The Bottom Line
Dave Benjamin has been working on this grill for several years. What it does best is cook. There are three levels that the coal and cooking grates can be set on. This means the fire can be inches from the food or a beer can chicken can be set up to slow smoke indirectly. Versatility isn't something unit is lacking. Where the limitation lays is with the portability. The unit weighs 60 pounds and stands 18-inches high, which isn't that big of an issue.
However, the grill has no handles on the body and the selling point is that it collapses to 9-inches high. To fold it up is awkward.
- Very large cooking area
- Very versatile cooking abilities
- No easy way to lift the whole unit
- Folding up the unit is awkward
- Air leaks around the body and lid prevent shutting the grill down
- 360 square inches of cooking space
- 60 pound total weight
- Two framed expanded metal cooking grates
- Removable ash catcher
- Three coal grates
- Two side mounted and two top mounted vents
- Lid mounted temperature gauge
- Adjustable positions for cooking and coal grates
- Made in the United States by the HotBoxGrills
Guide Review - Hot Box Grill 360 Plus
All I am going to say about how this unit cooks is that it is truly impressive. It can hold most any food, including two full racks of ribs or a chicken on a beer can. It easily does close direct grilling or slow smoking over an indirect flame.
It does all these things very well.
The thing to know about this portable charcoal grill is related to its main selling point. The body of the grill is made from five pieces of metal attached together with hinges. This means that the front and back panel fold underneath and the side panels over the top.
Put the full-size ash catcher, cooking and coal grates on top and cover with the lid. Now it can be wrapped up with a large Velcro strap and carry it away.
Sounds great, but it brings up a few issues. First of all, this process requires removing the legs, so basically the entire unit gets disassembled to fold it up into a package that is half the height of the grill completely assembled. If it were me (and it actually has been) I would just put the whole thing in the trunk and drive off. Assembling and disassembling he product isn't hard, but is made more difficult when the grill is hot.
Despite what is claimed, on the unit I tested closing the vents was not sufficient to put the coals out through oxygen starvation. Gaps around the side panels let in too much air and the lid, which doesn't fit tightly lets too much air out. This slow airflow kept the grill burning every time I fired it up. This means putting out the fire might just require water, which is a messy proposition.
As a straightforward grill, there are a lot of less expensive grills on the market and if all you are looking for is something that can grill some steaks, burgers, and dogs, then I would recommend something like the Weber Jumbo Joe 18.
For smoking on the go, this is a good unit. It can handle low-temperature cooking and is perfect for this purpose.
One last note. This is not a mass produced product. In fact, it is largely made one unit at a time by hand, which limits the quantities available and means that there may be some variety from unit to unit. On the model I tested there a few manufacturing errors (small dents in a few places), and while nothing that detracted from the use of the unit, it is worth mentioning.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.