Written By
Published Dec. 13, 2021

I’ll admit to not using a camping grill for a long time. I was a practicing member of the American Society for Clif Bars and Jetboil Ramen. As a result, my off-grid nutrition was adequate, but not the kind of thing you’d get excited about.

That’s when I discovered the overland craze. I saw people whipping out grills and cooking ribeye, fresh vegetables, and the earthly heaven that is a cast-iron-skillet cobbler. Goodness gracious. Suddenly, a camping grill appeared very high on my list of priorities.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer gas, charcoal, or wood; there’s a grill out there that can transform your camping experience. These portable grills are designed to be relatively compact and easy to transport without making a mess of your car or RV like the hibachis of the past. They won’t just make you like campsite cooking more—they might make it your preferred way to prepare a meal.

Best Overall

We’ve raved about the BioLite FirePit before, and its versatility earned it the top spot on this list. Camping is about more than cooking outside, and this combination of a fire pit and grill might be the best way to transform your adventure.

The FirePit’s mesh construction allows unparalleled airflow and creates a visually stunning fire that seems to float in the air. A battery-powered fan keeps air circulating to increase its efficiency and reduce smoke. The included grill turns this innovative fire pit into a grill that can burn wood or charcoal.

Because the entire body is made from mesh, flames can escape on all sides––including the bottom. Make sure you use this grill on a fireproof surface like stone or sand. Once food is on the grate, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to add fuel so make sure it’s well-stocked.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Wood, charcoal
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 130-square-inch grate
PROS

Dual-function fire pit and grill

Electric fan all but eliminates smoke

One of the most visually satisfying fire pits out there

Grate is large enough to cook for groups

CONS

Impractical to add fuel while cooking

Temperature regulation is difficult

Mesh bottom limits where you can place this grill

If your goal is to stretch your dollar as far as possible, this grill from Royal Gourmet is just the ticket. In addition to saving money on the grill itself, you’ll be able to take advantage of the efficient propane burner to save money on fuel.

Cooking with this grill is also about as easy as you could hope for. Attaching the propane bottle is easy and the ignition button makes lighting a snap. Adjusting temperature with the single dial isn’t too precise, but it’s very easy and gets the job done. When your meal is done, the non-stick porcelain enamel lets you wipe the grill clean for next time––no scrubbing necessary.

Some people might take issue with this grill’s use of a skillet rather than a traditional grill grate, but that opens the cookbook up to foods like eggs, bacon, and pancakes. We’d say that’s a fair trade.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 232-square-inch skillet
PROS

Propane burner is efficient and compatible with one-pound bottles

Piezo igniter makes lighting as easy as pressing a button

Porcelain-enameled top is durable, non-stick, and easy to clean

Skillet surface is more versatile than a grate

CONS

No classic grill lines for your burgers

Well-built, but not especially rugged

Propane tanks require a separate adapter

Editor’s Pick

This camping grill from Nomad is so ingenious that it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen a design like this before. It folds open to provide a massive cooking surface and can be used as a smoker.

Aluminum construction means this grill is built to last in the elements. A single grate is included, but you can buy a second to access 425 square inches of cooking space. Vents let you adjust airflow to control temperature, and a built-in thermometer makes it possible to monitor the internal temperature whether you’re using it open to grill or closed to smoke.

Everything about this grill is well-designed and built to a high standard. That results in a price that’s on par with most full-sized grills you’d use at home. It’s also a whopping 28 pounds––31 if you add a second grate.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 212-square-inch-grate
PROS

Pack-and-go construction is great for camping

Anodized aluminum is extremely weather-resistant

Setup is as easy as opening a suitcase

Add another grate to double the grilling capacity

CONS

Double the price of most camping grills

Second grate must be purchased separately

Too heavy to carry very far

Best Grill for RV Camping

If your style of camping involves an RV, you play by a different set of rules than most campers. On the downside, you’re confined to campsites big enough for tour-bus-sized vehicles. On the other hand, you have the option of grilling on the Kamado Joe Jr. every night.

This premium charcoal grill is simple enough, but small differences create flavors that are hard to match. The ceramic body improves efficiency. A tight seal also locks in smoke to add flavor, and moisture to prevent meat from drying out. Use it like a traditional grill or cook low and slow to smoke briskets that melt in your mouth.

