CAMPING PRODUCT REVIEWS

COOKERS AND BBQs

 

Camping Product Reviews - Cookers and BBQs

 

 

 

 

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Cookers and BBQs

 

 

 

Travel Buddy 12 volt oven

 

Price: $260 (+ delivery $30)
From: Travel Buddy
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: VERY GOOD but needs a little modification.

 

We have been watching others use the Travel Buddy in their travels for a long time and finally we saved up enough to buy one.

The unit is impressive as it is made of stainless steel and is MADE IN AUSTRALIA.

There are a couple of things that we think need improvement with the first being changing the cigarette plug adapter to an Anderson plug.

We had seen some videos showing that the cigarette plug adapter is prone to melting and despite using a heavy cable, we had exactly the same problem.

We have now switched to an Anderson style plug and have had no more issues. (See the second video above).

The second thing we think needs improvement is the latch for the door. There is another similar oven available that uses a more secure latch and we think Travel Buddy needs to make a change to that style to make sure the door will not open when travelling over rough roads.

Other than that we love the oven. We have done several tests cooking different things from just warming pies to cooking bread and a roast and although it takes longer than a conventional oven, the little Travel Buddy does a great job.

We would love to give it 5 stars but because of the issues mentioned above, we could only give it 4.

 

 

Everdure Cube charcoal BBQ

 

Price: $300 approx with carry bag (we paid $99)
From: BBQ retailers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ** (normal retail)
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: PENDING

 

We bought this product mostly because we were looking for a charcoal BBQ and this was available brand new (with the carry bag) for about one third of the normal price. We had never heard of this brand before seeing the Cube for sale.

To be honest, the normal retail price is VERY high even though it seems as though the unit is of reasonable quality. I suspect the price has as much to do with the celebrity endorsement, as with the actual cost of production.

As we have only used it once, we can't say a great deal about how well it lasts but so far there is no sign of the cracking that others have mentioned. Ours is a grey coloured BBQ so perhaps the type of paint used for different colours may have some impact.

The biggest problem with a BBQ that is meant to be portable, is not being able to put it out. Charcoal burns for a long time and there isn't much option but to just let it burn out. This is why I gave the rating of 3 stars instead of anything higher. We do a great deal of travelling and this BBQ will be useful for the times we camp overnight and have time to allow the fire to go out. It isn't going to be as useful for day trips - which is really why we bought it in the first place.

The charcoal lights easily so the ventilation obviously works well. We have had charcoal burners that are a nightmare to get going, even with fire-lighters.

The bag is a nice addition and seems well thought out but there is no hint of what the elastic straps inside the zipped compartment are for. Someone must have spent time working out what those straps are supposed to hold but I can't find any information on it anywhere. In fact, that almost complete lack of any useful information on this BBQ online is rather surprising. We created our own video of the first use on our YouTube channel (wanowandthen). It may be of some help for people looking at these as a potential purchase.

A good addition to the BBQ is a square grilling pan (see the video above if you aren't sure what I am talking about). This allows a nice flat plate surface to cook on if you are adding some cooked veggies to your meal.

The charcoal generates plenty of heat so running out of cooking time won't be a problem.

Overall, this seems like a good product that with a bit more thought, could have been excellent. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a world where designers don't actually use the products they design. A top metal plate to cut oxygen to the charcoal and put the fire out, should have been very high on the list of priorities for the design team.

We will continue to use the product and report our findings.

 

Fish Smokers
Mako Hot Smoker

 

Price: $??
From: Fishing Gear Suppliers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ?
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *****

 

If you go fishing, then chances are you also like to smoke some of your catch from time to time. Although you don't have to limit your smoking to fish as you can do sausages, pork chops, chicken and much more.

We have had a hot smoker for many years and have used it often to smoke mackerel, mullet, catfish etc.

It turns average fish into a delicacy and is worth having with you when you head off on long fishing trips.

The smoker we have used until now is a fixed box. IE. it can't be broken down into a smaller package and stored easily.

