The weather is getting nicer and you are probably thinking about hitting the trails to go hiking soon!
If you are interested in backpacking, you need to have all of the materials to help you survive in the wild for a few days, and that includes backpacking grills.
Now before you go to your local outdoor gear store to pick up the first grill you see, there are some things you’ll want to know in order to pick out the perfect backpacking grill or stove for your next adventure.
Read through this guide to learn everything that you know about the best backpacking grills, so you can find the one that is right for you. Don’t miss our top recommendations in this post as well!
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What Exactly Is a Backpacking Grill?
A backpacking grill is a type of small, portable grill that you take with you when you go camping or backpacking to cook food on it.
You can usually cook directly on the grill or you can use it as a platform to support pots and pans that you cook food or boil water in.
Finding a lightweight barbecue grill for backpacking can be rather tricky because there are so many types out there.
There are lots of factors that you’ll need to take into consideration such as what you’ll be cooking, how many nights you’re going to be on your camping trip, as well as what kind of weather you’re going to encounter.
Let’s start with breaking down a few types of common backpacking grills first.
Types of Backpacking Grills In The Market
In general, there are two basic types of grills that you can buy for at-home grills. These are propane grills and charcoal grills.
Backpacking grills are different because they generally do not use either of these materials.
Backpacking grills generally burn wood and usually rely on backpackers being able to find wood to burn as fuel along the trails that they are hiking. These are considered wood stoves.
Another common material that is used as fuel in backpacking grills is isobutane. These grills are controversial within the backpacking community and whether someone recommends isobutane grills really depends on who you are talking to.
Many backpackers feel that these are easier to use than wood-burning grills, but some backpackers also refuse to use any sort of grill that burns gas for fuel.
If you are getting ready to go backpacking, investing in a good quality backpacking grill that meets your needs will be one of the most important things that you can do to prepare.
Here are a few common styles of backpacking grills.
BBQ Grill Grate
One of the simplest backpacking grills that you can use is to just use a metal grate that you already have somewhere at home. This is often one of the best options if you’re in need of something in a pinch or in a hurry.
You can take this from a toaster oven, the grill in your backyard, or you can purchase a fresh new grill grate from somewhere that is small and portable enough for you to take with you when you go backpacking.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to fold a grate that you are using as a backpacking grill, but these usually take up a very small amount of space because they are small and flat.
So how do you put this thing in action? You can set the grate on some rocks and start a fire underneath to turn it into a really simple grill!
You can either place food directly on the grill to cook it, or you can use it to cook food in pans that you set on top of the grill.
A similar option to the BBQ grate is to obtain a metal cooling rack with handles.
In a similar manner, you can place this directly over the fire to cook your food. These cooling racks are typically made of stainless steel and are a convenient way to make a makeshift backpacking grill.
Cookie cooling racks are perfect for this.
Backpacking Wood Stove
Another common type of backpacking grill is a grill that is set over a small portable wood stove.
These are usually more expensive, heavier, and bulkier than simple grills, but there is an advantage in the quality of them.
Features Of A Good Backpacking Grill
It is important to know what features make a good backpacking grill. These features include stability, affordability, quality, weight, and size.
The best portable grill will really depend on your camping and backpacking needs.
Stainless Steel Magnetic Or Not?
There are different types of stainless steel. Some types of stainless steel are magnetic, some aren’t.
Having a backpacking grill that is made out of magnetic stainless steel can make it easier to transport the grill when you are hiking.
There are backpacking grills that have legs and backpacking grills that do not have legs. There is an advantage to buying backpacking grills that have legs attached.
This is because these backpacking grills are easier to use and they are also a little bit more stable than the backpacking grills that do not have legs.
On the flip side, however, backpacking grills that do not have legs also have an advantage to them. These backpacking grills are lighter and easier to carry because there is not the extra weight and space of the grill’s legs.
Instead of using legs, backpacking grills are usually stabilized using items such as rocks to circle around the fire. One advantage to this is that it is cheaper, harder to damage the grill, and saves space and weight in your bag.
