5 best charcoal grills for camping

Charcoal Camping Grills: Your Ultimate Buying Guide

by Emily Wychwood

Are you a camping enthusiast seeking the perfect grilling experience amidst the picturesque beauty of the great outdoors? Look no further! In this comprehensive buying guide, we will delve into the world of charcoal camping grills, exploring their benefits, features, and answering common user questions. So grab a cup of your favorite brew, sit back, and let’s embark on this exciting journey together!

Why Choose a Charcoal Camping Grill?

When it comes to cooking delicious meals during your camping adventures, a charcoal camping grill can be your best companion. The smoky flavor infused into your favorite dishes, the crackling sound of the burning charcoal, and the warmth it brings to your campsite create an unforgettable culinary experience.

But what sets charcoal grills apart from other options? Well, besides the mouthwatering taste they deliver, charcoal grills offer excellent heat control, making them ideal for searing steaks, grilling burgers, and even slow-cooking tender ribs. Their compact and portable design ensures they fit snugly into your camping gear, allowing you to take them on any outdoor escapade.

Choosing the Best Charcoal for Camping

To ensure the utmost flavor and performance, selecting the right charcoal for your camping grill is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Charcoal Type: There are two primary types of charcoal: briquettes and lump charcoal. Briquettes, made from compressed charcoal and other ingredients, provide consistent heat and burn longer. Lump charcoal, on the other hand, is pure charred wood and offers a more natural, smoky flavor.
  2. Burn Time: For extended camping trips, opt for charcoal with a longer burn time. This will reduce the need for frequent refueling, allowing you to focus on enjoying your camping experience.
  3. Ease of Ignition: Look for charcoal that ignites easily and quickly. Some brands offer charcoal infused with lighter fluid, which can be particularly convenient for hassle-free lighting.
  4. Environmental Considerations: As a nature lover, it’s essential to choose charcoal produced sustainably. Look for brands that prioritize responsible sourcing and have certifications such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Carbon Monoxide Awareness

When using a charcoal grill, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with carbon monoxide (CO) gas. Charcoal grills emit CO, which is an odorless and colorless gas that can be harmful or even fatal if inhaled in high concentrations. To prevent CO buildup, always use a charcoal grill outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Never use a charcoal grill in enclosed spaces such as tents, garages, or indoors, as this can lead to the accumulation of dangerous levels of CO. Make sure there is proper airflow around the grill to allow the gas to dissipate. Being mindful of CO risks will help ensure a safe grilling experience for everyone involved.

Exploring the Top 5 Best Camping Charcoal Grills

1. Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

I had the pleasure of testing out the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill, and I must say, it truly lives up to its name. This compact and portable grill is designed to accompany you on all your outdoor adventures, delivering the authentic charcoal grilling experience wherever you go. Here’s a detailed review of this remarkable grill:

Dimensions and Weight:

The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill boasts a compact size that makes it easy to transport and store. Here are its dimensions and weight:

  • Dimensions (lid closed): 14.5 inches (height) x 21 inches (width) x 12.25 inches (depth)
  • Cooking Area: 160 square inches
  • Weight: Approximately 14.5 pounds


  1. Portability: The standout feature of this grill is its exceptional portability. Its compact size and lightweight design make it effortless to carry and fit into your camping gear.
  2. Durable Construction: Crafted by Weber, a renowned brand known for its quality products, the Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is built to last. The sturdy construction ensures longevity and reliability.
  3. Authentic Charcoal Flavor: This grill excels in delivering that unmistakable smoky flavor. The charcoal grates and ventilation system allow for precise heat control, ensuring mouthwatering results every time.
  4. Easy Setup: Setting up the Weber Go-Anywhere Grill is a breeze. It features sturdy legs that pivot and lock into place, providing a stable cooking surface even on uneven terrain.
  5. Affordable: With its reasonable price point, this grill offers excellent value for money. It provides all the essential features and performance of a quality charcoal grill without breaking the bank.


