A Guide to Choosing the Ideal Portable Outdoor Grill

15 Apr 2020
Larry Ficks

Cooking grilled food has become synonymous with having an awesome outdoor experience. Camping stoves are a great solution for many families, but cooking on them while out enjoying in nature may feel like a chore. On the other hand, a portable BBQ can turn almost any gathering into a cookout, whether you’re at the beach, campsite, tailgating or state park. They’re a simple solution for cooking delicious meals when away from home.

But with so many different portable grill models available nowadays, picking the right one that suits your party’s cooking needs and is convenient enough to transport and use it requires some careful consideration. Camping grills are available in different types (charcoal and propane) and sizes and come with a variety of features that add to their convenience and performance.

Grill Portability

The most important thing you need to consider is the grill’s portability, and how much weight you’re willing to carry with you. The last thing you want is having to leave the grill behind because it’s too heavy or cumbersome to transport it. Most portable BBQ grills are designed to be easily relocated, but some models can weigh as much as 25kg, requiring two people to set them up. Tabletop and cart-style camping barbecue grills are on the heavier side. Cart style models come with two wheels so they can be easily handled by one person, whereas heavy tabletop grills will probably require an extra set of hands to carry them around.

People opt for portable grills for two main reasons. First, they want a grill for tailgating, camping and picnicking, which is where size and weight are the two main considerations, and lighter and smaller is better. The other reason for getting a portable grill is to use it indoors. Many buildings and neighbourhoods don’t allow the storage of your grill outdoors, which is why people opt for portable models.

Grilling Area

The grilling surface of your grill is the next most important consideration. Your choice should depend on the size of your party and the type of food you intend on cooking for the most part. If you’re cooking for a family of 4 and you typically grill vegetables with the meat, you’ll need something with a larger cooking area than you would if you were cooking for a party of two, and was only grilling your meat course. But keep in mind that the larger the grilling surface area is, the larger the grill will be, which will, consequently, make it less portable. That being said, you’ll have to find the perfect balance between the grilling area’s size and the level of portability of your BBQ.


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Burning Control

This is one of the most important metrics you need to pay attention to when buying a camping barbecue grill. Having varying temperatures zones and inadequate burning control can be frustrating and inefficient. While it’s difficult to predict the type of burner control a grill will have, you can go online and do your homework before you decide on a product. There are a few things you need to pay attention to, including whether the grill comes with more than one burner. Grills with multiple burners are easier to control, simply because you can only heat up one side of the grill if you aren’t cooking too much food. Further, you can set one side on a higher temperature setting, and set the other side to a slightly less hot setting, allowing you to cook different foods at the same time. Another important thing to look for is a cover that fits over the burners. The cover prevents grease from dripping directly on top of the burners, which can result in uneven temperature control and flare-ups.

Wind Protection

The wind protection the grill comes with can also make or break your experience. Look for burners that aren’t exposed too much or burner covers. Again, refer to online reviews for the products you’re looking at before making a decision. It can be hard to figure out what makes for an optimally wind-protected grill, so the only thing to be guided by may be the fact that more power equals more wind protection.

Extra Features

Some grills come with extra features that make them more convenient and efficient to use. For instance, a thermometer can come in very handy so that you always know what’s the temperature of the grill. This can be especially handy when searing. Hanging warming racks are also a great feature, and so are hooks in the front and side tables for hanging out your grilling tools. Most portable grills come with a backup burner lighting chain system that will allow you to start the grill if its automatic ignite mechanism goes out.

Some other features can include a smart LED dashboard, the ability to charge the battery while the grill is working (for electric grills), smoke-less technologies, and many more. Consider which features you deem necessary and which ones you can do without when browsing through the different camping barbecue models to narrow down your choices.