Tips for picking a grill for hiking and camping

Grilling and having a barbeque at high spots such as on top of hills is quite a popular activity for those who live in hilly areas. If you have the right kind of hiking grill, you can easily pack it up in your backpack and set off with your friends or family to have a day of fun. 

However, the grill you take with you must not be such that it hampers your hike or your food. Therefore, you need the best grill to make your grilling and hiking experience the best that it can be. There are various grills available on the market, and in this article, the best of those are listed. Furthermore, you will also find all the information you need to make an informed decision on the hiking grill you should buy. 

Types of Grills

Woman cooking meat on a grill.

When you set out to purchase a grill for hiking and camping, you must ensure you know the kind of grill you want. There are many different kinds of grills available on the market, which is why knowing all the types and their pros and cons can help you make the right decision. 

Hikers and campers usually need foldable grills that you can easily repurpose and pack in your bag. Here are a few different kinds of grills that you can choose from.

1. BBQ Grates

BBQ grates are a great way to cook food out in nature. They are extremely easy to use and require a three to four-stone setup inside a campfire spot. The grate is set on top of these rocks, and the campfire underneath is lit. When the grate is hot enough, you can cook your food on top of it.

BBQ grills are cheap and easy to find, but the major downside is that they don’t fold up since they are flat and take up very little space. These grates are usually very cheap and straightforward to use, making them an excellent grill option for backpacking. 

You don’t even need to go out and buy a separate grate. If you own a toaster oven, there is already a metal grate inside it, which you can repurpose and use as a BBQ grate.

2. Wire or Metal Rack / Cooling Rack

The primary purpose of these racks is to serve as a place where you can cool your baked goods. However, due to their design, they can be used for barbequing purposes as well. 

A wire metal or cooling rack is usually made using metal. It has handles, allowing you to place it directly on the fire and make food using it. These cooling racks are incredibly easy to use, as no preparation is needed. Additionally, cooling racks are very flat, meaning you can easily carry them around as they take up next to no space. 

Most wire racks are constructed with mesh wire bound in a complex pattern. This helps ensure that any food item you place on it does not fall through. Their metal construction also makes them non-toxic, allowing you to quickly grill your food on them.

3. Backpacking Stoves

If you are looking for something more advanced, you should check out backpacking stoves. These items are perfect when you want a cooked meal or coffee while camping, and you can use them to make anything without starting a fire. Backpacking stoves come in three different types. 

Stove Type

How They Work

Canister Stove

Canister Stoves are extremely easy to use as they are low maintenance. They are typically screwed onto threaded tops of self-sealing fuel canisters. These canisters usually contain two pre-pressurized gases; isobutane and propane.

Liquid Fuel Stove

Liquid fuel stoves are incredibly versatile as you can connect them to a refillable fuel bottle. This feature also makes them incredibly easy to use. 

Alternative Fuel Stoves

These stoves run on either fuel pellets or wood.

4. Gas vs. Charcoal Grills

man cooking sausage on a grill over fire

Although there are a variety of grill styles available on the market, if you divide them based on what fuels them, they are either gas or charcoal. Each of them has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

When you use a charcoal grill, you will need to light a fire using charcoal. Charcoal is usually available in either lumps or briquettes, and you will need to have a supply of charcoal on hand to use a charcoal grill. One of the biggest benefits of charcoal grills is the flavor it gives to your food. Charcoal smoke infuses your food with an irresistible flavor you cannot get with a gas grill. The flavor is much more prominent with slow-cooked foods like ribs.  

Charcoal grills are also known to burn hotter at first, which allows you to get a good sear on meat. They are also less expensive than gas grills. The drawbacks of using a charcoal grill are that it is messier and the temperature is much harder to control.

Grilling with gas is a lot more convenient. When you use a gas grill, you have knobs to fiddle with to change the heat. There are also multiple burners on gas grills that allow you to create different temperature zones. You can also grill whenever you want and not worry about starting up a fire. The downside to getting a gas grill is that they are generally more expensive than charcoal grills and do not give as intense of a smoky flavor. Additionally, they don’t get as hot as a charcoal grill.

What To Consider When Purchasing a Grill for Hiking and Camping

Man cooking food over an open fire in a camping site.

When purchasing outdoor camping equipment, a grill is an essential if you want good food. Since there are many different grills available on the market, focusing on a few key factors will make selecting the best grill easier. Here are a few considerations that you should keep in mind. 

1. The Material

The material that your camping cookware is made of is of extreme importance because it determines how sturdy it will be. Although some grills claim to be portable and travel-friendly, they are made using flimsy material, which breaks easily. Most grills are made using stainless steel, titanium, or cast iron.

Stainless steel grills are durable and easy to clean. They are also easy to maintain as they are rust-resistant. Since this material is non-toxic, you can cook your food on it and take it with you when you go backpacking.

Titanium BBQ grills are much more expensive than stainless steel grills, so they are less common, but they are highly durable and can withstand wear and tear. These grills are also lightweight, making them perfect for camping and hiking. 

Cast iron is another popular material used to cook food, but these grills are much heavier than other materials. Still, they are also durable, making them the perfect choice for when you go camping. 

