If you like to eat good food (and who doesn’t?), a solid camping grill is essential for any camping trip.
With hundreds of different options to select from, though, deciding on your next grilling companion isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.
We love grilling up some tasty grub as much as the next person, which is why we’ve reviewed 5 of the top models on the market today. In this article, we’ll discuss the finer points of the best portable camping grills available and offer you some tips for choosing the right one.
Charcoal vs Propane Grills: Which to Choose?
Perhaps the biggest decision you’ll have to make when deciding on your next portable camping grill is whether you want a charcoal or a propane model.
The type of grill you choose has a major impact on your cooking experience. However, the one that’s best for your needs depends on your personal cooking style.
Gas Grills: Advantages & Disadvantages
Gas grills are popular choices because they’re so darn easy to use. They’re effectively just extra burly camping stoves with more powerful burners, lids, and a grilling plate.
Indeed, many modern models even have electronic ignition systems, so all you have to do is hook up your propane tank, push a button, and start grilling.
Additionally, gas grills usually provide you with the ability to cook at a much higher heat than charcoal. For most purposes, we actually don’t need very high heat for cooking. However, if you want to sear meats, you’ll need as high a temperature as you can get, so a gas grill is your best bet.
With that in mind, propane camping grills are usually much more expensive than their charcoal counterparts. They’re also generally heavier, which can be a consideration for a walk-in campsite.
Charcoal Grills: Advantages & Disadvantages
The primary advantage of a charcoal grill is taste. In fact, it’s hard to argue with the smoky taste that you can only get from a charcoal grill. While your food will certainly still taste good on a gas grill, it’s never going to achieve that same, nuanced flavor.
In addition, portable charcoal grills tend to be lighter and more affordable than their propane cousins. This is particularly advantageous if you camp a lot and don’t like lugging around heavy gear.
Charcoal takes effort to cook with. There’s no such thing as fast food when cooking with charcoal. So, if you want a charcoal grill, you have to be ready for slow, purposeful mealtimes in camp.
Top 5 Best Camping Grills
Providing a welcoming mix of quality, functionality, and relative affordability, the Weber Q1200 is a fan-favorite portable grill for camping adventures.
It can put out a maximum of 8,500 burners over its 189 square inch cooking area to ensure that you can grill enough for a small family. This model boasts a set of cast-iron cooking grates and a single stainless steel burner for added functionality at your campsite.
The entire grill is encased in a cast aluminum lid and body, which provides much-needed durability over the years. Its integrated electronic ignition and Infinite Control burner valves also make it easier to fine-tune your cooking conditions to just the right temperature.
One feature that helps the Weber Q1200 stand out from the rest is its 2 folding side tables. With these side tables, it’s easier to prep your food and store your grilling utensils on-the-go.
- 2 side tables for prepping and utensil storage
- Cast aluminum lid and body for durability
- Electronic ignition system
- Infinite Control burner valves
- Somewhat small cooking area for overall packed size
Stylish and versatile, the Napoleon TravelQ 285 is a camping-focused grill for people who refuse to compromise on quality.
Despite its small packed size, this grill has 285 square inches of cooking space and an instant JETFIRE ignition system. This gives you the flexibility you need to cook up to 17 hefty hamburgers at once without the need to bring a lighter or matches.
Plus, this grill comes with 2 precision adjustment burner knobs, allowing you to get the right grilling temperature, every time with its 12,000 BTUs of heat. For added finesse, the TravelQ 285 also has Napoleon’s signature iconicWAVE cooking grids that provide satisfying sear marks on grilled meats and veggies.
Wrapping up the grill’s list of features is a 10 year warranty and a cast aluminum body for durability. Its legs also fold inward for easier transport during your camping trips.
- Small packed size and folding legs
- 10 year warranty
- Large cooking space
- Up to 12,000 BTU of heat
- 2 precision burner control knobs
Packing a whole lot of cooking prowess into one compact package, the Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 is a fully functional camping grill for any outdoor adventure.
It boasts a die cast aluminum construction that exudes durability and looks good in the process. One either side of its burly lid, the grill features large, study handles for transport, and four burly legs to provide a stable cooking surface.
The lid on this grill has an integrated temperature gauge to make it easier for you to monitor and control your grilling process. Additionally, it has a push button ignition system for fast and simple cooking without the need to fiddle around with lighters.
Once you lift up the lid on the Char-Broil Grill2Go X200, you get access to the grill’s TRU-Infrared cooking technology. As a result, this grill can pump out up to 9500 BTU of heat evenly throughout the surface while simultaneously eliminating food-burning flare-ups in the process.
- 9500 BTU of grilling power
- TRU-Infrared cooking technology eliminates flare-ups
- Integrated temperature gauge
- Push button ignition system
- Burly die cast aluminum construction
- Somewhat heavy
Budget friendly to the core, the Weber Jumbo Joe is a solid all-around choice for value-minded campers.
This charcoal-powered grill is made with a durable aluminum construction that’s burly enough for frequent use but light enough to easily carry to and from the car. Inside, it has a plated steel cooking grate with easy-lift handles so you can more easily get access to your charcoal embers.
Underneath the grill, there’s a removable aluminum ash catcher to prevent hot embers and ashes from getting all over your picnic table. The lid also features a large handle and the whole thing can be secured with Weber’s Tuck-N-Carry lid to serve as a windscreen at camp.
Finally, the Jumbo Joe has an 18” diameter cooking space, which is more than sufficient for a small group. While you’d probably want to invest in a second grill for groups of more than 4, for a family-centric camping trip, this model generally offers plenty of grilling surface area.
- Lightweight and compact
- Large carry handle for transport
- Removable aluminum ash catcher
- Tuck-N-Carry lid system serves as a windscreen
- Charcoal is less convenient than propane
- Not ideal for large groups
The only freestanding grill in our review, the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet is a highly portable and functional option for car camping.
It boasts a 160 square inch cooking grate that’s made from porcelain enamel for a more even distribution of heat throughout the cooking surface. Additionally, it comes with an integrated drip tray for easier clean-up at the end of each meal.
This grill can pump out an impressive 5,500 BTU, despite its small size. It also has a built-in gas regulations system to ensure an efficient flow of propane throughout the cooking process.
One of the best parts about this grill is that it has a freestanding design. The grill’s 2 telescoping and adjustable legs allow you to get your cooking area to just the right height for maximum comfort.
Plus, when all is said and done, the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet weighs just 17lbs and packs down to a compact size for easier transport to and from your campsite.
- Adjustable legs for maximum functionality
- Built-in drip tray
- Integrated propane regulation system
- Porcelain enamel cooking grate for durability
- Lightweight and compact
- Somewhat small cooking surface
It’s hard to beat a well-cooked meal on a camping trip. But, if you want to turn your camp kitchen into an outdoor version of Masterchef, you’ll need a quality portable camping grill.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great options to choose from. The key is finding the one that’s right for your needs.