This Portable Grill and Smoker Opens Like a Suitcase and Fits 30 Burgers

Tailgaters, this grill goes out to you.

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September 29, 2021

Photo by: NOMAD Grills

NOMAD Grills

When I tailgate or car camp, I normally haul out my mini Weber grill. It’s lightweight (about 10 pounds), but there are a lot of downsides. First, it doesn’t cook many burgers — only about five or six. Second, there’s always much ado about dumping out the hot, spent coals somewhere safe. I spend a lot of time pointing out their final resting place to my friends (who’ve inevitably had at least three beers each) to make sure no one steps on them or accidentally sets something on fire.

A few months ago, I became aware of a whole different sort of portable grill: The Nomad Grill and Smoker from Texas-based company Nomad Grills. And just as I can’t unsee that pair of expensive sneakers that are so much cooler than the $75 ones I have kicking around, I couldn’t get the Nomad out of my head. Yes, I saw it on a friend’s Instagram story. Yes, it was arguably my coolest, most outdoorsy friend who’s always up on the best gear. I simply had to try it out. And that’s what I did over the past couple months. I brought the grill on a hiking trip to the Hudson Valley. I smoked on it in my backyard. It came with me out to the Hamptons (where, fun fact, it pulled its weight next to a fancy pool when my friend’s thousand-dollar grill had a problem lighting). It went up to Rhode Island for a Labor Day weekend full of grilled pizza.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

And I am here to tell you that, despite its hefty price tag ($599), the Nomad is fully worth it. It’s powerful, incredibly durable (heaven forbid the fate of any rock it falls on) and portable. But perhaps coolest of all: it doesn’t really get hot on the outside, so it can be used on any surface. Buy the Nomad for yourself. Buy it for your dad/S.O./best friend who love grilling and adventures. Ask someone else to buy it for you. It’s like a Ferrari, people. It’s expensive because it purrs (figuratively). And everyone will complement you on how darn cool it looks (no really though, if you don’t like taking complements from strangers, don’t get this grill).

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

Let me give you a quick overview. The Nomad Grill and Smoker is shaped like a briefcase. Open the clasps and the aluminum box will swing open smoothly like a book, revealing a slightly domed honeycomb grate in one half (and you can buy a second grate to rest in the other half if you’d like). With the second rack, there are 425 square inches of cooking space that’ll fit 30 burgers. The whole sucker weighs 31 pounds. There’s zero assembly when you take the grill out of the box, which is great for someone like me who needs to drink half a bottle of wine to even begin to think about assembling something like an Ikea chair.

All you do is heat up some charcoal – using a chimney helps – and then you pour the hot coals underneath the rack, banking them up on one side if you’d like to do direct and indirect cooking. There’s an easy-to-read temperature gauge on the outside that tells you ideal temperatures for grilling and smoking, plus vents on the side that you can open and close to varying degrees to control the air flow. I’ve grilled a variety of dishes on the Nomad, including vegetables, chicken, steak and pizza, and I’ve smoked several racks or ribs — all with truly excellent outcomes. The time it takes to preheat and cook on the Nomad grill is similar to other charcoal grills I’ve used (although there’s much less smoke), and friends said that the smoking function was on par with that of The Green Egg.

Photo by: Heath Goldman

Heath Goldman

But the truly standout part of this grill? The fact that the outside does not heat up. This means that I have been able to plop it onto any number of surfaces (namely several picnic tables and a wooden bench) and cook with it next to my friends as they eat and drink. Moreover, when I'm done cooking, I simply close up the grill with the hot coals and close the vents to stifle the air. The cool grill firmly seals in the hot coals and dust, meaning there is zero downtime from the time I stop cooking to the time I need to pack up the car — and there are no hot coals to dispose of. The factors detailed in this paragraph, in my opinion, are what make this grill truly convenient and unique and completely worth it for all of your tailgating needs. Have at it, grill masters.

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