As a backpacker in the early ’70s, I wasn’t picky about the food I carried; it just had to be light. Textured vegetable protein was a staple, though it was like dog food packaged for humans, and my gourmet dinner was Knorr’s powdered leek soup thickened with Ore-Ida potato flakes and cooked on a Svea 123 stove. When I switched to camp-cruising, my boats carried the weight and I could afford to indulge in better food and cooking equipment. For the past few years I’ve been doing almost all of my cruising cooking with portable table-top butane stoves. I recently added the Gas One Mini to my galley kit. It’s a dual-fuel stove that burns propane as well as butane, and I’ve been pleased with its performance, so when I saw Gas One’s 7,200 BUT dual-fuel portable camping grill, I was eager to see how it could expand my cruising cuisine.
The 8-lb 10-oz grill measures 16-1.2″ x 11-3/8″ x 4-5/8″. That’s larger than my standard butane stoves (13″ x 12″ x 4-1/4″), so it won’t fit in the galley box I built for them. It goes aboard in its plastic case. The griddle is made of cast aluminum, has a cooking surface that measures 12-3/8″ x 9-7/8″, and has a non-stick coating. Beneath it is a fat pan (stainless steel, according to the manual, but strongly magnetic) with a spout that lets drippings flow to a tray that slides into the bottom of the stove. The fat pan rests on an enameled steel support that’s open to the burner, which produces two 7″-long rows of flame. A piezo spark ignites the flame. The grill houses an 8-oz butane canister and has a hole in the back for the passage of an adapter hose when using a 1-lb propane canister.
The stove is easy to operate: press the lever down to engage the butane cartridge (if that’s what’s being used), turn the dial until the igniter starts the flame, then adjust the flow of gas. The fat pan can be a chore to clean, but the griddle easily sheds grease and grime. I weighed the canisters after several cooking jobs, and while how long they last depends on the setting of the dial, the calculations I made with it in the two-thirds to three-quarters range came to 1 hour 45 minutes for butane and 4 hours 20 minutes for propane. These figures may be a bit generous, as fuel delivery is better from a nearly full can than a nearly empty one. The griddle is for outdoor use; the instruction manual has a carbon monoxide warning and cautions against using the griddle indoors. Some foods—raw chicken, for example—can produce a fair bit of smoke that needs someplace to go.
The fare I had in mind for the griddle—dishes I was unable to cook with pots and pans on my stove—all worked out well on it. Turkey patties, salmon patties, veggie burgers, kebabs, mahi-mahi fillets, and chicken all got their stripes on the griddle and had a taste and texture that pan-frying can’t achieve. (Although I gave up beef and pork decades ago, I’d venture that they would cook just fine, but perhaps produce more drippings.) Skinless, boneless chicken was the slowest to cook of the foods I’ve tried, so cutting it into quick-cooking strips will save fuel and time.
I used the grill on a couple of cold evenings (down to 44 degrees) and that slowed cooking, so I bought an 8″ x 10″ x 3″ stainless-steel baking pan to use as a cover. There was no way to get a hold of the cover when hot, so I added a pair of stainless-steel pad-eyes, fastened with rivets made of aluminum nails. The cover speeded up cold-weather cooking significantly, and because the pan does not completely cover the griddle, it doesn’t seem to affect the function of the grill. When not in use, the pan holds two butane cartridges and serves as a wash basin.
Using a cover with the grill makes it function like a toaster oven, an unexpected bonus, and I’ve happily added pizzas, toast, and open-faced grilled-cheese sandwiches to my camp-cruising cuisine. Foil, crumpled then straightened out and folded, makes a good insulator to keep bread and crust from charring as the toppings are warming and the cheese is melting. French fries, grilled under the cover, also worked out well. I just cut 3/8″-thick strips, rotated them a time or two and in about 10 to 12 minutes, they were ready.
In my 20s and 30s I relished roughing it and was quite content to suffer through cold, wet weather and get by with meager meals. I got over that, and now I like cruising in comfort with meals that I can look forward to. The Gas One Griddle opens up a lot of possibilities.
Christopher Cunningham is the editor of Small Boats Magazine.
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