The best portable barbecues for camping
Nothing says summer like a barbecue, whether you are outside your tent on the campsite or at home in the back garden.
For camping in the summertime, a portable barbecue is an essential piece of kit. If it can’t fit into the back of the car without taking up too much space, then we are not interested.
The models we have looked at are a good mix of gas and charcoal barbecues, and the type you go for will come down to personal preference.
There are pros and cons for each in terms of flavour, effectiveness for cooking and ease of keeping clean.
Gas is by far the easiest and most practical way of barbecuing but if the authentic smoky flavour is important, then go for a charcoal option.
Before we look at the different models, here are some important tips
- Barbecuing can be a great opportunity for family and friends to gather round and enjoy a meal and more… but do spare a thought for your neighbours. Not everyone appreciates the smoke
- Always check your chosen campsite is OK with barbecues and the particular type you intend to bring along. Some operators are wary of fire pit-type designs that end up being used for keeping people warm rather than cooking
- Keep an antibacterial hand cleanser or a bowl of water and supply of towels (paper or otherwise) handy when outdoor cooking so you can wash your hands after handling raw meat
- A small plant sprayer filled with water can be used to prevent a barbecue getting too hot
- Never spray lighting fuel on warm coals to revive the barbecue
- Never be tempted to drag a barbecue into your tent for warmth, post-cooking. The carbon monoxide gas that is generated by smouldering coals is a killer
- It’s always worth considering a fire extinguisher and/or blanket to accompany your first aid kit
- Keep your barbecue off the grass to prevent it from scorching
- Make sure your barbecue is stable at the start of your preparations
# Portable barbecues put to the test
Barbecue enthusiasts Patrick Cruywagen and Iain Duff have looked at a selection of portable barbecues that are worth considering for your camping trips. See what they think of each one…
WEBER GO-ANYWHERE GAS
This is the ultimate in portable barbecues; for this review we have included the gas version but please do note that it is also available in a charcoal version.
I think my own Weber Go-Anywhere gas barbecue has probably cooked more than 1,000 lamb chops in the five years I have owned it. It has seen action in Scotland, France, Wales and all over England.
Weber is the Range Rover of the barbecue trade: they don’t come cheap, but they do last and do the job with style. I have at least five friends who have purchased one of these after seeing it in action.
Mine has taken a pounding, fallen out of the back of the Land Rover, been dropped by my son and I once left it outside in the rain. Yes, there is a small chip on the lid but otherwise it looks and does the job just like a new one.
I religiously clean the whole barbecue after each use, this includes scrubbing the porcelain-enamelled steel cooking grate. I like how the steel legs fold over the lid to secure it all so you can carry the whole thing with one hand by using the black handle.
Very quick and easy to set up, just screw on a gas canister and push the red button to fire it up and you are good to grill. Don’t forget to pack the gas.
COOKING AREA 41cm x 22cm
For more useful information about cooking with gas on the campsite watch our video
CADAC SAFARI CHEF 2
Cadac is a South African brand and institution. When I was growing up in South Africa, every family had a Cadac Skottel Braai (braai is slang for barbecue). My dad and uncles would do us great big fry-ups for breakfast on it, normally followed by a swim in the pool.
Now I’m going back to my roots with the low-pressure, gas-powered Safari Chef 2, easily the most versatile barbecue in our line-up. The Safari Chef 2 is my new favourite; it offers so much more than a traditional barbecue.
For starters it has four different cooking surfaces. Boil a kettle on the pot stand, the lid can be used as a pot or wok, and the flat grill plate is great for bacon and eggs. Finally, it has a separate barbecue grid, of course. The grid has a special ceramic coating for healthier and cleaner cooking.
Then there is a removeable fat pan, which makes cleaning a breeze. They’ve thought of everything. It does come from the land of the braai, after all. The legs fold in and everything fits into a small carry bag that doesn’t take up much space.
This is without a doubt the best all-round portable barbecue on the planet. I even checked if it fits into my hiking backpack – and it does.
