Jul 02, 2023

Burch Barrel Flat Packer Charcoal Grill and Wood Fire Pit Review: Fold It, Pack It, and Grill Anywhere

Weighing in at 25 pounds, the Flat Packer from Burch Barrel is burly. But it packs down to almost nothing, sets up fast, and works as both a camp grill and a fire pit.

I camp a lot — whether it’s in a tent, a truck camper, or from a tow-behind RV. I also frequent an off-grid cabin in the Vermont woods where I overnight on a regular basis.

Whether I’m enjoying van life or cabin life, cooking on a portable camp grill is a nightly occurrence. So is having campfires under the stars. I’ve used a lot of portable grills — and some work better than others. So, when I saw that Burch Barrel was making a folding, wood-burning grill and fire pit combo, my ears perked up. It seemed like an ideal camp companion for cooking meals and enjoying fires anywhere.

So, I got one to test for all my tent-, car-, cabin-, and van-camping adventures. I’ve been using it since July, and so far, I’ve loved how compactly it stores and how easy it is to carry — and how well it cooks.

In short: Burch Barrel’s Flat Packer ($275) is the ultimate portable folding camp grill. Made from heavy-duty stainless steel, it folds flat and sets up in less than a minute for cooking or a campfire. There are no loose parts that are easy to lose. And, when it’s time to pack up and head home or to the next destination, the flatpacker’s four stainless panels clip together for easy and compact transport. It’s a heavy fire pit grill, but it does its job well.

Roby Burch, Burch Barrel founder, CEO, and “product guy,” says, “The real goal for us, with the Burch Barrel Grill being our flagship product, and cooking with wood and charcoal while bringing people together being our company philosophy, was how to replicate that in a more portable way. We wanted to be able to provide consumers with the same quality and thoughtful design in a portable grill.”

With the Flat Packer Grill, I’d say Burch Barrel nailed that goal. When it’s folded for transport, three of the Flat Packer’s four panels (the grill has three sides and a grilling surface) slide onto pins on the inside of one panels. All four panels are then secured together with Velcro straps with robust D-rings at each of the three corners.

With the grill in carry mode, I carried it with the ergonomic wooden handle that’s riveted onto the outside of two of the grill panels. That made carrying the 25-pound grill relatively comfortable.

When I got to camp, it only took about a minute to assemble the Burch Barrel Flat Packer Grill. Two of the three sides have slots cut into the 3mm 304 stainless steel panels.

By sliding those two sides into each other, and then sliding the third side into slots on the two assembled panels, the grill’s pyramid-shaped firebox takes shape. The grill supported itself on three sheet metal legs with weight-saving cutouts.

Burch Barrel cut a circle of oblong vents into all three panels to facilitate airflow. It then crafted a custom sheet metal cooking grate that’s more venting than metal. But, because it’s made from such heavy gauge steel, it was stable no matter how much meat and veg I loaded onto it.

According to the brand, the Flat Packer’s grill surface is large enough to accommodate four steaks, 10 burgers, or 24 hot dogs.

Burch Barrel recommends you use charcoal as fuel for the Flat Packer. I burned both charcoal and wood, sometimes together sometimes independently.

Charcoal was easier to control — I could add a lump or two to keep the fire going if my chicken, steak, or veggie burgers weren’t done yet. I used hardwood chunks to add flavor. And when I didn’t have charcoal on hand, I used wood to sear salmon and grill peppers. With wood as fuel, it took a little longer to get coals for cooking, and the fire went out faster.

When dinner was done, I removed the grill panel with tongs, and the Flat Packer doubled as a fire pit. I added a few chunks of wood and kicked back to enjoy the stars and the toasty warmth of the Flat Packer.

When the camp grill was cool and I wanted to pack it up, I dumped the ashes and brushed it off with newspaper or hosed it off with water, clicked it together, and it was ready to go.

The Flat Packer is functional. It’s also beautiful. Burch Barrel used the same cutouts as in its signature grill for both venting and weight savings. And it has an added integrated bottle opener, just ’cause.

The downside of a rugged portable fire pit grill like this one is that it’s also heavy. This grill, which is 13.5 inches high x 9.75 inches deep when assembled, weighs 25 pounds. Many foldable grills are a lot lighter. Many also feel almost disposable. This one can take a beating.

Burch’s personal Flat Packer was washed away in a flood. He retrieved the parts, hosed them off, and the grill was still ready to go. There aren’t any extra parts to get lost, just four waterjet-cut stainless steel panels. And there isn’t a bag to get greasy or smelly with the remnants of dinner.

There are a lot of foldable, portable grills on the market. This one is superior because of how cleverly and seamlessly the pieces lock together. Yes, it’s heavy. That’s because it’s meant for car camping, beach parties, backyard BBQs, and tailgating.

“The Flatpacker’s design and the way it goes together is special,” Burch said. “It’s not light, but it’s compact and easy to load into the back of a four-wheeler, truck camper, or your car.”

I was impressed with this grill’s durability, packability, and functionality. The Flat Packer delivered on all the promises that Burch Barrel made, and I felt it met the brand’s goal of balancing quality and portability in a fire pit grill.

Überleben Stöker Flatpack Stove is a wood-fire camping stove that packs flat and won't break down, or run out of fuel. Read more…

I camp a lot — whether it’s in a tent, a truck camper, or from a tow-behind RVIn shortportable folding camp grillBurch Barrel GrillFlat PackerMany foldable grillsfoldableportable