Come sit down for dinner as we take a look at the Grilliput Compact Grill–a new way to make dinner for 1-2 folks out on the trail and keep that old fashioned feel during the outing.
Being a bachelor, there are certain areas where I will admit that I am lacking. One of those is cooking. My idea of cooking is Mac and Cheese with a couple of Gorton’s frozen fish fillets baked in the oven. It’s pretty much the same out on the trail. Most of the time, I resort to heating up water and digesting dehyrated meals. There are a couple that are pretty good, but it’s never the same as fresh cooked food. Even when I meet up with a large group for a camp-out I’ll usually prepare the same kinds of meals, even though others are using their dutch ovens and grills large enough for twenty folks. However, I recently came across a great product that’s sized just right for 1-2 people and lets you grill food while on the move and not just while car camping. That product is the Grilliput from Industrial Revolution.
Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that the Grilliput is going to be more for the hunters and fishing folks who are able to get game while on their excursion. Unless it’s winter time, you’re not likely to be carrying raw meat on the trail for fear of spoilage. Also, keep in mind that you’re only going to be able to use the Grilliput where open fires are allowed. Most hikers and backpackers use stoves because a lot of popular areas in parks and national forests don’t allow open fires. But, if you’ve got the right spot, then this little contraption just might do the trick for you by allowing you to get some variety in your meals. The first advantage to the Grilliput is that even though it’s large enough to grill a few items at once, it’s can be broken down and stored in a very compact fashion.
The two key components of the grill are the round, stainless steel tubes that act as the backbone(s) of the rest of the grill. One tube is slightly smaller in diameter than the other tube, so you can slide one into the other for storage. Once you’ve done that, you also store the steel wire cross pieces inside of the tubes as well. After everything is stowed away, you simply screw on a steel cap (about the size of a quarter) at the open end of the largest tube. Voila! Everything is squared away into a slim, round tube which can easily find its resting place in a back corner of your pack. While it is slim and compact, its heft will surprise you a bit. It’s a little heavier than what you would think at first glance. The whole kit weighs about 1.25 pounds. On one hand, that’s extra weight to carry around and those weight conscious folks that cut the handles off their toothbrushes may not like that addition. However, it’s a solidly built product which is a reason for the weight, and that trade-off will certainly be worth it to those who like to grill in the outdoors. And, if you trade it out for your stove and fuel, it’s pretty much going to be a wash.
Assembling the Grilliput is very easy, but you do have to follow a certain sequence to get it all together. When I got it in for review, I misplaced the directions, and when I got around to doing the review, it took me a couple of tries to get it right. Once I figured out the correct steps, it took about 4-5 minutes to put it together. The trick to it has to do with the wire cross-section pieces that fit between the two steel tubes. There are several of these pieces, but two of them have an “L” shape at one end with threads on the other. Each “L” shaped wire piece is placed at opposite ends of the grill. You place the regular cross-section pieces into their slots in the middle first, and you then screw the two “L” shaped pieces into the open holes on the opposing tube. It sounds more complicated than it is, but once you see the set-up, you’ll get why it has to be done this way. Once you start screwing the two “L” pieces into the other tube, it pulls the two steel tubes closer together to lock the middle wire pieces into place. After you do this, you then screw the 4 steel legs into place and you’re done! In the picture, I’ve got the legs on before fitting the wire pieces into place. Once you do it the correct way the first time, it’s a breeze after that.
From there, I pretty much figure most outdoors people know what to do. Find you a nice place for a fire that’s isolated from flammable materials including brush, dry wood, etc. Build yourself a nice little fire that the grill can straddle and get it going well enough for whatever you’re going to cook. Since there are no hunting seasons in place right now, I got myself a New York strip steak to try out on the grill once I got out on our land and got the shelter set up. After several camp outs of watching everyone else having savory food for dinner, I settled right in on getting that New York done so I could see how the other half lives. When I order a steak, I typically just tell the server to yank out the horns, wipe its butt and walk it past the grill. Not being a grill-master, it took a few peeks during the process to make sure I got it just right.
Since I was reviewing some other gear at the same time, I just let the meat cook over the fire while keeping an eye on it from time to time. At one point, I didn’t think I had enough heat/flame working to cook it quickly enough. So, I just fed in some pieces of woods that I had batoned earlier and got it to a satisfactory level and got that strip sizzling. I know there are all kinds of opinions out there on the best way to grill. Some like to sear the meat quickly to preserve the juices and others like a slow grill the whole time. I don’t care about all that. After a day outside doing all kinds of things to keep myself busy, I’m fairly hungry at dinner time. As long as it’s meat and it’s hot, I’m pretty much satisfied. That said, man was that New York strip good! After a few turns and a couple of cuts to check inside, I pulled the steak over to the plate and went to work while doing my “I Got Some Ice Cream” dance during the meal.
Even with that big slab of beef working on the grill, there was plenty of room for me to heat up some baked beans (what else?) in a MSR Titan Kettle that I’ve been playing with the past couple of months. Though I didn’t do it, there was still room left over to heat up a cup of coffee for after the meal as well. The whole thing is a slick set-up. Once you’re ready to break camp, disassembly is very fast (make sure it’s cooled off enough to handle). Simply reverse the process by unscrewing the “L” pieces and then remove the wire spokes in the middle and the legs of the grill. A nice touch included by Industrial Designs is a groove found at the end of one of the steel tubes. That groove is for drawing the wire cross pieces through in order to clean them and get the extra gunk off before you store them away.
I remember a few years ago when a couple of my friends built their own primitive grill to cook the fish they caught that day. It was a nice project, gave them something to do, and worked well for the style of cooking they did that night. The downside to this type of set-up is that it won’t last long because of the heat and wouldn’t be very portable either. While you could build a similar set-up at each camp site, it’s going to take much more time to gather the materials and assemble it than throwing together the Grilliput. I know of several folks that also have the smaller size grates to set on two logs with a fire between them. However, those are harder to clean well enough to throw in your pack with the rest of your gear and they are still quite bulky as well. The Grilliput is the best solution I’ve seen so far to give someone a quick and easy way to grill their food on the trail, but still be light enough and small enough to carry easily.
The only negative aspect of my experience with the Grilliput was that I was careless and set the tube end cap on the ground and almost lost it because it’s just the size of a quarter. As soon as you get the cross pieces and smaller tube out, make sure to screw the cap back on so you won’t have to worry later about where you set it down. As shiny as it is, it can still get overed over by brush or leaves quite easily.
I’m not much of a fishmerman, but for some reason, I see the Grilliput compact grill being used more by folks that fish than people that hunt and trap game on the trail. Maybe I’m wrong. But no matter which group you belong to, I think the Grilliput would be an excellent accessory to have on hand for an impromptu cookout or as an integral part of your backpacking kit. It’s well made, robust, and since there’s no moving parts, there’s very little that can go wrong with it. On top of that, it gives me a way to change up the taste of what I’m eating on the trail and get a little variety working. You can find the Grilliput online for around $45.00, and that’s well worth it to me for what it offers to my outdoors experience. No, I’ve never been the type to go crazy with all the pack weight cutting measures like sawing off my toothbrush handle. But, if that’s what needs to happen to make the Grilliput compact grill a permanent part of my kit, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do!