A campfire is a magical experience. Whether the fire is deep in wooded hills along a babbling stream, or just steps from your back door, the warmth and light of a campfire brings people together. Add a campfire grill, and you've turned it into a barbecue. There may be nothing on Earth that ties people together more than the sizzling and swirling smells of meat roasting on an open fire. Cooking this way is primal, deep in all of our ancestral past. Meat searing over a fire was essential to survival because it tied the scattered little bands of people together into a community.
Campfire grills are a useful way to easily cook meals over a fire. In the distant past, our ancestors spit-roasted meat, or cooked it on rocks heated in a fire. Today, we have numerous types of campfire cooking grates that allow even the novice to cook like a caveman safely and with great results.
A great campfire grill is sturdy, durable, and easily portable. Campfire grills come in several styles and offer some different and unique options. We'll share with you some of the features that we think are important, and show you some of the best campfire grills on the market today.
Important Campfire Grill Features You Need to Know About
Campfire grills need to be heavy-duty to handle the high heat of the campfire. This also translates into campfire grills that are heavy and uncomfortable to carry. One of the first things you will need to consider when buying a campfire grill is how you plan to use it.
Some campfire grills are made to be easily portable, so you can carry them on hikes into remote areas far from roads and vehicles. Others are better suited for campfire cooking in your backyard over a fire pit. The way you plan to use the grill is important to consider. Some campfire cooking grates are more portable than others.
What we Looked For in Campfire Cooking Grates
We took into consideration a number of factors when we selected these campfire grills. Most importantly, we looked at sturdy, stable designs. Nothing is worse than setting a beautiful piece of meat onto your grill, only to have a poorly designed campfire cooking grate drop your meal in the fire. We looked for products that had good build quality and design, and also for functionality. We avoided products that had reports of flaking paint, warping, and failing supports or clamps. Then, we found grills we think are the best for a number of different types of campfire cooking.
Most Portable – The Perfect Campfire Grill
The Perfect Campfire Grill (yes, that really is its name) is the most portable we found out there. Weighing in at only 11 lbs, it isn’t a huge burden to pack-in to a remote campsite or take on an extended hunting trip. It includes a carrying bag to ease hauling the grill around.
This is also a very sturdy design. The four-post stands and suspended cooking grate provide plenty of stability. It can handle as much as 150 lbs safely. Spring-loaded adjusters provide up to 30” of height quickly and easily.
- 18”x30” Grilling Surface with Raised Edge
- 150 lb Capacity
- Adjusts to 30”
- Four-Corner Level Adjustment
- Sturdy and lightweight
- Good range of adjustment
- Adjusters can be difficult to manage without help
- Heat-resistant gloves are a must when adjusting the grill while cooking
Best Drive-in Campsite Campfire Grill – Bruntmor Grill Swing
The Bruntmor Grill Swing is a unique and interesting A-frame design. It actually looks like a kids swing set, but with a suspended cooking grate instead of a swing. The Swing does collapse and fold for storage, but you're most likely to use this one at a campsite not far from your vehicle. It’s also a great option for your backyard barbecue pit.
The Swing comes with a variety of hooks and hangers for suspending Dutch ovens or other cookware from the frame. It is sturdy and stable enough to cook a pot of stew on. This grill is really ideal for meals made in a pot over the fire, which is why we chose it for cooking at a campsite where a vehicle is easily accessible.
- Overall Size: 34”x34”
- 11”x16” Cooking Surface
- Cast Iron Grate
- Includes five lengths of hooks and chain for adjusting height of grate
- Attractive and convenient design
- Can support several items at once, including suspended Dutch ovens
- A-Frame is smaller than it looks in pictures
- A-Frame doesn’t feel sturdy
Best for the Park – Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue
One of the most interesting aspects of the Best of Barbeque grill is the uniquely tapered edges which give an impressive sear. This grill is best for your picnic at the park because it is on the small side. It fits nicely on many of the common community barbecues at parks everywhere. The legs are less than 4” tall, so this grill is very compact.
The grill has a professional appearance, and gives absolutely wonderful grill marks thanks to the unique shape of the campfire grill grate. It is constructed of cast iron, so it’ll take the heat. But make sure you should keep it out of the rain to keep it from rusting.