This grill is delightfully affordable, but the elephant in the room is its weight. The overall weight is more than 75 pounds. The stand has handles, but you’ll still want a friend to help move it.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Weight: 75.6 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 143-square-inch grate
PROS

Excellent heat retention and consistent temperatures

Premium build quality and features

Locks in smoke and moisture for maximum flavor

Built-in thermometer doesn’t require opening the grill

CONS

Carrying this grill is a two-person job

Not much surface area compared to the overall size

Cooking involves a bit of a learning curve

Best Gas Grill for Camping

When Cuisinart designed this gas grill, they didn’t just settle for a scaled-down version of their home grills. It’s designed to be a self-contained grilling station that’s easy to carry, use, and clean.

This grill is shaped like a small cooler, so you can carry everything you need with one hand. There’s room for a one-pound propane bottle inside, and a fold-out rack to keep it stable while you cook. Under the wooden lid that doubles as a cutting board is the non-stick metal skillet. Raised ridges let you create those classic grill lines without the mess.

We love the stow-and-go design of this grill as long as you’re comfortable paying extra for the convenience. It would be nice to have more padding on the handle and latches to hold the lid on, but the overall package is great.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Weight: 20.6 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 154-square-inch skillet
PROS

About as portable and compact as gas grills get

Non-stick coating makes the cast-iron skillet easy to clean

Lid doubles as a cutting board

Base contains secure storage for one propane bottle

CONS

No latches to secure the lid on the go

Handle isn’t very well padded considering the weight

Lid can’t be used during cooking

Best Charcoal Grill for Camping

The Everdure Cube takes all the things that make the Cuisinart CGG-750 great (and a few Cuisinart doesn’t offer) and makes them available in a charcoal-burning grill. It’s even available in five colors.

Packed inside the Cube are a cutting board, food storage tray, easy-to-clean chrome grill grate, and room for a load of charcoal briquettes. It’s a grill and cooking station in one. We love the little touches like cool-touch handles and latches that hold everything together while you’re not cooking. A heat shield keeps temperatures in line so you can use this grill safely on a range of surfaces. The price is pretty convincing, too.

The grate is on the smaller side at 115 square inches, but that’s enough for two people. It’s easy to use, but temperatures are difficult to control with much precision.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Charcoal
  • Weight: 15.4 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 115 square inches
PROS

Looks fantastic and gets the job done

Washable food tray and bamboo cutting board included

Exterior stays cool enough to use on most surfaces

Grill grate is chrome-plated to wipe clean

CONS

Grate space is limited at just 115 square inches

No thermometer or airflow control

Lid cannot be used while cooking

Best Wood-Burning Grill for Camping

Grilling traditionalists swear by the timeless goodness of a wood-fired meal, and we can’t argue with that. Solo Stove combines smokeless fire pits with grilling capability that puts a modern twist on the oldest cooking method.

The Ranger is Solo Stove’s smallest fire pit (not to be confused with their pint-sized camp stoves). It’s great for cooking a meal while you kick back and enjoy a crackling campfire. The stainless steel body’s smokeless design is similar to that used by Breeo, but Solo Stoves are lighter and more portable, so they get the nod for camping use if you ask us.

You’ll need to purchase a grate separately. Solo Stove sells one, but there are cheaper alternatives available.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Wood
  • Weight: 17 pounds
  • Cooking surface: Varies
PROS

Get a fire pit and grill in one

Smokeless design is easy on the eyes

Stainless steel barrel is extremely durable and stone simple

Might be the easiest wood fire you ever light

CONS

Adding a grill grate will cost extra

Burns through wood very quickly

Vertical updraft is great for cooking, not for providing warmth

Best Electric Grill for Camping

Sometimes camping involves days of hiking through remote wilderness. Other times, it involves pulling up to a campsite with electricity and running water. The Weber Q1400 was built for the latter.

This electric grill uses a grounded plug to tap into 120-volt outlets. Instead of running to the store for charcoal, wood, or propane, you can be up and running in no time. Electric heat is also very consistent, so you don’t have to worry about flare-ups that burn burgers or wet wood that doesn’t want to light. The cast-iron grate spreads heat evenly, and a porcelain enamel coating makes it easier to clean.

