Grills Just Want to Have Fun (A Portable Propane Grill Review)

Coleman collects stuff in the drip pan that is hard to remove.

It’s Hard To Grill When It’s Falling Apart

I noticed today that my Coleman Roadtrip portable propane grill is showing serious signs of deterioration. No Bueno! The burner is rusting out. Coleman does not sell the burner as a replacement part, so my only option is to replace it. Y-e-e-e-e-s!

Coleman Roadtrip rusted burner. It is hard to capture but down below the burner is a gapping rust hole.

My Dirty Little Secret

The truth is, I have not really liked the grill very much since my first attempt at cleaning the thing. Coleman constructed it in a way that makes it impossible to keep clean and looking nice. I tried using aluminum foil to act as a drip pan but that only partially helped. The area below the grilling surface catches loose food and drips of grease. It all turns into a black greasy carbon plaque that continues to bake on with every use. In order to thoroughly clean it I must use degreaser, a paint scraper, a wire brush and a strong flow of water. This cleaning process takes about an hour and it makes a mess at the campsite. All the surfaces on this portable propane grill seem to be curved so the scraping is difficult. I usually make one serious cleaning a few days before breaking camp.

Round surfaces make it hard to scrap residue.

There are times when I use an iron skillet or wok, sitting them directly on the burner. I doubt it is recommended to do so and maybe this has contributed to my rust problem.

Storing my Portable Propane Grill

When moving, I store my portable propane grill on my sliding bay tray, with my other outdoor patio gear. I never put in on the tray before completely cleaning it. I have learned that you need to keep all your gear, including the coach, clean and in good repair. When the grill is out, I keep it covered with a $13 premade grill cover from Home Depot.

It’s Grillin’ Time 

Typically we grill burgers, steak, chicken and fish. Our Coleman has a flat top griddle (an optional purchase) for toasting buns, griddle frying and cooking veggies. One problem is that any oil or grease drains from the griddle into than nasty area below the cooking surface. Additionally, I will remove the grill or griddle and set my wok on top of the burner for stir frying or deep frying things like fish or chicken. We learned early, that deep frying inside the RV makes an oily mess and the odor stays around for several days. This is particularly true with fish! So when we fry chicken or fish, it is always outside on the grill.

Coleman Roadtrip Propane Grill.

Pros of the Coleman Grill

Here are some things I like about the Coleman Roadtrip Portable Propane Grill: Folding legs with wheels that raise the grill to a comfortable cooking height. It is freestanding for those times when the campground does not provide a picnic table. There are two handy slide-out trays on each side that hold spices, sauces, food waiting to be cooked and food that is coming off the grill. There are hooks on the front of the grill where my grilling tools hang. Ignition is a reliable push-button igniter that works on both burners.

Cons of the Coleman Grill

Here are some things I don’t like about the Coleman Roadtrip Portable Propane grill: The lid is too low. If the food is more than 4 inches tall/thick, it will touch the inside of dirty lid when closed for smoking or heat retention. This rules out cooking a whole chicken with the lid down. Most important is this grill is a drag to clean. This is my biggest complaint. The Coleman unit uses the small disposable gas bottles that cost about $3 each and last for 3-4 grilling events. I’d rather use my rigs LP tank.

So, here are the Portable Propane Grill choices I have on my short list:

Camp Chef Explorer – Starts at $84 without griddle or grill box.
Camp Chef Pro 60 – Starts at $199 without griddle or grill box.
Blackstone Combo Tailgater – Starts at $150 includes griddle and grill box.

If you dress them all the same (griddle, grill box and carry bag) the end prices at Amazon look like:

Note: if you use the links below and purchase a unit, I earn a little money which helps me support my blog.

Camp Chef Explorer: $225
Camp Chef Pro 60: $329
Blackstone Combo Tailgater: $206
Coleman Roadtrip Grill LXE: $244 (this is what I am replacing)

I like these grilling units for the following reasons:

  • They are the right size for my purpose in both storage mode and in cooking mode.
  • Each has a grill box that sits over a burner.
  • They all have a griddle that sits over a second burner.
  • Each has two burners with 15,000 BTUs or more for faster cooking.
  • A pot or cast iron frying pan may be placed on the burners after removing either the grill box and/or the griddle.
  • Each of the grills can be connected to a quick disconnect line from my rig’s LP tank.
  • Reviews of each of the units reflect good construction and durability.

It is going to be a tough choice! Now I need to visit a sporting goods store and lay my eyes on all 3.

Update (Black Friday ’17): I ordered the Blackstone from Amazon for $132.00 and also ordered the two carry bags $49. This price was the tipping point between the grills as they are very similar. The Camp Chef Explorer looked like a great grill and my guess is they would both work for me.

Watch for my review and set up of my new grill!