COOKING AREA 28cm diameter
OUTWELL ASADO GAS GRILL
The Outwell Asado has a very similar style and look to the Weber Go-Anywhere gas barbecue, but the big clincher is that it costs a third of the price. It arrived flatpacked and it took me about 10 minutes to fully assemble this chrome-plated steel barbecue.
I must say that I do like its dull grey colour. I’ve only been using the Asado for a few weeks now as a part of this group test and in that time it has impressed me no end. It’s light, easy to use, cleaning it is a breeze and it is more than capable of doing what it is supposed to.
The only thing I cannot comment on is how durable it is as I have not had it for long enough. It certainly does not look or feel as sturdy as some of the other portable barbecues in our line-up.
This was also the first time that I used lava rocks in a portable gas barbecue and according to the brochure they ‘hold and reflect the heat and help to give your food that grill flavour.’ The jury is still out on the bit about the flavour as it tasted the same as the meat I did on other barbecues.
Overall, this is definitely very good value for money.
COOKING AREA 41cm x 26cm
If you want to impress your guests with looks then this is the barbecue to go for. I have posted pics and videos of the Landycue in action and they have gone viral. The green heatproof paint of this beauty was the clincher for me as it matches my own Land Rover Defender.
To get started, insert the legs into their slots or, instead, don’t use them and put the Landycue on a raised, flat and safe surface. I like the fact that it has a little coal tray, which can be removed and emptied, just like the load area of a pick-up truck.
So, the body of the Landycue remains unaffected by the heat and coals.
The one big negative is the size of the grill, you can only fit about 12 pork sausages on it. Cleaning the little grill does not take long and is easy to do.
After several uses, the paint on the coal tray does start to flake, just like on a real Defender.
COOKING AREA 43cm x 18cm
THE MEDIUM FIREPIT SET
If space and time were not an issue then this would be my go-to option every day of the week.
This is for the traditionalist, the one who likes to do things properly and with lots of style, space and time. This is not just a wood or charcoal barbecue, the 50cm-diameter grill can be removed and placed to one side, then you’re free to use it as a firepit only, which attaches to each of the tripod legs. The tripod legs are 150cm long and made from 12mm solid round mild steel.
So they are pretty sturdy. It takes a few goes to perfect the pegging of the tripod legs into the ground so that the solid grill, which is attached to the adjustable hook via three chains, hangs exactly where you want it to.
The trammel hook is great as you use it to adjust the grill height. Many campsites don’t like open fires on the ground, which is why this barbecue is such a great option. It’s off the ground and you can use charcoal instead of wood.
Then, because the grilling area is so big, I often use half of it to cook on while I have a wood fire underneath the other half. The one thing I am planning to do is to have a canvas bag made for the grill and fire pit as they can tend to get a wee bit dirty.
COOKING AREA 50cm diameter
CAMPINGAZ ATTITUDE 2GO CV
Of all the conventional barbecues we’ve looked at here, this is the least portable. It tips the scales at 13kg, so, if size and weight are critical, you might want to look at one of the smaller Campingaz Party Grill models.
But, if you have the space in your car we’d highly recommend this for camping trips. In fact, it’s already been named as the cooking product of the year for 2021 in the Camping magazine awards.
It has the biggest cooking area of all the barbecues we looked at, the gas burners are easy to control and it runs off a compact Campingaz CV470 Plus cartridge, so there’s no need to pack a bulky bottle and none of the hassle of a traditional barbecue.
One of the neat features we really like is the integrated basket which houses the gas cartridge at the back.
Although this barbecue looks like a serious piece of kit, it’s actually really easy to use. You can literally take it out of its box, attach a gas cartridge and start cooking straight away at the press of a button.
The set-up of the burners ensures the whole cooking area gets an even heat so you can maximise that grilling surface – it’ll easily cook five or six pork chops or eight chicken thighs in one go. And the built-in thermometer lets you check the temperature without lifting the lid.
COOKING AREA 48cm x 26cm
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