Confidence to Explore

How To - Packable Campfire Grill

Smaller than a Coleman, always in the Jeep

Found this from the folks at BuzzFeed and thought I'd give it a go. Here is my slightly modified version, including adding an attachment mechanism to Jeep.

Original BuzzFeed video

Materials & Supplies

I made my grill 18" long, adjust your measurements/quantities as necessary for however long you want yours
  • 1" copper pipe (I'd buy at least 36" in case you screw it up or an extra for a friend)
  • 3/4" copper pipe (buy as much as the 1" pipe)
  • 1" copper caps - qty: 2
  • Pipe cutter (or hacksaw)
  • Course sand paper
  • 1 1/4" PVC pipe (get at least 3', this stuff is cheap)
  • 1 1/4" PVC caps
  • Jigsaw or hacksaw for cutting PVC
  • Bike spokes, get the regular silver ones, not the black ones - qty: 20, you'll have a few leftover if you don't mess up
  • Aluminum bike spoke screw on caps, my bike shop gave me these for free - qty: 20
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Pliers
  • Tin snips or dremel tool with cutoff wheel
  • Two Titan Straps or two Quick Fists
  • 10-24 tap if you go with Quick Fists
  • 10-24 x 1" screws with conical head if you go with Quick Fists - qty: pack of 8, only need 2
  • Lighter and nail if you go with Quick Fists
  • Spray paint, optional but encouraged for aesthetic reasons
  • Painters tape - optional
  • Sharpie - optional
  • Exacto knife
  • Materials for Bonus Stuff at the end

  • Plastic test tubes - optional Bonus Stuff
  • Some cotton balls, cotton swabs, diesel soaked wood chips, or tinder from REI
  • Stormproof matches


Step 1: measure the 1" pipe to 18"

Step 2: cut it to length

Step 3: measure the 3/4" pipe using the 1" pipe

Step 4: mark the 1" pipe down the length of it in 1" intervals

NOTE: in the next few steps, I'll reference a 3/32" bit and a 5/32" bit. That's what worked for the bike spokes I used. Your bike spokes may be different, requiring different size drill bits

Step 5: use a 3/32" bit, drill on every mark, all the way through the pipe so there's a hole on each side

Step 6: flip the pipe over so you're viewing the other side of the pipe

Should look like this

Step 7: widen the holes on the backside to 5/32"

Be careful to NOT go through the other side this time

Step 8: straighten out the bike spokes

Mine came with a curve at the end. Use some pliers to straighten it out

Step 9: check the fit

You should now be able to drop the bike spoke thru the copper pipe, having it catch on the bottom hole

Step 10: repeat step 4, marking the 3/4" pipe at 1" intervals down the length

Step 11: drill each mark using the 3/32" drill bit, but do NOT go through both sides of the pipe

Step 12: Drill thru both sides of the pipe in the first, middle, and last holes of the 3/4" pipe using the same 3/32" bit

Step 13: put all bike spokes through the 1" tube as shown

The three that are singled out in this pic are the ones that will go through the first, middle, and last holes of the 3/4" pipe

Step 14: cut the bike spoke ends

For any of the bike spokes that will NOT go through the first, middle, and last holes of the 3/4" pipe, cut off the threaded section

Step 15: put the 3/4" pipe on

Bike spokes will slide into holes previously cut, with three of them sticking out the other end. Put the bike spoke caps on those three, locking the whole thing together

Step 16: disassemble it

Unscrew the bike cap screws, pull out the spokes

Step 17: put on one of the 1" pipe caps

These are meant to be really tight. We only want one of them that way. Use a mallet to hammer one on. That never comes off.

Step 18: sand out the other 1" pipe cap

Use some coarse sand paper to work away at it until it's a tight fit but you can pull it off without too much effort If you were to reassemble the hole thing at this point, it'd look like this Note that I polished the cap that's removable so I never wonder if I'm pulling on the right end At this point, the grill is complete and looks like this

Next up, we'll make the holder for it and attach it to the Jeep

Step 19: push one of the 1 1/4" caps on one end of PVC pipe

It'll be a tight fit but we don't want it to come off. Get it on there tight

Step 20: Do a rough measure of the length of PVC needed and cut to length

Step 21: test fit, cut, repeat

Put the collapsed grill inside the PVC and put the other 1 1/4" cap on. If the 1" copper pipe inside moves around, cut off some more PVC. Continue doing so until the copper pipe is touching both PVC caps to limit it rattling around while driving. Second PVC cap should be similar to the second copper pipe cap: goes on snug but can be removed without too much effort. Here is what mine ended up looking like:

Step 22: put some painters tape over the PVC

Step 23: Write a label on it

Step 24: Cut out the label

Step 25: Peel off tape

Also did some arrows on the cap so I know which direction is up and which cap is easily removed

Step 26: Spray paint

Step 26: Remove painters tape

Here is what it looks like put together

Great, now we have everything together. Time to mount it to the Jeep. There are two ways of doing this: Titan Straps or Quick Fists. I've done both so you can see the result

Step 27: Attach it to the roll cage with Titan Straps

This is stupid fast and holds it in place really well. If you go with this method, you're done after this step except for the bonus section at the end

If you decide to go with Quick Fists, you'll need to do the next couple steps

Step 28: Line up where it'll go

Step 29: Use nail to mark the roll cage where you'll drill

Step 30: Zip back the roll cage padding

Step 31: Drill a hole for a #10 bolt

I found the 5/32" drill bit left too much play in the bolt so I went with a 9/64". It's a bit harder to tap though, so take your time

Step 32: Tap it

Be sure to use cutting oil! I usually just use oil for my differentials Should look like this

Step 33: Heat up a nail and melt through the roll cage padding

Step 34: Attach the quick fist using the 10-24 conical bolts

Step 35: Repeat with the second Quick Fist

Final Product

That's it!

Scott's Review Down the Road

I've used this once in the backyard and once in the backcountry. Found one weakness I need to address which is the propensity of the bike spokes that aren't threaded to come out, especially if you lift the grill off the fire at an angle. That action also presents a challenge in the backcountry where you don't have tongs readily available and the copper pipes are really hot. I think I'll go back and buy some more spokes, not cut the threads off any of them, and come up with a way to easily pull the hot grill off the fire.

Bonus stuff

If your copper pipes are longer than your spokes, you'll have some extra room in there. I decided to put that to good use by including a fire starter kit inside the grill

Step 36: Fashion two small plastic discs that'll fit into the test tube

I made mine out of some extra Kydex I had lying around

Step 37: Drill a 3/32" hole in the end of the plastic tube

You can ignore the cotton I had inside in this pic

Step 38: Stuff your plastic discs and fire starter (cotton swabs, diesel soaked sawdust, tinder, etc) into the plastic tube

To get the firestarter back out, you can just use one of the bike spokes to poke at it through the hole

Step 38: Break off matches to fit

Step 39: Put matches in plastic tube

Step 39: Put it inside the grill

Room to spare

That's it! Now you have a grill, with a means to make fire, inside your Jeep at all times

Pics of it out In The Wild

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