One of the most satisfying rituals of being in the outdoors is scouring the woods for downed branches and logs to build a fire. Flames that you brought to life are then only naturally followed by grilling up a succulent meal, whether that’s on a skewer of charred veggies or a few links of split-open sausages. But making a fire to cook up some vittles is sometimes tough to manage—the forest may have already been cleaned of fallen wood, you’re in a parking lot after a long day of skiing, or camping in area where open fires are strictly forbidden. That’s where portable grills come in handy.
Portable grills can mean the difference between a ho-hum bagged meal rehydrated with boiled water and a meal of flame-licked meats, starches, and veggies. Whether fueled by wood, charcoal, or gas, we tested the top portable grills for outdoor lovers, from super slim, packable options to big, rowdy cookers that can satisfy a crowd.
1. Primus Kuchoma
This handsome, lightweight propane-powered grill has modern Scandinavian design cues like a wood-faced handle, stainless steel folding legs, and boxy lid with triangular vent holes. The 16×9-inch grilling surface is made from a non-stick ceramic and rests over a stainless drip tray, both easily removable for washing. An integrated Piezo ignitor blasts off a powerful 8,500 Btus of indirect, hot dog-roasting heat.
2. Solo Stove Grill
Solo Stove has mastered building fire pits that use managed air flow for efficient burning of combustibles like wood and charcoal. Its beefy new grill brings that design to a cheeseburger near you in a sleek stainless steel drum-like form that rests on a 13-inch high aluminum frame. It’s a fairly big unit, with a generous 480 square inches of circular grilling area, so is ideally suited for outings like group camping or tailgating. The kit comes with grilling tools, heavy-duty cover, carrying case, plus 4 pounds of briquettes and four fire starters.
3. Snow Peak Takibi Fire & Grill
Crafted out of solid and sturdy stainless steel, the Takibi grill is an investment you’ll end up owning for years. The fold-up design makes stowing and deploying this mighty mite a cinch, and the strategically placed air holes and bottom vent create the optimum environment for efficiently burning your fuel, whether wood or charcoal. The burly mesh grill grate—with 290 square inches of cooking area—has adjustable legs to maximum heat levels for ultimate grilling goodness.
4. UCO Flatpack Grill & Firepit
This is the grill you’ll want to pack for any trips where light and versatile are the key words. It only weighs slightly over 3 pounds and folds down to the size of a thin three-ring binder, making it easy to slip in a pack or leave in the back of your truck for impromptu burger sessions, or any on-the-go fire pit opportunities. The durable stainless steel grill is a bit small though, as it only gives you 130 square inches of grill space, and the grate is a little flimsy, but it’s the perfect solution for two- or three-man trips into the backcountry.
5. NomadiQ Portable Gas Grill
The clever, folding suitcase-like design of this propane grill makes deploying it up in front of BBQ buddies a neat trick. Even cooler are all of the trick features like integrated electronic ignitor, cast iron grill grates that give you 226 square inches of cooking room, and almost 10,000 Btus of flame power. Made from powder-coated steel, with stainless burners, the NomadiQ is a bit heavy at 12 pounds but the included carrying strap helps manage the load.
6. HitchFire Forge 15
One annoying thing about toting along your grill when out and about in the outdoors is that inevitably, after a few grill-downs, your trusty appliance will become coated with grease. Which is not something you want to toss in your rig. But with the HitchFire, you get portability outside of your vehicle, plus the convenience of having a swing-out grill that’s ready to go and at a back-friendly, waist height. It uses two of the green 1-pound propane camping propane canisters that nestle neatly under each side, and the grill is removable so you can use it on a picnic tabletop.
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