For many of us, camp cooking is a highlight of outdoor adventure. A good portable grill is a mainstay for many campers. Just imagine the sizzling meats, perfectly charred veggies, and other delights as we show you the best in portable grilling options. All these portable camp grills are perfect for your next RV Adventure!
What makes a great camp grill?
The key element that defines a grill is that you can put the food directly on the built-in grilling surface. A camp stove is designed to be used only with cookware like pots and pans. Here are some of the qualities that make an ideal camp grill.
- Portability: Space and weight are both important considerations for portability.
- Durability: Camping gear will take bumps and be exposed to harsh conditions so you want it to be tough.
- Temperature control: Good grilling demands the ability to go low and slow, or fast and fierce.
- Maintainable: Grilling is inherently a bit messy, but you want cleanup and maintenance to be relatively simple.
- Size: You want your grill to handle the amount of cooking you plan to do, cooking for a big crew on a small grill is not a good use of your time.
- Safety: The best grills cook your food, not you, or the table it is sitting on.
- Price: While we are looking for the best quality here, you also want it to be a good value.
Let’s take a look at some of the best options out there. Each of these is a stand out in its class, but each is designed for different situations and cooking styles.
The Lotus Grill
The Lotus Grill is an import. It follows a style of grills popular in the eastern Pacific. There are many brands, but Lotus is trusted for its high-quality construction. This is a Charcoal grill that uses a battery-powered fan to control the level of heat produced. You can cook a full meal with just a few pieces of charcoal. The fuel is placed in a small basket, a small amount of lighter fluid is applied and then it is lit. The fan stokes the flames, heating the grill surface.
Due to its clever design, all the heat goes up to the cooking surface, so the outer shell remains cool to the touch. This is a big advantage as you can place the grill on any surface and can move the grill before it cools down, or even while in use.
The grilling surface is somewhat small, but larger versions of the Lotus are available. Ideally, you want to use natural charcoal in the Lotus grill as it can reach higher temperatures and burns with less smoke than a briquette. It can be a little tricky to find it at campgrounds or convenience stores, but it is available at most outdoors supply shops.
The Cook-Air is a bit like the Lotus Grill on steroids. Instead of charcoal, it burns chunks of dry wood. Like the Lotus, it gets its real cooking power from a fan built into the base. It uses more fuel and bigger batteries but it can cook at really high temperatures, up to 1100 degrees! You can buy specially designed wood fuel “pucks” for it, but it can burn any sufficiently dry wood you can fit into the fuel chamber. This lets you get some great smoke flavor going.
It’s less portable than the Lotus, but still pretty reasonable for RV camping. While the base of the unit remains mostly cool, the outside and lid can get pretty hot. It also has a higher center of gravity so you want to be thoughtful about safety when using the Cook-Air. In addition to grilling, the Cook-Air works nicely with cookware. The Cook-Air can boil water or be used with a skillet. The dome lets you slow cook on the lower fan settings. If you love camp cooking, this is a really fun grill to own.
The TexSport Camp Grill
The TexSport Camp Grill is simplicity itself. It’s just a nice sized grill that you can position over a campfire or bed of coals. This brand is highly rated for being sturdy and stable. The cross-hatch grill pattern lets you cook a variety of foods without anything falling into the fire. If you want the experience of cooking on the campfire, this, and a set of camp cookware is picture perfect.
The Solaire Infrared Grill
If you want fast, high heat for searing meats, the Solaire Infrared Grill is the grill for you. It is a propane-powered grill that uses a special type of heating element that gets very hot very quickly. If you are keen on making restaurant quality steaks in the great outdoors, this is the type of grill you want. You could have a finished meal 10 minutes from turning it on.
The quality of construction is very high, all stainless steel and quite sturdy. It can use portable propane bottles or be connected to a larger tank, such as those on your RV. It’s also big enough that you could cook up quite a feast in short order. That size comes at the cost portability. While it’s no monster, it does weigh in at 27lb without fuel.
If it has a weakness, it’s that it doesn’t really do low and slow cooking like a wood grill can. It is also somewhat prone to creating a lot of smoke from the meat juices incinerating on the infrared heat source. Something common in any really high-temperature outdoor cooking grill. It is also on the pricey side, easily the most expensive grill on this list.
The Coleman Road Trip XLE
As an all-around gas camp grill, the Coleman Road Trip is hard to pass up. Coleman put a lot of thought into this grill design. It’s large enough to cook for a full family, but thanks to the wheels and folding stand, it travels well. The grills are designed so that they have hot and cool zones which is great for getting exactly the grilling results you want. It works with portable propane containers and hooks up to a big tank.
It can be put on a flat surface or can stand on its own. Two side plates give you a place to set seasoning, cooking implements, raw food and the like. It has a reliable starting system and very good temperature control. One of the few limitations is that the hood is fairly shallow, so you aren’t going to be cooking a large roast or bird in there. But that is a sacrifice made to keep it easy to store in a car or RV. If you aren’t sure what kind of grill you want, this is a safe bet as it has almost all the bases covered.
The Quick Grill
This Quick Grill is ideal for backpackers or beachcombers who want campfire cooking in any terrain and almost any weather. It folds flat into it’s carrying case and weighs only a few pounds. It is versatile in that you can use wood or charcoal as fuel. It’s big enough to cook quite a lot of food and can be used simply as an open campfire, as a grill, or a stove for cookware.
There are quite a few competing designs out there, but I find this one has the most stable base which lets you use heavier cookware and have fewer worries about knocking it over. It also gives you quite a large cooking surface in a pretty small package.
The Hamilton Beach Indoor Grill
This is the only electric grill on the list. Thus it is also the only grill you can use indoors. You will need a 120 outlet to use it, and it’s going to pull a log of juice to run. The Hamilton Beach Indoor Grill is easy to operate. Plug it in, turn the dial, and put your food on it. So long as you keep it clean, it won’t smoke and will grill your food quite nicely. One advantage over traditional grills is that it is very easy to clean, and you have very precise control over the heat. If you are RVing in cold weather, this might be a lot better than standing out in the cold to cook your food while still delivering good grilled flavor.
When picking a grill for your RV Camping adventure, think about what you like to cook, how you like to cook, and how you want to transport it. Imagine yourself using the various grills and go with what sounds like the most fun and the least hassle. They are not only great for camping; you could even use your grill to host an RV Tailgate Party!
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