BackpackGearTest
  Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Slatworx Summit Slatgrill > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

SLATWORX SUMMIT SLATGRILL - TITANIUM
OWNER REVIEW
by Richard Lyon
November 14, 2014
Mark - grill

PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 68 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 200 lb (89 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies.  I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. I've been actively reducing my pack weight, though I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences.  I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer adventures are often on centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski tours.

 THE PRODUCT

The Slatgrill Summit is a lightweight portable grill designed for use with multiple fuel sources. It packs flat in its canvas case and a zip-top pouch (both included with the grill). The Summit is available in titanium or stainless steel. The grill set consists of:
  • Four base panels, 9.0 x 3.9 in (23 x 10 cm), two of which have a crescent-shaped cutout for ventilation. Total weight 13.1 oz (371 g) [All weights, listed and measured, are for the titanium model that I own.]
  • Nine notched cross pieces, 9.6 x 0.25 x 0.12 in (244 x 6 x 3 mm) that fit into notches atop the base. These are the slats that give the grill and manufacturer its name. Each slat weighs 0.5 oz (14 g)
  • Two chains, each 16.5 in (42 cm) long with a small hook at each end (measurement includes the hooks). Each weighs 0.5 oz (14 g)
  • Four connectors, each 4.0 x 1.1 in (10 x 3 cm). These can be used to connect two grills. Each weighs 3/8 oz (11 g)
  • Heavyweight canvas storage pouch, 11.6 x 6.6 in (29 x 17 cm) with a zipper. Weighs 3.5 oz (99 g)
  • Zip-top pouch made of some kind of plastic, 12.9 x 6.0 in (33 x 15 cm). Weighs 3/8 oz (11 g)
Slatgrill parts Manufacturer: Slatworx LLC
Website: Slatworx.com
Listed weight: 1.4 lb (640 g)
Measured weight:: 26.0 oz (737 g) all-in; 22.1 oz (627 g) without the connectors. See above for component weights.
MSRP: $199.95 US

FIELD CONDITIONS

I have used my Slatgrill on day hikes, backpacks, and car camping excursions throughout this past summer. Day hiking use has occurred around Bozeman, usually at the trailhead at the end of the hike to prepare dinner but occasionally in a mountain meadow for lunch or a snack. I've taken the grill to the river on fishing days. Day hiking and fishing temperatures ranged from 45-85 F (8-30 C), in fair weather. If a trailhead, parking area, or lunch spot had a fire ring that was where I placed the Slatgrill; if not, I was always able to find or make a grass-free flat spot its use. 

On overnight trips this past summer in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park conditions were quite similar to those described in the preceding paragraph. On my most recent trip, along the Slough Creek trail in Yellowstone, however, the seasons had changed.  I doubt it much exceeded 50 F (10 C) at any time, and at dinnertime, when we used the grill, it wasn't much above freezing. We experienced several snow flurries and very gusty winds.

The Northern Rockies' mild summer and intermittent rainfall meant no fire bans around here, so I was able to use firewood (scavenged from around the campsite or trailhead) on all but one occasion. The exception was one impromptu trailhead dinner when I substituted a fellow camper's lightweight canister stove, more to test its use with the grill with it than from necessity.

Most of the meals cooked on the Slatgrill were small steaks, about 1.5 inches (4 cm) thick, that on backpacks were packed in frozen and on other trips were kept in a cooler until dinnertime. Hamburgers appeared on a couple of menus. A few times I used it to grill bagels at breakfast, and once to melt cheese onto sandwiches for lunch. Hot dogs and bratwurst (the latter a Bozeman specialty), sometimes with cheese, made tasty lunches. The best meal, though, consisted of beef shishkebobs on the Slough Creek trip. (See top photo, with one of our group tending the cooking.) This could be attributed to one or more of the following factors: the grill's design; the frigid temperatures; our appetites; and the good luck to have with us the de rigueur beverage accompaniment for shishkebob, a bottle of single malt Scotch whiskey. Sorry, readers, I dislike marshmallows so no 'smores. No fish either, as all backcountry fishing took place in designated catch-and-release areas.