2. Legs / Stand

There are two types of grills available, with and without stands. Grills with stands are much heavier than those without, but they provide a stable base for the grill when the area is rocky and unstable. Legs or stands on grills also make them easy to use. If you want to purchase a grill with legs, ensure that they are foldable so you can store them in your backpack without them taking up a lot of space. 

As they are moving points, they become a weak point of the grill, which can be damaged if it is dropped. To avoid such an issue, ensure that the legs of the grill are sturdy.

On the other hand, grills that don’t have legs are much more durable as they do not have a weak point. They can be a bit of work to stabilize, but they occupy less space in your backpack which can be crucial if you carry many items. 

3. Grilling Surface Area

Another important consideration when purchasing a grill is the grilling surface area. If you tend to go alone, then the surface area won’t matter to you much. On the other hand, if you go in a group, you would want to ensure that the grill is large enough to accommodate a lot of food.

Ensure that you purchase a grill with a large enough grilling surface area, or you will have to cook your food in batches. Not only will this take longer, but you won’t be able to enjoy food with your friends as you will be busy grilling.

Most portable grills have 120 to 350 square-inch of cooking area, which you can use to grill your food. If you are traveling with other people, ensure that your grill is at least 100 to 150 inches so that at least two people can cook simultaneously. 

4. Wind Resistance

Wind resistance is an essential factor when choosing a camping grill. Since mountains and hills tend to be windy, ensure you purchase a grill that comes with a burn cover. They allow optimal wind resistance, preventing your flame from going out. You can also look for grills with burners that are not very exposed.

Some grills come with well-designed lids, which help protect the flame against winds, while others come with wind walls or ventilation ports. Depending on where you will be using your grill, choose a grill with sufficient wind resistance. 

5. Weight

The weight of the grill you purchase is extremely important. When you go hiking or camping, you already carry a lot of stuff. If your grill is too heavy, it will make your load even more challenging. Experts suggest that your grilling system should be at most 2 pounds. In such cases, a BBQ grate or a cooling rack is the lightest, and they also occupy the least amount of space. 

The weight of the grill also plays a significant role in how heavy it is. Cast iron grills are generally heavier. If you want a lightweight grill, you should opt for titanium or stainless-steel grills. 

If you do not intend to hike a lot and want good quality food, you can opt for a heavier grill. Additionally, some kinds of grills use charcoal and gas, which can add to the weight you are already carrying. Therefore, assess how much weight you can carry before purchasing a grill. 

6. Design

The design of the grill you purchase is essential because it determines how easy it will be to use and take with you. The design of a BBQ grill includes the cooking area, legs, the design of the grill, and more. Ensure you choose a grill that is well-designed and sturdy. A good grill will be portable and allow you to set up your grill wherever you want. 

7. Price

Due to the different kinds and sizes of grills available, they can be very cheap and very expensive. If you are looking for an affordable grill, consider buying stainless steel wire racks. On the other hand, if you want something more durable and have the budget to splurge, you can opt for titanium grills.

Gas grills are the most expensive kinds of grills you can purchase because they come with many different perks. On such grills, you can control the temperature, cover the cooking surface with a burn cover, and more. They are also extremely easy to use.

8. Accessories

Some grills also come with extra accessories that make grilling food much easier when camping or hiking. These accessories include side shelves and a chimney. A side shelf can be connected to your grill and expand the space you have to cook. A chimney is an invaluable accessory when you want to light your charcoal fire. It is a metal cylinder with a handle that you can fill with charcoal and scrunched-up paper. 

9. Grilling Safety

A man using tongs to cook meat at a camping site.

Grilling involves fire, which is why you should be extremely careful when you are grilling. If you are using a gas grill, ensure that you turn off the gas when it is not being used because propane gas is explosive. You should also always use a food thermometer to ensure all your food is cooked to a safe temperature to avoid getting sick. When cooking using a grill, you should also ensure that you are not cross contaminating any food. It is easy for germs from uncooked chicken to seep into your vegetables if they are cooked together. To avoid this, you should cook them separately. 

FAQs

1. What kind of grill should a beginner buy?

If you are a beginner, you should opt for a gas grill because they are beginner friendly. They allow you to light your grill instantly and turn your flame up and down as you please. 

2. What kind of grill is best for steaks?

If you are looking for a grill that will allow you to cook steaks, you should choose a charcoal or wood-fired grill. These are an excellent choice for steak as they will enable you to add flavor and charring. With a charcoal grill, you can also change the kind of wood to increase or decrease smokiness and flavor. 

3. Is it better to grill fast or slow?

Cooking fast or slow depends on the kind of food you are cooking. If you plan to cook thinner meat cuts, you should cook them on high heat for the best results. Suppose you cook thin-cut meat using any slow-cook method. In that case, you will likely overcook the meat, causing it to become chewy and rubbery. 

Conclusion

Hiking grills are the perfect solution when you want to have a meal out in the open air but do not want to bring large and heavy equipment. All of the grills listed above are portable and can easily fit into your backpack. Thus, you can carry them around with you wherever you go and not feel burdened.