Hey there campers and welcome to my post discussing my 3 best portable smokers for camping this year. It probably goes without saying, but camping trips in the great outdoors are perfect occasions to fire up the smoker. Therefore, if you enjoy camping and smoked food, then a portable smoker is a must-have addition to your kit.
However, because there are so many products on the market, selecting one can be complicated and overwhelming. To assist you here then I have compiled a list of the best small portable camping smokers to assist you with your buying process. Let’s check them out below…
My three recommended portable smokers for camping
I will review these in more detail below, but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:
|Portable Camping Smoker||Price||Get it|
|Cave Tools Grill Smoker Box||$||CURRENT PRICE|
|CUSIMAX Charcoal Grill BBQ Kettle||$$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Traeger Portable Wood Pellet Smoker||$$$||CURRENT PRICE|
What are smokers?
Smokers are barbecue cooking equipment that helps you to cook food at low temperatures within a controlled, smoky environment. Smoking food is a massively popular hobby and professional pastime alike hence the interest in taking them camping as well.
And as above there are many different types of smokers available ranging from custom-made offset options to pellet smokers to ceramic outdoor ovens. Each has its pros and cons and as with anything to do with camping, it really depends on how much gear you plan to take and how may you will be cooking for.
What should you be looking for?
Below are some of the main factors you should take into account as you shop for a good portable camping smoker:
- Ease of use
- Size and capacity
Smokers come in different types which in basic terms, vary based on the fuel it consumes to cook your food:
- Charcoal – A charcoal grill is an excellent choice for a lightweight smoker for camping. These are available in various sizes and weigh less than most grills. The benefit of this type is that it has an authentic smoky flavor. On the downside, you’ll have to keep restocking your charcoal supply.
- Pellet – Wood pellets power these smokers. An electrical auger feeds wood pellets from the pellet hopper into the burning box. The controller manages the feeding of pellets automatically, controlling the temperature and burn rate. They are primarily self-contained, aside from the need for electricity to power the controllers, auger, and fans.
- Propane – These smokers are straightforward to operate, and propane stoves and other propane appliances are commonly found at camping grounds. It is simple to pack a few propane tanks or look for a location to refill your propane tanks. These smokers, like pellet grills, do not require much guesswork in terms of temperature control by using a dial to set the appropriate cooking warmth with the smoke flavour being added via artificial liquids or smoking boxes to the side.
- Electric – Smokers that rely on electricity function almost identical to their propane counterparts, except these plug into a wall outlet. An electric element heats the wood pan and causes the smoke to be released. Many low-cost electric smokers are on the market, making them an excellent budget option.
Propane and Electric smokers do not tend to appeal to the traditionalists however they can be good options for camping due to their simplicity of use.
The portability of any smoker for camping is determined by the materials used in its construction as they will significantly impact factors such as weight and ease of maintenance. Smokers designed for portability should ideally be lightweight, rust-resistant, anti-corrosive and insulated to keep heat in. All of these properties are met by stainless steel.
Other materials, such as aluminum, can be used, but food-grade stainless steel appears the best option. Some materials, such as porcelain or cast iron, meet all of the above criteria but may add too much weight to smokers, making them impractical to move around.
Ease of use
When you’re on the road or at a campsite, you want the cooking to go as smoothly as possible. The smoker should be dependable, simple to set up, and simple to use.
As above, portable propane smokers with an electric battery-powered ignition system will be simple to start and will allow you to start cooking quickly. Electric smokers are also very simple to use if electricity is available.
Pellet and charcoal smokers are not as user-friendly for beginners but do provide for that great BBQ taste if you can set it up and enjoy a quiet beer whilst it does its thing.
As with portability, weight is essential when it comes to camping gear, just like it is with any other piece of equipment. Because of the materials used, a small smoker can easily be much heavier than a larger one made of lighter materials.
Weight can also be affected by the extra parts required for construction. Because of these additions, such as circuitry, an electric smoker will typically weigh more than a comparable-sized charcoal grill. If you know you will be hauling your grill around by yourself, consider how much weight you can easily carry without difficulty.
