One of the things that used to epitomise camping for me was an open fire. I didn’t own a stove during these first few years wild camping on the sea shore or nearby woods, using real fire to cook meat, heat up beans and warm the brews. Of course, this isn’t seen as sustainable these days for good reason, and most decent wild camping spots that are anywhere near a fuel source will invariably have been scarred by inconsiderate campers.
So when I saw the Grilliput Fire bowl, it seemed to be the answer to the problem. Coupled with proper barbeque grill also by Grilliput, this makes up a decent luxury camping item.
The firebowl, once you work out how to open it, unfurls like an ISS solar panel and the scales it is made up of are quite tightly put together. You can use the closed firebowl to store a small bag of charcoal, and it also tucks the dirty surface away inside and away from your kit.
While the firebowl is simplicity itself, the bbq is virtually a 3d jigsaw puzzle. You start off with a heavy metal tube, the end of which unscrews to reveal the rest of the grill. You need to put the outermost cross pieces loosely on first (through the smaller of the large tubes), the legs, then the rest of the grill before tightening it all up. Practice a few times at home first to get used to it before trying it for real!
Being quite lightweight for a barbecue, you’ll need to treat this gear with a bit of care. It’s not designed for heavy knocks, and you could easily cause damage. Once packed away though, the grill is indestructable, but the firebowl might need a bit more care.
Of course, now you’ve able to make fire safely, you’ll need to work out what fuel you’re going to use and how to light it. A bit of trial and error surely here as some charcoal will burn to nothing quite quickly, while better ones will provide decent heat. We found that the type of self-lighting charcoal that comes in a bag was perfect, provided you only use half a bag. Of course, you can also burn deadwood and heather in the firebowl if you wanted. You will find that you need to put the firebowl on rock when in use as it could still heat up and scorch the grass.
If you’re camping you’ll find it more difficult to take food that ‘s suited to a bbq for more than one night. You’ll be fine for one night camping, or if you’re stocking up on the way, but you’ll be limited in options for long term use. You can use the hot coals for heating up a pot as well, so it can be quite useful in that respect if you know there’s going to be plenty of fuel wherever you’re camping. You may be able to cook in the coals as well, so jacket potatoes are a viable, if heavy, option. We looked at baking in the coals, and bread dough wrapped around cheese and bolognese, if properly wrapped, makes a passable wild camping calzone.
This is a surprising piece of kit that may be quite heavy when compared to conventional camping stoves, but the grill itself is exceptionally compact. Yet the weight really isn’t an issue. You’ll be taking this on a wildcamp where you won’t need a stove and the sheer pleasure of making the fire and relying on that will outweigh anything else. You could dine on steak and then cook up sausages and bacon in the morning and let the weight be damned. We decided to rustle up some burgers on it for simplicity, and it performed perfectly.
Ultimately this is a pure luxury item for when you want to do something totally different on a wild camp, perhaps to get the kids interested or a significant other or just for the sheer hell of it. You won’t replace your camping stove with this, but I can guarantee you’ll have fun provided you get the weather to use it.
Note – if you do light a fire or a barbecue in the wilds then you’ll need to ensure that you don’t start a grass, heather or gorse fire and extra care is needed. If in doubt, don’t light it. You’ll also need to protect the ground from the heat, especially grass, as black scorch marks are rather unsightly.