What’s your favorite BBQ staple? Do you keep it simple with burgers and dogs? Maybe you like to catch your own fish and then grill them to perfection. Or perhaps you’re like me and you ditch the meet for grilled veggies and corn on the cob. After a long day of hiking, driving, or doing whatever it is you do outdoors, a hot, tasty meal is an indispensible treat.
When camping, cooking over a fire can be a bit of a pain—the temperature is hard to control and you need the right settings to keep the fire going. If you’re van camping and spending the night in a parking lot, hiking in a National Park (where firewood collection is prohibited), or simply tailgating with friends, a traditional campfire may not even be feasible. While a camping stove is great—and can be very lightweight—nothing beats the grill for delicious BBQ-style meals.
The good news is that these days, portable camping grills are made with convenience in mind. Many are light enough to be carried by hand, small enough to easily pack in your trunk, and very easy to clean up and pack up when you’re done grilling.
The Ultra Light-Weight Grill
If keeping your load light is your top priority, check out these grills weight in at under 6 pounds!
At just 5.3 lbs, the German-made Esbit BBQ Box is unbeatable. It packs down to 3.5 inches and stands at 7 inches tall when unfolded for use. This durable stainless steal grill can run on charcoal or wood. It comes with a nylon carrying bag so you can literally toss it over your shoulder. A separate bag for charcoal is also included. You can fit about four burgers on this grill, so it’s perfect for family adventures or solo travel.
You can buy the Esbit BBQ Box in the U.S. for under $90 at retailers like Eastern Mountain Sports and LL Bean. Esbit also carries an even lighter version of this grill (the Esbit BBQ Box XS), but it’s not currently available from US retailers.
If you have the BioLite CampStove or are interested in buying the BioLite CampStove Bundle, the BioLite Portable Grill folds down to 3.5 inches and weighs just 1.87 lbs! If you’re unfamiliar with the BioLite CampStove, it’s an ultralight wood-burning stove (weighing just 33 oz) that uses energy from the fire to power a fan to create airflow and then directs extra energy to the USB port for charging your gadgets! The Portable Grill can be bought separately or part of the CampStove Bundle, but you’ll need the stove to use the grill.
It’s certainly an investment worth looking into if you’re an avid camper or often cook on the go! Plus, you’ll sleep well under the stars knowing you’re doing good for the environment by not burning fossil fuels.
Grill & Stove Combo
Looking for a grill and stove combo so that you can cook your favorite BBQ dish and boil a pot of water or a zesty stew at the same time?
The Coleman Signature InstaStart Grill Stove gives you this versatility for just over $100. This grill operates on 16.4 oz propane canisters and adjustable burners fire-up 10,000 BTUs each. The whole contraption weights under 13 lbs, so it’s easy to bring along on family camping trips. The stove lights instantly (without matches) and reviewers say it heats up quickly, within 3-5 minutes.
Compact & Convenient
For the current camper or outdoors enthusiast, a grill that’s compact and convenient is key. Luckily, these are getting more and more plentiful as demand increases. These grills are heavier than the “ultra light” options but provide more space for cooking and are easy to fold up and take with you, wherever you may be headed.
The 13-lb Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Tabletop Gas Grill is a favorite among BBQ-enthusiasts for its large 145-square inch cooking surface, and it also wins points for its briefcase-style carrying handle. Its foldaway aluminum legs are sturdy and stabilizing, so you can set this grill up right on any terrain, from the beach to your patio. The 5,5000 BTU burner can heat the grill up to 500 degrees F for even cooking of up to 8 steaks. The Cuisinart Tabletop Gas Grill is available through Camping World for under $100.
Another forerunner in the compact camping grill market is the Pro-Iroda O-Grill. While this grill weights in at 24 lbs, a bit heavier than some of its competitors, it makes up for this in design, durability, quick set-up, and strong 9450 BTU stainless steal burner. This grill features 164 square inches of cooking surface and folds up like a clam shell to easily carry or store in small spaces. You can usually find this grill for under $150 through online retailers like Camping World.
If you decide on this grill, please make sure you buy one of the grills produced after 2010, as some early models were recalled for ventilation problems.
The Bargain Grill
If you’re looking for a simple portable camping grill that you don’t have to drop a lot of cash on, you might opt for a standard charcoal grill such as the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Silver.
The porcelain-enameled bowl and lid are extremely durable and rust resistant—some customers even boast using this grill for 15-20 years! As part of Weber’s portable grill series, the Smokey Joe Silver is light weight at only 9.4 lbs and can be easily carried into the wild or used in your backyard. Best of all, this economy grill can be yours for just $30 at Home Depot or Lowes.