Incredibly sturdy and well-secured
Doubles as a tabletop grill
Two burners provide high cooking temperatures
Doesn't block trunk/tailgate access
Interferes with back-up sensors
Expensive compared to similarly sized grills
We purchased the HitchFire Forge 15 grill so our reviewer could test it out in the great outdoors. Keep reading for our full product review.
When camping, off-roading, or tailgating, a grill can take up quite a bit of room in your car, which is why the HitchFire Forge 15 instantly caught my attention. This propane-powered grill has a one-of-a-kind design that mounts to a car hitch and swings out to the side for convenient car-side cooking. I wanted to see if it could truly stand up to being toted around on the exterior of a truck, so my boyfriend and I took it overlanding to put it to the test. Here’s what we found.
Setup Process: Surprisingly easy
I expected the HitchFire Forge 15 to be complicated to set up, but it wasn’t at all. The grill is assembled right out of the box, as is the swingarm, so all we had to do was put the two pieces together.
First, the arm gets installed into the hitch of your car or truck—it’s designed to fit into a 2-inch hitch—and it’s secured with a large bolt. We had to find a wrench to tighten it, as there are no tools included for assembly, and it’s definitely easier if you have two people, as one person can hold the arm in place while the other secures the bolt. From there, we simply attached the grill to the support arm, placing pins and bolts according to the directions, and we were done! The whole process took less than 30 minutes for two people and was really straightforward.
If you have an oversized bumper/tailgate or even want to install a bike rack along with the grill, the brand does offer a hitch extender, and in the FAQs, HitchFire also says you can adapt the swingarm to fit a 1-¼ inch hitch if you have an appropriate adapter with a weight rating adequate for the grill.
Design: Built for travel
The HitchFire Forge 15 stands out among other portable grills thanks to its unique hitch-mounted design. Instead of stashing this grill in your trunk during travel, it mounts to the exterior of your car on its pivoting swingarm. The grill itself is 39 x 13 x 21 inches with 355 square inches of cooking space, and it has a fairly angular form with a matte black powder-coated finish.
We mounted the grill onto my boyfriend’s Toyota Tacoma, and we were able to open and shut the tailgate with no problem.
Once you get to your destination, the HitchFire grill can be swung out to 90 or 180 degrees on its swingarm for cooking, and the grill can be rotated to face toward or away from your car. This design allows you to open your trunk or tailgate unencumbered—we mounted the grill onto my boyfriend’s Toyota Tacoma, and we were able to open and shut the tailgate with no problem. The grill also has two fold-out side tables that make cooking a breeze. They’re 13 x 10-1/2 inches each and can easily support a plate full of food, condiments, or grilling tools.
There are a few things to note about the HitchFire Forge 15’s design. First, if your car has back-up sensors or cameras, the grill will block them. My boyfriend had to shut off the sensors on his truck because they wouldn’t stop beeping while the grill was attached. Secondly, the grill blocks visibility of your license plate during travel, but it comes with hardware that allows you to re-mount your license plate on the swingarm.
Another aspect of this grill that we truly appreciated is that it can be used as a regular tabletop grill, and it has rubber feet on the bottom of the frame to keep it from scratching the table. This makes it suitable for everyday use, as well as on-the-go grilling.
Material: Heavy-duty and well-secured
Obviously one of our main questions about this grill was whether it’s durable enough to withstand driving down a bumpy dirt road to a campsite, and it passed this test with flying colors. Both the grill and swingarm are made from heavy-duty metal with a durable powder-coated finish, and we were happy to discover that the arm locks into place at several points using sturdy screws, pins, and latches, ensuring it doesn’t budge when you’re driving. The grill lid also has a latch to keep it shut during transport, but we did notice that you have to hold the lid down to get the latch to fully engage.
Obviously one of our main questions about this grill was whether it’s durable enough to withstand driving down a bumpy dirt road to a campsite, and it passed this test with flying colors.
Fuel Type: Dual propane tanks
The HitchFire Forge 15 runs on two 16-ounce propane tanks that screw into either side—the green Coleman tanks fit perfectly. There are wire supports that hold the tanks securely in place, but you do need to remove them before driving for safety purposes. Each tank controls a separate burner, allowing you to cook with one or both, and the brand says you can use a 20-pound propane tank with the grill if you get an appropriate adapter hose.
Unfortunately, because it uses the small propane tanks, there’s no fuel gauge to measure how much propane is left, and we didn’t like that we had to have multiple extra propane tanks on hand—one for each burner. When we went camping, we ended up bringing four 16-ounce tanks to ensure both burners had plenty of fuel.
