This free-standing two-burner stove with side prep tables is ideal for large group cooking situations. Its power and ability to handle all sizes of cookware make serving up a feast as easy as if you were in your kitchen at home. It is bulky, heavy, and expensive though, so be sure that it's what you need before making the sizable investment.
Our favorite freestanding stove, the Pro 60X, fits right in on beach cookouts.
Time to Boil
The Pro 60X boiled water very fast when there wasn't a breeze to contend with. We noticed that depending on the direction of the wind, this stove would either do very well or struggle considerably. On a non-windy day, the Pro 60X boiled a quart of 60-degree water in 3 minutes. The only stove that was faster was the Camp Chef Everest at 2:30. Models like the Everest are more compact, and therefore the flame is physically closer to your cookware, providing better wind protection. But with 30,000 BTUs on each five-inch burner of the Pro 60X, we weren't surprised at all by this excellent time, despite the less compact design.
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. So if you find that your burner output seems low, read the warning label on the regulator to learn how to keep the BTUs high.
Boiling water for pasta is quite quick with this stove.
Despite the impressively high BTUs on this stove, it still struggled with the wind in some situations. It comes equipped with a windscreen, but the breeze can get into the recess that houses the burners via vents on the side of the stove. The response of the Pro 60X to wind was as variable as the wind itself — sometimes handling it with ease, sometimes resulting in an extinguished flame. The difference seemed to be in how predictable — or not — the wind's behavior was. During our box fan test, where we set up a fan 24 inches to the side of the stove and ran it continuously while trying to boil a quart of water, the Pro 60X did great, clocking in at 4 minutes, just a minute longer than without the fan. It was the second-fastest stove in this test, after the Camp Chef Everest.
On the flip side, one chilly morning with a variable breeze it took the Pro 60X 11 minutes to boil a kettle of water (this water wasn't measured, so it may have been more volume and a lower starting temperature than in our official tests, but regardless, 11 minutes is a long time). The design of this stove is just susceptible to certain kinds of breezes. We don't think this is a reason not to buy the stove by any means, but just something to be aware of. In most situations the powerful burners were adequate, you just may want to have something like a JetBoil on one of the side tables for quick morning coffee and tea.
Installing the windscreen to the back and sides of the Pro 60X. There are four tabs that hook onto the external edge of the stove. It fits on firmly with a few fist bumps.
This stove has a nice low setting, but the medium setting is quite high, and the flame jumps up pretty quickly. As we used the stove more and got used to fine-tuning the knob, finding those delicate in-between temperature settings became easier. The flame does go very low and cooks beautifully with close to the same feel as cooking on an indoor stove. When cooking a full-size meal, the Pro 60X shines, and it's clear what it's meant for.
That said, the design is such that the flame is several inches away from your cookware, so if a breeze comes from the right direction to penetrate the recess where the burners live, the flame will whip around. For the most part, even when this happened our flame would stay lit, but we did have several instances where it went out, and we had to reignite. This happened with all our free-standing models due to their open and airy designs.
With a bit of practice, we were able to master the flame by slight adjustments to the dial.
The Pro 60X also comes with an air vent on each burner to control the amount of oxygen reaching the flame, but we struggled to see the benefit of this feature for intermittent and unpredictable wind. Ultimately, we felt decently confident simmering on this stove, but if there is a breeze about and you happen to be cooking something very delicate or something on low for a long time, be sure to keep an eye on your flame. The compact tabletop models with windscreens and high BTUs (like the Everest) were much better at contending with the wind when cooking low and slow.
Managing the flame of the Pro 60X on a windy beach day.
Ease of Set Up
This is one area where the mighty Pro 60X came in at the bottom of the pack. It's not that setting up this stove is super hard, but compared to the other stoves it's more involved all around. For starters, the stove weighs 45.6 pounds (not including the fuel tank) and requires you to flip it either upside down or on its side to push a button and fold out the stiff legs. We are thankful that there are adjustable footpegs on the bottom of each leg (very useful on uneven ground), but leveling the stove is another step required before you can start cooking. You'll also need to fold out the side tables and attach the windscreen.
