There are very few things in life that make me happier than firing up the grill and cooking up some hotdogs or burgers on a nice summer day. I prefer to grill on charcoal grills because of the smokey flavor and the process needed to cook with them. Enjoying a beverage of choice and staring at the sunset while waiting for the coals to get hot is a great way to kick back and forget about all of the problems of the week. Monitoring the fire and making adjustments presents an opportunity to be more involved with the creation of your meal. Turning a knob on a gas grill and getting instant fire is just boring to me. I just like the ritual and process of charcoal cooking even though it's still simple overall.
If you know me, you know I'm a gear-nerd at heart and love researching what the best tools are for the job at hand. Below is the list of everything I have found to be the best of it's particular purpose. Your methods might vary. Each item has a direct link to an Amazon page.

Weber 22.5" Master Touch

The Weber Master Touch is a great grill that has a few additional added features over the standard classic Weber Kettle. It has a grate with hinged sides so you can add more charcoal without having to take the grate out. The grill has a removable circular center section that allows you to use a number of different inserts such as a griddle, wok etc. It comes with a nifty ash catcher for easier cleanup and some charcoal basket inserts for better charcoal control internally. It also has an integrated lid holder and built in thermometer.

Weber Smokey Joe

The Weber Smokey Joe is the quintessential travel / picnic / tailgate grill. It is also perfect for at home for when you don't want to wheel out the huge beast just for a couple hot dogs for two, or to sear a steak.

Kingsford Briquette

Kingsford. The classic. Known as the "KBB" or "Kingsford Blue Bag". Sure there are better forms of charcoal out there, lump, hardwood, instant start etc., but the fancier you get, the more expensive it becomes. I stick with the cheap staple brand that is consistent and you can find pretty much everywhere. No panicking when you run out because your uber-special craft-charcoal is only sold at one store that isn't open and you have hungry guests waiting.

Chimney Starter:
Weber Rapidfire

The chimney idea has been around since the 1950s when people used to use old coffee cans with the bottoms cut out and holes punched in the sides. Weber perfected this idea by adding handles and an interior grate to elevate the charcoal so you can put an ingnitiond device underneath. Just put your charcoal in, put a firestarter on the lower grate and light it, put the chimney on top and wait until the charcoal catches and then ashes over to a nice grey color (about 15 minutes). Then you dump the coals onto the lower grate and put the cooking grate on. No chemicals / fluids involved at all!

Weber lighter cubes

Little wax cubes infused with some sort of accelerant. Use two of these under the chimney to get the coals going. They come in a large single sealed foil pack sheet of 24 (so they don't dry out) and you just push to pop out what you need.

Weber Rapidfire packs

Larger than the wax cubes and cleaner. Better for travel / picnics since you don't have to take the whole foil sheet with you. You just light the whole pack, nothing leftover to throw away.

Diamond strike anywhere

Classic wood matches. No need to mess with a lighter that ran out fluid the last time you used it and threw it in the toolbox while mumbling "I'll get a new one tomorrow" and then didn't. Once again, self disposing so nothing to keep track of once you're done using it.

Coal Rake / Grate Lifter:
OXO Good Grips

20 inch long shovel headed coal rake that allows you to move the coals around without having to get too close to them. Heavy duty metal construction, won't bend or flex. Has rubber inserts on the handle for great grip. Has a loop built in the end of the handle for hanging off the side of the grill. Has notches on the side of the head so you can put the head into the grill grate and lift it off when hot. Great for getting the old coals out of the bottom of the grill when you're all done.

OXO 16" Good Grips

There seems to be more spatulas out there than one could ever dream of, but this is by far the best one I've found. Heavy duty metal construction, won't bend or flex. 16 inches long so you don't burn your arms while flipping the burgers at the back of the grill. Has a serrated edge on one side for any cutting you might need. Has rubber inserts on the handle for great grip. Has a loop built in the end of the handle for hanging off the side of the grill. The angle of the head is perfect for the height of the Weber grills and doesn't make you come at the food at a weird angle. The front of the head has a great thin edge, but not sharp, that allows you to get under food to flip it without demloshing everything. Dishwasher safe.

Winco 16" Extra Heavyweight

16" long commercial grade tongs. "Extra" heavy duty metal. You'd have to try incredibly hard to get these to bend. Long so they don't put your arm over the grill. The scalloped heads grip great and you can definitely grip and flip some heavy meats with these. There is no need for a grill fork when you have these tongs. Tongs don't poke holes in the meat and release juices like a fork does. Make sure you give them a good double click before operating. Dishwasher safe.

Kabob Skewers / Basting Brush:
Bearmoo 17"

17" long skewers. They are flat to prevent anything turning on them when flipping them. They are a heavy duty metal and have a good finger loop at the end. They come in a very nice velcro pouch for storage and transportation.
For basting, pretty much any silicone basting brush will work, there doesnt need to be anything speical with these, except maybe a long handle to keep your arms away from the fire. This kabob set came with one.

Grill Heat Aid

Great gloves. Extremely well insulated and allow you to pretty much even grab hot coals and move them around (but don't). These particular ones allow you to move your individual fingers decently and have a good amount of material going up your arm to protect from the fire. You'll definitely want these for when you turn over the chimney starter and it releases some sparks while pouring the coals into the grill.

Meat Thermometer:

Simple meat thermometer with an easy to read iluminated display. Has a magnetic back so you can stick it to the toolbox and not lose it.

Grill Cleaning Scraper:
Sage Owl GrateGrill Scraper

Great handy little gadget that has perfectly sized notches to clean that hard gunk off of your grill grates. 4 different sized notches so it works on a number of grills.

Aluminum Foil:

Use this instead of any sort of bristled brush to clean your grill. Crumple up a small ball of it and run it along your grill grates. It will even slightly take the form of the grates and get down between them. Grill brushes usually have wire bristles that break off and can end up in food. Many emergency room trips every year are because of people getting a stray wire stuck in their throat.

Salt and Pepper Dredge Shakers

Metal salt and pepper "dredge" shakers with handles, perfect for getting the right amount of seasoning on your burgers. Has plastic lids for moisture and spill protection. Don't use these as your table shakers though, a lot more comes out than does with standard picnic shakers.

Tool Storage Box:
Torin Big Red 16"

The perfect sized toolbox to hold everything. The spatula and tongs shown above fit perfectly with leftover room for most of the other essentials shown here.

Condiment Caddy:

Slots for condiments, spices, silverware, napkins etc. Carry it all at once.

Salt and Pepper Shakers
Morton / McCormick


The ketchup gold standard. 

Frenchs classic Yellow

The mustard gold standard.

Napkins / Paper Towels

If you are using anything other than Bounty paper towels for clean up, you are failing. The select-a-size is perfect for napkin use too.

Serving Trays:
Zoenhou 12 x 16

Classic plastic cafeteria / hotel trays. Great for tranferring supplies and meats to the grill and a great way for guests to carry everything back to the table to eat. Makes clean up a breeze.

Glad square soak proof

Obviously any paper plates will do, I just like these because square can fit more food and these are coated to prevent soak-through.

Food Trays:
Super Z

Paper hot dog trays. Great for keeping the contents of hot dogs from spilling all over versus a flat paper plate.

Plastic Silverware:
Glad Crystal

Good assortment, 8 of each, forks, knives, spoons.

Trash Bags:
Glad Forceflex

Self explanitory. Drawstring lets you hang it somewhere.