The new smoker we got recently (from an op-shop) is fully collapsible and packs away to almost nothing.

When it is put together it is very rigid and strong so I have no doubt that this will become our smoker of choice from now on whien we go away.

 

Wiltshire X - Grill
Wiltshire X - Grill (also Notebook grill)

 

Price: $27 upwards depending on brand
From: BBQ and camping stores and EBay
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: A lot better than I first thought it would be.

 

I have to be honest and say that when I first looked at this I really thought it would be a piece of junk.

Turns out I was wrong and it is a fantastic addition to our camping gear.

There is still the problem of the grill sections being a bit short that could lead to them slippingdown on to the fire but so far this hasn't happened.

We use the heat bead chimney (see below) to get the beads glowing nicely and then do as much cooking as we like on the grill.

You don't need many beads (8-12) to cook a whole meal and this little grill is an excellent source of heat when the weather turns chilly. Although you must be careful with where you put it.

The one we have is branded by Wiltshire but the cheap versions on EBay look exactly the same. I can't say for sure if there is any difference in quality but I doubt there would be.

The grill packs flat and comes with a small carry case so it is a good item to carry with you. Of course you will also need some firelighters, heat beads and a chimney if you want to get the most out of it but it does make life so much easier than collecting fire wood when the weather is damp or if you are in areas where collection is prohibited.

 

Heat bead chimney
Heat bead chimney

 

Price: $25 upwards depending on brand
From: BBQ and camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Works well, worth having if you use heat beads and charcoal

 

This isn't a cooking item on its own but an assistant for getting heat beads and charcoal lit.

The one we have has a sloping top - which is pretty dumb, as it could have worked as a stand-alone cooker if the top had been cut level.

There isn't a great deal to say about it other than it does the job it is supposed to do very well.

Simply put some firelighters on the ground (in a fire pit of some sort), light them, put head beads in the funnel and then place it on top of the lit firelighters.

In 20-30 minutes they will be ready to use in your grill, BBQ etc.

 

 

Weber Meat Thermometer

 

Price: $100 approx
From: Rays Outdoors
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: *
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: *
Our recommendation: DO NOT BUY

 

UPDATE: You can safely ignore the rest of this review as the product turned out to be an expensive piece of junk. We used it less than 10 times and suddenly it started beeping, turning the backlit screen on and off, reading all sorts of weird temperatures and eventually it just locked up.

We changed our recommendation from 'ok to buy' to 'DO NOT BUY' because it simply didn't last long enough.

It did work well enough for the first few uses but it wasn't used a great deal. There is no way it should have failed after so few uses.

Previous information:

There are some occasions when it is really nice to have a roast for dinner in the bush.

To cook roasts successfully every time it is a good idea to have a meat thermometer of some kind.

At home we have tried the cheap two pronged style that you push into the meat when you want to test the temperature but these are always open to error. It wasn't wrong before the cheapie broke anyway so we started looking for something else.

We decided to go the 'whole hog' and buy a Weber meat thermometer to use when out camping and now we have used it a few times.

The good thing about this style is that you can set how well done you want your meat and an alarm will go off when it reaches the right temperature. It is a continuous read out so there is no guess work involved and this seems as though it should be pretty fool-proof but you may need to experiment with changing the default settings to get the meat just the way you like it.

It is simple enough to use, just select the type of meat and the degree of cooking and just leave it to monitor the cooking.

You need to insert the probe at least 3cm into the meat and not have it near an edge, bone or metal plate. We have used this on a beef roast and a pork roast and while the beef was perfect using the default setting, the pork was a little too dry so next time we will adjust the temperature down to about 150F for pork and see how that goes.

 

Wild Country Gas Cooker
Wild Country Gas Cooker

 

Price: $69
From: Rays Outdoors
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

As we may decide to go camping from time to time we decided to get a portable cooker. The term 'cooker' when applied to this type of stove is a little misleading. Due to the lack of adjustability of the heat from the burners on these cheap end gas stoves, they would be better named 'food burners'.

