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What's the Best Portable Gas Grill? 5 Reviews for Tailgating & Camping

Updated on April 14, 2014
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Top 5 Small / Portable Gas Grills | Throw Perfect Tailgate Parties

There's no arguing with the fact that a big, fancy, shiny barbecue grill is the best option for grilling. However, you can't bring it everywhere! If you're wanting to enjoy grilling anywhere without compromising on taste and efficiency, you'll have your work cut out for you.

With the many small gas grills permeating the market, it's hard to pick out a stud from a dud. So what's the best portable gas BBQ grill for your money? There are actually a handful of small barbecue grills that cook well and are easy to use, and I'm hoping to help point you in their direction.

This article is written to help you track down a top quality portable gas grill for tailgating, camping or any activity that takes you away from home. I'll be offering up a handful of my favourite grills on the market, based on build quality, cooking capability and, of course, the price tag.

I'll also give a few tips to hopefully help make your experience a success rather than a flop. Read on, and let's look at some BBQs!

Things to Look For in a Good Portable Gas BBQ Grill

Let's face it, there are a lot of portable gas grills out there suitable for tailgating or camp grounds. Some of them are even pretty affordable. I'd strongly caution you to shop carefully, since many aren't made well at all and will disappoint. Here are some tips for buying a top quality portable gas BBQ grill.

Heat Resistant Paint

It seems strange, but many manufacturers don't bother with heat resistant paint with their smaller tabletop style BBQ grills. The result? After a few uses, the paint starts to peel off the exterior and crack, or worse, it scorches and burns.

Find a barbecue that has heat resistant paint and fittings, and you'll be a lot happier with your purchase.

Evenly Heated Grill Surface

A smaller grill means a smaller cooking surface. The lower price tag means that manufacturers often skimp on the burner too. That means your small grilling surface has an even smaller usable area.

The best portable propane and gas grills have an evenly heated cooking surface, so you don't get hot or cold spots, and you can cook more food at once. How can you tell? Before you buy, inspect the size of the burner, and how far it reaches.

Stability on Multiple Surfaces

You won't always have a flat surface to work with. Nothing is more frustrating than a tippy grill when you're hungry (hamburger down)! Make sure that your portable gas grill reviews well on the stability side of things. It should have sturdy feet, not flimsy little things made out of steel wire. A low centre of gravity helps too.

A gorgeous little tabletop / tailgate grill by Fuego

The Element, by Fuego, is a great little portable gas powered BBQ grill that has a ton of upside. The first thing you'll likely notice about this one is the unique good looks. It's a well crafted barbecue, and you can tell that a lot of thought went into the fit and finish.

When not in use, a red rubberized travel band fits over the top of the grill and holds everything in place. It's a nice way to keep the lid firmly attached when it's stored or when you're toting it around.

On that note, this barbecue is quite totable indeed! It is light weight at approximately 13 pounds, and you can even get an optional shoulder strap and wear it like a backpack. That sounds silly, but when your hands are full carrying a cooler and picnic basket, you might appreciate that feature!

The two little legs fold out to provide a stable cooking surface. It uses standard propane, and it can use those miniature bottles. It has about 160 square inches of cooking area, and it produces 8000 BTUs of heat, enough to get it up to over 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

The whole thing is powder coated and has a nice feel to it. It's small and inexpensive, but I'd definitely give the Fuego Element a close look.

An infrared portable gas BBQ grill, great for tailgates

If you haven't heard all about infrared grilling technology, I should warn you that I'm pretty fanatical about it. Using infrared heat as opposed to pure convection, you can sear your meals, making them juicy on the inside but caramelized on the outside. It cooks faster too!

Enter the Grill2Go by Char-Broil. This amazing little barbecue provides a large cooking surface and great heat and capability in a small package. It's one of the best portable gas grills for tailgating, and it works well on camping trips too.

The first thing you'll notice about the Grill2Go is its durability. This thing feels solid despite its small size. It features an integrated hood over a 200 square inch grilling surface. The hood and firebox are both made of cast aluminum, which is durable yet light in weight. The hood features dual latches to keep it together when you're transporting it. The cooking grate is stainless steel.

