Grilling and camping go together like Oreo’s and milk, one isn’t quite perfect without the other.
Whether I am taking my family out on an RV camping trip, soloing through the BWCA, or doing a small trip with friends, some sort of grilling always takes place and it is a big part of my camping experience.
However, when it comes time to purchase your portable camping grill, the options are overwhelming to say the least, not to mention, what type of camping grill are you going to need? Gas, charcoal, lightweight, small grills or a large family sized grill?
I am going to give you some help with this dilemma today by explaining the major differences between different types of grills, what grills work best in different situations and even our recommendations as to what grills are the best bang for your buck.
Before we dive into portable grilling, I wanted to go over the difference between a camping grill and a camping stove. Often these two terms are used interchangeably but they shouldn’t be.
Both grills and stoves can use gas, charcoal or any other fuel source, the difference is how the heat source contacts your food. On a grill, the flame will come into direct contact with your food while a stove uses a pot or pan to transfer the heat from the flame to food.
Make sure to check out our Guide To Camping Stoves when you’re done here!
What Makes A Grill Portable and Good For Camping
A good portable grill needs to be able to pack into a compact space, be as lightweight as possible and yet be able to cook appropriately for your party.
No matter what type of camping you plan on doing, car camping, state parks or lightweight backpacking, size is always going to be a factor. When I am out car camping with my family (I have 5 kids by the way), I can pack far more than I can on a backpacking trip, however, size and space are still a big concern of mine.
I have some great camping grills at home that I almost never use because they are just too big. The only time I get them out is if we are loading up the camper, which allows me to pack an insane amount of stuff.
Large Grilling Surface
The smallest and lightest grill isn’t worth a lick if you can only cook for one at a time but you have 7 people you need to feed (like my family). Your grill still needs to be able to handle cooking for the required amount of campers.
As you can guess, different types of camping and different numbers of campers will ultimately decide what is the best portable grill for you.
Different Types of Portable Grills
When grilling there are 3 main types of grills, gas grill, propane grills and charcoal grills.
When we are referring to portable camping grills, there are really only two categories, propane, and charcoal.
You will, however, hear people often refer to gas and propane grills as the same thing. The difference is that typically gas refers to natural gas and not propane. Most “gas” grills are typically propane. Natural gas is not convenient and portable like propane and therefore is not an option for portable grilling.