Drippings are able to land on the heating element, which can get messy. They eventually drain out the bottom, so you’ll need to have some kind of grease trap in place before you start.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Weight: 29 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 189-square-inch grate
PROS

Electric power never needs to be refilled

No smoke except what your food creates

Exterior is built from aluminum

Lid can be closed while cooking to retain more heat

CONS

Not as flavorful as flame-grilling

Not approved for indoor use

Heating element exposed to drippings

Best Infrared Grill for Camping

Infrared grills are an interesting concept. The Char-Broil Grill2Go burns propane like a gas grill, but the flame is not directly exposed to your food. Instead, it’s used to heat a metal heating element under the grate.

This grill tends to cook more evenly than other propane grills because there are no hot and cold spots. Since grease doesn’t drip into an open flame, there’s no risk of flare-ups. Close the lid to retain heat and get the most out of your propane, and keep tabs on the temperature with the built-in thermometer.

The Grill2Go is more complicated than a traditional grill and doesn’t deliver the flavor of flame-grilled food. In that way, it’s a lot like an electric grill. It’s also pretty convenient, so the tradeoff might be worth it.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Propane
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 200-square-inch grate
PROS

Indirect heat is incredibly consistent and reliable

Stainless steel grate is easy to clean

Built-in thermometer helps with temperature control

Handles stay cool when the grill gets hot

CONS

Grate must be seasoned properly for best results

Runs hot; many owners buy a replacement regulator

More complicated than it needs to be

Best Smoker for Camping

Like everyone else these days, we’re fans of Traeger Grills. The Ranger delivers the same wood-fired flavor and versatile temperature range in a portable package that’s just begging for a camping trip.

The Ranger uses electricity to heat wood pellets to the point of combustion. The internal computer automatically adjusts to hold the temperature within five degrees of your setting. Crank it up to 450 degrees to grill or drop it to around 200 degrees and smoke all day for authentic campsite barbeque. The provided meat probe lets you keep an eye on things so your meat is always cooked just right. A grate and skillet are both included.

The quality of the Ranger can’t be denied, but you have to really appreciate it to shell out what it costs to get one. Is it worth it? Ask us after we eat.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Electricity, wood pellets
  • Weight: 60 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 184-square-inch grate
PROS

Unmistakable smokey flavor that can only come from wood

Slow-cook meat all day or use like a normal grill

Includes gate and skillet

Automatic temperature control and timer

CONS

Requires electricity and pellets

One hefty grill at 60 pounds

Expensive due to what we’ll call the Traeger tax

Best Lightweight Camping Grill

The UCO Flatpack was built for campers who pack their gear in, enjoy a flame-cooked meal, and leave no trace. There are no bells or whistles, but it gets the job done and the price is right.

The grill unfolds from a large rectangle to create a fire pit, and holes at either end create enough airflow to keep logs burning. When you’re ready to cook, place the grate over the top and have at it. It’s not fancy, but it’s certainly better than building a fire pit and it saves time over the old-fashioned way.

Being light has its side effects; this grill isn’t meant to be knocked around so you’ll want to take care of it. It also isn’t equipped to withstand the elements. Keeping it clean and dry when you’re not using it will go a long way.

Product Specs
  • Fuel: Wood, charcoal
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Cooking surface: 130-square-inch grate
PROS

Lightest grill here by far

Setup does not get any easier

Burns wood and charcoal

Only 1.5 inches thick when folded

CONS

Takes the no-frills philosophy to the extreme

Not exactly heavy-duty; treat it with care

Susceptible to rust and corrosion

Why you should trust us

The general camping public has divided opinions on how campsite cooking should be done. We get that, and we’ve worked hard to satisfy everyone with a range of options that are objectively awesome. Are you a diehard charcoal fan who cooks every meal like it’s a tailgate party? We’ve got you covered. Do you prefer the clean-burning efficiency of propane and propane accessories? We have options for you, too. We’ve even cooked all summer on a modern take on the classic fire pit, so we know what works and what doesn’t.

