If you're searching for a charcoal barbecue that doubles as a basic camp oven, read Practical Motorhome's Weber Smokey Joe BBQ test and verdict

Overview

If you're looking for a new barbecue to take on motorhome holidays with you, then we have several reviews to show you. On the Practical Motorhome test bench we gathered a selection of both gas-powered and charcoal-burning barbecues and portable grills to see how they fared under scrutiny.

We checked their general quality, materials used, and how easy they were to assemble and get ready to use. Then we checked the packing away process, to make sure that everything would fit back into the tightest of spaces once again. 

We have to say that gas grills do have the edge over charcoal barbecues when it comes to motorhome touring holidays. After all, most of us don't want to stay too long in one place. Charcoal barbecues mean that you'll need to arrive early to set up the barbie, then wait for half an hour after lighting it so that the coals are grey. Only then can the cooking and eating commence. After the barbecue you'll need to leave it out all night to cool down. This may be fine, but if you fancy wild camping, then the next morning you may not have access to campsite facilities and washing-up areas. All in all, gas grills can remain pretty clean, which is a big 'plus'. 

And yet, charcoal barbecues offer the best amazing cooking smells as they start sizzling your steaks, sausages, burgers, kebabs and fish. For the best flavours, you can't beat charcoal barbecues.

We've tested the Kampa Sizzle gas barbecue at £36.99, the large Kampa Caddy gas BBQ, priced at a mighty £190, and the Weber Go Anywhere gas barbecue, costing £103.

When it comes to charcoal barbecues, we've tested the SunnCamp Compact BBQ, at just £5.99 and the Weber Smokey Joe, £39.99 and the more expensive Outwell Cervon Grill & Fire Pit costing £84.99. 

Check out all our BBQ reviews and camping accessory reviews before you buy your next batch of outdoor equipment. 

For this review we tested the Weber Smokey Joe.

Weber is well known for manufacturing barbecues and has been in the business for 50 years, so we decided to test the firm's traditional charcoal-powered Weber Smokey Joe BBQ.

It is hard not to be impressed by both the build quality and additional built-in features, such as the bracket that allows the lid to double as a windbreak. As you can imagine, this is a feature that is likely to have us thanking our lucky stars when trying to light it in windy weather.

Having lid vents means that the Smokey Joe can even act as a crude oven. All you do is pop the lid on to cook something like a thick piece of meat or chicken — or even a whole chicken if you're prepared to put lots of charcoal in the base and leave it for hours!

To use the Smokey Joe as an oven Weber also suggests that you should be dividing the coals into piles on each side, so that food placed in the middle gets heat without smoke. As positive as all this is, though, the 36cm-diameter cooking area is simply good rather than excellent. This limited cooking grill area, in turn, is the factor that makes the 47cm-diameter x 38cm-high storage size difficult to justify in a motorhome locker.

Technical specs

FuelCharcoal and wood
Cooking area36cm diameter
Packed down size47cm x 38cm
Heatproof lid handleGlass-reinforced nylon
Ash catcherYes
Bowl and lidPorcelain-enameled
Cooking gratePlated steel

Verdict

This well made Smokey Joe barbecue from Weber is good, but not stunning when compared to some of the other barbecues on the market. It's bulky to store and only gives a modest grill area. For this reason it has gained a three-star rating in Practical Motorhome's expert test. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • Robust
  • Doubles as a camp oven
  • It's raised off the ground
  • Bracket so you can prop lid as a windbreak
  • Well made for the price

Cons

  • Bulky to store
  • Charcoal cooking is slow
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