Volcano Grills – Collapsible Grill Review
H/t to SurvivalMonkey
This is a review of the Volcano Collapsible Grill (formerly Volcano II).
I have always been intrigued by the grills made by Volcano and had considered them as a base camp and tailgating stove in the past. I finally got my hands on the collapsible model and wanted to put it through a few tests. My grill is the tri-fuel model which means it can burn charcoal, wood or propane with the included burner kit. So far I’ve tested the charcoal cooking and was quite impressed.
My kit included:
- The grill
- All the grates and the diffuser plate
- A ‘Lid’ which covers the entire cooking area to allow it to double as an oven or a smoker
- Propane burner w/hoses & tools
- User manual
- Carry case
First off, this little grill is built like a tank. It stands 10.5” tall when open and has a diameter of 16” and weighs around 22 lbs. When collapsed it sits a mere 5.5” high and fits neatly into it’s carrying case for storage or travel. The cooking area is 13” and you can also drop a 12” Dutch oven down into the stove for single or stacked dutch oven cooking.
I had some ground elk meat in the freezer and thought I’d break in my grill with some local Northwest flavor. I patted the elk into some nice, fat burgers and went out to set up the grill. The grill opens with a pull of the carrying handle and the legs automatically extend. The legs were a little sticky so I worked them back and forth about 50 times and now they operate like butter.
The users manual suggests that you use no more than 25 briquettes when cooking with charcoal but since it was hovering around 0 F, I added a few more to be safe. Plus, I wanted to see if I could melt the outsides of the stove by overloading it… you all know I lean towards the aggressive side when working with fire.
I lit the charcoal and ran in to pour myself a Hefeweizen.
1 beer later, I spread out my charcoal and dropped the heat diffuser plate into the grill. This plate sets right above the coals and helps spread the heat evenly and also seemed to prevent the flare ups I’d expect from cooking on an uncovered grill. I took a picture of the diffuser before I lit the grill so you could see how it fits down inside. The diffuser can also sit up on top and would be a perfect spot for some eggs and bacon in a cast iron skillet… Note the 3 tabs in the below picture
Next I added my elk burgers and watched them sizzle.
I am amazed at how hot this grill gets. The designers of the grill talk about it’s heat focusing shape, jet induction thermodynamics, blah-blah-blah. This all sounds like marketing hype but there is something to its design because the temperature of my cooking surface was hotter than my full sized charcoal grill, even at zero degrees outside. The air control on the Volcano opens and closes the whole bottom of the grill, right at the coals and really works great. I played around with it and could feel the difference in heat after about a minute of operating the intake.
I like my burgers bleeding so I cooked them 5 minutes on one side, 5 minutes on the other and then took them inside to rest for 5 minutes. Heaven on earth.
The next thing I tried were some local chicken breasts, marinaded in a little white wine and herbs. I had some German sausages from the local butcher and thought I’d toss those on as well. I decided that I wanted to try to smoke this meal so I loaded it up with around 20 briquettes so I could cook slower.
I added a small handful of Hickory chips, placed my meat and took out the ‘Lid’ that came with my kit. Its like a tent that covers the grill. The inside is reflective and sends the heat back down and a small hole in the top acts as a relief valve for the smoke and heat. You could say it’s kind of like a little teepee. Maybe they should call it that instead of Lid, which is a little lacking in the creative department. Who wants to go play with their Lid when you can go play with your teepee?
The Volcano works excellent as a smoker. With the hickory chips smoldering, I closed the air control almost all the way and dropped the teepee over the grill.
As you can see from the results, both the sausages and the chix got a nice bit of smoke treatment while still getting that slightly crispy exterior. This meal also pairs well with beer so I poured myself another hefe and brought the platter to the table to rest for 5 minutes. I don’t really know what letting meat rest does but it makes me sound like a chef so I use the phrase whenever I have the opportunity. We served this with some real lacto fermented, barrel aged sauerkraut (not that commercial brined stuff) and some Bavarian mustard. Kleider machen Leute.
After the grill cools, you simply collapse it by pulling the bottom upward and then dump the ashes. I wipe the burn chamber down with a little olive oil and do the same to the diffuser plate. Not sure if I need to but it seems like a good maintenance protocol for any metal surface. It also aggravates my wife when I grab her bottle of Shade Grown, Expellor Pressed, Extra-Extra Virgin Olive Oil from The City of Pompei© for my outdoor maintenance.
I plan to take the Volcano with me on our next family camping trip and test it out with some scavenged firewood. I imagine the results will be similar and I like that the burn chamber is tough enough to handle that level of pyrotechnics. The propane makes for a nice option as well although I’m more of a woodsmoke type of cooker.
I’m a prepper at heart and am always looking for hard use, high quality equipment that serves the dual purpose of being useful in an emergency scenario while also being able to be used now – with no fear of wearing it out. This grill/stove/dutch oven cooking system would make a great addition to your preps as it allows a compact and easily deployable stove/grill for heating water and cooking whatever you’ve found to eat. Like possum.
Recipes, Videos, pictures and ordering information can be found at Volcano Grills.
The Collapsible kit with propane is around $135
The Collapsible without propane is around $99
and the Original Volcano is around $105
I haven’t tested an Original yet but am looking forward to picking one up to use as my regular deck grill. It’s nice to only have to toss in a few briquettes to cook for 3 as opposed to my large grill which burns for hours after I’m done with my 10 minutes of cooking.
Time for another beer.