Hands-on Gear Review

Camp Chef Pro 90 Review

Camp Chef Pro 90
By: Laura Lingeman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 10, 2015
Price:  $300 List  |  $249.99 at Amazon - 17% Off
Pros:  Freestanding, side counter space, powerful flame, auto-ignition system, 5 gallon propane hose included
Cons:  Large packing dimensions, heavy, does not operate on 16oz propane canisters, requires 5-gallon propane tank (not included)
Manufacturer:   Camp Chef
74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Time to Boil - 25% 10
  • Cooking Simmering - 20% 9
  • Group Cooking - 15% 10
  • Ease of Set Up - 10% 3
  • Ease of Care - 10% 6
  • Wind Resistance - 10% 5
  • Packed size - 10% 2
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Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

When it comes to group camping, nothing really provides the power and the cook space of the Camp Chef Pro 90. With three, 30,000-BTU burners and two fold out "prep trays," this stove is really about size and power. It is as large and as powerful as a gas grill, yet it is portable (and better yet, easy to assemble!). In our old review, the two-burner Camp Chef Pro 60X took home our Top Pick for Group Cooking, but this year, we upped the ante and tested out the three-burner model! It should be no surprise that the Camp Chef Pro 90 took this year's Top Pick honors. Overall, we found this product to be even better for group cooking (more space, more burners, more power!), but more difficult to lug around. If you love the idea of this stove, but want something a little smaller and less expensive then the two-burner model may be a better choice for you.

This stove had some of the best flame power of any stove tested. This results in faster, more efficient cooking and extra benefits like roasting peppers or warming tortillas. If you cook for groups of six or more on a regular basis, then consider adding this stove to your wish list. The extra burner and the added heat will dramatically speed up your cooking process. The generous cook space is also more conducive to group cooking as you can cook with large pots/pans on each burner! With most two burner camping stoves, one 12-inch pan takes up 3/4 of the whole cook top. With this model, you can easily use several 12, or even 16-inch pots/pans. It is also important to note that this stove must be used with a five gallon propane tank rather than the propane canisters that many other camping stoves use. This isn't included, but since it's refillable, this type of tank is by and large a more convenient and cheaper fuel source option.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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A free-standing three-burner stove that is more similar to a grill than a camping stove, the Camp Chef Pro 90 brings the heat and is ideal for group cooking situations. That said, it's heavy and takes up a lot of excess space, so make sure that you really think you'll need it before making the big investment!

Performance Comparison


Feast with ease with this stove. It offers plenty of space to cook group meals and store other cooking items.
Feast with ease with this stove. It offers plenty of space to cook group meals and store other cooking items.

Group Cooking


In the category of group camping, this model took the cake. Not only did it have the most burners, thereby being able to cook more food at one time, but it had the most cook space and excellent flame power. The stove top is essentially one giant metal grate. This makes it easier to use pans of any size while cooking. We routinely broke out our 14" cast iron to see how the Camp Chef Pro 90 handled the big guy, and we didn't notice any problems with uneven cooking or insufficient flame. When you are cooking more food for more people, bigger is better. And it doesn't get any bigger than this. Throw in extra large burners with 30,000 BTUs of power, and man! We have a Group Cooking winner!
A closer look at one of the 5" burners on the stove. The stainless steel drip pan in the bottom of the stove adds an increased maintenance element to this stove as it is tricky to access and a pain to clean.
A closer look at one of the 5" burners on the stove. The stainless steel drip pan in the bottom of the stove adds an increased maintenance element to this stove as it is tricky to access and a pain to clean.

Time to Boil


No surprise, this model was one of the quickest stoves in the boil test. It came in just three seconds behind the winner, the Camp Chef Everest. Not only can the flame of this stove be cranked up to exceptionally high power, but the burner is 5" in diameter and therefore can deliver more flame to a greater surface area of the cooking device. The down side to this super sized burner is that it's not really designed to operate with pots with a diameter that is smaller than the burner. No matter how low the burner can go, there will still be a 5" diameter of flame. That means that something like a small stovetop coffee percolator would work, but it would waste a lot of flame and expose the outside of the device to a large amount of heat, so be careful!
One of the stove's 30 000 BTU burners.
One of the stove's 30,000 BTU burners.