- 14”x14” Cooking Surface
- 3.9” Legs
- Cast Iron Construction
- Nice looking grill
- Tapered grate edges create excellent sear marks
- Legs are too short for use over a campfire
- Smaller cooking surface than other designs
Best Backyard Campfire Grill – Texsport Camping Rotisserie Grill
Somewhere in all of our ancient histories are ancestors who spit-roasted meat over a roaring campfire. The Texsport Rotisserie brings the smell and excitement of spit-roasting right to your backyard barbecue. The unique design allows for grilling, searing, and spit-roasting all on a sturdy, well-designed grill grate.
The Texsport makes our best of the backyard spot because setup does require a little planning. It is essential that the legs are level, and this one is simply not very portable even when collapsed. But get a little wood or charcoal fire going in your yard this summer, throw on rotisserie a chicken or two, you'll never want to cook any other way.
- 16”x24” Cooking Surface
- Stainless Steel Rotisserie
- Swing-Arm Hooks for hanging pots
- Adjustable grill and rotisserie all-in-one
- Durable cooking surface
- Some users received products painted black, while others got powder coated grills
- A little small for larger groups
Best Campfire Grill for Two – Adjust-A-Grill
Some of the best camping, hunting, and fishing trips don’t involve the whole entourage. Those intimate trips with only two people provide some of the best memories. But you really don’t want to lug around a massive grill just for the two of you, either. The Adjust-A-Grill is a great option. It is a simple design that works well and has very few parts. The single stake keeps things simple and allows the grill grate to be swiveled out of the fire.
At only 9 lbs, it is the lightweight of the group. It’s low weight also means the cooking surface is smaller and the capacity isn’t as high. The Adjust-A-Grill really shines for those trips where a small, simple, and adjustable grill is perfect.
- 16”x16” Cooking surface
- 24” Stake
- Height adjustable
- Swivels on the stake
- Lightweight design
- Simple and basic to use
- Stake must be anchored well -can present problems in rocky or sandy soil
- Some users add a length of pipe to facilitate rotating the grill
Best Tailgating Grill – Fire Sense Notebook Grill
Many of us enjoy summer barbecues and camping cook-offs, but what we really hunger for is tailgating at the football game. The Fire Sense Notebook Grill is the perfect thing for popping a couple brats on while tossing the pigskin around in the parking lot before the game. It folds up into an incredibly small package, and the lightweight construction allows it to cool off much faster than a traditional charcoal grill.
The Notebook Grill doubles as a portable campfire – just don’t get too crazy. Its small size and thin steel construction won’t take a blistering hot fire forever. The grill is also a great pool party option for kabobs, toasting marshmallows, and other grilled treats. It’s small size means it won’t hold a lot of fuel or food at once.
- 14”x12” Cooking surface
- Folds to 1” flat
- Steel Construction
- Intended for charcoal only
- Folds flat for easy storage and transport
- Sturdy design
- Great addition to a survival kit
- Adding charcoal can be frustrating while cooking due to folding design
- Can warp when exposed to excessive heat
We created this list to include some of the best barbecue camping grills you can find. The key thing all of these grills have in common is high build quality. All the grill grates we mention have few if any reports of warping, cracking, or failure. They are all made from durable materials and will last many seasons with minimal care.
The key to purchasing the right campfire grill for you is to decide how you intend to use it. If you plan on backpacking trips, hiking, or off-the-beaten-trail expeditions, one of the lighter designs is going to meet your needs well. The heavier products serve better in your yard, at the park, or somewhere that you'll have access to a vehicle (you won't want to lug them all over the place).
Any of the options above makes for a great choice. In fact, you may want to try several of them and see which you prefer. The designs that sit on the ground may be more practical for camping, hunting, and fishing trips where the soil is hard, rocky, or frozen. The grill grates using a stake driven into the ground might be impractical or impossible to use in the wrong conditions.
Cooking over a campfire is an amazing way to bring people together. The smells of roasting meat, the crackling and popping of a fire, and the dancing firelight have a way of uniting us all. Sharing a meal cooked over a communal fire is a tradition carried for generations in many cultures, and is a unique and special experience you should share with your friends and family.
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