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Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Review

With high BTUs, a large cooking area, and removable legs, this freestanding stove offers a lot of options for big groups and chef-minded camp cooks.
Camp Chef Explorer 2 Burner
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $120 List | $99.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Great simmering ability, freestanding, legs are removable, powerful burners, tons of cooking space
Cons:  No auto ignition system, does not operate on 16oz propane canisters, wind puts out burner easily
Manufacturer:   Camp Chef
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 14
  • Time to Boil - 25% 8
  • Wind Resistance - 25% 5
  • Simmering Ability - 20% 8
  • Ease of Set Up - 10% 5
  • Ease of Care - 10% 9
  • Portability - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner is an excellent choice for group car camping, hence our awarding it a Top Pick Award! It is sturdy, offers a sizeable cook-top space, and can be used with or without its legs for unique versatility. We appreciate its durability, ease of set-up, and minimal maintenance. The two 30,000 BTU burners deliver a ton of power, but also finesse down for excellent simmering control when you need it. There are some issues with the burners getting blown out on windy days, and with no auto-ignition system, that means you have to move your meal aside to relight — often multiple times in one cooking session. For solo campers or small groups, this beast is undoubtedly overkill, but if you have the car to accommodate it, want a lot of versatility, and like to feed a big crew, this is an excellent option at an accessible price. We also like it for folks who want a backyard or patio stove.


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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $99.99 at AmazonCheck Price at Amazon
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$124.95 at REI
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Pros Great simmering ability, freestanding, legs are removable, powerful burners, tons of cooking spaceDurable, wind-resistant, powerful, even cooking, auto-ignitionEfficient, durable, compact, has auto-ignitionLow profile, lightweight, auto-ignition levers are easy to use, handy carrying case and handlesNon-slip rubber feet for leveling, large cooking surface, durable metal latches instead of plastic
Cons No auto ignition system, does not operate on 16oz propane canisters, wind puts out burner easilyPlastic latches on frontCooks hot, ignitor is sometimes finickyVery pricey, not the most wind resistantStruggles with the wind, not super powerful, on the heavy side
Bottom Line With high BTUs, a large cooking area, and removable legs, this freestanding stove offers a lot of options for big groups and chef-minded camp cooks.This has been an Editors' Choice for more than six years.This compact and well-functioning stove boil quickly, is easy to care for, and won't break the bank.Excellent performance meets compact design with this impressive model, a folding two-burner that is easy to love.This stove is pretty standard, but does provide a large cooking surface and useful non-slip rubber feet for keeping it level, no matter where your camp kitchen ends up.
Rating Categories Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Camp Chef Everest GSI Outdoors Selkirk 540 Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Eureka Ignite Plus
Time To Boil (25%)
10
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8
10
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10
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
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7
Wind Resistance (25%)
10
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5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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6
10
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6
Simmering Ability (20%)
10
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8
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8
10
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6
10
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8
10
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7
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
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5
10
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7
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7
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7
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7
Ease Of Care (10%)
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9
10
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7
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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8
Portability (10%)
10
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3
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
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6
Specs Camp Chef Explorer... Camp Chef Everest GSI Outdoors... Jetboil Genesis... Eureka Ignite Plus
Weight (pounds) 30.6 lbs (19.2 lbs without legs) 12.3 lbs 9.8 lbs 7.4 lbs w/bag, 6.4 lbs stove alone 12.0 lbs
Total BTU (from manufacturer) 60,000 40,000 20,000 20,000 20,000
Boil Time (1 quart of water, wind from a box fan) 5 min 3 min 5.5 min 7.5 min 6.25 min
Boil Time (1 quart of water, no wind) 3.75 min 2.5 min 4 min 4.5 min 4.75 min
Cooktop material Cast aluminum Nickel-coated steel Nickel-chrome steel Nickel-plated steel Plated steel
Packed Size (inches) 32.75" x 14" x 7.75" (height not including legs) 23.5" x 13.5" x 4" 21.4" x 12.9" x 3.8" 9.75" x 4.5" (11" x 6" in carrying bag) 23" x 12.8" x 4"
Cooking surface dimensions (inches) 32.5" x 13.75" 19" x 9.5" 17.5" x 9.5" 8" x 8.5" (each burner) 20.5" x 9.5"
Burner/flame diameter 5" 3.5" 3" 3.5" 3"
Distance between burners (center to center) 13" 12" 11" 10.5" 12"
Windscreen? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Piezo Ignitor? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of burners 2 2 2 2 2
Type of Model Freestanding Tabletop Tabletop, foldable Tabletop, foldable Tabletop, foldable
Fuel Type Propane - large 20# tank Propane Propane Propane Propane
Mfr. Model Number EX60LW MS2HP 56012 GNST 2572195

Our Analysis and Test Results

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 a very approachable price (and often available for substantially less), this is a fantastic option for all manner of rugged foodies and our Top Pick for Group Cooking.

Performance Comparison


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.
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 boils efficiently. A quart of cold tap water took just 3.75 minutes to boil, an admirable time indeed.


With so much power per burner, the real testing issue for large freestanding models isn't if they can rage, but whether or not they can block the wind effectively. Because of the open, airy design of stoves like this one, compact models are often able to boil just as well, if not better. If you're cooking for large groups, it's never a bad idea to have a quick-boiler like a Jetboil on hand as well.

Be aware of the fact that on large propane tanks, there is a regulator with a safety mechanism that will engage if you turn on the gas too fast. If you find that your burner output seems low, read the warning label on the regulator to learn how to keep the BTUs high.

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.
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.

Wind Resistance


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 75 seconds longer than without the fan. However, when we were cooking in a natural breeze (i.e., variable and unpredictable), the story changed. While this stove does have a windscreen, it only protects the top of the stove, not the area below where the burner is housed. Therefore, when wind starts creeping in, low flames are prone to being snuffed out. Because the Explorer does not have an auto-ignition system, you will have to move your cookware out of the way each time this happens to relight the burner.

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 open, airy design of the Explorer shows why it's easy to keep clean, but also why it was easily affected by the wind.

Simmering Ability


The Explorer simmers almost like a professional gas range — at least on calm, windless days. It is on par with the best stoves in our review.


From delicately fried eggs and veggies to perfectly cooked pancakes and bacon, we have no complaints when simmering on this model except for the fact that, when turned down low, the flame is more prone to blowing 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.
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 legs).


Once you've transported and carried the Explorer 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. Note that putting the legs on does require flipping the stove upside down 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.
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 is 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.
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.

This stove off-gases fumes from its 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.

Portability


While this certainly isn't a compact stove, it's still quite manageable, and you can leave the legs behind if you will be setting up on a table or tailgate.


The Explorer is large and heavy at just under 30.6 pounds. However, if you ditch the legs, you'll also shed 11.5 pounds. Just make sure 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 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.

Value


The value is high on this stove — especially considering that it is often found considerably under its list price at major retailers. Our other freestanding models are considerably more expensive but scored lower overall. While the Explorer lacks some features and struggles 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.

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.
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.

Conclusion


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 minor rust issues after leaving it outside. It is one of the most powerful stoves we tested boasting two 30,000 BTU burners and 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 prep 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 and large hungry groups, so it's no wonder it grabs a Top Pick award.

We were happy with the performance of the Explorer in almost every respect. For the right camp chef  this model is sure to please.
We were happy with the performance of the Explorer in almost every respect. For the right camp chef, this model is sure to please.


Penney Garrett