Some people like to think big with barbecues, while others like portable units that they can take beyond the campsite and off to a beach or picnic spot. If you’re in the market for a lightweight portable BBQ, you’re in the right place.

Perhaps you’re providing the food for family or friends involved in outdoor activities such as water sports, caving or mountaineering. Imagine how popular you will be if you can provide hot food and drink for your group between activities!

Portable gas barbecues are obviously super-efficient, fast and mess-free to use in all places. They offer less of a fire risk, too, so you’ll be allowed to set them up most places, and on most campsites. You won’t have to guess how much charcoal you’re likely to need for the meal, or set it up half an hour before you want to start cooking either. There’s lots to be said for cooking on gas.

But in terms of the delicious scent of food in the air, a warm fire you can huddle around and that deliciously seared and smoked food flavour, you can’t beat cooking on a live charcoal-burning barbecue in the open air. Another advantage of charcoal units is that they tend to be cheaper than gas portable BBQs. 

Of course there are drawbacks to burning coals to cook your food. These include the fire risk to cars, caravans, grass and woodland. Plus it’s slow to get going, slow to cool down, and messy to clear up and pack away ready for next time. Is charcoal worth it? That’s your call!

On the Practical Caravan test bench we’ve been trying out a range of both gas and charcoal barbecues that we think people will be considering for caravan holidays. To compare prospective purchases, you can read our other BBQ test results here. We review and rate the Olpro SAfire charcoal barbecue at £94.99, the Weber Go Anywhere gas BBQ, costing £103, the Quest Folding BBQ at £21.99, the Bodum Fyrkat at £50, the Campingaz 1 Series Compact EX CV at £95.95, the bargain basement SunnCamp Deluxe Bucket BBQ at £14.95, and this one, the Outwell Cazal, at just £19.99.

Outwell’s Cazal is a charcoal barbecue that really gives Quest’s Folding BBQ a run for its money in the compactness stakes. Supplied in a flat packet, the unit measures just 47 x 46 x 3cm; it’s not only small, it’s also thin enough to be wedged into all manner of ‘hidey-holes’ in your caravan. It’s made of steel and only weighs 3kg, so you’ll hardly notice it. 

Setting up the unit is simply a case of opening it out, pinging the hinged sides into position, then putting the grilles in place. The cooking area is a very generous 45 x 30cm, and this an easy barbecue to get going thanks to large vents under the coals’ grille. Sadly these also allow for a fair bit of ash leakage, which might be a problem on some caravan sites or during a dry spell, when there’s a risk of starting a wildfire. Fortunately plenty of campsites are happy to provide a concrete or brick barbecue terrace or metal stands that you can put your little portable on, to minimise the risk.