It stands on four little feet, and the centre of gravity is low so it's pretty stable on a picnic table, tailgate or even on the ground. It runs on 16 ounce propane cylinders, and each one should last you several hours.

The heat is the best part about this grill. It features a single burner that has a 9,500 BTU capacity. The grill uses 65 percent infrared heat, which sears your food quickly. You'll be surprised how fast a steak is cooked on this powerful portable gas barbecue grill.

At under 20 pounds, this is a highly portable and very capable 'cue that you'll quickly fall in love with.

A folding, portable 'full-height' barbecue grill with fantastic reviews

The first time I pulled a Coleman Roadtrip LXE out of the box, my jaw dropped. I was surprised that such a smart design hadn't hit the market before! It's essentially a portable, tabletop style barbecue grill that has a full height built-in stand. It folds up when not in use much like an ironing board.

This is the largest of the tailgate style barbecues I'll be reviewing, with a capable 285 square inches of cooking grate to work with. It is the only dual burner of the set, with each one producing 10,000 BTUs. For that reason, this is a barbecue that's able to feed a surprisingly large number of people. Many folks have this one as their primary 'cue.

It features dual burner controls, and an integrated hood. Much of the grill is enamelled rather than merely powder coated, and it has a nice, quality feel to it.

There are two retractable side tables that you can use for holding plates ingredients, or the chef master's beverage of choice.

It's a bigger and heavier grill and almost ventures into non-portable territory with its grilling ability. But this is a great little gas grill for tailgate parties, camping expeditions and backyard shenanigans. It has great reviews and is definitely worth taking a hard look at.

A gorgeous, smart tabletop gas grill by Weber

I often think of Weber as the 'Cadillac' of the barbecuing world. Their grills are solid, beautiful and high quality. Fortunately for you, Weber does offer a low cost range of portable gas BBQs for sale, and they're among the best you can find.

I'm showing off the Q1000 here. It's the smallest of their range, but it's still extremely capable and a great choice for most families. The whole thing stands on plastic feet in an integrated design. The cast aluminum firebox and hood construction ensures that this grill is easy to move, but it's also durable.

It has handles on each side of the burner box, so you can pick it up and move it (even while cooking, if you're careful). I should warn that the hood does not have a latch system, so be careful while transporting it to keep the hood in place.

The cook quality is outstanding. It has 8,500 BTUs of heat, and the grilling surface is about 190 square inches. The burner is really well placed and the flame spread is excellent, so you get even heat even on the fringes of your grill. It's a fantastic portable barbecue grill for tailgating, sure to get a jealous glance or two from passers by.

It comes with a valve control and a push button ignition, so don't worry about carrying around a barbecue lighter or long matches. Best of all, this BBQ is fully assembled and basically ready to use straight out of the box.

If you find you need it at waist height, you can purchase a separate barbecue stand for the Q series. The Weber Q rolling cart is a great addition to this product.

They make everything bigger in Texas!
They make everything bigger in Texas! | Source

What About Charcoal, Electric, etc.?

There are lots of other choices for portability beyond gas, and I definitely don't discriminate. There's nothing quite like the taste of a charcoal grill, and electric holds its own as well. That all being said, I think propane offers a good compromise in this category. The cylinders are inexpensive and clean burning, and they provide an excellent flame source when a power outlet is nowhere to be found.

I know that there are several variations in each of these categories. The Coleman Roadtrip series, for example, has a bunch of different sizes on offer, so you can go bigger or smaller as your needs require.

The Weber Q series is another set of smaller barbecues that come in various setups, each one is a pretty good choice.

If you don't want to go small, you could always set up a trailer mounted 'cue, like the one picture to the right. It's not exactly small, but I bet it gets the job done!

Thanks for reading.

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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting look at portable grills. Thanks for the tips.

    • wisdomsource profile image

      Richard Arthur 3 years ago from Vancouver Island, west coast Canada

      Great article! Thanks for the info!