I recently had the opportunity to try out a Backpacker’s Grill, from Lawson Outdoor Equipment. It’s just a 5” x 12” grill, with a frame made from high quality 304 stainless steel, constructed using a .187” round rod. The cross bars are made from .125” rod, welded to the frame. I’ve seen small cheap grills that serve much the same purpose before, but they don’t usually last long. After a couple of uses, they’re ready to throw away. But not this one. This grill is made in America, baby. It’s built to last. ‘Merica!
Built to Last
I tried it out recently on a trip where the temps dropped pretty quickly as a steady rain soaked everything, including me. I found a small dry place back under some canyon walls and was able to get a small fire going. I tried using some duct tape as a fire starter but it was hard to keep it going long enough to ignite the rest of the tinder, so I resorted to using a 14g Esbit tablet. I set the small grill between some rocks to keep it stable, and set a stainless steel cup over the flames to heat up some water. It’s nice having a hot drink to knock the chill off of you, ya know?
One thing I really liked about this was the 5” width. It made it easy to set a cup on it and not worry about knocking it off. However, it goes without saying that you’d better have it set upon something solid or your cookware and food could end up in the fire. Weighing in at only 7.4 ounces, I can see myself taking this along on a trip if I’m planning on freezing a steak or chicken breast and carrying it for dinner, or even better, if I’m grilling some fish I just pulled out of the river. Also, if you’re carrying some bread or bagels for breakfast, you can set this over some hot coals and toast them.
Cooking Over a Real Fire
There’s something about having fire that is a huge morale boost for me. Being able to cook over an open flame without having to impale my food on a stick or cook it on a dirty, ash covered rock makes it even better, since it’s a bit more sanitary and there’s less chance of knocking my food off in the fire.
Another great thing about cooking over fire is all the free fuel you find in the woods. The bad thing is, of course, that sometimes it’s hard to find dry fuel after a big rain. I was able to get the water in my cup hot, but not exactly to a rolling boil. I think this was due to the small size of the fire. Also, I think if I had built up a better windscreen, it would have helped. But the water was hot enough, so I was happy.
The grill packs flat (obviously) and takes up very little room in my pack. I packed it inside a small stuff sack, since I didn’t spend a lot of time scrubbing the soot off and didn’t want to dirty up everything else in my pack. Not all the edges are filed off smooth, but I didn’t see anything that would cut holes in my pack. (I wouldn’t suggest wrapping your NeoAir Xlite around it, though.)
Lawson makes a larger backpacking grill that is sized at 6” x 14”, and a ‘Pot and Pan Grill’ with less crossbars , in case you only want to put a cook pot or small skillet on it, instead of cooking food directly on the grill. And with all these priced at under $20, it’s worth trying out, especially since they offer free shipping for orders over $10. Heck, I bet you spend more on Diet Mountain Dew and Starbucks in a week than most of these cost. So pick one up and throw it in your pack or bug out bag, along with a Bic lighter. It’s a nice little ‘just in case’ item.