Cooking Simmer


No complaints in the simmering department with this model. Its is quick and easy to reduce the flame to a simmer without putting it out due to its unique adjustment knob. When turned all the way to low, the knob "catches" and prevents you from turning off the stove. In addition to its simmering abilities, this model also cooks very evenly, even on very large pans.

Ease of Set-Up


For a stove of its size, the Camp Chef Pro 90 is surprisingly easy to set up. In comparison to car camping stoves in general, however, it is a real pain. It scored the lowest on this rating metric. You could expect first time assembly to take at least five minutes. Something that our testers unanimously agreed upon was that if you're headed out with less than four people, you'd be better off leaving this stove at home. It requires time to set up and take down, albeit brief, and it's large and cumbersome to pack in your rig and to find space for at camp. We would gladly invest the effort in setting up the stove if it meant spending significantly less time tending the stove, but for smaller groups, it just doesn't make that much of a difference.

Ease of Care


Being a more elaborate stove, its cleaning process wasn't so simple. As a result, this model didn't score too highly in this metric. The side folding trays can be easily wiped off but the cooking grate must be detached before it can be lifted off. The metal drip pan under the burners is also tricky to reach as it is, you guessed it, located under the burners. The only other maintenance issue with this stove concerns its auto-ignition system, which we found to be very finicky. The left two burners of the stove lit 90% of the time and the rightmost burner lit very intermittently. We were frustrated that with the high price tag of this stove the manufacturer wasn't able to include a higher quality ignition system.
The wing nut  above left  must be removed in order to release the hook  above right  which keeps the stove's cooking grate in place
The wing nut, above left, must be removed in order to release the hook, above right, which keeps the stove's cooking grate in place

Wind Resistance


All of that glorious cooking surface area means that this stove's flame is easily affected by the wind. We noticed that when the wind picked up, the flame didn't cook as evenly. The side closest to the cook (the only side not sheltered by a windscreen) became weaker.

Packed Size


Be prepared to leave the dog at home to make room for the Camp Chef Pro 90 on your next camping outing. Its dimensions are 38 x 16 x 6.5." Nearly four compact two burner stoves could fit in this amount of space! This doesn't even take in to consideration the five-gallon propane tank, which also has to come along. We certainly recognize all of the benefits of this stove, but its size is not one of them. Once again, if the need for this stove isn't warranted, it might be easier to leave it at home.

Best Application


This stove is most appropriate for large groups, from six people on up. It certainly isn't necessary for groups of this size, but it is pretty sweet. Multiple compact two burner stoves would be another good option for group cooking, as two stoves gives you four burners and still take up less space. Still, there are many perks to having the Camp Chef Pro 90 like the extra counter space from the side fold outs and the large cooking surface area. Both of these features are unique to this stove and add convenience to your cooking experience.

Value


The price is steep for this product: $300. The added utility of this stove versus a regular two burner stove is significant, but is it enough to pay almost $200 more dollars? In defense of the steep price tag, you are getting significantly more. In looking into online reviews for this stove, we were surprised to learn that most users didn't even use it as a camping stove! Folks were using this powerhouse for anything from tailgating, to canning large quantities of food, to general outdoor gatherings in order to supplement a regular grill. Some people used it in place of their regular kitchen stove top in the summers simply to keep the cooking heat outside of their house. Regardless, we would argue that it is still overpriced.

The control panel for the Pro 90  complete with burner control knobs and the piezo ignitor knob.
The control panel for the Pro 90, complete with burner control knobs and the piezo ignitor knob.