Types of camping grills

If you thought buying a grill was as simple as going to the hardware store and picking the right size, you’ve got another thing coming. Besides picking a side in the great Gas vs. Charcoal War, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to transport your grill and how much cleanup you’re willing to do.

Gas grills

Gas grills are all about efficiency. Setting them up is as simple as screwing a bottle onto a hose. They heat up almost instantly, burn at a consistent temperature that’s effortless to control, and don’t make a mess. Propane bottles are also light, compact, and last quite a while, so they’re easy to pack. That’s why the vast majority of ultralight camp stoves use propane canisters. Propane also powers infrared grills via a heating element that separates the fuel from your food.

A dividing line appears when flavor comes into the equation. Propane is (arguably) flavorless, which some people prefer. Others want to have the crispy goodness that can only come from charcoal or wood. Those people aren’t wrong, but you can’t deny the convenience of gas grills.

Charcoal and wood grills

Wood-burning grills are as old-school as it gets. Charcoal is just a more efficient evolution of the same approach. Both are popular because of the flavor they impart in everything they cook. It’s hard to describe and impossible to replicate. For many, it’s simply the only option and it’s the reason people are willing to shell out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to put a smoker on their back porch.

The drawback of wood and charcoal is their relative lack of practicality. Instead of a little propane bottle, you’ll need to lug around wood, kindling, and tinder, or a big bag of dirty briquettes. If looking like Loretta Lynn’s dad doesn’t bother you, the flavor could be worth it. 

Electric grills

The cleanest fuel source is electricity because it doesn’t require any combustion at all. Electric grills are popular for indoor use because they plug right into the wall and are safe to use in confined spaces. They also tend to be easy to clean, with non-stick cooking surfaces that can be wiped off once they’re cool.

The lack of a traditional grill grate makes electric grills good for runny foods like bacon, eggs, and pancakes, but some people feel like some of the magic of grilling is lost as a result. There’s no smoke and a less-satisfying aroma when you use electricity, and the reliance on an electric outlet can be limiting.

Camping grill features to consider

Fuel source

The most important consideration in grill selection is the type of fuel you’ll be using. Electricity is the easiest and most convenient––providing you have an electrical outlet within a few feet of your campsite. Wood and charcoal are famous for their delicious flavor, but they can be a hassle to use. Propane splits the difference in terms of flavor and convenience.

You should also consider how you’ll get the fuel for your grill. Electricity needs to be on-hand, whether it’s from a permanent outlet or a portable source. Propane and charcoal require a stop at the store on your way out of town. Wood is usually available in the wild, but there might be rules about cutting and you may not want to play lumberjack before you can cook.

Portability

Camping grills come in all shapes and sizes. People who camp in RVs and toy haulers can afford to bring a regular-sized home grill everywhere they go. Car camping strikes a nice balance because it accommodates any fuel source and midsized camping grills that offer a great balance between size and portability. Camping by foot is obviously the most limiting.

As size decreases, so does the amount of cooking surface you’ll have to work with. Compact camping grills can generate plenty of heat, but they might require you to cook in batches to feed more than one or two people. Before you pull the trigger on a camping grill of your own, think realistically about how you plan to carry your grill and how many people you’ll be camping with.

Cleanup

Just like cooking at home, using a camping grill requires cleaning up when you’re done. The difference is the friendly neighborhood wildlife that will tear up your camp if you forget. In addition to food scraps, you’ll need to clean your grill and deal with the remnants of whatever fuel source you use.

Electric grills just need to be unplugged and wiped clean. Propane bottles can be detached and set aside for next time, or thrown away if they’re empty. Larger tanks can be refilled. Wood and charcoal make the biggest mess, so you’ll need to have a plan for getting rid of the ashes. Make damn sure they’re cold (and preferably wet) before you throw them away or leave your campsite.

Benefits of camping grills

Eating well

We know why you’re here. The idea of munching on trail mix and jerky can’t compare to the sizzle of meat on the grill or waking up to bacon and eggs. Backpacking may require MRE-style austerity, but any other type of camping can––and should––be more enjoyable than that.

With your grill of choice and a few key accessories, you can cook an absolute feast if you want to. First, get a good cooler to keep meat, dairy, and fermented carbohydrate beverages cold. Then, stock up on tongs, skewers, and a few seasonings. Cast-iron pans are heavy but they’re a great addition to any gas, wood, or charcoal grill (electric grills use solid skillets, so a pan isn’t necessary). 