If the propane hose isn't already attached, this is the next step, and the manufacturer recommends tightening it down with a wrench. Finally, the hose can be screwed onto your propane tank. Once you know the drill, it's no big deal, but the consensus was that if you're not going out with a sizable group, then it's not worth the trouble to lug this beast along.
Getting this stove ready to cook takes longer than all other models tested, but once you get the hang of it, it's not abysmal.
Ease of Care
Unsurprisingly for a feature-heavy stove of this size, cleaning and maintenance are also a bit more involved. The main extra step is that you can't just lift out the cooking grate like you can on most compact stoves. There is a hook on one side tightened down with a wing nut that must be loosened to remove the grate and reach the recessed area that houses the burners. This area will have collected all of the food bits from cooking, unlike the more open design of the Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner which allows food spills to hit the ground (easier for cleanup but not ideal when critters are around).
We did also have an issue with one of the barrel nuts that attach the side table falling out. Fixing this required two Allen wrenches, something most people probably aren't going to have with them while car camping. Not a huge deal, but it illustrates that sometimes the price of fancier features is that more things may require repair down the line. This stove has a bit of a learning curve, and the more you use it and get to know its intricacies, the easier caring for it will become.
The cleaning of this stove is quite a bit more involved than most of the other stoves we tested.
No surprise, this big heavy beast scored the lowest for portability of all stoves we tested. This was mainly due to its sheer size and weight, but also because the side prep tables don't come equipped with a latch and would swing open during transport if we weren't careful. Hopefully Camp Chef will address this small design flaw in future iterations.
With measurements of 35 x 14.5 x 9.25 inches — not including the windscreen and propane tank — you need to be prepared for this stove to take up a pretty significant chunk of your car. If this worries you, perhaps think about buying two compact models instead. If you doubled up on the Camp Chef Everest, you will only pay $20 more than the Pro 60X but have two extra burners on hand. You would sacrifice some BTUs and those fancy fold-out prep trays, but if you have a tiny car, it's an option to consider.
This stove is big and heavy. We weren't impressed that there is no latch to keep the side tables stowed in place during transportation. We resorted to keeping the closed side tables against our legs when carrying to avoid them flopping open.
This stove is best suited for large groups of at least four or more. It's not necessary for large groups, but it sure is nice. But you could get two affordable, compact two-burners and have four burners available for less money. Another option is purchasing a two-burner, plus a competent one-burner, like the Gas One GS-3000. There are lots of options for creative group cooking that don't have to involve a giant and pricey outfit like this one. But if your thing is big groups and lots of food, and you don't mind the price and size of this stove, well… you really couldn't pick a better setup.
At $230, the Pro 60X isn't cheap. Depending on your needs, however, it might be perfect for you. If you dig into reviews online for this stove, you will find that people buy it for all sorts of reasons outside of just car camping. Some use it for various kitchen projects like canning and preserving or as their second outdoor kitchen in place of a grill. Value is relative. For many people, this stove is overpriced, but for the right kind of camper or outdoor foodie, the price is right for all you get.
Once you transport and setup this stove where you want it, the cooking experience is top notch.
Another economic benefit of this stove is the fact that it requires a five-gallon propane tank. Though this is more money up front and more to lug around, the large tanks are refillable, which is of both environmental and economic benefit. There's a reason that this stove continues to win our group cooking award. Nothing else comes as close to making us feel like we transported our home kitchen to the great outdoors.
When cooking over a long weekend for a group of friends or family, be assured that you'll have enough fuel with a tank like this.
The Pro 60X is a luxury item. There are a plethora of ways to get creative, pool your resources, and happily create a feast for lots of people without this stove. But just because you can do something on the cheap doesn't mean you always should. If you cook outside in large quantities on the regular, why not have a setup that provides an awesome experience? This stove is a joy to cook on no matter what you're making and the prep tables are invaluable. While it's large and heavy and sometimes struggles with the wind, overall this stove provides a professional cooking experience that is hard to beat.
The Pro 60X definitely has the coolest looking flames licking our pots and pans, thanks to the large burners putting out 30,000 BTUs each. But that still didn't mean it boiled the fastest or had the best wind resistance.