The Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner is a durable, freestanding stove with excellent flame power and simmering capabilities. It is best for medium-to-large sized groups and offers the flexibility to also be used on a table or tailgate. Retailing for just $140 (and often available for substantially less), this is a fantastic option for all manner of rugged foodies.
Whether you have a table, a tailgate, or just a wide expanse of nature, this large and versatile stove will help you prepare meals with ease.
Time to Boil
With 30,000 BTUs of power per burner, it's no wonder this stove boiled efficiently. A quart of cold tap water took just 3:40 to boil, landing it right in the middle of our large freestanding models. The Camp Chef Pro 60X, our Top Pick for Group Cooking, took just 3 minutes, but the almost identical Stansport Outdoor took 4:15.
With so much power per burner, the real testing issue for large freestanding models like this one isn't if they can rage, but whether or not they are able to simmer and block the wind effectively. Interestingly, more compact models were often able to boil just as well, if not better. For example, our Editors' Choice, the Camp Chef Everest, knocked this test out in 2.5 minutes.
While higher BTUs certainly help with boiling time, they aren't the only factor. Some of our largest and most powerful stoves had slower times because of less wind resistance and more space between the burner and cookware.
All of our big freestanding models struggled with wind resistance to some degree. The way these kinds of stoves are designed, the burner sits much farther away from your cookware than on a smaller, more compact model. There are a lot of nooks and crannies where wind can sneak in and wreak havoc, high BTUs notwithstanding.
The Explorer performed OK with our box fan test where we set up a fan 24 inches to the side of the stove while boiling a kettle of water. It clocked in at 5 minutes, just 1:20 longer than without the fan. However, when we were cooking in a natural breeze (i.e., variable and unpredictable), the story changed. While we had a windscreen, it only protected the top of the stove, not the area below where the burner is housed. Therefore, when wind starting creeping in around us, low flames would frequently get snuffed out, causing us to have to move our pot or pan out of the way and relight the burner. The Explorer does not have an auto-ignition system like the Pro 60X, which also would get blown out on windy days, but was much easier to relight.
The open, airy design of the Explorer shows why it's easy to keep clean, but also why it was easily affected by the wind.
The Explorer simmered almost like a professional gas range (on calm, windless days), leaving us impressed and satisfied. It was on par with our Editors' Choice winner, the Camp Chef Everest and our Top Pick for Portability, the Jetboil Genesis Basecamp.
From delicately fried eggs and veggies to perfectly cooked pancakes and bacon, we had no complaints while simmering on this model except for the fact that, when turned down low, the flame was prone to go out on breezy days. Get your fine cooking hat on when cheffing with the Explorer.
Despite the large size and power of the burners on the Explorer, we had no trouble finessing the flame down low enough to cook perfect over-easy eggs. Gusts of wind were sometimes problematic though, so we had to keep a watchful eye.
Ease of Set Up
Setting this stove up is a snap, aside from the fact that it weighs almost 31 pounds (19 pounds without the removable legs).
Once you've transported and carried it to where you want, attach the legs (if you're using them), slot the windscreen around the edges, and connect your propane tank. It's more involved than a compact two-burner, but it's not a huge pain. Due to its size and weight, though, kids aren't able to help out much in the setup of this stove. Note that putting the legs on does require flipping the stove on its side or having someone hold it up for you.
Attaching the legs is as easy as slipping them onto the stove body and tightening a screw.
Ease of Care
In most respects, this is an extremely simple stove to care for. It's painted black and its design is open and airy with no drip tray, so you don't have to worry about pesky spaces accumulating food bits. The windscreen can be awkward to carry around and store, but the legs come with a storage bag which was a nice perk.
Despite the coating of thick paint on this model, however, rust started to appear after just a couple of weeks living on an outdoor patio in sunny and dry Colorado. Some people choose these kinds of stoves as additional burners for their decks or yards for canning, homebrewing, deep-frying, and plenty more. If you plan to have your Explorer live outside we strongly recommended getting a cover for it or storing it in a shed or garage.
While the Explorer looks bombproof, just a few weeks of sitting outside in the elements (even in dry Colorado) caused some rust to start appearing.
Both the Explorer and the Stansport Outdoor off-gas fumes from their black paint job when new. We recommend turning the burners on full blast without food and letting them blaze for a bit to get rid of that smell before cooking your first meal.
While this certainly isn't a compact stove, it's also 15 pounds lighter than the Pro 60X, our Top Pick for Group Cooking. Granted, the Pro 60X has fold-out side tables, a super nice perk for prep, storage, and extra equipment, but it comes at a weight cost.
The Explorer is large but remains manageable at just under 31 pounds. And, if you plan to use it on a table or tailgate, you can ditch the legs along with 11.5 pounds. Mainly, make sure that the back of your vehicle can handle the 32.75 x 14 x 7.75-inch dimensions, plus a large propane tank.
The bigger your stove, the more space you need in the back of your car. But if you're planning to cook for a lot of people on the regular, this is may be a perfectly fair tradeoff.
The Explorer is a great option for large groups and big cookouts. We loved the removable legs that allowed us to use it both freestanding or on a table. If you have a built-out truck, this could be a fantastic stove to own, whether you want to use it on the tailgate or walk out farther with it - especially if you love to cook with large items like a wok. If you only ever cook for yourself, it's overkill at a campsite, but it certainly provides a lot of options to expand or host friends. We also like this model for folks who want a backyard or patio stove.
This stove wasn't phased a bit by giant pots and pans. And while cooking for a large group is obvious, but we also enjoyed preparing small meals for just 1-2.
Retailing for $140, the value is high on this stove — especially considering that it is often found even cheaper at major retailers. Our other freestanding models were considerably more expensive but ended up scoring lower overall. While the Explorer lacks the features of the Pro 60X and struggled with the wind a bit, it also simmers like a pro, boils quickly, and can be used with or without its legs. All in all, we think this is a great bargain and worth the price for the right individual.
The Camp Chef Explorer is a great fit for anyone cooking for larger groups on a regular basis, be it car camping, tailgating, or messy cooking situations that you want out of your house (frying, canning, etc.). It has a sturdy build and is easy to clean — just make sure you store it under a cover or shelter, as we did have some rust issues after leaving it outside. And don't forget that flame power! It was one of the most powerful stoves we tested boasting two 30,000 BTU burners. It accommodates pots and pans of almost any size, from 4 to 14 inches. Its freestanding construction is ideal for events or groups where table space is limited — and if counter space isn't an issue, you have the option of setting up directly on a table. Unfortunately, there is no auto ignition option and a long lighter is strongly recommended to keep from sacrificing some arm hair — particularly because the one issue we had was the flame getting blown out on windy days. Bottom line, this stove is meant for heavy-duty use. If this sounds like way too much, a more portable two-burner stove would probably better suit your needs.
We were happy with the performance of the Explorer in almost every respect. For the right camp chef, this model is sure to please.