Our Top 5 Portable Grills For 2018
With all of the portable grills on the market, how do you sort through all of the options and find right one for you? Well, worry not. We are here to help! There are several areas we could look at, but in reviewing five different grills we peeled back the layers of the onion and scored them using portability, cooking area, and versatility.
Here are the five grills we reviewed. For our full review on each one, click the “Read Full Review” link.
|Coleman Road Trip LXE||Weber Q 2200||Camp Chef Explorer||Cuisinart CGG200||Olympian 5500|
|Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
You will most likely notice some of the grills we reviewed scored relatively close to one another. The reason for this is the criteria we used were often in conflict with one another. In most cases where a portable grill scored well in one category, it came to be it scored poorly in another. Take for example the Cuisinart CGG-200 which scored well in Portability, but scored poorly in Versatility.
This is where folks run into challenges when on the hunt for a new grill, and why we ultimately created this post. We suggest readers think about what they will most commonly use their grill for, and how often. If you are a couple with an RV which you only use a few times a year, and just need a grill for steaks and burgers, then versatility isn’t necessarily a worry. If you like to grill for 20 folks at a time and are only grilling burgers, then you need cooking area, but not so much versatility. Lastly, if you want one grill which can cook various items in various ways, then you want versatility which can impact portability.
Additionally, the larger the grill surface typically, the less portable it is. How much room do you have to store and transport your grill? If you have a 5th wheel with a vast pass-through storage basement big enough to store a Prius, then portability most likely isn’t as big of a concern. If, however, you are looking for a grill which fits IN the Prius, then you may want to skimp on the grill size.
Our last point to consider is cost. Though we didn’t make it a measurable criterion, we embedded it within the individual reviews as consideration. There are some grills upwards of $300 which have little versatility versus a $150 grill which does. You may not need the versatility, but saving $150 seems like a win for us.
It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to research portable grills, and not discuss just how portable they are. When we dug into this criteria, we opted to ask ourselves three questions. How easy is the grill to store and how much room does it take to store it? Can one move it from the storage location to the grilling location with relative ease? Lastly, how difficult is the grill to set up once at the grilling location?
This criterion takes a lot into account, but it is all important. Grills which are lightweight with handles, or come with a cart and wheels will score higher here. Also, grills which require less effort to set up due to complexity (or lack thereof) will also perform well. Finally, grills which are smaller will, of course, perform better as they are easier to lift.
Most grills have an optional carry bag you can purchase. We highly suggest you invest in one if it is an option. Oddly enough, there appear to be many grills on the market labeled “portable” or “tabletop” yet have no way to keep the lid closed. No clasp, nothing. Sure you could use a $2 bungee cord from Harbor Freight, but we are talking about the principle I guess. A carry bag makes sure everything stays where it belongs, and often allow you to keep all of your propane hoses, connectors, etc. neat and organized.
The Cooking Area category also has a few layers to it. First off is the actual amount of square inches of cooking surface available. Which makes sense right? Additionally, however, we talk about BTUs as well as the number of burners the grill has.
BTU’s (Britsh Thermal Unit) is a unit of measure for heat. The higher the number, the hotter it is. A burner which puts out 30,000 BTUs is going to heat up large pots of water as well as get to searing temp much faster than a burner spitting out 10,000 BTU’s. Some of the grills we reviewed put out a perfect amount of heat for burgers or dogs but were not hot enough, or large enough in surface area to heat large pots.
The number of burners can be a big deal depending on what you are planning to cook as well. Having two burners allows you to put one side on high while your food sits above the burner which is off. Preparing in this method is called using “indirect heat.” A grill with one burner doesn’t allow for this option without getting creative. Also, modular stoves with multiple burners have the opportunity to swap out the cooking surfaces. This area starts to bleed over into Versatility as well so we will hold up discussing that for now.
Or we can just talk about it now I guess. We call this the “bang for your buck” category as we discuss the overall functionality of the grill. Grills which allow for multiple cooking surfaces, as well as options for overall grill locations, will score higher here. Some grills can be put on a stand or mounted on the side of an RV for instance, while others have to sit on a table etc.
Admittedly, most grills which scored high here did so based on the accessories available to make them versatile more so what comes in the box. Module grills and stoves are designed to allow camp cooks to express their cooking prowess. Grilling some steaks on one side of the grill while boiling some lobster on the other for surf n’ turf for example. Or maybe you want the option to cook pizzas while you are camping. With the Camp Chef that is an option believe it or not.
Lastly, what propane sources can be used. Most grills can use your RV propane system, a 20lb tank, or the small disposable tanks. You just have to purchase the correct adapters and hoses for it to work. Keep in mind though, a burner putting out 30,000 BTUs will drain a small tank rather quickly.
Ultimately we found the Camp Chef Explorer to be the best overall portable grill of the five we reviewed. The Camp Chef maximizes versatility with its module design and can be its own table with its four removable legs. Or if you prefer, can be placed on an actual table. It has 448 sq in of cooking space, and two burners putting out 30,000 BTU’s per burner. Finally, with a base price of $100 you can essentially build out a complete base camp style stove for the same amount of money as some other “one trick pony” type grills.
At the end of the day, what works best for you will be based on your individual situation though. We just hope we have helped you out on your journey to find your next portable grill. As our motto says, “you just bring the awesome, we will help you find the rest!”
Find all of these awesome grills in our web store here!