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Pac-Flat Backpacker's Grill.

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  • Ron Martino
    Pac-Flat Backpacker s Barbecue Grill Initial Report by Ron Martino yumitori@montana.com 25 March 2002 GRILL DETAILS The Backpacker s Grill arrived with a cover
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2002
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      Pac-Flat Backpacker's Barbecue Grill
      Initial Report
      by Ron Martino
      yumitori@...
      25 March 2002

      GRILL DETAILS

      The Backpacker's Grill arrived with a cover letter from Joe Bond and
      packed in a ziplock bag along with a display card detailing the
      advantages of the grill and providing instructions and hints for use on
      the reverse. I had no need to consult the setup instructions, as the
      process is quite intuitive and simple to do. A quick look at the photo
      on the display card assured me that I had figured it out correctly.
      Weight of the grill, according to the card, is "under 9 ounces." By my
      scale its weight is 7 3/8 ounces (208 grams). It's always nice to see a
      piece of backpacking gear that actually weighs less than expected. No
      specific dimensions are given for the grill's size. Measured, it's
      stored dimensions are 6" x 6" x 1". When in use, it is approximately 7
      1/2" x 7 1/2" x 3 1/4", depending on just how the support clips are
      positioned.

      COOKING TRIAL

      For my first test on the grill, I wanted something messy, to see how it
      functioned with grease. Accordingly, I made hamburgers, seasoned with
      onion soup mix and soy sauce, always tasty but always a mess to cook. I
      used a white gas stove for the test. The preheating, as recommended by
      the instruction card, immediately discolored the corrugated heat
      distributor sheet, a not too surprising development. The grill is only
      large enough to cook one hamburger at a time. I quickly found that the
      heat distributor browned the meat evenly and with a minimum of searing.
      I kept checking the first burger because it simply didn't seem as if it
      was cooking, despite the heat of the stove, but it was. My first time
      flipping the burger send the grill and burger flying; after that I
      learned to steady the grill during the flips. The support clips get
      quite hot, as the instructions warn, so I found a light touch on one of
      the posts did the trick, and kept my hand away from the stove's heat.

      The burgers produced much less grease and splatter than I expected -
      due to the even cooking of heat distributor, most of the meat's juices
      were locked inside, making the burgers quite tasty when it came time for
      quality testing. Still, there was a certain amount of grease, and
      regular flare-ups on the heat distributor. The grease that hit the sheet
      seemed for the most part to flash into flame and burn out quickly, but
      after three hamburgers I did have a few drops that had drained off the
      lower side of the grill before burning. The cooking was not entirely
      splatter-free, either. The stove's windscreen and the table top were
      both covered with a thin layer of grease when I was finished. Still, I
      expected more. Careful selection of a cooking area a little away from
      the rest of camp should make such concerns relatively unimportant.

      CLEANING

      Since I chose a greasy meat for the first trial, I expected cleanup to
      be something of a chore. I did follow the advice to burn off the "excess
      drippings" but there remained blackened remnants when I was done.
      Attempts to used a paper towel to brush off the residue were
      unsuccessful. With soap, water, and a scrubbing pad the grill came clean
      quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Since I hike with a lightweight
      scrubber and dish soap, I think cleaning the grill will not be too
      difficult, especially when used with less greasy foods. I would carry
      the stove in a zip-lock, however; either the one it came in or a similar
      one. The one exception to the easy cleanup was the heat distributor.
      Between the discoloration caused by the heat of the stove and the marks
      left by the burning grease, I fear the sheet will never be pristine
      again. On the other hand, that's not terribly important. It will still
      function as intended.

      INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

      I am quite favorably impressed by the effectiveness of the backpacker's
      grill. While it will remain a luxury item, at less than half a pound it
      is not a great burden, and those who fancy themselves backcountry
      gourmets will definitely want to consider adding the grill to their
      kitchen supplies. The instruction sheet suggests as well that the heat
      distributor can eliminate scorching of cooking pots, something which is
      often a problem on high heat gasoline stoves, thus increasing its
      usefulness. One issue I think I've noticed is that the heat distributor
      seem much more flexible after the initial use. Steel often loses its
      hardening after exposure to high heat, and I suspect that's what
      happened here. It doesn't affect the grill's ability to function, but
      the sheet doesn't snap into place as rigidly as I thought it did at
      first.

      During upcoming trips I will test the versatility of the backpacker's
      grill. I am especially interested in seeing how it handles making toast,
      one of the suggested uses. I enjoy backcountry cooking that goes beyond
      boil and serve meals, so I am looking forward to challenging the grill's
      limits.

      REVIEWER INFORMATION

      I am a 40 year old student in computer science, living in Missoula,
      Montana. My earliest backpacking and hiking trips started with the Boy
      Scouts; then I began regular outings 20+ years ago, with my school
      backpacking club. Over time I have covered sections of the Appalachian
      Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, & the Pacific Northwest Trail; and
      have taken numerous trips in the Northeast, Midwest, northern Rockies,
      desert Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. My usual backpacking areas
      these days are in western Montana, including Glacier NP. Trip lengths
      vary from overnights to multi-week expeditions. Some of my other
      outdoors activities have included cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,
      orienteering, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, horseback riding.

      --

      yumitori(AT)montana(DOT)com
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