Vango Combi IR Grill Compact: first impressions
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly but reliable solution to cooking for a crowd at camp, look no further than the Vango Combi IR Grill Compact. We received a sample of this double-burner stove with grill from Outdoor World Direct and we’re loving it now the warmer weather has arrived. With two burners over a surface area of nearly 19in x 11in, you can cook with two large pots or skillets as well as the infrared grill underneath. All three are powered by one ignition switch and provide a good heat source with good fuel efficiency too.
• List price: £90
• Fuel type: Butane
• Ignition: Auto Piezo
• Weight: 8.5lbs / 3.87kg
• Packed size: 23.4 x 5.7 x 13.5in / 59.5 x 14.5 x 34.5cm
Powered by a butane gas bottle, once this is hooked up you can set it on any surface thanks to its anti-slip feet and get cooking. The lid provides some wind protection, but it doesn’t have side panels so if you’re cooking on a gusty day you’ll want to hang a tarp or find a sheltered area. When you’re finished cooking, it cools quickly and is really easy to clean. To pack it up, just close the lid and fasten the latches and you can carry it under one arm back to the car. We found the plastic locking latches a bit fiddly at first and they seem a bit cheap, plus we’d love a carrying handle, but for the price you really get a lot for your money here.
Vango Combi IR Grill Compact: in the field
I was getting a bit worried I’d never get to test this camping stove out then suddenly summer arrived in Scotland and we’ve had it out at the beach and the back garden for some family feasts.
Here’s how it performed:
I’ve never really owned a big camping stove, so I barely knew what to do with myself when I suddenly had two burners and a grill. The stove is big enough that we were able to cook on it using a medium-sized pot and a large skillet at the same time which meant we could feast on sausages and pasta and enjoy some very happy kids. The grill pan isn’t huge, but it can easily do a slice of toast or just manage two slices of bacon.
Both burners and the grill get good heat going straight away, and it doesn’t seem to really burn through the fuel either.
Weight and packability
At less than four kilograms, this is definitely on the lighter end of double-burner stoves and though I wouldn’t want to carry it for miles, I was happy enough to carry it under my arm on the half mile or so walk from the van to the beach.
It’s small enough when it’s packed away to easily slide behind the seats of the car and takes up hardly any room in the trunk, and it’s not even that crazy to carry it underarm or on the train – however it doesn’t have a carrying handle and I wish it did because it’s about briefcase sized and I’d be more likely to cart it to the park nearby if it did.
Ease of use and cleaning
Honestly the only tricky part of using this grill lies in opening it the first time. It’s sealed by two plastic locking latches which aren’t very sturdy so we were afraid we’d break them. Once I figured it out, they are actually really easy to snap on and off, but I can’t help wondering how long they’ll last as they seem a bit cheap.
Beyond that, it’s super easy to use. Just hook up your butane canister and turn the dials for whichever element you want to light first then click the ignition. For me, it has always started up first time. The same ignition lights all three elements, too, which makes it super easy and you can control the heat just like you would on your stove at home.
I took these pictures before using it when it was all shiny and new, but after a few uses it needed a clean. No problem, I just lifted off the racks and gave them a quick wash, wiped the rest down and it was good as new.
Besides a carrying handle, the only thing I really think is missing from this stove is some more wind protection. It doesn’t have any side walls, so we had to positions ourselves at the beach so we could benefit from our neighbor’s windbreak (we paid them in sausages). It’s no big deal out in the backyard, but some wide panels would go a long way.
All in all, I think this is terrific value for money, especially if you’ve got kids and are on a budget like us. The lid doesn’t seem like it’s super sturdy when you’re lifting it up, but it’s actually all really great quality and built to last.