Conclusion


Our evaluation of the Camp Chef Pro 90 was a challenging one. Its benefits don't really shine until you're cooking a lot of food for a lot of people. It makes cooking for six or more people faster and easier than on a typical two-burner stove. Period. This free-standing model is well-designed with a large cook-top and generous counter space due to its two folding trays. We loved its huge, powerful burners and were satisfied with the auto-ignition system most of the time. If your average camping trip includes your family or a group of friends, then go ahead and spoil everyone by getting this stove. If large groups aren't your thing, stick to something smaller and simpler like the Camp Chef Everest. The size of the Camp Chef Pro 90 can be a burden as it is challenging to pack and move. It also weighs over 50 pounds. It requires more of an investment to setup and take down than a standard two-burner, and let's not forget the pretty penny it costs. Basically, we couldn't come up with a scenario where you would need this stove - it is a glamorous, high performing, (relatively) high maintenance, luxury item. Two compact two-burners could handle large groups just as well, just not with as much style as the Camp Chef Pro 90.

Laura Lingeman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: August 22, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (3.8)

75% of 4 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 40%  (2)
4 star: 40%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 20%  (1)
Fisherman

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Apr 11, 2016 - 10:32am
Dandew · Fisherman · Far Western MA

I disagree with the review also. I have had my Camp Chef Pro 90 for years. We take it camping and have had no problems with it. The igniters have always worked every time since day one on all of the burners. We have cooked everything from small meals to cooking for large family gatherings at the house. We even did a seafood boil with a 20 quart pot and it performed flawlessly. I also love the fact that it is modular. You can just use the burners for pots and pans,or the grill box, or the griddle, or mix and match. It is very verstile. The only question I have is: Why doesn't Outdoor GearLab carry any fishing or hunting gear ?



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Hunter

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   Aug 22, 2016 - 09:58pm
Paolo B · Hunter · Pebble Beach, CA

While this is not a stove for backpacking (unless the mother in law is packing gear), it is a tremendous stove.

I have had one for years. We routinely use it for tailgating, at the beach and at our hunting base camp.

I love the heavy sturdy frame and weight. I don't have to worry about pots of water tipping over or the wind dumping it on the ground.

Yeah, it's heavy, but that's what makes it so great! Coupled with the 20 pound propane tanks and a distribution manifold we can run our stove, heaters and lanterns with ease.

The 90,000 btu's quickly boils water and cooks our food.

I disagree with the author's review as well.

You can find these stoves under a lot of private labeled names as well. Check the box, the manufacturer's model number and address does not change.

I even bought a storage/carrying case for it.

YOU CANNOT GO WRONG, if you're not bothered by the size, weight and required large 20 lb propane bottle.

But you will be thankful for the quick cook times and high output!



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Camper

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   Jul 7, 2015 - 02:00am
AK Allen · Camper · Coldwater, MI

I have this stove in my off-road expedition trailer and it gets used all the time. I disagree with the review, as I use it for 3 people all the time. However, I usually do not prepare quick easy meals, most of my cooking is pretty extravagant. But even a simpler meal it is nice to have 3 burners, 1 for the steaks, 1 for the sauteed veggies & mushrooms, & 1 for steamed veggies or mac & cheese. I have honestly thought about adding another to have 3 more burners! It does get low enough to make some pretty delicate sauces, but it takes some getting used to for that. The wind will affect it, but I think it is less than "regular" camping stoves. It has been a very durable stove that when taken care of will serve you well for a long time. I am hard on equipment, and have had no real issues so far. Camp Chef makes some great products!



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Camper

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jul 4, 2015 - 03:21pm
bus guy · Camper · San Antonio
this piece of equipment is over priced junk.
wind rating should be 0! if there is any wind at all you will not be able to keep the grill lit on anything but high.
I would only recommend this as "expedition grade" if your expedition is in your garage.
when used in any real word situation the materials are substandard it will rust away all on its own and any exposure to rain will just speed things up.

I live full time in an rv and use this currently as my outdoor cooking appliance. I am looking forward to finding a better quality piece of equipment so I can toss this one in a dumpster.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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