A disadvantage to using grills without legs is that it takes more work to find the materials at your campsite to stabilize the grill.
If you’re traveling with larger groups that can help with finding natural materials in the wild, getting this type of grill set up may not be an issue!
Another important factor that you need to consider when you are looking for a new backpacking grill is how much the backpacking grill weighs.
You should always look for the most lightweight backpacking grill possible because this will be much easier for you to carry and use while you are hiking.
Another advantage to using a backpacking grill over a backpacking stove is that backpacking grills are much easier to carry around when you are backpacking.
This is because backpacking stoves are usually heavier, and they require you to carry around other materials that go with them.
These other materials include things like fuel and sometimes specialized cleaning products. Experts normally recommend that your entire cooking system should weigh less than 2 pounds.
It is much easier to achieve this with a backpacking or foldable grill than it is with a backpacking stove.
Another important factor for you to consider when you are looking at the best backpacking grills for you to purchase is the amount of physical space that each backpacking grill will take up in your pack.
Another one of the enormous advantages that backpacking grills have over backpacking stoves is that backpacking grills usually take up significantly less space in your pack than backpacking stoves do.
Unfortunately, the more efficient and lightweight a backpacking stove or grill is, the more expensive it also usually is.
The price is going to be one of the most important factors of considering what is the best backpacking grill for you to use.
The amount of money that you have available in your budget to spend is likely what will be the determining factor in which backpacking grill is the best one for you to purchase.
It is a good idea to find a happy medium ground between quality and affordability. If you are looking for something quick and dirty that you only need to use once, you may be able to get away with something less expensive.
However, it is generally a good idea to invest in a quality product that will last a long time for you.
Choosing The Material Of Your Backpacking Grill
There are a lot of options that you have for materials for a backpacking grill, and you need to carefully consider which one is best for you.
Stainless steel is often seen as one of the best materials that are available for professionally made grills.
If you are making your own grill yourself, there are more options that you can consider.
Many people recommend materials such as aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel, and titanium when it comes to creating your own makeshift grill.
These materials are preferred because they are safe, durable, and easier to clean than other materials.
Stainless steel is a popular material to use when making backpacking grills because it is strong, durable, resistant to rust, non-toxic, and it is easy to clean.
Titanium is significantly more expensive than stainless steel is. This is why titanium is less popular to use as a material for making backpacking stoves than stainless steel is.
However, because of the higher quality of the materials, a lot of deluxe backpacking grills are made out of titanium.
Cast iron is a quality material that is used in a lot of cooking products, but backpacking grills are not normally one of them. Cast iron is a great material for cookware usually, but because cast iron is so heavy it is typically not used when making backpacking grills.
Cast iron is much more commonly used when making grills for car camping and home-cooking products.
Depending on your budget, we recommend going with stainless steel or titanium.
9 Best Backpacking Grills And Backpacking Stoves
Now that you are familiar with the qualities that make up a good backpacking grill, it is time for you to look at some of the popular options for backpacking grills and determine which one is best for you and your needs.
1. Expedition Research LLC The Original Bushcraft Grill
Best for: backpackers looking for a very sturdy yet compact option
This is one of the simplest backpacking grills available, but don’t let its simplicity fool you! People love, love, love just that about The Original Bushcraft Grill!
This is essentially just a very well-made grate that you put over a fire. The Bushcraft Grill has thick edge-to-edge welding, which creates a strong cooking space, unlike other grills that sag due to size and construction.
All you have to do with this grate is balance it over logs, rocks, or other material that will keep it stable.
It also comes with a simple storage bag that makes it easy to carry into the wild with you.
- Weight: 4 oz / 0.25 pounds
- Material: Welded Stainless Steel
- Dimensions: 9.5” x 5” inches
- Legs: No
2. Wolf and Grizzly Grill M1 Edition Kit
Best for: backpackers looking for the most grill versatility
This is one of the best backpacking grills available in terms of versatility.
Why? Because the Wolf and Grizzly Grill does not just fold up as most backpacking grills do, it also rolls up!
