More people than ever before are rediscovering their love of camping or are camping for the first time. With travel canceled in 2020 and much of 2021, people turned to their own backyards to find adventure and solace.
Whether camping in an RV or tent, people are headed outside in droves to spend their time hiking, fishing, biking, climbing, and relaxing in the great outdoors.
And one of the best parts about camping is the food. Everything tastes better outdoors.
Buying camping grills for your next adventure will allow you to enjoy full, home-cooked meals in the backcountry. Grills for camping come in all shapes and sizes and can use large propane tanks, or small, portable fuel tanks.
If you want to leave the ramen and oatmeal at home, and enjoy eggs, bacon, and steak on your next outing, then keep reading below to learn all about the current camping grill options available today.
What Type of Camping are You Doing?
When thinking about camping grill brands, you first need to consider your camping style.
Are you a car camper, who pulls up to a site at an established campground? If so, you can carry heavier gear, since all you need to do is remove the grill from your car and set it up.
However, depending on the size of your car, you may need a smaller grill or one that packs down into itself for transportation. Some campsites may require a short walk from the car. If you like more rustic campsites, you’ll want a grill you can carry with ease from car to camp kitchen.
Are you an RV traveler? If so, you have the most flexibility. You can bring the largest grill you want to buy. You may also have access to electricity, or you can leverage your RV’s propane tanks.
Many RVs have built-in, outdoor kitchens. If so, it’s best to choose a tabletop grill that will fit onto this kitchen surface.
Or are you a backcountry camper, who wants something lightweight to cook over an open fire with? If so, weight is your biggest considerations, and your options are severely limited.
You may need to light a bonfire and set a simple metal rack over the top. However, in many places, open fires aren’t permitted, so a standalone grill or camp stove would be required.
Before choosing a grill, determine which type of camping style you engage in the most.
Choose a Fuel Source
Your next big decision is choosing a fuel source. Outdoor cooking can be done in many different ways.
Traditional grills use either liquid propane or charcoal. The heat and size of the flame are easily controlled by propane grills, making them the most popular choice.
You can choose to bring large propane tanks or smaller, camp-friendly tanks that can fit in a backpack. Larger tanks are easy to replace or refill at nearly any hardware store or gas station, so these are ideal for extended trips.
Charcoal is another popular choice since the burning of charcoal adds rich, smoky flavor to your food. But lighting, maintaining, and cleaning charcoal require a bit more effort. And bringing extra charcoal takes up more space than propane.
Pellet grills offer a middle ground. You’ll burn pellets to cook your food, but have more control, like a propane grill. However, pellet grills require an electrical connection to use.
And if you have an electrical connection at camp, you can also buy an electric grill. They are lightweight and don’t require you to carry any external fuel. The heating element is safer than cooking over an open flame. But you are limited to campsites with power.
Most people prefer cooking over an open flame. But the simplicity of electric grills, without any cleanup or fuel, makes it desirable for those looking for easy outdoor solutions.
What Do You Want to Cook?
Next up, think about what you want to cook when you’re out and about. and don’t just say “everything!”
Most people have a few things that they cook on a regular basis. Are you a steak and baked potato person? Do you like cooking up stews or soups?
There are many different camping grill features that will either support your preferred foods or make it impossible to cook them.
Electric grills are great for basic cooking. Eggs and bacon in the morning? Easy. Boil water for oatmeal? Piece of cake. But people don’t love electric grills for grilling meat. While it’s possible, it always tastes better over an open flame.
Whatever type of grill you choose, ensure it has lots of options. If you choose a charcoal grill with an open grate for meat, does it also come with a flat cooking surface, or will it accept pans for cooking other foods?
Choose the Perfect Size
How many people do you cook for? Are you a family of four or five? You’ll need to lug around a bigger grill. But the solo camper can choose the smallest grill.
But a bigger grill will allow you to cook multiple food items at one time. So by choosing the larger size, you can get your steak, potatoes, and veggies done all at once, to spend more time eating and less time cooking.
Ease of Cleaning
Because you have to move your grill a lot when camping, you’ll need to clean it a lot, too. Think about how much work a particular grill requires.
Charcoal and pellet grills make more of a mess. You’ll need to safely dispose of leftover charcoal, and clean up any ash or other debris. Propane and electric grills require much less maintenance after each use.
Of course, you need a grill that is both lightweight and super durable. Camping grills are subject al to more abuse than the grill in your backyard. It gets packed up in the car, covered with trekking poles and kayaks on a regular basis.
Cheaper electric grills may struggle unless you put them in protective boxes. Solid, cast iron grills shouldn’t have any issues, other than protecting them from moisture.
Buying Camping Grills
With all of those factors in mind, it’s time to start comparing grill prices and features of the top grills. Here are some of the best options you can get for all of your outdoor adventures.
The Coleman Roadtrip is an easy, simple to use, propane-powered grill. It comes attached to an adjustable stand, with wheels on one side for easy movement around the campsite. But the mobility comes at a cost since this grill weighs a whopping 46 lbs.
It comes with two small, slideout tables on either side of the grill to store your plate or grilling essentials. And it has a push-button ignition so you don’t have to keep track of a lighter.
The grill folds up nicely, making it simple to pack into a car or truck. The heat is easy to adjust, and the cast iron grill gates are coated in porcelain to create a nice cooking surface.
Barebones Cast Iron Grill
Once you learn how to cook with cast iron, you will likely never go back to using other types of pans. Cast iron is easy to maintain and only gets better with age, unlike other types of pans.
If you’re a fan of cast iron, you probably already have a selection of pans at home. But when it comes to camping, you need to check out the Barebones cast iron grill, an all-in-one outdoor grill for cooking anything and everything.
You’ll have a large cast-iron base, topped with a domed cast iron lid for maximum heat retention. It also comes with a grill grate for cooking the perfect steak. And you’ll get a sheet of baking steel, for those after-dinner treats.
With the tripod stand, you can use the grill over an open fire, or attach the coal tray for a self-contained grill. Either way, you can use them when car camping or tent camping, since no electric or fuel tanks are required.
When you’re on the go, the grill and accessories pack down into a self-contained bundle, taking up very little space in the trunk.
If you like cooking with cast iron, you’ll find yourself using this grill at home just as often as when you’re camping. The only downside is that this grill is 25 lbs, thanks to all that cast iron.
Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill
This small, portable, lightweight grill is a great option for the minimalist camp chef.
The grill opens up like traditional grills. You can fill the bottom up with charcoal to heat the grill up. Weighing only 13 lbs, you really can take this grill anywhere.
But it doesn’t come with a stand. So you’ll either be crouching on the ground to flip your burgers, or you’ll need a table to set it on.
The cooking surface can hold up to six burgers, so it’s quite compact. But you can still cook enough food for the whole family.
Enjoy Great Food Outdoors
When buying camping grills, you have tons and tons of options. These are just three great options out of thousands you can choose from.
From charcoal to propane, and electric to wood-burning, there’s nothing you can’t cook in the great outdoors. It just depends on what you are willing to carry, and how much work you are willing to put into your outdoor meals.
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