GRILL ON THE GO
GO ANYWHERE AND GRILL WITH THE HITCHFIRE ULTIMATE GRILL STATION.
There probably aren’t any grills faster to get up and running than the models offered by HitchFire, makers of fullsized barbeque grills that mount to the rear of your vehicle. As their name implies, these grills are similar to the types you’d find at a backyard cookout, but they’re mounted to your rig’s tow hitch.
Instant Field Kitchen
I recently had the chance to try out the company’s most feature-rich package, the Ultimate Grill Station. At the heart of the Ultimate Grill Station is the Forge 15 Grill. Unlike most compact camping cooktops, which have limited cooking space, the Forge 15 has a generously sized, 18x22inch cooking surface that’s rated to serve up to 10 people all at once. The dual-burner grill is powered by propane and can take two 1-pound propane canisters or use a larger, refillable propane tank with the use of an adapter hose. The Ultimate Grill Station comes with HitchFire’s own 20-pound propane tank that’s perfect for this use.
Also, unlike the base Forge 15 Grill, which is available as a separate unit, the version of the grill that’s included with the Ultimate Grill Station is also fitted with a side burner, which is powered by its own 1-pound propane tank. This additional burner gives you an added means to cook food while grilling. The station also includes a large, 15x30-inch combination wood side table and cutting board that mounts to the grill’s tubular swing arm base. What with the grill, side burner and table, this is an instant field kitchen.
The grill attaches to a standard, 2-inch hitch via an included swing arm mount that articulates widely and is lockable at 90 and 180 degrees. The swing arm allows the grill to be positioned where you need it while still providing access to your vehicle’s trunk or bed. For those with a rear-mounted spare tire or other equipment, a hitch extender is available that brings the swing arm mount away from your rear bumper an additional 12 inches. I found the extender to be perfect for my truck, which allowed it to easily clear its rear-mounted spare. Once mounted, the grill can be manipulated just about however you see fit. The grill can rotate 360 degrees on its pedestal mount; the arm can swing out as much as 180 degrees.
Installation was easy enough, although my unit didn’t come with an instruction sheet. Curiously, I wasn’t able to find one on HitchFire’s website either. I ultimately located it elsewhere online. The grill assembly is secured by way of a series of pins that allow it to be transported while mounted to the vehicle’s hitch.
At the Cook Site
After the grill was set up, I took it out for some outdoor cooking. I made sure everything was locked down and then drove to a cooking spot we often use to see what it could do. I noticed that the hitch and extender’s mounting points have lax tolerances, which made it wobble around while I was driving. Nevertheless, because HitchFire did a good job of making sure nothing was actually loose on the assembly, nothing was in real danger of coming off; it just jostled around a bit while on the road. As a result, I don’t believe this grill is meant for any kind of off-roading. However, it’s well-suited for car camping or serious tailgating sessions.
The grill with the hitch extender hung off the rear of my truck about 2½ feet, so it does add an appreciable amount of length to the vehicle. For smaller vehicles or ones without a rear-mounted spare tire, the hitch extender might not be required and would shorten the overall length by a foot. The extra weight hanging well past the rear of the truck did make the rear suspension droop about ½ inch.
Once I arrived at the cooking spot, it only took a few minutes to set up the grill and attach its side table and fuel canisters. Setup was completely hassle-free; I was cooking in just minutes after arriving. Thanks to separate 1-pound propane tanks powering each of the heat sources, the grill got to temperature expeditiously and economically. My family and I stayed out for lunch and dinner, eventually cooking for a party of five by the end of the day. Even so, we still had plenty of fuel left.
It’s notable to mention that the grill detaches from the swing arm for tabletop use when desired. After allowing it to cool down, I covered the grill with a cover that comes with the Ultimate Grill Station package. The cover keeps it free of dust and morning condensation when the grill isn’t in use. Each of the items that come with the Ultimate Grill Station is available separately from HitchFire.
All things considered, I was pleased with the HitchFire Ultimate Grill Station. It gives us the ability to cook for a large number of hungry travelers wherever the road takes us. Without having to pack it up in the vehicle, it also frees up valuable cargo space for more gear. Additionally, it keeps the post-grilling and cooking smell and mess out of the vehicle’s cabin for easy hose-down to degrease and clean after returning home. However, that won’t be for a while, because we’re already headed out to the beach for another outdoor cookout.