We have never been fans of this type of camping stove but we may only use it on odd occasions or we may end up never using it at all. it is simply a backup for when plan 'A' and plan 'B' have failed.

There is more on our opinions of these stoves below with the Gasmate stove entry.

We have now used this model on a camping trip and it wasn't quite as bad as some of the old models we have had in the past.

It is nice to have a self ignition included but I will always have matches packed as well just in case it stops working.

While we mostly used the stove for re-heating pre-cooked meals, the burners were at least reasonably adjustable. With the addition of a little BBQ plate we were also able to cook a couple of T-bone steaks and they came out well.

This isn't going to be part of our main camping gear but is bound to see use from time to time.

 

Weber Baby Q
Weber Baby Q

 

Price: $296 Basic unit
From: Rays Outdoors
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Good to buy

 

We have tried a lot of portable BBQs over the years ranging from the most simple (see below) to big clumsy 'luggable' units that took quite a bit of strength to cart around.

When we bought our second Coaster the previous owner mentioned that he had created a special place for a Baby Q in the boot so we did a bit of research and found the BBQ had a lot of good reviews from satisfied customers.

Then we looked at the price and just about fell off our chairs! By the time we had bought everything we needed including trays, roasting shelf, meat thermometer, cover and cleaning brush the price had sky-rocketed to around $500. Soon afterwards we bought a new BBQ for use at home that only cost $300. The Weber is certainly over-priced and someone is making a lot of money out of it BUT we did need a good portable BBQ and most people seemed to agree that in the long run this was worth the expense.

We have now used this on a few trips and it has performed very well cooking steaks, roasts etc. It is easy to clean and does what the manufacturers say it does. We have also tried it out for making pizza and they came out perfectly as well.

Yes it is expensive but so far we are very happy with the results.

 

 

BBQ
Simple portable BBQ

 

Price: $80
From: K-Mart
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: **
Our recommendation: Not strong enough.

 

Many people don't like cooking inside their caravans as the cooking smells linger and in hot weather the extra heat is intolerable. What better way to do some outdoors cooking than on a barbecue? This model is quite inexpensive and comes with a good sized heavy BBQ plate. It incorporates a wind guard so it can be used in most wind conditions and has a good fat drainer to make cooking a little healthier.

Unfortunately the legs are a little unstable and the whole unit (apart from the BBQ plate) is quite flimsy. In the end the burner clogged up and the whole thing fell to bits. We did keep the BBQ plate and used it (with some success) with a gas burner ring (see below) and continued to be alble to do BBQs on the road.

 

Gas burner ring
Gas burner ring

 

Price: $40
From: Camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Useful item.

 

A cheap very handy little gas ring that puts out a good amount of heat for things like cooking crabs or using a BBQ plate on top. The heat isn't fierce enough to make a BBQ plate too hot but is good enough to quickly boil water. As it is a very cheap item we didn't expect it to last all that long but it did last quite a few years but eventually suffered from corrosion and we bought a second one to replace the original.

We have been quite pleased with this and found it was also very useful for use with round bottomed woks. We have seen many different types with varying numbers of burners but we went for the simplest one we could find.

 

Gasmate 3 burner camp stove
Gasmate 3 burner camp stove

 

Price: $80-120
From: Camping and caravan stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: **
Product quality: ***
Our recommendation: The worst way to cook food ever invented.

 

This is fine for short camping trips where the quality of cooking isn't going to be an issue. It has poor gas jets and inadequate flame controls. At a price of around $90 you aren't getting something that will be suitable for long term use. Although there are 3 burners there still isn't enough room to put two pots and a frypan.

these things BURN food because the temperature cannot be properly controlled. There are many brands of these cheap cookers available but they are all the same when it comes to cooking.

As you can see from the picture above, they suffer badly from rust if they get wet.

 

Propane one burner stove
Propane one burner stove

 

Price: $30 upward
From: Caravan dealers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ***
Our recommendation: Good for hikers etc.

 

This style of cooker was banned at one time due to safety concerns but the design was changed and they came back on to the market.

