The PKGO Camp and Tailgate Grilling System is the “portable” version of the PK360, a cast iron grill that’s developed a cult-like following, thanks to users that claim it’s the perfect charcoal grill. PK Grills designed this smaller version as a way to take the exceptional cooking quality of charcoal grills with you on the go, but is it as portable as its tagline would have you believe? I tested it myself to find out.
There’s not a lot of setup involved with the PKGO Camp and Tailgate Grilling System, but everything is wrapped in plastic and zip ties, so it took several minutes to get everything unwrapped and cut open. I definitely needed a pocket knife, so keep that in mind if you’re opening this for the first time while you’re camping or tailgating.
When I lifted the PKGO grill out of the box, the first thing I thought was, “Wow, this is heavy!” The whole grill—both top and bottom—is made out of cast aluminum, giving it a total weight of around 46 pounds. Not only is the grill heavy, but it’s also pretty bulky, at 13 inches high and 21 inches wide. At that size, I can’t imagine lugging it around on a camping trip or tailgating at a football game. It could be an excellent addition to an extended camping trip, though, because you’ll likely be situated in one place for more than a few days.
At that size, I can’t imagine lugging it around on a camping trip or tailgating at a football game.
The grill is expertly designed, with a rounded shape that’s ideal for venting and two-zone grilling. The lid is attached with open latches that make it easy to remove when it’s time to convert it into two open hibachi grills. And it comes with everything you need—including a Flipkit stand and extra grill grates. The lid sits snugly on top of the stand and the grill grates rest on top of both cast iron pieces.
When opened up, the total cooking surface area doubles to 408 square inches—204 square inches on each grill face—which is plenty big enough to serve a crowd. I cooked four strip steaks, two large chicken breasts, and eight hamburgers simultaneously—and there was still some room left to spare.
In addition to doubling the grilling space, the design of the PKGO Camp and Tailgate Grilling System allows you to create a two-zone grilling system—a hot direct zone and a moderate indirect zone to achieve the perfect consistency for whatever you’re cooking. It utilizes a four-point venting system: There are two radial exhaust vents and two lower dampers that allow oxygen to flow through the grill.
I was able to strategically open and close these vents to control the amount of heat I got while cooking—perhaps my favorite feature. You can cook your foods low and slow over indirect heat and then move them over to the hotter side to finish them off. While this method works great for all foods, it’s especially helpful for making perfectly seared steaks—something that’s not easy to pull off on most grills.
I cooked four strip steaks, two large chicken breasts, and eight hamburgers simultaneously—and there was still some room left to spare.
The grill also has a digital probe access door. If you want to get the precise temperatures of the meat you’re cooking, you can thread the probe through the opening and monitor your meat. I have a dual meat thermometer, and I appreciated the ability to precisely monitor the temperature of different kinds of meat rather than trying to guess when my food was done.