Find yourself frequently cooking for a bunch of hungry campers or tailgaters? A freestanding stove might be in order, and the best we found is the Camp Chef Pro 60X. Its sturdy legs are also adjustable for uneven ground, and it packs the power with two burners spitting out 30,000 BTUs. This is the only competitor with a fold-out side table on each side of the stove. These were super convenient for food prep and cookware storage. The side tables are large enough to even support an additional, single-burner stove, such as the Gas One GS-3000. The spacious cooking area allows for large pots, pans, and even large pizzas, while the gaps in the grate are thin enough to support smaller cookware. We boiled water fast but also simmered more delicate items with confidence. It doesn't overly impress in windy conditions, though. While the Pro 60X is very heavy and requires a few extra steps for setup and cleaning, it's a small price to pay for what you get.
This stove is the clear winner for our Top Pick for Group Cooking Award. Last year's winner was the Camp Chef Pro 90X, the same stove as this one but with one more 30,000 BTU burner. Depending on the number of people you tend to camp with, that might be a better choice. Whichever you choose, we expect you'll be satisfied all around with the performance of these impressive stoves. If you don't need a deluxe model like the Pro 60X, smaller two-burner stoves, such as the Camp Chef Everest, master cooking efficiency and are much easier to transport and clean.
Camp Chef Pro 60X Review
Cons: Heavy, very large, requires five-gallon propane tank
Bottom line: This is a luxurious freestanding set-up with two powerful burners and fold-out side prep tables, allowing you to cook for large groups with ease.
Total BTU (from manufacturer): 60,000
Top material: Nickel plated steel
Manufacturer: Camp Chef
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Stoves of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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. This stove is bulky, heavy, and expensive though, so be sure that it's really what you need before making the sizable investment.
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 quite a bit. On a non-windy day, the Pro 60X boiled a quart of 60-degree water in three minutes. The only stove that was faster was the Camp Chef's Everest at 2:30. These models are more compact, and therefore the flame is physically closer to your cookware, providing better wind resistance. 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.
This stove has a nice low setting, but the medium setting is quite high, and the flame jumps up pretty quickly. However, as we used the stove more and became more 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. 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 far less with the Pro 60X however than it did with our other large freestanding model, the Stansport Outdoor Stove, which was much more susceptible to the wind when simmering.
This 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, just be sure to keep an eye on your flame. The compact tabletop models with windscreens and high BTUs like the Camp Chef Everest were much better at contending with the wind when cooking low and slow.
In all the stoves we tested, there was no better one for group cooking than the Pro 60X. With five-inch burners and a cooking area measuring 32 x 14 inches, you can cook with very large pots and pans on both burners. The only other stove that offered anything even close to this was the Stansport Outdoor Stove with a cooking area measuring 30.5 x 15.5 inches. But the Stansport has a much more minimal grate design, so it's not possible to shuffle pots and pans around or set them off to the side. You also can't use pots smaller than six inches with the Stansport model, and there are no side tables, so even though it's comparable in overall size, it doesn't provide as many options as the Pro 60X.
Another benefit of this stove for group cooking 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 absolutely 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.
You can buy an adapter for most all compact tabletop two-burners that allows you to use a large propane tank. If the Pro 60X seems like overkill, another group cooking option is to use a powerful compact two-burner like the Everest along with the Gas One one-burner, which is super cheap and very competent. This will provide you with three burners if you need them and the ability to leave one at home if you don't. As long as you can afford the tablespace to set all of this up, it's a good group cooking option for a lot less money than the Pro 60X.
Ease of Setup
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 also another step to take 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. Bringing something compact or something that allows you to hook up additional stoves or accessories like the Eureka Spire LX may be a better choice.
Ease of Care
Unsurprisingly for a stove of this size, cleaning and maintenance are a bit more involved. The main extra step is that you can't simply 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 Stansport Outdoor Stove that has an open design allowing all food spills to hit the ground.
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 more fancy features is that there are more things that 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.
Despite the Pro 60X's high BTUs, it did struggle with the wind. It comes equipped with a windscreen, but the breeze is still able to get into the recess that houses the burners via vents on the side of the stove. This stove's response to wind was as variable as the wind itself, sometimes handling it with ease, sometimes resulting in an extinguished flame. 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 four minutes, just a minute longer than without the fan. It was the second fastest stove in this test, after the Camp Chef Everest.
On one chilly morning with a variable breeze, it took the stove 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, 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.
No surprise here, the big and heavy Pro 60X, shown in blue on the chart below, scored the lowest of all stoves tested for packed size.
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 large 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 at hand. Obviously, 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 best suited for large groups of at least four or more. It's not necessary for large groups, but it sure is nice. But for decidedly less money you could get two affordable, two-burner stoves and have four burners available for less money. Another option is purchasing a two-burner, plus a competent one-burner, like the Coleman Butane Instastart. A sweet stove like the Eureka Spire LX, which allows you to attach a second stove or JetBoil, is another option. There are lots of options for creative group cooking that don't necessarily involve a giant and pricey outfit like this. 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, this stove 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. People 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.
This stove is definitely 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.
— Penney Garrett