see the air vents be a tiny bit bigger which would allow for better airflow giving you the ability to adjust the temperature a bit easier when smoking meat or grilling indirectly.

Accessory options

Nomad offers a handful of accessory options that align with their grill philosophy – quality. I have them listed below in the order of my favorite.

1. Tumbleweed Fire Starters

Nomad Tumbleweed Fire Starters

These are hands down the single best charcoal starters that I have ever used. They are larger than most charcoal starters and they are nice and dense resulting in a hotter and longer burn for firing up your charcoal.

Price point: $16 for a 20 count or $36 for a 40 count.

2. All Natural Charcoal

Their charcoal is one of my favorites to use. The flavor and the quality of the burn are great.

Depending on the cook, I am usually able to reuse some of the charcoal allowing me to get 2 cooks out of it. If you are grilling over direct heat, you can dump the charcoal wherever you wish, setting up direct cooking or multi-zone cooking. If you are going to be doing low and slow smoking, you want to make sure that you are properly setting up the charcoal.

a person holding a charcoal starter filled with lit Nomad All Natural Charcoal

Their charcoal is intentionally crafted to be cylinder shaped which allows them to fit perfectly when lined up near the bottom vent. Each piece of charcoal has a hole in the middle of it allowing airflow to move through it. They also are designed to stack them up on top of each other with their outer pentagon shape.

One thing that took me some time to get used to was making sure that I was allowing the charcoal enough time to get hot. Their charcoal is from Thailand and is derived from a super dense fruitwood which means it burns longer and hotter while emitting less smoke and ash. Plus, there’s no spitting or sparking like you’d find in other fuel sources.

It takes about 20-25 minutes to get lit, which is a little longer than traditional lump charcoal, but as I previously mentioned, it burns hotter and longer.

Price point: $36 for a 10 lb box or $72 for a 20 lb box.

3. Nomad Chef Knife

Nomad has partnered with fellow Texas-based brand, Made In Cookware to offer you an 8-inch chef knife that comes in either black or blue color.

Nomad Chef Knife on a wooden board

This knife has a really nice size blade surface which brings versatility and the ability to rely on this knife for almost anything you are preparing and cooking. Weighing in at 8 ounces makes it a really nice lightweight knife to handle.

Their knife is composed of a single rod of Nitrogen-treated premium x50crmov15 steel. It achieves a Rockwell score of 58-60 which means it falls in the category of “Premium Steel”.

Price Point: $118, which includes the knife and sheath.

4. Grilling utensils

You can purchase a 3-pack in black or blue and it includes a spatula, thongs, and a meat fork. Although the grilling utensils are great quality, there are many more affordable options out there that will get the job done. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what you are looking for – quality or price.

Nomad BBQ Tool Set

Nomad describes them as “tempered stainless-steel implements with an extra thick gauge to ensure they’re built to last and won’t break or bend. Handles are cast-to-last and over-molded with high-temp, food-grade silicone for extra comfort & control. Ergonomically designed to achieve an ideal balance, weight and feel.

Price point: $140 for all three utensils.

Should you buy the Nomad?

There’s not a one size fits all solution for everyone. You have to decide if this will be the only thing you are cooking with, or is it something that can complement the grills and smokers you are already using?

I feel that the Nomad is a great way to complement your other favorite grills with easy weeknight grilling and the ability to take it on the go. This grill is a major step above other grills in its class regarding quality – it’s not just an overpriced, off-brand Weber Smokey Joe.

There’s no denying that $649 is a lot of money, no matter what you are spending it on. I do feel that the cost of this grill is not too crazy given its quality, the safety element, and the fact that I know this grill is going to withstand the outdoor climate and provide me with a lot of delicious BBQ for many years to come.

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