When it comes to the Smoke Hollow 205, the price is right. It's comparatively lightweight, yet still packs impressive power and significant cooking surface area. We love the stainless look, and most of the grill is solid and durable. The lid comes with secure latches. Its main competition is the Camp Chef Portable, which is only a little more expensive but offers greater cooking performance. If you're tight on money, get the Smoke Hollow. If the price difference is not as big an issue, it is a tougher call.
Smoke Hollow 205 Review
Cons: Burner easily disengaged, imprecise burner control
Manufacturer: Outdoor Leisure Products
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Good performance at a good price is a hallmark of our Best Buy winners, across all categories. The Smoke Hollow handily fits that description. For the cost, this is a highly functional product. Even as compared to some of the more expensive products we assessed, the Smoke Hollow performs very well. The only issues you will face, in routine grilling, are minor usability and construction shortcomings. It rattles in transit, the control knob can be sticky, and you have limited control with the one burner. There are many single burner grills on the market that don't do much better than the Smoke Hollow yet cost a hundred dollars more. You have to upgrade to the Editors Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285 to get real and appreciable performance gains over the Smoke Hollow.
The only grills that score higher than the Smoke Hollow are way more expensive. The Weber Q1200, for instance, is only a few points better than the Smoke Hollow but is more than twice the cost. The Editors' Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285 is considerably better than all of these, but is nearly three times the cost of the Smoke Hollow.
While 10,000 BTUs is half the BTUs of the Coleman RoadTrip LXE (but close to that of the Editors' Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285), we still felt this grill had plenty of output power. We got it up to temperature in less than five minutes and had no problem keeping the grill hot, even when cooking burgers and dogs for a bunch of people.
That said, when we first used the grill the burner was ajar and putting out very little heat. We thought it was defective. But after a bit of tinkering, we pushed the burner closer to the edge, and it started working just fine. Keep this in mind: the burner may move, and you will have to adjust it (better to do this when the grill is cold).
We gave above average scores for control. We were able to keep the temperature in the range we needed, but it took some effort and time. This is where the other top scoring stoves outperform the Smoke Hollow. They give much more precise control and have burlier dials. The dial on the Smoke Hollow feels flimsy and delicate. It's not that precise. Further, on the second Smoke Hollow grill we tested, the control knob became literally frozen in place a couple of times. Propane discharge cools the tank which in turns cools the regulator. The knob of the Smoke Hollow froze in place during one test session and one grilling meal. Both of these events were during temperatures in the 30s, Fahrenheit. In milder temperatures, we did not have this problem. In similar temperatures with other grills, we have not had this problem.
When using the green 16-oz canisters, we had some issues attaching them and knowing the dial was turned entirely off. These issues went away with more practice. As with most portable grills, we eventually switched to just using the Worthington 1-Gallon Propane Tank and had better results. The biggest advantage of a more expensive product like the Editors' Choice Napoleon TravelQ is in control. The dual tubular burners of the Napoleon offer much greater control than that of the Smoke Hollow.
At 17 pounds, this is one of the lighter grills we tested. Only the Cuisinart, Eureka Gonzo Grill and Top Pick Primus Kuchoma are lighter. For those extra pounds, you get 30% more cooking area than on the Kuchoma, a tradeoff that most people will gladly take. The Kuchoma also folds up much more compactly. Not only is the main body on the Kuchoma smaller, but it also doesn't have anything sticking out the sides when stowed. The Smoke Hollow has both an electric igniter and a propane valve that stick out a few inches. This means you need to give the Smoke Hollow around 30-50% more space when packing than the Kuchoma and you have to be careful not to damage the Smoke Hollow propane connector which feels a little delicate.
While this grill is among the lightest, it's not nearly as portable as the Cuisinart, Primus or Eureka Gonzo Grill. Unlike these, it has some delicate parts that stick out the side, so you need to give it extra room to account for this. The legs fold away, but oddly don't provide much more room. Don't get us wrong; it is still a small and light grill, it's just not as easy to move around as a grill on wheels or the much more compact options.
With 205 sq inches of cooking area, the Smoke Hollow is just around average in this metric. However, when you compare the weight per cooking area, the Smoke Hollow comes out on top. The Weber Q 1200 is almost double the weight and has less cooking area. Also, the 205-sq inches of cooking area does not include the 105 sq inch warming rack, which every higher-scoring grill in our review lacks.
We gave this above average scores. It's relatively enclosed, but breezes do get in there. At 10,000 BTUs, the wind can take a bit of the power out of this grill and you'll notice it.
For comparison, the Coleman RoadTrip LXE (20,000 BTUs) has a lot of extra power left over for windy conditions.
Bargain hunters tune in; this is the best balance of performance to price in our review. We wouldn't grant our Best Buy award to anything else. If you seek greater portability, check out the Top Pick Primus Kuchoma. For top-notch cooking performance, our Editors Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285 is unmatched. The un-awarded Camp Chef Portable BBQ Grill splits the difference between the Napoleon and the Smoke Hollow. It compromises between these two both in terms of performance and price. We can recommend any of them, but do not hesitate to call the Smoke Hollow our Best Buy.
You choose this grill for its value. The function and price ratio is optimized. Other grills will perform better, but they are much more expensive.
We usually see this grill sold for less than $80. At that price and for its quality and features, it's easily our Best Buy Award winner. There are quirks, and other grills offer more sophisticated cooking function, but the Smoke Hollow is a rare Best Buy winner that does most things as well as the top of the line products. Some construction issues and a little additional bulk are easy to overlook, given the low purchase price.
— Chris McNamara and Jediah Porter