  1. Limited Cooking Space: Due to its compact size, the cooking area is relatively small, which may be a constraint when grilling for larger groups or preparing multiple dishes simultaneously.
  2. No Adjustable Grates: The grill grates are not adjustable in height, which may limit your control over the distance between the charcoal and the food. However, with some practice, it is still possible to achieve desired cooking results.
  3. Charcoal Capacity: The grill’s compact design means it can accommodate a limited amount of charcoal, requiring more frequent refueling for longer cooking sessions.
  4. No Lid Locking Mechanism: The lack of a lid locking mechanism can be a minor inconvenience during transportation, as the lid may accidentally open. However, securing it with bungee cords or straps can mitigate this issue.

Overall, the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is a remarkable companion for camping and outdoor grilling. Its portability, durability, and ability to infuse food with that distinct charcoal flavor make it an excellent choice for enthusiasts who appreciate the authentic grilling experience.

While it may have some limitations in terms of cooking space and adjustable grates, these minor drawbacks are outweighed by its impressive performance, affordability, and convenience. Whether you’re camping, picnicking, or tailgating, this grill is sure to enhance your outdoor cooking adventures.

2. PK Grills PKGO

PKGo charcoal grill

I must say, this portable charcoal grill exceeded my expectations. Designed with versatility and performance in mind, the PKGO is a fantastic option for campers and outdoor cooking enthusiasts alike. Here’s a detailed review of this impressive grill:

Dimensions and Weight:

The PK Grills PKGO strikes a perfect balance between portability and cooking capacity. Here are its dimensions and weight:

  • Dimensions (lid closed): 21.5 inches (height) x 34 inches (width) x 19.5 inches (depth)
  • Cooking Area: 306 square inches
  • Weight: Approximately 39.5 pounds


  1. Portable Design: Despite its larger cooking area, the PKGO is remarkably portable. The grill is equipped with sturdy handles and a compact shape, making it easy to transport and store, whether you’re heading to a campground or a backyard barbecue.
  2. Premium Build Quality: Crafted from high-quality cast aluminum, the PKGO is built to last. The robust construction ensures excellent heat retention and even distribution, resulting in consistent grilling performance.
  3. Versatile Cooking Options: The PKGO offers exceptional versatility. Its unique capsule shape allows for both direct and indirect grilling, giving you the flexibility to sear steaks over high heat or slow-cook tender meats to perfection.
  4. Excellent Heat Control: The grill’s four-point venting system provides precise temperature control, allowing you to adjust airflow and regulate the heat for different cooking techniques. This feature ensures consistent results and empowers you to explore various grilling styles.
  5. Easy to Clean: Cleaning the PKGO is a breeze thanks to its innovative ash management system. The grill features a removable ash catcher that collects debris, making cleanup quick and hassle-free.


  1. Weight: While the PKGO is still portable, its weight may be a consideration for those looking for an ultra-lightweight camping grill. It’s important to factor in the weight when planning your outdoor adventures.
  2. Price Point: Compared to some other portable grills on the market, the PKGO is priced at a slightly higher range. However, considering its exceptional build quality, versatility, and performance, the investment is worthwhile for serious outdoor cooking enthusiasts.
  3. Assembly Required: Some users may find the initial assembly process a bit time-consuming, as it involves attaching handles, vents, and other components. However, the comprehensive instructions provided make the assembly relatively straightforward.
  4. Limited Accessories: While the PKGO itself is a fantastic standalone grill, the range of compatible accessories and add-ons available for this specific model is somewhat limited compared to other brands. However, the grill’s versatile design still allows for a wide array of cooking techniques.

In conclusion, the PK Grills PKGO is a top-tier portable charcoal grill that delivers outstanding performance, durability, and versatility. Its portable design, premium build quality, and precise heat control make it an ideal companion for camping trips, tailgating events, or backyard cookouts.

Although it may have a slightly higher price point and requires assembly, the PKGO’s exceptional cooking capabilities and ease of use make it a worthy investment for outdoor cooking enthusiasts who value quality and versatility.

3. Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Kamado Charcoal Grill

Char Griller 16620 Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill

I recently had the pleasure of putting the Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Kamado Charcoal Grill to the test, and I must say, it truly impressed me with its performance and versatility. Combining the benefits of a traditional kamado grill with a compact design, the AKORN Jr. is an excellent choice for those seeking a portable yet efficient charcoal grill. Here’s a detailed review of this remarkable grill:

Dimensions and Weight:

The Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Kamado Charcoal Grill strikes a perfect balance between size and portability. Here are its dimensions and weight:

  • Dimensions (lid closed): 20.5 inches (height) x 21.5 inches (width) x 25.3 inches (depth)
  • Cooking Area: 153 square inches
  • Weight: Approximately 37 pounds


  1. Kamado Grill Performance: The AKORN Jr. incorporates the time-tested kamado grill design, which excels in heat retention, even heat distribution, and excellent fuel efficiency. This results in consistent cooking temperatures and exceptional flavor infusion into your grilled dishes.
  2. Versatility: Despite its compact size, the AKORN Jr. offers impressive versatility. It can handle a wide range of cooking styles, from high-temperature searing to low-and-slow smoking. Whether you’re grilling steaks, smoking ribs, or baking pizzas, this grill delivers excellent results.
  3. Portability and Durability: The AKORN Jr. is designed with portability in mind. Its lightweight construction, convenient side handles, and compact shape make it easy to transport and perfect for tailgating, camping trips, or picnics. The grill’s steel construction ensures durability and longevity.
  4. Easy Temperature Control: The grill features adjustable dampers on the top and bottom, allowing precise control over airflow and temperature. This enables you to fine-tune the heat to achieve the desired cooking results, whether you’re searing a steak or slow-roasting a whole chicken.
  5. Convenient Cleanup: The AKORN Jr. incorporates a removable ash pan, simplifying the cleaning process. After grilling, the ash pan can be easily removed and emptied, ensuring hassle-free maintenance and a clean grilling experience.


  1. Limited Cooking Space: Due to its compact size, the AKORN Jr. offers a smaller cooking area compared to larger grills. This might be a limitation when cooking for larger groups or when preparing multiple dishes simultaneously. However, its portability and versatility make up for this minor drawback.
  2. Assembly Required: The initial assembly of the AKORN Jr. may require some time and effort, as it involves attaching various components. However, the provided instructions are detailed and user-friendly, facilitating the assembly process.
  3. Temperature Regulation Learning Curve: Like any kamado-style grill, mastering temperature regulation may take some practice. Achieving and maintaining the desired cooking temperature requires a slight learning curve to get accustomed to the grill’s unique characteristics. However, once you become familiar with it, you’ll appreciate the control it offers.
  4. Limited Accessories Included: The AKORN Jr. comes with the essential components to get you started, but it has a more limited range of included accessories compared to larger models or other brands. However, the grill’s versatility still allows for a variety of cooking techniques and possibilities.

In summary, the Char-Griller AKORN Jr. Kamado Charcoal Grill is a compact powerhouse that brings the exceptional flavor and performance of a kamado-style grill to your outdoor adventures. Its portability, durability, and versatility make it an ideal choice for camping trips, picnics, tailgating, or any occasion where you want to enjoy delicious grilled meals on the go.

4. Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

Old Smokey Charcoal Grill

With its iconic design and long-standing reputation, this grill delivers a classic and authentic grilling experience that will delight both beginners and seasoned grillmasters. Here’s a detailed review of the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill:

Dimensions and Weight:

The Old Smokey Charcoal Grill showcases a simple yet effective design, offering ample cooking space while remaining compact and portable. Here are its dimensions and weight:

  • Dimensions (diameter x height): 14.5 inches x 29 inches
  • Cooking Area: 333 square inches
  • Weight: Approximately 22 pounds


