So there are portable grills, and then there are modular kitchens. If you are looking for a versatile portable cooking stove, which allows you to express your culinary prowess, look no further than the Camp Chef Explorer Modular Stove. From boiling large pots of water, grilling steaks, and even cooking pizzas, the Camp Chef allows you to take your outdoor cooking to the next level!
We will come right out and say it; portability isn’t necessarily the Camp Chef’s strong suit. Not out of the box anyway. Your base purchase will get you the two burner stove, legs, windshield, and propane hose with regulator. Not included in this in some cases is the carry bag, which is around $23.00. Considering the four legs are removable along with the windscreen, there is a lot of loose items without the carry bag to transport. You can, however, use it as a tabletop stove and forgo the legs. Just know it will take up a significant portion of the picnic table you plan to eat at.
Additionally, the Camp Chef Explorer is roughly 34 lbs not including the propane tank. Once set up it sits at approximately 34W x 14D x 29H inches in size. If you are trying to transport it in the trunk of your compact, you may find it takes up a lot of real estate. If you have storage however in an SUV, Pick-up, or RV then you will most likely find the functionality, and cooking area benefits far outweigh the portability challenges.
As we mentioned in our opening to this post, there are grills, and then there are kitchens. If you are just a traveling couple or just need to grill a few burgers from time to time, the Camp Chef may be a bit overkill. If, however, you want a base camp sized stove with enough surface area to warrant its own zip code, then continue reading.
The Explorer has a cooking area measuring out at 14 X 32 inches. To put it in perspective, that is four inches short of a yard wide. At your disposal is a total of 448 sq inches of cooking glory. With its two-burner design and modular add-ons; how you use the space is limited only by your cooking ability.
Compare the 448 sq in of the Camp Chef to the next largest grill we reviewed, the Coleman Road Trip LXE which has 285 sq in of cooking area. Another comparison, this time the Weber Q2200 which has 280 sq in, but prices out at $250 compared to the Camp Chef base price of $100.
Another thing to consider when talking about cooking area is how can the area be utilized. Each burner can produce 30,000 BTUs…which is a lot. The Q2200 puts out 22,000 BTUs with its one burner design in comparison. Need to bring a pot of ribs up to temp or boil some lobster? 30,000 BTUs gets that done in a hurry.
Swapping out the 14-inch modular accessories (each sold separately), you can use the Explorer in a fantastic number of ways. The reversible grill/griddle plates allow you to sere and sizzle it up, and the grill boxes allow you additional grilling options. Want to cook up a pizza? Break out the pizza box and work your magic! You can also throw your favorite dutch oven recipe together and let the Camp Chef go to work.
Honestly, some of the dislikes we have are also what make the Camp Chef Explorer awesome. Wait, what? What we mean to say is, the versatility the Explorer offers comes with a cost in the storage department. Each accessory you add to flex your culinary prowess is one more item to find a place to store and transport.
The cooking surface sits at 29 inches. For some folks this is perfect, for me writing this article and standing at 6’4″, it is a little low. There are some leg adjusters you can purchase to add some height as well as level the stove though.
Also, there is no electric start, so don’t leave home without a striker lighter. There are holes in the burner housing to light the burners, but they are designed for use with a long lighter or match. If an electric start is a must, then we suggest looking at the Camp Chef PRO60x.
Lastly, not a dislike of ours, but from other reviews we read, is the potential to turn your pots and pans black. The issue may stem from an air to propane mix misadjustment which can be quickly resolved using the air mixture adjustment knobs. Watch this video from Camp Chef if this is happening to you. https://youtu.be/f7sQ43rudHI
In conclusion, we feel the Camp Chef is a fantastic all-around portable stove due to its large cooking surface, and the wide range of available accessories. Our advice if you want to pump up the portability factor is to purchase the carry bag if yours doesn’t come with one. You won’t regret it.
The beauty of a modular stove is you can gradually add accessories to it as you go, and customize it to your needs. If you don’t mind lugging around the Explorer, and have the space to do so, we feel it is a great addition to any outdoor kitchen.
- 2 Cast Aluminum Burners
- 60,000 total BTU/hr
- 32" Cooking Height
- Detachable Legs
- 3-Sided Windscreen
Last update on 2020-02-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API