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Gear Review: The Nifty UCO Flatpack Grill and Firepit

UCO Flatpack Grill
Travis Smola

The UCO Flatpack Grill and Firepit is a nifty piece of camping gear.

When it comes to backpacking and camping, nothing beats a good meal cooked over an open fire at the end of the night. The only problem is these days is that "leave no trace" principles are in use in more areas than ever and traditional campfires often aren't allowed in many areas.

Worse, many traditional camping grills and portable firepits are often extremely bulky, heavy, and downright expensive, which sticks if you're just a person who wants to go car camping a few times a year.

We believe we have just found the perfect solution in the UCO Flatpack grill and firepit. It's an impressive, light, and inexpensive piece of camping gear that every outdoorsman or woman should have in their supplies. We recently got the chance to test this grill and loved it. Here's our full review of the UCO Flatpack.

The UCO Flatpack Portable Grill is slim and light.

UCO Flatpack Grill
Travis Smola

From the moment the UCO arrived at our door, we were impressed by the mini size of this grill. I may never use my heavy cast iron camp stove ever again. Folded up, it's only 1.1 inches thick. It's about 13.5 inches long by 10 inches wide when folded down. That means this grill will easily slip into a larger backpack, under a car seat, or into an RV storage area. This grill will free up a lot of space for other items. The whole thing only weighs 3.3 pounds, making it a breeze to carry into the backcountry to areas that may have rules against traditional firepits.

UCO Flatpack Grill
Travis Smola

The entire grill has a solid stainless steel construction. This material gives it great durability while simultaneously providing some excellent corrosion resistance that will give it functionality for years of use. It also makes this thing a breeze to clean up. In case you need to put it away dirty, they include a nice protective cover until you can wash it up. That will also help keep your pack, boat, or truck clean. The legs of the grill sit flush and flat against the sides while folded, but open to a very stable base when grilling. I was never worried about this thing tipping over and spreading hot coals or embers once it was setup. It's probably the best portable safe grilling option on the market right now.

Fire up the grill!

UCO Flatpack Grill
Travis Smola

The grilling area is not huge, but I was able to cook half a dozen hotdogs and four venison burgers on it with ease in my tests. For my tests I used standard original Kingsford charcoal briquettes and Kingsford Matchlight briquettes. The cooking abilities are about the same with both although I did find the Matchlights burned a little longer.

I will mention that I did my testing in late November and early December here in Michigan, which is a time when most people have put the BBQ grill away for the season. For those who are still grilling, they usually go with propane.

However, I saw this as the ideal time for a test of this type of grill. I found myself dealing with windy conditions every time I used this grill, which was a good thing. UCO designed this product so the sides of grill serve as a wind-break. There is still some air flow through the holes in the side, which did make lighting the grill difficult. The night I grilled the burger, I was using the matchlights and was surprised when I had to use lighter fluid on the charcoal because some stronger-than-normal wind gusts kept putting my fire out. as.

However, as anyone in Michigan knows, the "winds of November" are often much stronger than what you're going to encounter during the warmer months, which are the times of year you're probably going to use the grill anyway. I don't see this as a mark against the grill at all. It's not perfect if the winds are strong enough, but I also highly doubt anyone else will be using this thing in 35 degree temps with 15+ mile per hour gusts like I was. I should also mention that the grill did a great job of keeping the flames in the grill and off the ground. Not once did I see any sparks or embers fly to the ground under the grill. Of course, a grill is only as good as it cooks. Well, I'm happy to report both the hotdogs and the burgers I cooked with this grill were bursting with the flavor that only charcoal can bring. I immediately found myself pining for a warm summer night when I can try a barbeque with a more complicated meal.

The bottom line.

UCO Flatpack Grill
Travis Smola

Considering that this grill only costs about $50, this firepit packs a lot of bang for your buck into a compact package. It's a winner. The only downsides that we see are that it could be a bit messy in the backcountry and you will have to wait a bit for it to cool down before it is packed away again, but those are minor gripes. Overall, we love this thing and are excited about the possibilities it holds for our future outdoor adventures. We are looking forward to using this thing not just for camping trips, but for kayaking and even the occasional backyard meal where we just don't feel like using the propane grill. If you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for the outdoorsman and woman in your life, this is it!

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels

NEXT: THE AXIS DEER AND HOW THEY'RE IMPACTING PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES

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Gear Review: The Nifty UCO Flatpack Grill and Firepit