Mobile Meat Masters: The 9 Best Camping Grills

Camping is about roughing it. Living off the land. Testing yourself against the elements. Reconnecting with nature. That’s all well and good, but it is also about cooking up a bunch of meat and putting your feet up on a cooler overflowing with stouts, lagers, and ales. While we’ll leave the choice of summer beer up to you, we are going to make a few suggestions when it comes to choosing a way to grill up your meat. A slotted slab of metal over an open flame is fine, but for a great camping grill, more is required.

Like your average grill at home, these come in wood, gas, charcoal, and even electric options. They are portable, stripped down versions of the larger grills that can work out in the forest. Roasting some hot dog in the fire is fine, because who cares if it gets seared or singed? Putting your steaks, artisanal butcher-grade burgers, and specialized veal bratwurst out over an open flame is blasphemy that will not stand. By selecting one of the 9 best camping grills, you will save your meat from a flame-kissed fate worse than death: char.

West America Camp Grill

West America Camp Grill

Pro: Splits apart for easier storage
Con: Extremely small

Pocket Pack: Camping grills are normally small enough to go with you in a car, but still too big for stuffing into your frame backpack. Not so with the Camp Grill from West America. Should you intend on spending your nights out on the trail, there’s no reason you should deny yourself a hearty grilled meal. Dump the freeze-dried food for an evening and whip this out. Set between a pair of rocks, the hand made 316L stainless steel works spectacularly. When you’re done, it breaks down into two 5.5×5 inch segments for quick storage. [Purchase: $25]

Coleman PerfectFlow InstaStart Grill

Coleman PerfectFlow InstaStart Grill

Pro: Grill and burner heat up quickly
Con: Lid and windscreens are cheap and poorly constructed

Boil and Burn: The Instastart is a camping stove with an attached grill, and it’s a fine addition to your outdoor gear. It comes with two 10,000 BTU burners that are ready to sizzle your meat or heat up your dutch oven for a little fireside baking. One side has a nickel-chrome stove grate while the other has a die-cast aluminum grill that cooks consistently wherever you put your food. At 13 pounds, it’s light, but some corners were cut to keep the bulk low. [Purchase: $92]

Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Grill2Go X200

Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Grill2Go X200

Pro: No-flare cooking
Con: High temperature makes precision grilling difficult

Modern Marvel: 14,000 BTUs, made entirely of stainless steel, 200 square inches of grilling space, all packed into a 20 lbs. package. The Grill2Go is the power of an infrared made to go wherever you do. Get it in either 304 standard steel or get the 316 marine-grade model to go with your fishing fillet knife, the quick-cooking construction and ability to be converted to natural gas gives you a fair amount of value in a small package. True, the grilling stage is small, but when it can scorch meat in minutes, the output is still impressive. [Purchase: $122]

COOK-AIR wood fired grill black

COOK-AIR wood fired grill black

Pro: Runs on batteries, a car outlet, or standard electrical source
Con: Requires untreated, natural wood chunks and electricity

Natural Accelerant: An odd system is in place within the Cook-Air that allows it to cook faster and sear the exterior of a steak just like a larger grill, but without the size. Underneath your meat is a fan that pushes flames upward allowing them to kiss the meat and increasing the overall temperature for a quicker cooking grill. The body is stainless steel that can stand up to outdoor cooking, and so long as you read the instructions you’ll find the flavors it can seal into every steak might just have you replacing your backyard cooker. [Purchase: $149]

Lodge Sportsman

Lodge Sportsman

Pro: Entirely cast iron
Con: No lid

Purist: Fancy dials and pretty accessories are fine things to have, but there’s still nothing that can quite compare to a portable grill with the feel and flavor of the old west. Heat is regulated by a simple draft door with coals accessed through a flap that doesn’t require moving your meat to stir. This is made in the hibachi style and is good for more than just camping. Put it on your patio, balcony, or deck for heating quality meats to perfection. You’ll need to watch it since it lacks a lid for heat reflection, giving it a learning curve that will weed out amateur grillmasters. [Purchase: $149]

Cuisinart Every Day Portable CGG 220 Gas Grill

Cuisinart Every Day Portable CGG 220 Gas Grill

Pro: Fast heating
Con: Grease does not always drain into drip pan

Temperature Tracker: Even with a professional home grill, keeping your temperature at the ideal place takes a firm hand and a keen eye. Though this is built for tailgating and roasting on the range, it bears a temperature gauge that is pinpoint precise. The grill itself is cast iron with porcelain enamel, offering 240 square inches of cooking surface along with removable side trays for storage. At 15,000 BTUs the burner gives you plenty of power in a small package, though it’s still a bit heavy to be carried around. [Purchase: $159]

Weber Q 1000

Weber Q 1000

Pro: Split grate is easy to remove and clean
Con: Slow fuel flow

Gas Line: Most campers prefer the taste of wood or charcoal when they’re grilling, but if you like the cleaner flavor of gas, Weber’s Q line has everything you please your palette. The light and tight 1000 is 27.5 pounds of power complete with a push button ignition and an LP hose that will work with your average 20 lbs. propane tank. Lid and body are aluminum with a cast iron grate bearing porcelain enamel for better heating and easier cleaning. 189 square inches of cooking space is enough for a small family with petite appetites. [Purchase: $169]

Coleman Road Trip Propane LXE

Coleman Road Trip Propane LXE

Pro: Heats up sufficiently that lid is superfluous
Con: Center of grill blocks flames

Home and Away: Technically this grill is portable in that it folds down into a rolling luggage style apparatus that can easily be moved around and shoved into your car. That’s close enough for us to call it a camp grill. With 285 square inches of cooking space along with retractable flaps for resting utensils or raw meats, you’ll have plenty of space with the Road Trip. Each burner produces 10,000 BTUs, giving you full grillmaster abilities away from home. The surface has a switch and swap set of grates turning it from grill to griddle to stove in seconds. [Purchase: $197]

BioLite Grill

BioLite Portable Grill

Pro: Extremely light and compact
Con: Requires the BioLite Camp Stove

Compact Cooktop: You must be a die-hard maestro of meat if you’re thinking about taking a grill backpacking, but at just 3.5-inches when collapsed and weighing less than 2 lbs, this is the one to stow away in your hiking backpack. Attach it to the BioLite Camp Stove (33 oz.), load the whole thing with wood, and get it lit to cook up whatever fare you have lying around. An included USB port will let you charge up your gadgets as you make a meal. Power comes from a fan that is driven by the flames for less waste and a fully charged handheld GPS for your outdoor adventures. [Purchase: $225]

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