We know how much people love to grill, and traveling in your minivan camper conversion should not be an excuse to leave the grill at home. Unless you have one like some of those TV ads where some huge monstrosity folds down and fits in your shirt pocket, you’re pretty much going to have to size down some other way.
Some people like the convenience of propane, while others have to have only certain brands of “real wood” charcoal, but that’s OK. There are grills for everything. Some use propane, some use liquid (what we used to call “white gas” is now usually referred to as “Coleman fuel”), and some still use charcoal. Some set on a table top, while some have their own stands. Some are flat, and some are more like a ball. Some are rectangular in shape while others are round. You have to decide what works for you.
The one we use we actually found at a Hudson’s department store nearly 20 years ago, on an after-Christmas discount table. It had been marked down twice already from thirty-some dollars to about $10. As soon as I saw what it was, I fell in love with it! The whole thing is literally brief case size, measuring only 19 x 12 x 3 inches.
Legs slide out and pop in place on each side, while a wind-screen pops in place on the back side and doubles as a brace for the legs and grill racks. I wish I could refer you to a source for them today, but there are no manufacturing stamps on it anywhere, and I have no idea who made it twenty-some years ago. Any paperwork has long since disappeared. If anyone recognizes, it, please leave a comment below and let all of us know!
The grilling grid has two handles for a secure hold, and can be positioned at three levels above the charcoal. The body is made of heavy black steel. And of course, it uses charcoal. We always line it with a couple of layers of heavy foil to make clean-up easy, and we always wash the chrome grid immediately after the meal, and it still looks like new today. For use in our minivan camper, we couldn’t ask for a better grill.
But everyone has their preferences. Just remember that storage will be limited in your minivan camper conversion, so take that into consideration. Our little charcoal grill fits neatly under the couch/bed with plenty of room for other things, including the bag of charcoal that we have to take along.
There are similarly shaped gas grills that also work well, and even if they are slightly larger in size, the fact that you won’t have to carry charcoal can save storage space. One of those little one-pound propane canisters is about one-tenth the size of a bag of charcoal and usually lasts just as long. Either type of grill is handy for places where you may not have electric available.
But there is also something to be said for electric grills, too, such as quick cool down, easier clean up, and maybe even less space required to store them. You don’t want to try to run one off an inverter, though, unless you have a very large inverter, as they typically draw upwards of 1200 watts. That would pull a battery down in about 15 minutes without the engine running… hardly enough time to warm up and cook anything! Electric grills should only be used when you have a power post close by.
And don’t forget your grilling tools! Every outdoor chef will want the usual things, a couple of good knives, a set of tongs, a fork and a spatula at the minimum. And depending on your grilling surface type, maybe a grill brush to keep it clean. There are many nice complete sets available in their own carrying cases, which are handy for storage.