  1. Timeless Design: The Old Smokey Charcoal Grill features a classic barrel-shaped design that has stood the test of time. This iconic appearance not only adds a touch of nostalgia but also contributes to its efficient heat circulation, resulting in evenly cooked and flavorful food.
  2. Generous Cooking Space: Despite its compact size, the grill offers a surprisingly spacious cooking area, providing ample room for grilling a variety of food items. Whether you’re preparing burgers, steaks, or vegetables, the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill can accommodate your needs.
  3. Excellent Heat Retention: Crafted from durable aluminized steel, the grill excels in heat retention. It effectively seals in heat, allowing for consistent cooking temperatures and optimal flavor infusion into your grilled delicacies.
  4. Effortless Temperature Control: The Old Smokey Charcoal Grill features a top and bottom vent that allows for precise airflow control. This means you can easily adjust the grill’s temperature to achieve the desired level of heat for various cooking techniques.
  5. Durability and Longevity: Built to last, this grill is constructed with high-quality materials that can withstand the test of time. Its sturdy build and resilient finish ensure years of reliable grilling performance and countless delicious meals.


  1. Limited Portability: While the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill is relatively lightweight, it lacks some of the portability features found in other compact grills. It may not be as convenient for on-the-go adventures or camping trips compared to more portable options.
  2. Minimal Accessories: The grill itself provides a straightforward grilling experience, but it has fewer accessories and additional features compared to some other models on the market. However, its simplicity is also part of its charm and makes it easy to use for beginners.
  3. Ash Management: The grill’s ash management system could benefit from some improvements. Clearing out the ashes can be a bit challenging, and the absence of an ash catcher may require additional cleanup efforts.
  4. Limited Temperature Range: While the grill performs admirably in its intended temperature range, it may have limitations when it comes to extreme high-heat grilling or precise low-temperature smoking. However, for most common grilling needs, it delivers satisfying results.

In conclusion, the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill stands as a testament to classic grilling excellence. With its timeless design, generous cooking space, and exceptional heat retention, it provides a delightful grilling experience for any outdoor cooking enthusiast.

While it may have limited portability and fewer accessories compared to some other models, the Old Smokey Charcoal Grill’s simplicity, durability, and efficient performance make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking a reliable and flavorful grilling experience.

5. Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber Smokey Joe Premium

I must say, it’s a true gem in the world of portable grilling. With its compact size, sturdy construction, and remarkable performance, this grill is a favorite among outdoor cooking aficionados. Here’s a detailed review of the Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill:

Dimensions and Weight:

The Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill strikes the perfect balance between portability and cooking space. Here are its dimensions and weight:

  • Dimensions (lid closed): 17 inches (height) x 14.2 inches (width) x 14.5 inches (depth)
  • Cooking Area: 147 square inches
  • Weight: Approximately 9 pounds


  1. Compact and Portable: The Smokey Joe Premium is designed with portability in mind. Its compact size and lightweight construction make it incredibly easy to transport and store, making it an ideal choice for camping trips, picnics, and tailgating.
  2. Superior Build Quality: Weber is renowned for its exceptional build quality, and the Smokey Joe Premium is no exception. Crafted with sturdy materials, including porcelain-enameled steel, this grill is built to withstand the rigors of outdoor cooking, ensuring durability and longevity.
  3. Excellent Grilling Performance: Despite its small size, the Smokey Joe Premium delivers impressive grilling performance. Its innovative airflow design allows for precise temperature control, enabling you to achieve perfect searing or low-and-slow cooking.
  4. Easy Cleanup: Cleaning up after grilling is a breeze with the Smokey Joe Premium. The grill features a high-capacity ash catcher that collects ash and debris, making maintenance and cleanup a hassle-free experience.
  5. Iconic Weber Design: The Smokey Joe Premium boasts the iconic Weber design that has become synonymous with quality and reliability. Its sleek and stylish appearance adds a touch of sophistication to any outdoor cooking setup.