Protecting the environment

Nobody’s questioning your bushcraft skills, but camping grills are objectively safer than building a traditional campfire. By controlling any fire you create within the confines of a quality grill, you can be a better steward of the natural environment and earn Smokey’s approval.

Gas and electric grills make it pretty hard to start an unintended fire. Just make sure all connections are up to snuff, and you’ll be golden. Charcoal and wood grills require extra care. Store extra fuel away from the hot grill, be mindful of nearby tinder, and dispose of ashes properly. Once you’re done cooking, allow any ashes to cool before removing them and giving them a good soaking.

Saving space

Camping grills are like traditional grills, except they’re much smaller and lighter. You’ll naturally have to give up some surface area on your grill and might not get all the bells and whistles, but the reward of a hot meal is worth it. Pick a grill that’s right for the number of people you usually camp with.

Gas and electric grills save a ton of space by eliminating the need to carry fuel or making it incredibly compact. A battery bank or propane bottle is easy to toss in the car, boat, or RV. Charcoal and wood take up more space, and they aren’t always very clean. You may be able to gather wood around your campsite, but make sure it’s allowed. 

Pricing considerations for camping grills

Less than $100

There’s no shortage of affordable camping grills, and many can be found for less than $100. Lots of the options in this price range are perfectly serviceable and can go a long way in upgrading your campsite.

As you’d expect, opting for an entry-level camping grill typically involves sacrificing a few features. Grills that cost less than $100 are generally pretty small, although some wood-burning options buck the trend––especially folding grills. If you camp by yourself and don’t mind a more rugged experience, there’s no reason you can’t buy one of these budget-friendly grills and have an awesome time on your next outdoor adventure.

Between $100 and $500

This is the sweet spot, friends. Most of our favorite camping grills fall in this price range. Here, you can expect to find grills with high levels of build quality, convenient features, and enough surface area to feed a few guests without eating in shifts. Odds are good that this is where you’ll end up making your purchase.

The biggest challenge of shopping for this type of grill is narrowing down your search. There are so many options here that you need to know what features and characteristics matter to you the most. That’s why we’ve broken down the advantages and disadvantages of each fuel type, size, and degree of cleanup.

More than $500

Premium brands haven’t overlooked the camping grill market, and there are some options that blow right past the $500 mark. As you might guess, manufacturers like Big Green Egg, Traeger, and Kamado Joe have seized on this opportunity. We focused on their more affordable (and portable) options for this gear guide.

Other high-dollar options include fire pits from brands like Solo Stove and Breeo. These premium fire pits stake their claim based on heavy-duty materials, excellent craftsmanship, and smokeless design. They burn wood and require accessory cooking kits to be used as a grill. They aren’t always the most portable, but the experience is hard to beat.

How we chose our top picks

Based on the amount of time we’ve spent using various grills, you could say this article was years in the making. We took that knowledge with us to search the marketplace for the best camping grills you can buy right now. We prioritized function above all else because if you can’t count on a grill to work properly, it doesn’t belong anywhere near this list. The recent boom in demand for camping grills has resulted in a surprising amount of innovation, so we sought out grills that provide creative solutions to old problems. As always, the final cut came down to which ones we’d personally want to fire up at our own campsite.

FAQs on camping grills

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Are camping grills safe?

A: Generally speaking, yes. As long as you use your camping grill correctly, it should be safe.

Q: Can you grill on a camping stove?

A: You can, and you should. It’s delicious.

Q: Is camping gas the same thing as propane?

A: Yes. When you see a camping grill attached to a bottle of some sort, it’s burning propane. Some grills burn natural gas, but they need to be hooked up to an established gas line like the one at your house.

Q: Are camping grills allowed at campsites and dispersed camping areas?

A: You bet they are! Most camping locations actually require some kind of grill or camp stove because they present less of a fire risk. Always check the rules for your campsite before you leave home to make sure you have the appropriate gear.

Our gear section

Scott Murdock is a Task & Purpose commerce writer and Marine Corps veteran. He’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader.

Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Learn more about our product review process.

MORE TO READ