The UCO Flatpack Mini Portable Grill and its bigger brother, the UCO Flatpack Portable Grill and Firepit are stainless steel grills that fold flat when not in use. While I’ve tried a bunch of these small grills in the past without much satisfaction, I’ve found the Flatpack Mini much easier and effective to use because it folds up for easy storage and transport. It’s also a great option if you want to educate your family about Leave No Trace because it doesn’t scorch the ground and you can discreetly bury your ashes after cooking or enjoying a fire and no one will ever know you were there.
Specs at a Glance
- Total Weight: 30.1 oz
- Grill top, firebox, and base: 27.4 oz
- Cloth carrying case: 2.0 oz
- Metal tool: 0.7 oz
- Packed Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 1.5 inches
- Grilling Surface: 9 x 7 inches
- Height: 8 inches
- Material: Stainless Steel (rust and corrosion resistant)
- Folds Flat: Yes
- Carrying Case: Included
- Price: $37 w/ Amazon Prime
The UCO Flatpack Mini has a folding firebox that holds the fuel and fire, two legs that crisscross each other, a grill top, and a small metal tool that can be used to reposition the stove or its components when they’re hot. A cloth carry sack is also included to carry the stove and keep it from making everything it comes in contact with from becoming covered in soot.
The unit comes pre-assembled with the legs attached to the firebox. The grill fits over the ends of the firebox and locks the unit open. Here’s a short video that illustrates the assembly process used by the Mini and the larger Flatpack model.
While the UCO Flatpack Mini is smaller than its big brother, the UCO Flatpack Portable Grill and Firepit, you can easily fit two trout fillets, four hamburger patties, two medium-sized steaks, a pack of hot dogs, or some shishkabobs on it to cook over a fire. The actual cook surface is 9″ x 7″ and perfectly adequate for 1-2 people. The cook surface size of the larger Flatpack is 13″ x 10″, so almost twice as large.
You can use any grilling fuel to biofuel to cook with on the Mini Flatpack, including downed wood, charcoal briquettes, or charcoal. If you use downed wood, you’re going to want to chop it up into finger-sized lengths and thicknesses, or slightly larger, so that they fit into the firebox which is only 9″ long.
Using downed wood takes a little longer and more oversight than other fuels, but it is more visually entertaining. The tricky part is adding wood to a wood fire once it’s gotten going because you’re going to want to build up the coal bed to cook something.
While you can add wood to the firebox through the air holes along the grill sides or between the wires in the grill top, it’s not as efficient as lifting the grill rack and inserting larger pieces under it. The grill top is hot as hell though, so you’ll want to bring some tongs (a pair of needle-nose pliers with insulated handles also works) if you want to keep adding wood to the fire. UCO includes a metal tool with the unit for this purpose, but it doesn’t squeeze shut like tongs and while it’s adequate in a pinch, it’s not optimal.
With bagged briquettes and charcoal, you can often get by without having to add fuel to the full firebox once you’ve started cooking your meal. But some experimentation may still be required, so come armed with a way to lift the grill without grilling your fingers in the process.
The firebox sidewalls protect it from the wind quite well, while the air holes at the end provide good airflow to keep the fire burning. If you see the wind affecting the fire, just reposition the unit (using the included metal) tool so it points in a different direction.
The UCO Flatpack Mini is highly portable because it folds flat making it easy to carry on foot. If you’re looking at mini-grills or backpacking wood stoves, for that matter, having a grill that folds is a must-have. Round grills, stoves, and firepits like the Solo Stove Family just don’t cut it when it comes to packing stuff, be it in a car or truck or your backpack.
The UCO includes a flat cloth carrying case that is perfectly sized to fit the Mini Flatpack and all of its components. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but you can also lighten it up by replacing it with a stuff sack or a Ziploc plastic bag. Whatever you use, you want to carry it in a waterproof and dustproof container so it doesn’t make all of your other gear dirty and sooty during transport.
At 27.4 oz, the UCO Flatpack Mini Grill is on the heavy side for backpacking, although it can be a nice addition for short trips where you want to cook out and have a small fire. My preference is to use it for car camping when I can carry a cooler to keep the chicken, meat, fish, or other perishables cold until I use them.
As firepits go, I like the folding design of the Mini, its packability, and low environmental impact, although I think you’ll probably want the larger Flatpack Grill and Firepit if warmth and conviviality are your chief desires. But for outdoor off-the-grid cooking for one or two people, the Flatpack Mini is an enjoyable grill to use and cook out on.
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