You can also adjust the height of this grill with its legs (from 8 inches to 6 inches to stay flat mode), meaning this open fire grill is ready to accommodate any fuel source whether it be wood or charcoal.
It is also a surprisingly strong backpacking grill because it can hold up to thirty pounds of food as well as your pots and pans.
Unfortunately, one downside to the Wolf and Grizzly Grill M1 Edition Kit is that because it is made entirely out of stainless steel, it is also quite a bit heavier than some of the other backpacking grill options that are available out there.
The advantage of that is that it can withstand high temperatures and heat, and you’ll get 120 square inches of wide-open cooking area.
- Weight: 35 oz / 2.2 pounds
- Material: Stainless steel
- Dimensions: 11.02 x 8 inches
- Legs: Yes
3. BioLite CampStove 2+
Best for: Camping; backpackers looking for a multipurpose tool
This is one of the best backpacking grills because it is not just a grill, it is also an electronic device!
The BioLite CampStove 2+ backpacking grill doubles as a small generator for electricity, which means that you can use it to charge your electronic devices while you use it to cook your food.
In addition to its electrical generating capabilities, it is also still one of the most efficient ways to cook food and boil water when you are out in the woods, making it one of the best camping grills on this list.
Another plus is that its thermoelectric combustion technology creates a vortex of smokeless flames–no more endless smoke in your eyes and lungs!
The CampStove 2+ version specifically has upgrades that include 50% more power output than the original CampStove, an integrated 3,200 mAh battery and LED dashboard, and improved control and feedback.
The BioLite CampStove 2+ does come with a heftier price tag, but with all that added convenience (and all those great customer ratings), it could be very well worth the extra dollars spent.
- Weight: 34 oz / 2.1 pounds
- Material: Stainless steel
- Dimensions: 5 x 8.25 inches packed stove
- Legs: Yes
4. Coghlans Folding Pack Grill
Best for: budget backpackers looking for a trusted, well-rated grill
The Coghlans Folding Pack Grill is one of the best backpacking grills available to people who are working on a limited budget.
In a nutshell, this is a grill with small, foldable legs. This means that you can easily place it over a small fire pit to cook your meals.
One of the reasons why this backpacking grill is so lightweight is because it has bars that only go in one direction. Some other backpacking grills have a mesh screen that adds weight to the grill.
The downside to this is that it does become harder for you to grill some of the foods and sausages that you might bring with you out on the trail.
Again, Coghlan is not really a company known for the greatest quality, but if you’re looking for average quality at rock bottom prices, this could be the grill for you!
- Weight: 12 oz
- Material: Chrome-plated Steel
- Dimensions: 12.5″ x 6.5″
- Legs: Yes
5. Unigear Foldable Backpacking Camping Stove
Best for: grilling in wet conditions
This is another one of the best backpacking grills that you can take with you when you go hiking, camping, or backpacking.
Now unlike the two grate-style grills above, the Unigear Foldable Backpacking Stove can be folded up like a book, and comes complete with a carrying bag for your convenience.
You can use either wood or charcoal to cook with this grill. You can use small materials such as leaves, twigs, and even grass as fuel with this lightweight backpacking grill, even if you can’t find heavier sticks to use.
This grill is more expensive than some of the other options for backpacking grills on this list, but it is an investment in quality that will last you for a long time if you properly maintain it.
It has a lot going for it, such as its stainless steel material, (which means that it will not rust) as well as its foldable feature, meaning ease of storage and transport.
While it is great for starting a fire in windy/wet conditions, it is one of the heavier options on this list, weighing in at 35 ounces.
- Weight: 35 oz / 2.2 pounds
- Material: Stainless steel
- Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 7.1 inches
- Legs: Yes
6. FlyGrill Ultralight Backpacking Grill
Best for: solo backpackers
The FlyGrill Ultralight Backpacking Grill is one of the best backpacking grills available for people who often go on solo backpacking trips.