  1. Limited Cooking Space: Due to its compact size, the cooking area of the Smokey Joe Premium is relatively small. While it’s suitable for small gatherings and intimate grilling sessions, it may not be ideal for larger groups or when cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.
  2. Lack of Additional Features: The Smokey Joe Premium is a straightforward charcoal grill without many additional features or accessories. While it excels at the basics, some users may prefer a grill with more built-in conveniences, such as folding side tables or built-in temperature gauges.
  3. Heat Retention: While the Smokey Joe Premium performs admirably in terms of heat control, its smaller size may result in slightly reduced heat retention compared to larger grills. However, this does not significantly impact its overall performance and ability to deliver delicious grilled flavors.
  4. Limited Mobility While Hot: As with any charcoal grill, the Smokey Joe Premium can become hot during use. It’s essential to exercise caution and avoid moving the grill while it’s still hot to prevent accidental burns.

In conclusion, the Weber Smokey Joe Premium Charcoal Grill is a compact powerhouse that offers exceptional grilling performance in a portable package. Its compact size, superior build quality, and ease of use make it an excellent choice for outdoor cooking enthusiasts who value quality and convenience.

While it has limited cooking space and lacks some additional features, the Smokey Joe Premium excels at what it does best—delivering flavorful and enjoyable grilling

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular charcoal in a camping grill?

es, regular charcoal can be used in camping grills, but it’s important to choose the right type and quality for optimal performance.

How much charcoal should I use for camping grilling?

The amount of charcoal needed depends on various factors such as grill size, desired cooking temperature, and duration. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results.

Can I reuse the charcoal for multiple camping trips?

It is generally not recommended to reuse charcoal, as it tends to lose its efficiency and may not burn as evenly or provide consistent heat. It’s best to use fresh charcoal for each camping adventure to ensure the best grilling experience.

Are charcoal grills difficult to clean?

Cleaning a charcoal grill is relatively simple. Once the grill has cooled down, remove the ashes and debris, scrub the grates with a brush, and wash any removable parts with mild soap and water. Regular maintenance will help prolong the lifespan of your grill.

Can I use a charcoal grill in a campground?

any campgrounds allow the use of charcoal grills, but it’s always wise to check the specific rules and regulations of the campground you plan to visit. Some campgrounds may have restrictions on open fires or require the use of designated grilling areas.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when using a charcoal grill. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, keep a safe distance from flammable materials, and never leave the grill unattended while it’s in use.


As a devoted camping aficionado, I understand the joy of savoring delicious meals prepared on a charcoal camping grill while embracing the wonders of the great outdoors. With the right charcoal and a well-suited camping grill, you can create unforgettable culinary experiences during your camping adventures.

Remember to consider factors like charcoal type, burn time, ease of ignition, and environmental sustainability when selecting the best charcoal for camping. Explore portable charcoal stoves, small camping BBQ charcoal grills, and foldable charcoal grills for options that cater to your specific needs.

By following the tips and recommendations in this buying guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision and choose the perfect charcoal camping grill that will elevate your outdoor cooking experiences. So, gather your loved ones, ignite the flames, and embark on a mouth-watering journey in the lap of nature.

Check out our guide on the “Best Camping Table Options for 2023” here to find the perfect table for your grilling setup. For convenient and efficient cooking solutions, explore the benefits of a Jetboil stove in our article “5 Reasons Why a Jetboil Stove Should Be Your Go-To Camping Stove.” And if you’re looking for delicious and easy-to-prepare meals during your camping escapades, our collection of “One-Pot Camping Meals for Outdoor Cooking” will inspire your culinary adventures. Don’t forget to explore eco-friendly food options for a sustainable camping experience, as highlighted in our article “Eco-Friendly Food Options for Camping.” Happy grilling and camping!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. Please refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult relevant authorities for specific safety regulations and recommendations regarding the use of charcoal grills in your area.


Emily Wychwood

Emily Wychwood

Emily is an avid camper and outdoors enthusiast, with a passion for exploring new places and trying out new gear. She grew up camping with her family and has continued the tradition with her own children, who love nothing more than roasting marshmallows around the campfire.

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