Temperature Control: Better with two burners
The grill has two straight burners that run from the front to back of the grill with drip guards over each, and we tested it using just one and both to see how it performed. It’s worth noting that there’s no ignition button on the burners—you have to push and turn the dial to prime the gas, then it lights as you click it onto high.
It gets much hotter and maintains more consistent heat than other portable grills we’ve used in the past.
With one burner running, the grill was able to reach 400 degrees after preheating for 10 minutes, but the temperature dipped quite a bit every time we opened the lid. With both burners, the grill easily reached over 500 degrees in the same preheat time, and the temperature was easier to regulate. With both burners firing, we were able to cook food quickly, but the area between the two burners doesn’t get quite as hot as the grate space directly above them.
Performance: Packs a serious punch
To get a feel for the performance of the HitchFire grill, we first tested it out at home, using it to cook dinner for the two of us. We cooked hot dogs and grilled asparagus using just one burner (to be honest, we only had one propane tank hanging around), and the food was ready in around 10 minutes. We did notice that the grill occasionally has flare-ups, even though there are drip guards over the burners. When on high, the flames will creep around the edges of the metal guards, so dripping oils do cause it to flare. Once we turned the heat down, we didn’t have any further problems.
My boyfriend likes to overland with his Tacoma, so we planned a one-night trip out to a nearby campsite to test the grill’s ability to perform “in the wild.” After double checking that all the grill’s latches were secure, we drove around 10 miles to the trailhead and another 5 miles on bumpy dirt trails to the lakeside campsite. The grill didn’t budge while we traveled, and after we set up our tent for the night, we fired up the grill to cook steaks for dinner.
We used both burners on the grill this time, and in the time it took to prep and season the steaks, the grill had reached 500 degrees. We cooked the meat for around four minutes on each side, adding a pat of butter to each to boost the flavor, and they were a perfect medium—my preferred level of doneness. Overall, we were extremely pleased with the performance of the grill, as it gets much hotter and maintains more consistent heat than other portable grills we’ve used in the past.
My boyfriend also took the HitchFire Forge 15 on a four-day overlanding trip in Maine. He drove roughly 350 miles on the highway to reach the campground, and he said the grill stayed secure the whole time. He also drove another 200 miles on dirt roads and rough trails, and the HitchFire performed flawlessly, though he did have to tighten one of the screws that had shaken loose after a particularly bumpy stretch of road.
During the trip, he was with a group of 12 people, and they found the HitchFire was faster to set up and put away than other people’s portable grills, so they often cooked lunch for everyone on it. He was able to fit two full packs of hot dogs, two cans of beans, and a veggie burger on the grill at once.
Cleaning: Cover sold separately
It was easy to clean the HitchFire after using it. After it cooled down a bit, we scrubbed down the grates with a wire grill brush and wiped out the grease tray at the back of the unit. The tray is a bit tricky to get out, as there’s a tab that holds it in place, and in the future, we’ll probably line it with aluminum foil to make cleaning easier. Beyond that, we simply wiped the food particles out of the bottom of the grill chamber and called it a day.
One thing my boyfriend was concerned about was how dirty the grill and its interior would get while driving on the highway and down dirt roads. (HitchFire does offer a grill cover, but it’s sold separately.) After a long stretch of dirt road on his off-roading trip, the grill did have a layer of dust and dirt on the interior, but it was fairly easy to wipe out with a paper towel before cooking.
Price: Expensive for its size
The HitchFire Forge 15 retails for $549, which is undeniably expensive for a two-burner grill with 355 square inches of cooking space—for comparison, the Coleman NXT 200 has two burners and 321 square inches of cooking space and costs $270. However, in addition to the grill, which itself is very well-built, you also get the swingarm, which makes it extremely convenient for camping, off-roading, and even tailgating. To that end, the higher price is more justified.
HitchFire Forge 15 vs. Weber Q2200
The HitchFire Forge 15 actually reminded me quite a bit of the Weber Q2200, another compact propane-powered grill that I tested. The Weber has a slightly smaller cooking area of 280 square inches and just one burner, but it has similar fold-out side tables and is roughly the same size as the HitchFire. The Weber Q2200 retails for $280, making it significantly more affordable, and its compact size makes it ideal for tailgating and camping. Of course, the main downfall is that it doesn’t mount to your hitch, so you will need to dedicate trunk space for it. However, it’s a good alternative if the HitchFire is out of your budget.
Great for avid travelers.
While expensive, the HitchFire Forge 15 is extremely well-built and performs wonderfully—not to mention it’s incredibly convenient—making it a worthwhile purchase for anyone who regularly tailgates, off-roads, or goes camping.
- Product Name Forge 15
- Product Brand HitchFire
- Price $549
- Weight 70 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 39 x 13 x 21 in.
- Cooking Area 355 square inches
- Warranty 2 years