Whether you’re car camping, picnicking, or hiking, there’s nothing like a hot meal at the end of the day. While some campers like to roast their meal over a roaring fire, others prefer the refined precision of a camping grill. But knowing which is the best camping grill isn’t always easy. To that end, we’ve put together a list of three of the best camping grills on the market.
- If you’re doing looking for the best camping grill that doesn’t require propane, the Weber 10020 Smokey Joe may be the way to go:
- Powered by charcoal or wood chips
- Compact and easy to carry
- Porcelain-enameled surfaces retain heat
- If you’re looking for the best value camping grill, check out the Blackstone Table Top Grill:
- 12,000 BTUs of power
- 260sq. inches of cooking area
- Portable for short hikes
- If you want the best grill for car camping, take a look at the Coleman RoadTrip 285:
- 20,000 BTUs of power
- 285sq. inches of cooking area
- 3 adjustable burners
Who Should Get This?
Camping grills are great for campers who want a hot meal but don’t want to cook over a fire. Note that you’ll need extra room in your backpack or the ability to make a second trip for your grill.
These options are not good for backpackers, as each of these grills is too heavy and bulky for a long hike. If you’re interested in backpacking grills, you may want to look for a smaller option.
Best Camping Grills: What to Look For
Power is one of the most important components when selecting a new grill. There are three basic power sources: wood, charcoal, and propane.
Wood can be hard to come by, but they can add rich flavor. The same is true of charcoal. However, you need a grill that burns these fuels.
Propane is one of more popular choices, as it’s lightweight and portable. Propane also heats food quickly. However, propane grills can be heavy.
If you opt for a propane grill, you want to check how many BTUs (British Thermal Units) the grill puts out. A rough calculation for your needs is 80 BTUs for every 1 square inch of cooking area. For a 200 square inch grill, you want about 16,000 BTUs.
Another factor to consider is your grill’s material.
Stainless steel is durable, rust resistant, and conducts heat well. However, it can be more expensive.
Aluminum is even more lightweight, and grills that use aluminum are often cheaper. On the other hand, it can heat up too quickly and unevenly.
Ceramic is the heaviest option, but it is the best at conducting and retaining heat. However, ceramic is also more fragile than its metal counterparts.
Best Camping Grills: Our Picks
1. Best Camping Grill that Doesn’t Require Propane: Weber 10020 Smokey Joe
The Weber 10020 Smokey Joe is the only grill on this list that doesn’t require propane, as it works with wood chips or charcoal. It’s also the best budget option on this list at half the price of the Blackstone grill.
This portable, kettle-shaped grill is small and lightweight. While it won’t easily fit into a backpack, you can carry this grill short distances, which makes it a good choice for car camping and short hikes.
The grill can hold up to three to five burgers at a time (depending on its size), which means it’s also a good choice if you are camping with multiple people.
The porcelain-lined lid and bowl are rust-resistant and built to retain plenty of heat. Furthermore, dampers on the lid allow you to control the inside temperature of your grill when you’re cooking.
What We Like:
- Sturdy, lightweight material
- Cooks for three to five people
- Lined with porcelain to hold heat
What We Don’t Like:
- Requires a source of wood chips or charcoal
- The grill rack doesn’t have a handle
2. Best Value Camping Grill: Blackstone Table Top Grill
The Blackstone TableTop Grill may be an excellent option if you’re looking for a griddle-style camping grill that will cook for several people at once. While 20 pounds is on the heavy side for backpacking, it’s perfect for car camping and shorter hikes.
This portable propane-powered grill lights with an electric igniter. It comes with one-pound bottles of fuel that are easy to carry and store.
Furthermore, this table-top grill comes with a built-in grease catcher to minimize mess. After you’re through using it, you can easily wipe it down with a paper towel.
The H-shaped stainless-steel burner inside the grill heats up and cools down quickly. The griddle top measures at 260 square inches, which is perfect for cooking in groups. However, at 12,000 BTUs, this grill is slightly underpowered for its size.
What We Like:
- Fuel is easy to transport with the grill
- Can cook for several people at once
- H-shaped burner is ideal for heat distribution
What We Don’t Like:
- 20 pounds is a little on the heavy side
- 12,000 BTUs is underpowered for the grill top
3. Best Overall Grill for Car Camping: Coleman RoadTrip 285
The Coleman RoadTrip 285 is one of the best propane-powered grills on the market for car camping. While it is the most expensive grill on this list, it also includes plenty of features to make your next camping trip a breeze.
For instance, although this grill is large, it folds up into a small space. It also comes with two wheels and a handle built in, so you can roll this grill to your campsite.
Grill setup is quick and easy as well. All you have to do is unfold the legs and wheels to get your grill upright. This grill also comes with two attachable side panels that act as small countertops for food and cooking utensils.
Furthermore, the 285-square inch grill top offers up to 20,000 BTUs of heating power, so you can cook your food quickly. With three adjustable burners, you can be sure to disperse heat evenly even when you cook for a group. Additionally, the grill even has a thermometer built in, so you know how hot your food is cooking.
What We Like:
- Built-in thermometer helps monitor food
- Built-on wheels and handle make transportation easy
- Comes with side panel “counters”
What We Don’t Like:
- Too big for hiking
Useful Tips and Resources
Once you have your grill, you may also want to consider a grill accessories kit. If you don’t already have the right grilling utensils, check out the Cuisinart CGS-W13 Wooden Handle set, which has everything you may need. (It even comes with a brush to clean your grill after use!)
Speaking of cleaning, it’s very important that you clean your grills regularly. This reduces your mess, but it also keeps you safe if you are camping in an area with a lot of wildlife. Check out this video on how to clean your Coleman RoadTrip 285.
Selecting the right camping grill is important for those campers who like a hot meal without the trouble of a campfire. Just make sure that your grill is the right size and weight for your camping needs – and that it provides plenty of heat to cook your food all the way!
Questions or thoughts on our choices? Suggestions on types of camping grills, cooking while camping in general, or other aspects of choosing the right gear? Let us know!