ASSEMBLY

assembledAssembly rates a separate section, as I think it's the only challenge (not a serious one) involved in an admirably simple product. The manufacturer supplies written and pictured instructions, which I usually include in the pouch when I pack the grill. Getting the order right greatly reduces frustration:

  • First, heed Slatworx's advice and find a flat, stable, and non-flammable surface big enough for the grill and the chef's easy access. Be sure there's a spot for the fuel source.
  • Then set up the base panels, making sure that the two pieces with notches on top (for the slats) are opposite each other.  Each base panel has a two-inch (5 cm) notch half an inch (1.25 cm) from the side edge; these allow the panels to interlock and hold the grill in place.
  • Next, insert the slats across the top of the grill, ensuring that the notch of each is nestled in the corresponding notches atop the two base panels.
  • Now the tricky part. Insert the chain hooks into the small holes on the top of the two side panels. This requires some finesse, and a steady hand. The holes are tiny and the chains can be difficult to separate.  It's very easy to catch a hook on a slat or get the chain twisted into the slats. The chains should lie outside the side panels.
  • Finally, lift the grill with the chains and place the slats over the fuel source.

Do each of these steps, the last especially, carefully. Once the panels are joined the grill is reasonably sturdy, but again the chains can catch on the slats when moving the grill or when setting it down. And though it sounds obvious, avoid tipping the grill when carrying it by the chains; that can cause a slat or two to dislodge and fall off.

OBSERVATIONS

Slatgrill packedPacking. This is one of the Slatgrill's really stellar points with me. The entire grill fits quickly and easily into a pouch about the size of an oversized envelope. I can easily slip the canvas pouch into any of my day packs or backpacks without displacing any essential piece of gear. Is this different from other grills I've used? In some cases yes, but among those I've kept, not really. What gives the Slatgrill a big edge is how sturdy the assembled product is, far more so than the others I've packed, and its size.  With the Slatgrill it's easy to prepare simultaneously a main course for four hungry hikers.  There may be comparable products, but I've not found them.

Weight. At a pound and a half (0.68 kg) this isn't an ultralight product, despite the fact that all the hard metal parts are made of titanium. Packing it for a backpacking trip requires me to justify this extra weight. Particularly is that so when I could say it's unnecessary. After all, I can cook what I cook on the Slatgrill on my standard backpacking setup - a Jetboil system with Fry Pan. Sautéing isn't quite grilling but I'm adept enough at it to make a tasty meal in a skillet.

Part of my answer has much to do with my preference for base camp backpacking. As with other camp conveniences (such as a chair or a tent larger than what I really need) I tend to include it if I'll use it. And I really like grilled meat or fish in the backcountry, so I think I can use it. Another part of the answer is that I don't think the extra weight is very much when I'm with a group, and group cooking goes far more quickly on a grill than with a camp stove and boiling water or the Fry Pan. A third factor is functionality. This grill is easy to use, easy to pack, doesn't weigh too much, and adds real flair to camp cooking.  Unless it's a forced march (I do them occasionally, though less often as I get older) I think the equation favors this grill if there are carnivores on the trip. When pack weight isn't an issue the grill will come along. This includes day hikes ending at dinnertime, packrafting, fishing days, and car camping.

Utility. When using wood as fuel the crescents in the two side panels make adding twigs or sticks very easy, though some care must be taken. I was particularly impressed with how well the setup keeps the wind out. On Slough Creek we set the grill with the two solid (no crescent) panels facing north, the wind's source that evening. A few sparks crackled up through the grill but by and large the fire burned steadily throughout the ten minutes or so that it took to cook our dinner.

I've already praised the sturdiness of the grill. Once in place it has stayed in place, with no rocking or wobbling. If boiling water is needed, a medium-sized pot may be placed atop the grill, again with no impact on stability. Once in a while lunch or dinner - usually hamburger - will stick to a slat, requiring the chef to press down gently on the offender with a stick to get the slat back in place. That the slats are not affixed is in fact a safety feature. With a one-piece grill, when food sticks to the cooking surface it's all too easy to lift the entire grill when trying to work things loose.

The one time I used the grill over a canister stove it was a bit more difficult to grill, as the flame was concentrated on a single spot. This simply meant I needed to move the steaks around a bit for even cooking.

Care. Slatworx recommends cleaning with soap and water and packing the grill dry, and that's what I've done. On the day hikes I've wiped the grill down after use and then cleaned it when back home. Again the fact that the slats and side panels are removable is a plus - it is far easier to wash and dry these pieces than digging into a corner of a one-piece grill to work on burnt-in food. Particularly when the grill is still hot.

After a summer's use the grill has discolored some, as I expected, but functionally it's as good as new.

WHAT I LIKE

Easy to use, once I got the hang of it

Easy to pack

Sturdy when in use

Easy to use in the wind

WHAT I MIGHT CHANGE

Functionally, nothing. I wish it didn't cost so much.


Read more reviews of Slatworx gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Cook Gear > Cooking Accessories > Slatworx Summit Slatgrill > Owner Review by Richard Lyon



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson