A Grill and Smoker Combo Designed for Your Next Offroading, Camping or Overlanding Adventure
Raise your hand if you’ve succumbed to the ease of freeze-dried meals, granola bars, or three-day-old sandwiches on your last camping trip. Better yet, have you gone through the effort of lugging your InstantPot or sous vide cooker on the trails? That’s some serious dedication and likely something you’ll find on Jason Nicosia’s @overlandeats page. The truth is there’s a time and place for it all.
If you’re backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail for three months, lugging a 28lb grill on your back is highly unlikely. But if you’re overlanding, camping or just looking for a more compact solution to grilling or smoking food in the backyard, there’s something new out there that’s actually less than two months old… NOMAD Grills.
At first glance, this thing looked like something straight out of the Matrix, potentially containing a red and blue pill. That or it held a heavy dose of Kryptonite that Lex Luther could only dream about. Nope, neither of those things. It holds your meat! Well… it can grill and smoke your meat. The NOMAD Grill & Smoker was designed to be compact, portable, but with a lot of intelligence built inside far beyond something that just “looks like a briefcase”.
Pricing & Unboxing
When we first started looking into the NOMAD, the price of entry ($599) seemed a bit steep. There are tons of cheaper options out there if you want to grill food… tons. The market is literally saturated with portable grills.
We used to lug our Coleman portable grill on the trails, but it rattled around in the trunk and wasn’t very sturdy. We also used some foldable grill inserts that sit over an open fire, but we found them challenging to regulate the temperature, the open-air concept made it slower to cook food, and again, they weren’t a sturdy solution.
NOMAD Portable Grill & Smoker Combo
So maybe it was out of sheer frustration that we took the plunge into the NOMAD, but it had everything we were looking for.
Find It Online
- NOMAD Portable Grill & Smoker: Check Price
Once our NOMAD arrived, we were pleasantly surprised with both the packaging and the construction. At roughly 28lbs, the box, corrugate protectors and even the design kind of had that new iPhone unboxing feel. Cool/funny graphics, beer koozie, stickers, a personalized note from the owners and even some charcoal (which we’ll get into later) had us pretty impressed.
While this grill is incredibly durable (which we’ll also get to later), they could have thrown this in any old box and it would have arrived just fine. NOMAD took all the right steps to make the consumer satisfied with their purchase before they even start using it.
The Grill Insert
Each grill comes with one honeycomb-style, magnetic grill insert, which was cardboard wrapped separately vs. being tossed in, rattling and getting scuffed in transit. For a company that just launched about two months ago, we were very impressed with how well thought out the packaging was. It didn’t just stop at the packaging…
Once you get the grill out of the packaging, you’ll immediately notice the weight and all-around solid feel. Nothing feels loose or flimsy, which helps your initial investment angst subside even more!
The exterior of the grill has a few features worth calling out:
#1. Heavy-Duty Anodized Finish
Most obviously, the NOMAD sports an anodized finish, which helps cut down on rust and corrosion. It’s incredibly durable and we should know. During our very first cleanup of the grill, it fell three feet to the ground off of the horses we had it placed on (pictured above). The slight dent on the side hasn’t rusted over the past month, it had zero impact on the grill itself, and it was that first bit of road rash we needed to truly help break it in!
#2. SurfaceSafe Tech
NOMADs patent-pending SurfaceSafe tech keeps exterior grill temps relatively low by integrating heatsinks into the cook boxes, using multi-layer construction, and by decoupling components with thermal breaks. We cooked three separate meals on this grill so far, one being smoked salmon (i.e., a longer cook time) and while I wouldn’t rest important documents on top, it’s not going to scold your skin.
#3. Extremely Durable Food-Grade Silicone
The baby blue accents are made of food-grade silicone that stands up to extreme heat, which helps to grip the locking pads and handle, protect the outer shell and provide traction so the grill doesn’t slide when in use. The long strips also help keep the grill elevated so it’s not just sitting flat on your surface. The silicone is also wrapped around the temperature gauge making it easier to remove to check internal food temperatures. NOMAD tells us that down the road, these silicone inserts will be interchangeable so consumers can customize their NOMAD to a color that meets their needs, matches their color scheme, etc.
#4. Ergonomic Handle
The ergonomic handle is pretty beefy and if ever disconnected from the grill itself, it could serve as a weapon that may save your life. Don’t quote us on that.
#5. Intake Damper Control
On the bottom right portion of the grill, you’ll notice an intake damper control and the upper left side, an exhaust damper control. Both of these dampers can come in handy when trying to regulate the internal temperature of the grill and are secured at each setting by high-temperature magnets to keep parts from rattling around while also helping to contain your ashes when the grill is on-the-go. Think “convection airflow”. And yes, both handles are wrapped in the iconic baby blue silicone.
#6. Drawbolt Latches
Two silicone wrapped drawbolt latches keep the grill locked up both when stored and if you’re trying to further control the internal temperatures.
#7. Tel-Tru MFG’s Bimetal Thermometer
Lastly, NOMAD integrated a Tel-Tru MFG’s bimetal thermometer (known for precision instruments). The thermometer helps identify the temperature within the grill, but it can also be removed and probed into whatever it is your cooking to get a quick internal temperature.
And, Voila! Perfectly Cooked Meal While On The Go
As for the grill’s interior:
The cook box itself is made of thick aluminum with multi-directional heatsink fins that aid in thermal management.
The included grate is domed to allow for more charcoal space underneath. Once you drop it in place, you’ll notice that it magnetizes to the frame of the cook box. This was incredibly helpful as we had the grill stored upright on the trails and surprisingly, it never came loose inside the cook box. You can also buy a second if you want to fold the grill completely open and use both sides for the grill cooking surface (doubling the grilling capacity).
As for the grate size, you can cook roughly 30 burgers, or two racks of ribs, or in our case, plenty of room for chicken and shrimp kabobs.
So far, we’ve grilled steaks, kabobs and even lobster on the NOMAD grill. We’ve only smoked a salmon filet on it so far (roughly two hours), but it turned out perfect! We have a pork butt soaking in Dr. Pepper at the moment, so we’ll report back once we exit the food coma.
NOMAD was kind enough to send us a sample of their soon-to-launch Thai-style charcoal. This was the first time we’d used this type of charcoal and we’re pretty sure it comes from the wood in rambutan fruit trees. This particular charcoal is considered “binchotan-style”, which essentially means it’s stackable. The center of the charcoal logs is hollow and helps with airflow to burn the bricks evenly. The end result for our salmon fillet? Incredibly tasty with a subtle smokey flavor. Forewarning, the logs do take a bit to get going but once they start burning, they seem to last a really long time and they’re perfect for smoking things for hours on end.
All-Natural Charcoal (Included)
The pictures of our meals speak for themselves. The NOMAD grill was an awesome addition to our Overlanding arsenal and even now for our backyard BBQs. Its compact size makes it easy to stow away, both at home and in the trunk of our 4Runner. The well thought out construction makes it rugged and durable enough to withstand a three-foot drop yet sophisticated enough to craft culinary masterpieces in the wild.
Whether you’re using it on a picnic table or sitting on Mother Nature’s floor, it’s designed to work in almost any setting. Set-up is as easy as opening it up, starting some charcoal and throwing it in. Clean up is just as easy and the removable magnetic grate makes it easy to wire brush and clean in your kitchen sink.
Overlanding/campground friendly? Yeah… it’s still a charcoal grill at the end of the day! It doesn’t take up a whole ton of space and can easily be put aside.
All-in-all, this grill is more than just a cool looking metal briefcase (we’re actually over that at this point). If this is the first product to come from NOMAD grills, we can’t wait to see what these guys have cooking next… pun intended.
fwiw, i’ve created a facebook group for nomad owners and wannabes. not many members yet, but it should build up steam soon. https://www.facebook.com/groups/258396182657416
nomad grill ? price and does it include the 20% cupon?
You don’t mention if you spent $600 on this or not? That is pretty critical to the validity of your review? Thanks man!
for smoking something larger, like a butt, how does one add more charcoal?
How is cleaning out the coals and ashes?
thanks for the review. does the grill get hot enough to really sear a steak properly?
Well, that all depends on how hot you get the coals. At the end of the day, it performs like any other grill; it’s just the design the set’s it apart.