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(The Gear Loop) - Scents and flavours have an uncanny ability to transport you to different places and times in your life. Few are as potent as the smoky juices of a barbecue. 

If the sun is shining, there’s always an excuse to fire up a barbie. Perhaps the best time to indulge in one is on a camping trip. After all, at the campsite, it’s difficult to replicate the quality of your home kitchen when it comes to a standard meal. But with the right equipment, you can definitely cook up a barbecued meal to rival the best.

Space is at a premium on car-camping trips and you’re unlikely to have room for the kind of beast of a grill that lives in the garden. This is where portable barbecues come into play, designed for your wilder trips, whether they’re to the beach, the campsite or the summit of the local hill.

The Gear LoopOutwell Calvados M Grill review photo 6

Outwell is a brand driven to deliver home-from-home comfort for camping trips. Its kettle-style Calvados M Grill, which bears a passing resemblance to the tripods from War of the Worlds, is one of a quintet of charcoal grills it has designed to give you a quality unit that’s compact and portable.

Our quick take

The Calvados does everything you’d expect for its price point. It’s nicely compact, works perfectly as a little barbecue unit and looks the part too. If you were having more than a few people for dinner, you’d want a bigger grill but there’s enough grill space here for a small family’s worth. For a spot of car camping, a beach BBQ or the local park, it’s a great option. 

Outwell Calvados M Grill review: a small, portable barbecue grill fit for the campsite, beach, park or garden

Outwell Calvados M Grill

4.0 stars
For
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Domed top for heat distribution
  • Removable legs
Against
  • Doesn’t pack down once assembled
  • Only compatible with charcoal

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In the Loop

A quick look at what you can expect from the Calvados M Grill:

  • Dome shaped lid reflects heat around the grill
  • Open and close top ventilation
  • Constructed from steel and iron
  • Burns charcoal only 
  • Removable legs store inside grill for easy transportation
  • Insulated handle for easy transportation and lid removal
  • Weighs just 3.33kg
  • 3-in-1 grill cleaner and locking grill-tong sold separately
The Gear LoopOutwell Calvados M Grill review photo 3

Features

Even heat distribution is important when cooking large pieces of meat, like steaks or whole chickens. The Calvados is a kettle grill, featuring a domed lid that keeps the heat circling within. It comes with adjustable ventilation, meaning you can open it up for maximum airflow and heat, close halfway when you want things to cool off a bit, and close completely to extinguish the air supply to the coals once you’ve finished.

The Calvados has a number of features that make it an attractive portable option for camping trips. It weighs just 3.33kg and, if the side clips are engaged, it is easily carried thanks to its insulated handle. Its legs can be removed quickly and can be stored in the main grill for easy transportation. 

It doesn’t fold away to a flat unit, unlike Outwell’s less expensive Cazal, but this is the compromise when it comes to the quality heat distribution you get with the Calvados’ lid.

The Gear LoopOutwell Calvados M Grill review photo 5

However, there are circumstances where a unit that folds down and packs away would be preferable, such as if you had a long walk from your ride to the beach, or if you wanted to lug the unit to the top of your local hill, for example.

Performance

We’ve been cooking burgers, veg skewers, chicken and halloumi cheese on our Calvados and found that it does everything we’d expect from a small barbecue grill. It was fine to carry to the local park, though its shape meant that it was more suited to being ferried around in a car.

It features an integrated tray for holding the briquettes, which also catches the resulting ash and makes for easy cleaning when done. Once the coals reach the desired heat, the cooking grate is easily slotted in using a basic, removable grill handle. 

The Gear LoopOutwell Calvados M Grill review photo 9

The Calvados doesn’t come with its own tongs, though Outwell do sell these separately if required. To stop the heat escaping and create oven-like conditions, the lid pops into place and can be secured using the side clips. Tinkering with the amount of airflow into the unit is easy thanks to the adjustable vent on the lid.

There’s just about enough room on the grate to cook several pieces at once, with space around the side that’s away from the direct heat of the searing coals. However, the capacity of the unit isn’t enough to cater for a gathering with several friends, but this isn’t really what it’s designed for.

The Calvados M’s short legs are part of its appeal when it comes to portability. However, it is a very low unit, rising to just 44.5 cm off the ground.

The Gear LoopOutwell Calvados M Grill review photo 2

This means you either have to place it on a table or get right down to its level when cooking. In truth, we didn’t find it was a huge issue, though Outwell also has the option of the more expensive Calvados Grill L, which features much longer legs that give it an overall height of 96cm. However, what you gain in height, you lose in packability.

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To recap

An easy to use, lightweight grill that makes for a great addition to car camping trips or for cooking up a quick meal in the garden. However, the Calvados M’s short legs might be part of its appeal when it comes to portability, but it results in a very low unit, rising to just 44.5 cm off the ground. This can be a bit awkward to cook with.

Writing by Alex Foxfield. Editing by Leon Poultney.