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Camping on the Cheap | Fireplace Grate

Every adventurer needs a fireplace grate - just don't waste your money!

As I was planning my calendar of outdoor adventures for the upcoming season of canoe trips, backpacking, and overland routes I also took an inventory of my gear. One of the items that required a replacement was my fireplace grate.

Every adventurer needs a fireplace grate. For most of us, it's not a complete adventure without a campfire! Even if you have a full kitchen with a gas stove and microwave, you should still cook outside occasionally. If you are venturing into the wilderness, campfire cooking is a requirement in extending your range and lightening your gear weight and volume.


I actually enjoy building a fire. Not only does the fire warm your spirits, but the added warmth is a life-saver. Often, physical recovery after a strenuous day requires more BTUs than can be generated by a basic camp meal. A small fire and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate at midday can make a cold, rainy day tolerable. Plus, there is nothing like a shore lunch of freshly caught fish!

In some areas, you might camp at designated spots that include a fire grate. In many boondock campsites, you may need to gather some rocks to create a fire ring that protects the fire from the prevailing winds. Sometimes the provided grate is damaged or too high for efficient cooking without a bonfire. That's why I always carry a small grill to support my cooking pots and occasionally barbecue meat over the coals.


I started my search for a new fire grate online - and was shocked to find grates and grills that cost from $25.00 to as much as $75.00! Don't get me wrong. I like high-tech designs and space-age materials. But this is something that I going to stick in the fire and abuse. I don't need to spend extra for titanium or CNC intricate designs and logos!


Then I was shopping in my local Bix Box Store and found a simple replacement grate for a charcoal grill. The cost was only $6.95.

I made a cheap cover to protect my pack from the sooty, grimy grill. I used a scrap of material from a $1.25 windshield cover that I had used to make a pot cover. Total cost - under $8.00.

Looking a little further online, I also found various cooking grates and grills designed for the home kitchen that would make serviceable campfire grates. Almost without exception, camping gear is priced much higher than the equivalent item used in home or commercial kitchens!

But the BEST BUY was a complete charcoal grill - that included a SPARE cooking grill. TWO cooking grills AND the charcoal cooker - for ONLY $16.99!!! You get BOTH a tabletop cooker for at home or picnics, plus a grill that will last for many years of campfire abuse.

This search for a replacement fireplace grate is a prime example of why it PAYS to consider the task, then seek solutions that satisfy the need. Often, NOT starting your search in the "camping" section will lead to a great alternative at a fraction of the price!


The Great Out There blog

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