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Pellet smokers have only hit the market somewhat recently. Nevertheless, they are gaining in popularity with each day. And no wonder, they are easy to clean, easy to use and deliver a unique smoky flavor. The luxuries smokers have to offer give them a significant advantage over gassers and charcoal models. However, they are also more expensive. The sophisticated technology and the conveniences they come with make the price go up.
But there are also other factors in play. Currently, there are only a couple of pellet grill manufacturers that offer high-quality models. Considering that that’s the case, it’s no wonder good portable smokers are even more challenging to find.
Nevertheless, they do exist. That comes as a surprise to many. Anyone looking for a portable pellet model has probably come across the camp chef pursuit. Camp Chef has managed to put together a decent portable smoker that comes at a reasonable price. That statement is enough to at least raise a few eyebrows among experiences grilling enthusiast.
When it comes to portable smokers, skepticism is justified. The technology pellet grills employ is still fresh and is yet to be perfected. However, the Pursuit gives off the impression that it’s ahead of its time. So what makes it worth it?
Don’t let its size fool you. The Pursuit is as stable and durable as a heavy-weight smoker. The stainless steel lid is a nice touch as well. Loading it into the trunk might take two people, but once it’s on the ground, it’s easy to move around as you please.
The Pursuit Features a “set it and forget it” temperature controller. The controller is easy to navigate. It can be set for particular kinds of meats and vegetables. The temperatures can range between 160 and 500-degrees. The digital controller and the auger make sure the set temperature never varies more than fifteen degrees. The auger automatically feeds the pellets at a set rate.
Pellet grills can’t reach particularly high temperatures like other types of grills. No pellet grill can deliver more than 500°, but they have something else to offer. The temperature range allows you to broil, bake, roast, grill, and braise.
The burning pellets infuse the food with a distinctive, sweet, smoky flavor. Every kind of pellet imparts the food with its own unique smoke. That allows you to experiment with different types of pellets to find the taste that suits you best. The grill includes not one, but two built-in meat probes. Meat probes are a common accessory that can typically be purchased separately. Most of such meat probes are cheap and don’t last long.
These integrated meat probes are more durable and of great help. They help you tell when the meat is ready. To see whether the meat is ready, insert the end of the probe into the meat to check the internal temperature.
The cooking chamber has a thermometer of its own. The Pursuit allows you to monitor the cooking process in every way. It really lives almost no room for mistakes.
- Electronic auto-start ignition
- Automatic auger
- Folding legs and leg levers
- 160º F up to 500º F temperature range
- Grease Management System
- Ash Cleanout System
- Slide and Grill Technology
- Two meat probes
- 501 sq. in Total Cooking Area
- Digital Temperature Control
Why Get It?
First of all, pellet grills are most convenient for outdoor grilling. When you are on a camping trip, the last thing you need is a grill that requires a lot of effort to operate and clean up. The Pursuit is compact enough, stands on two wheels, and has two portable legs.
It’s not the lightest model, but it’s still easy to transport. Loading it onto your RV, SUV or van won’t be a problem. Assembling the whole thing is a non-issue as well. As long as you follow the instructions, you’re good. It shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Quality portable smokers are a rarity. A smoker that can sear is even rarer. The Pursuit happens to be both! Camp Chef is really ahead of the curve with this one. This feature alone might be enough to seal the deal for a prospective buyer. The feature was invented recently, and only a few smokers have it.
To get those gorgeous sear marks, all one needs to do is pull on the lever that allows the flame to rise. Camp Chef even managed to solve the problems that come with such lever-activated searing features.
Other features of the sort prevent you from smoking and grilling at the same time, unless you use some risky tactics that might get you to burn your fingers. However, this model lets you switch between grilling and smoking mid-cookout.
Thanks to the feature, you can slow smoke chicken drumsticks first, to get make them all tender and succulent, and then raise the fire to crisp them and sear them with direct heat.
Camp Chef doesn’t cease to surprise with their innovations. They’ve managed to make the cleanup easier than on a gasser. Basically, the only annoying part on most pellet grills is having to clean out the ashes, and reaching them can be difficult.
But not on the Pursuit, thanks to the ingenious ash removal system. The system practically does all the dirty work for you. What’s left for you is to open the trap door and pull the lever.
The leaver releases the ash into the receptacle. You just need to empty it into a trash can. If you want to make sure, you can vacuum the area, to get all of the particles.
The grease management system is just as simple. The excess drippings drain into a bucket. Again, the only things left for you to do is empty out the bucket.
The grill grates are nonstick, making them easy to wash as well. Even though smokers are inherently convenient, Camp Chef has really taken things to another level.
Pros & Cons
- Automatic Auger
- Temperature Control
- Great Temperature Range
- Stainless Steel Lid
- Easy Assembly
- 2 Meat Probes
- Patented Ash Removal System
- Easy to Use
- Easy to Clean
- 501 sq. in Total Cooking Area
- Electronic auto-start ignition
- Overall 83% 83%
- No Wifi Controller
- Cooking Area Split in Two
“My wife and I are dedicated RVers and we would never even contemplate going on a trip without a proper cooking setup. Since our last grill died on us, we started researching portable pellet smokers. I’ve had a pellet smoker at home for a while now, and I wanted to get the same experience on the road.
The Pursuit is even better than the full-sized smoker in my yard. The Slide and Grill feature is what made us go for this grill. Who would have thought that you can actually smoke and sear meat at the same time!
I can’t do that even on my backyard smoker, and it has a sear box. The cooking area is quite sizeable. The two racks combined make it a proper grill.
Now I often use it instead of my older smoker. It’s much easier to clean thanks to the trap door and the ash cup, as well as the grease draining system. The only time I use my bigger grill is for larger roasts and when I am throwing a party.”
The smoking and searing feature is arguably the most significant selling point of this grill. Because the cooking area is split into two, there are some challenges, but in any case, the grill can still be used as a proper backyard grill.
Ronald seems to appreciate the convenience of pellet grills, but the unique smoky flavor shouldn’t be neglected either. The ability to combine the smoky taste and mouthwatering sear marks will definitely get the attention of most grill enthusiasts.
What to Watch Out For
The cooking area is impressive, but it’s split into two racks. That means you have to rotate the racks to make sure the food is evenly smoked. It also limits your cooking options.
However, you can still smoke a whole turkey if you remove the top rack, but that also reduces the total cooking area. Still, for a portable grill, that’s not bad at all. The whole thing can easily fit four full racks of spare ribs.
A Piece of Advice
Pellet grills rely on electricity to work, even portable models. When you plan on taking it somewhere, make sure the area has proper access to electricity.
Try not to use an ordinary household extension cord. Chances are it’ll be too short and will heat up too fast. That’s a potential safety hazard. Instead, hire an electrician to make you a custom made cord.
Camp Chef has managed to accomplish something that almost no other competitor has. They’ve manufactured a portable smoker that can sear. It’s grilling engineering at its finest.
The combination of beautiful sear marks and savory, smoky flavor is a powerful one. When paired with a convenient and simple maintenance system and a fair price, there’s no excuse not to get it.