Size and capacity
It is critical to select a portable smoker model that provides a good balance of size and cooking space. All require a burner or burning box, space for the cooking grates, and adequate space for smoke and heat to flow.
Some of these smokers are generally quite large as well, putting the term “portable” to the test so make sure to buy a smoker that can cook enough food while still fitting inside your trunk, car, or RV.
Other potential additions include:
- Air vent – An air vent is essential for improving air circulation within the unit. The bottom vent of the basin regulates how much oxygen enters the smoker and the top vent controls how much heat exits.
- Lid thermometer – This addition helps you know how much heat is applied to cook your food. Proper temperature is needed to smoke different types of food properly.
- Wheels – Some camping smokers have wheels integrated into them for easy equipment transportation.
- Timer – The automatic timer will ensure that your smoker turns off after a set number of minutes.
- Ash catcher -If your smoker relies on charcoal or wood pellets, this additional is needed. It has two main functions:
- Collect ash from your unit for easy cleaning
- Gather wood soot to avoid littering on your campsite
What do I use?
I own a nice big bullet smoker which to be honest, is not the most portable thing around but one I have used for camping. It is a charcoal burner which means I need to also take that as fuel as well as wood chips, a chimney and fire starters. It holds temp well meaning I can set it and usually forget about it for a few hours at a time.
However, unless it is something you want to use at home as well (which is what I do) my advice to you would be to definitely choose a smaller option if you are looking for portability as we have been discussing all along here.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:
1. Cave Tools Grill Smoker Box
Ok, so this first option is not technically a smoker but it is a good way to get some smoke taste on a normal camping grill. Its use is basic in that all you need to do is wood pellets or chips inside the box and place over the burner or charcoal if that is being used. It is crafted using stainless steel and comes with recipe ebook all about smoking foods. See its specifications below:
- Brand: Cave tools
- Construction materials: Stainless steel
- Weight: 1.52 pounds
- Fuel: Wood chips, pellets
- Dimensions: 9 x 5.1 x 1.3 inches
- Recipe ebook for food smoking
Why have I chosen it?
Although this product is an add-on to your grilling gear, it certainly helps produce a consistent smoke for cooking your outdoor dishes. Made from durable and easy-to-clean stainless steel, the smoker is designed to last a very long time. Lastly, this smoker is tailor-fit for charcoal or gas-powered grills. This is the perfect option for those who like to travel light or hike to their camping grounds.
2. CUSIMAX Charcoal Grill BBQ Kettle
My next recommended smoker is a great option for campers as it is not too large but still comes with all the basic necessities of a camping smoker such as air vents to regulate the airflow in the system and integrated wheels for improved mobility. Its lid thermometer eliminates the guesswork of determining how much heat is applied as well. See its specifications below:
- Brand: CUSIMAX
- Construction materials: Durable enamel
- Weight: 19.56 pounds
- Fuel: Charcoal
- Dimensions: 21.2 x 21 x 13.1 inches
- Lid thermometer
- Ash catcher
- Lid hanging hook
- 18-month warranty
Why have I chosen it?
As above, this is the perfect size for a camping smoker in that it is large enough to accommodate 3-4 people but small enough to maintain some portability. If you are traveling with a family and have a little space in the tray, then this really is a great option as it can double as a standard BBQing grill as well.
3. Traeger Portable Wood Pellet Smoker
If you are looking for a good dual-purpose grill and smoker, then this final product is well worth a look. The product’s design gives you reliable smoked food via its precise temperature management and inbuilt food probes and aside from smoking, you can use it to bake, roast, braise, and BBQ some of your outdoor meals too. See its specifications below:
- Brand: Traeger
- Construction materials: Steel
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Fuel: Wood pellets with electric heat
- Dimensions: 20 x 21 x 13 inches
- Cast iron griddle
- Control panel for temperature regulation
- Meat probe
- Latched lid
- 8 lb pellet hopper capacity
Why have I chosen it?
This last option is a great one as it is multi-functional and small enough to fit in most camping kits as well. It also has a “Stay Warm” mode that keeps your meals warm until you are ready to consume them. This is a fantastic tool for those who want an all in one system with quality smoking capabilities.
There you have it, my best smokers for camping in the great outdoors. I hope this article has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time