Smaller, portable gas grills dominated the reviews for 2012, and they are especially popular with consumers. The smallest of the models we cover here, the Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill (*Est. $60), weighs just 14 pounds and is small enough to carry in one hand; one expert reviewer describes it as the perfect little grill for camping. This grill is also available in a charcoal version. The overall consensus is that the tiny Go-Anywhere's porcelain-coated steel exterior is reasonably durable, and that the grill itself is simple and easy to use.
The Weber Go-Anywhere is the top-ranked portable gas grill in a review from Slate.com; just one charcoal model manages to edge it out by a few points. (You can read more about charcoal grills in our report on charcoal grills.) Reviewer Jude Stewart praises the "thoughtful design touches," including the relatively deep cover and folding legs (for tabletop use), which lock sturdily into position. Both Stewart and Riches say the grill's ignition as a weak point, however, but they note that owners can start the grill using a match or handheld lighter if the ignition misbehaves.
Owners and experts agree that the Go-Anywhere's single 10,000-BTU, stainless-steel burner cooks quickly and evenly. "If you dream of folding up your Viking stove and inflating it in miniature in the great outdoors, this grill's for you," Stewart says. She also notes that the Go-Anywhere's 160 square inches of grilling space is generous for a portable grill. A few users say that one side of the grill doesn't get quite as hot as the other; some use this as a feature for improvised indirect cooking, but others don't like it.
Riches notes that the Go-Anywhere gas grill is not as durable as larger portables, but "If you are a heavy griller who likes to hit the road you will be happy to buy another one of these in five years or so." The Go-Anywhere is covered by a 2-year warranty on the plated-steel cooking grate, and a five-year warranty on the other parts; it's built for use with a 14.1-ounce propane cylinder.
If you're willing to lug a more substantial grill or just want something small for a patio or backyard, the Weber Q series earns rave reviews, particularly the Q-100 (*Est. $150) and Q-200 (*Est. $200). The Q-220 (*Est. $230) also draws lots of reviewer attention. The Q-100 is a slightly smaller version of the Q-200, providing 189 square inches of cooking area and a single, 8,500-BTU, stainless-steel burner, compared to the Q-200's 280 square inches and 12,000-BTU burner. Both models have push-button ignitions and porcelain-coated, cast-iron grates, which reviewers say provide a real grilling experience in a portable form factor.
The Weber Q-220 is basically identical to the Q-200, except for the addition of electric ignition and a built-in thermometer in its hood. Both the Q-200 and Q-220 have side shelves that fold away for storage, and can sit on an optional, wheeled "Q stand" (*Est. $50). At 30, 42, and 42 pounds, respectively, the Weber Q-100, Q-200 and Q-220 are the type of portable grill that requires two hands to carry.
All three of the Weber Q grills can use disposable 14.1- or 16.4-ounce propane bottles. The ability to use 16.4-ounce tanks is a relatively recent addition; older reviews indicate that owners were unhappy about being limited to the smallest bottle size. Weber says you should be able to grill for about 90 minutes on a 14.1-ounce tank, though some users report considerably shorter grilling times. If you want one of the Weber Q grills for patio or small-scale backyard grilling, you can purchase an adapter (*Est. $25) for attaching a full-size, refillable propane tank.
The majority of Amazon.com user reviews give the Weber Q-100, Q-200, and Q-220 the highest possible ratings, although a few mention problems with ignition and gas flow. These grills also draw high praise from About.com's Derrick Riches; he likes their sturdy, solid construction, although he notes that they're both expensive and heavy for their size.
The portable Cuisinart CGG-200 (*Est. $180) and Coleman RoadTrip LXE 9949-750 (*Est. $180) grills are two of the few non-Weber portable grills to draw significant reviewer attention. The Cuisinart CGG-200 (*Est. $180) features a porcelain-coated, cast-iron grate and a series of specialized grill surfaces suited to particular foods, some of which must be purchased separately. Other features include a temperature gauge, removable drip tray and a stainless-steel hood and side tables. It's compatible with a 14.1- or 16.4-ounce propane bottles and comes with a three-year warranty. A foldable stand (*Est. $50) is also available.
The Cuisinart CGG-200 ranked highly with experts in 2011, but it has been downgraded a few notches by two major reviewers in 2012; they don't give a reason for the downgrade. Owners posting at Amazon.com still give the Cuisinart CGG-200 high marks, especially for its build quality and even heating. However we did find a few complaints about parts breaking in a short period of time, and some users say they had trouble with the CGG-200 in windy conditions. You may need two hands to carry the CGG-200, which weighs over 30 lbs.
Though the Cuisinart and Weber Q-series portable grills are alike in many ways, lid height is a major difference. The Cuisinart's lid is pretty flat; the Weber Q grills have taller, more dome-shaped lids. If you're mainly cooking burgers, either grill would be fine; but if you're ambitious and plan to grill a whole chicken or a big turkey breast, the taller lid on the Weber grills will be more accommodating. The Weber Go-Anywhere grill is somewhere in the middle, with an arched, rectangular lid that reviewers say provides good grilling space, and allows heat to build gradually.
Most of the portable grills we evaluated can be used on a tabletop or placed on top of an optional folding stand. The Coleman RoadTrip LXE 9949-750 (*Est. $180) is the exception; it's permanently affixed to a foldable wheeled cart. The Coleman Roadtrip 9941-968 (*Est. $205) can be used on a tabletop or atop a folding stand, but doesn't draw as much attention from reviewers as the LXE. Both RoadTrip grills have a pair of 10,000-BTU burners, a 285-square-inch cooking area and detachable side tables.
Not all of the attention directed at the Coleman RoadTrip LXE is positive; most users are upset that you can't cook with the lid closed, something they say is only mentioned in tiny letters on the grill's box. A number of users who didn't notice this warning or disregarded it say that the grill's lid got so hot that the plastic handles melted. This poses a burn risk, and at least one reviewer says the melted plastic fouled the RoadTrip's locking lid and ruined the first meal he tried to cook on it.
Users also complain that the RoadTrip LXE, which has a handle on one side so you can fold the grill and tow it around on its wheels, tends to flop open when they pull it around. They say you wind up carrying it, no matter what. Others warn of discovering gaps in the fuel line, which in at least one case caused an unexpected spike of flame through the front of the grill. Consumers say this grill is prone to rust, and that it gets easily bent out of shape.
The Coleman RoadTrip LXE portable gas grill earns a 4.5-star average rating from nearly 250 Amazon.com reviewers, who say its general heating and cooking performance is good. The RoadTrip LXE gets a 3-star average rating after more than 80 reviews on Coleman's own website and a 4-star rating from more than 15 reviewers at Epinions.com. We feel that the aforementioned shortcomings of these portable Coleman grills are serious enough to warrant looking at alternatives for your portable grilling needs.