This backpacking grill is made with a titanium frame (high-quality) and it has wires that are made out of nickel-chromium. These features are exactly what make this grill very lightweight and convenient.
Additionally, this backpacking grill comes with a board that you can use to hold your food and start the fire. This board is made out of thin plastic, so it should not be used with a sharp knife.
The FlyGrill Ultralight Backpacking Grill is also easy to pack because of its compact, long, and foldable design.
It is perfect for single-person use and can easily accommodate a mug, a full steak, a whole fish for grilling, and other delicious meals.
There is no storage bag that comes with this backpacking grill, so you’ll have to find your own way to keep it protected in your bag.
All in all, the FlyGrill has some really good engineering, which warrants the higher price tag!
This is our top pick for solo backpackers looking for a small grill that will last them a lifetime.
- Weight: 1.3 oz grill / 2 oz grill + cutting board
- Material: Titanium frame
- Dimensions: 11″ x 4″ inches
- Legs: No
7. UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill Mini
Best for: winter camping and backpacking
This is a great backpacking grill with a very unique V shape compared to others on this list. A few benefits include the fact that it is small, lightweight, compact, and made of stainless steel.
The V-shape of the UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill efficiently distributes heat efficiently while also cutting the impact of wind when cooking in windy conditions.
The grill can also double as a fire pit in case an actual fire pit is not easily accessible. This makes it a great option for winter camping and backpacking.
It comes in two sizes (the regular and the mini) and both are very good for backpacking. The regular size is great for larger groups and can serve 4-5 people while the mini is better for serving 2 people.
Despite these grills being slightly heavier than their competition, they are still great grills that perform great in colder conditions.
- Weight: 32 oz / 2 pounds (mini)
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Dimensions: 9.5” x 5” inches (mini)
- Legs: Yes
8. kampMATE WoodFlame Camping Stove
Best for: budget backpackers who want a compact grill with legs
The kampMATE WoodFlame Camping Stove is another practical and convenient folding backpacking grill available on the market today.
This stainless steel grill is designed to shield flames and function well for you even in the harshest outdoor conditions. The wide-open mouth design makes it easy to add more wood to keep the fire going.
It’s extremely easy to assemble, and the crossbar provides a stable surface for your cookware. It’s also great for backpacking as it folds down to the size of your hand and easily fits into a backpack pocket.
Like the previous backpacking grills listed, you can simply use wood, twigs, leaves, or branches as a fuel source while hiking or camping. This allows you access to unlimited fuel while also saving valuable space in your backpack.
A nice bonus with this stove is that you can make a nicely sized fire that is very well contained, yet still projects good heat. Having a fire is an amazing morale booster on cold, wet or frigid days out in the wild!
- Weight: 17 oz / 1.1 pounds
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Dimensions: 0.2 x 7.5 x 6 inches
- Legs: Yes
9. Vargo Titanium Hexagon Backpacking Wood Stove
Best for: ultralight backpackers
Remember how we said titanium stoves are probably the highest quality stoves on the market? The Vargo Titanium Hexagon Backpacking Wood Stove is the epitome of a great, lightweight backpacking wood stove.
Its lightweight titanium design weighs in only at 4.1 ounces, making it one of the best lightweight camping stoves out there.
Shave even more weight off your load by leaving the fuel at home! With the Vargo Titanium Hexagon backpacking wood stove, you can use sticks and twigs to cook your meals.
The Vargo stove folds flat for compact storage in your backpack–to use, simply unfold the hinged panels and snap the stove together when you’re ready to cook. Ultralight backpackers are also huge fans of their conical shape too, as it efficiently focuses heat upward for optimal cooking.
Weight: 4.1 ounces
Material: Titanium, Synthetic
Dimensions: 6.3 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches
Backpacking is one of the most exciting ways to explore the outdoors, but it does mean that you have to account for cooking your food in the wild. We hope that this guide has removed the confusion of which type of backpacking stove to go with.
We really hope that we have helped you find the perfect backpacking grill for your specific needs! Hope your next backpacking trip is that much better with your new grill choice!