As it is just a one burner stove you aren't going to be cooking gourment banquets on it but they are handy for people with limited packing space.

The gas cannisters last for a few meals and are also easy to pack. For these reasons they are popular with hikers etc.

Surprisingly the temperature control is better than the old 3 burner cooker above.

 

Tudor/Serada style 2 burner and grill
Tudor/Serada style 2 burner and grill

 

Price: $400
From: Caravan dealers / CAMEC etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

Often used in caravans and campervans. We like the inclusion of a grill and from our experience with a campervan these stoves have good adjustable burners. The only negative is that there is no wind guard as these are designed to be used inside a vehicle.

We did use one as a portable unit so it can be taken outside but we need to have a sheltered spot to use it or to make up some sort of wind shield.

The whole unit is stainless steel and they are very well constructed.

 

4 burner gas cook top with grill
4 burner gas cook top with grill

 

Price: $?
From: Caravan dealers / CAMEC etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

The lack of an oven on this cooker turned out to be more disappointing than we first imagined.

Other than that, this is a good cooker and is great for smaller caravans and motorhomes that don't have room for an oven.

Having 4 burners, it is a lot like cooking at home as you have plenty of room. The grill is a useful addition and doesn't add a great deal to the overall size.

 

Caravan gas cooker and oven
Caravan gas cooker and oven

 

Price: $1000+ new
From: Caravan dealers / CAMEC etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy.

 

In the end the lack of an oven was too much to bear and we had a cooker with an oven installed. We were able to find this one second hand for about $400.

The next best thing to a standard gas cooker is this style of gas cooker designed mainly for caravans. As it also has 4 burners a grill (inside the oven) and a small oven, it is very versatile.

Because it is designed to fit into a caravan it will also fit happily into most motorhomes. The only real concern about these is the cost. We have seen models that cost up to and over the $1000 mark. Considering the standard cooker above starts around $450, the Lido type of oven is vastly over priced. The fold down lid was useful BUT the nasty sharp little clips it plugs in to were constantly causing scratches to our hands.

 

SMEV 3 burner gas cook top
SMEV 3 burner gas cook top

 

Price: $5-600
From: Caravan dealers.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****

 

This is a new addition to our gear so we don't have too much to comment on just yet.

You need to be careful about any items going under the cooker in a cupboard as the unit gets very hot and anything that might be damaged by heat must be kept well away from the cooker.

The flush mounted glass top is a nice feature and certainly helps to hide the cooker when it is not in use.

 

4 burner cooker and grill
4 burner cooker and grill

 

Price: $?
From: Caravan dealers.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ?
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ***
Product quality: ****

 

This cooker was installed in our Jayco Swan Outback caravan and it worked reasonably well.

In order to make the most of 240 volt power, one of the elements is electric and the other 3 and grill are all gas. Even though we made no use of the 240 volt element, it seems like a good idea.

The lid incorporated a safety cut-off switch and although this is a good idea, it isn't implemented properly. The problem arises when there is a strong wind blowing from the cooker side of the van. This pushes on the canvas sides which in turn push on the open lid of the cooker. There is a clip to stop the lid from falling down but it doesn't hold the lid well enough to stop the cut off switch from engaging.

This isn't a problem once you know what is going on and we simply put a small item like the end of a clothes peg in between the clip and the glass lid to hold it up properly. When you aren't aware of what the problem is, there can be a LOT of swearing and hunting around for the problem.

In the few years we had the Swan we never got to use the grill so can't comment on how well it works but the cooker seems to be generally ok and apart from the weird safety device problem we didn't have any other trouble with it.

 

CAMEC stainless steel range hood
CAMEC stainless steel range hood

 

Price: $174
From: CAMEC and Caravan dealers.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****

 

Nobody likes cooking smells in their van or motorhome and one way to combat them is to install a range hood to take most of the smell and fumes outside quickly.

This model is stainless steel and incorporates 2 down lights. It runs on 12 volt power and comes with 1 metre of flexible tubing to connect to an external vent.

 

 

 

 

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