Camp Chef Explorer VS Blackstone Tailgater: Adventure Griddle Battle

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With names like “Explorer” and “Tailgater”, it’s clear who Camp Chef and Blackstone designed these griddles for. Blackstone and Camp Chef obviously want you to take these griddles with you on your next adventure.

Whether tailgating at the next big game or packing it up to take with you for a long weekend in the wilderness, both products should, in theory, be up to the job.

Today though I’m taking a look at them both in-depth, I won’t be focussing too much on the specs, you can find those all over the retailer websites. Also, that’s because when you get down to it, they aren’t massively different. Instead, I’ll focus on their usability.

Both companies designed the griddles with adventure in mind, so I’ll be seeing which one works best for you in practice!

blackstone-griddle-camping-firedisc
My daughter cooking up some great camp chow!

Which Griddle Is The Most Practical For Cooking On?

This is an important question when thinking about which of these two griddles will suit you best. If you’re packing either the Explorer or the Tailgater with you for your next trip, then you need to make sure that it’s something that you can use effectively. And on this point, the Blackstone Tailgater is a clear winner.

Camp Chef vs Blackstone
Camp Chef vs Blackstone

The Tailgater has a slightly bigger cooking surface of 477 square inches (the Camp Chef Explorer has a still respectable 448 square inches, but sometimes when you’re cooking, every square inch counts). You can check it out here at CampChef.com.

But it isn’t just in the griddle’s size itself where Blackstone comes out on top. The H-shaped burners allow for much more even heating of the cooking surface itself, making cooking and serving everything at the same time a breeze.

The circular burners of the Camp Chef are still effective, but in my experience working with these burners in the past, they are more prone to cooler spots outside of the circle’s range, which essentially means you get less usable cooking surface than advertised.

Another area that I thought was important to consider was the stand. If you’re using these products for the purpose for which they were designed, then the likelihood is, you aren’t going to be cooking on even surfaces.

Sure, if you’re using it in the parking lot of the stadium to tailgate, this won’t be a problem, but both griddles are perfect for taking with you elsewhere, such as on camping trips or a day out by the lake. For these instances, you’re going to need a steady frame.

And while both products have frames with adjustable legs, in practice, I’ve found that Blackstone does it better. Each leg is independently adjustable, so if you’re on an uneven surface such as a slightly raised hill or uneven stretch of ground, then you can adjust each leg until the cooking surface is level – making cooking much easier.

Camp Chef still has legs that can be adjusted, but I don’t find them to be as user-friendly as Blackstone’s are, so again, Blackstone seems to be the more practical of the two.

CampChef.com has been having some great deals lately, its worth checking out (and their free shipping).

Which Griddle Is Easier To Pack Up?

If you’re taking your griddle with you somewhere, then you need to be able to pack it easily. This means looking at how easy it can be assembled and disassembled, but also just how practical it is to carry to the spot you want to set your griddle up in too.

Tailgating might be slightly easier on that point since you probably won’t be carrying it far to set up, but if you’re camping or adventuring outdoors, then you’re probably going to want to take your griddle with you to the lesser-known areas for some peace and quiet, and that means you’ll be needing to carry it with you for at least a short while.

So, I’ll start first with the whole assembly issue, since the last thing you want to do is spend half an hour trying to set up your griddle when you arrive at your destination.

When I first looked at this, I thought Blackstone would be another clear winner, as the Camp Chef Explorer’s legs are fully detachable and I thought it would be a hassle to attach them again.

In practice though, I found no clear winner. They have expertly designed both products to allow for fast assembly and disassembly, so you can grab your griddle and go.

Whether you’re frantically packing it up to go tailgating and you’re running late, or you need to set your griddle up in a hurry when you arrive at your camping spot so you can get right to relaxing, either griddle is perfect. But there is a clear winner for carrying your griddle.

The Camp Chef Explorer weighs 30.5 lbs, so that isn’t too bad at all, and most people could carry that weight with them at least for a short while. Blackstone’s Tailgater weighs a comparably HUGE 75 lbs, and I can say with confidence that you will feel the difference.

In my experience, carrying the Tailgater will require two people if you’re planning on taking it somewhere fast. Not only that, but the Explorer also has a carry bag you can pick up as an extra that’ll make storage and carrying your griddle from destination to destination a breeze.

At first, I thought about making the argument that Blackstone clearly designed the Tailgater with tailgating in mind, and the Explorer was clearly supposed to be more versatile, so we can’t really say that the Tailgater’s weight is a negative – but it is.

The versatility of the Explorer is what makes it so amazing, and you can still use it for tailgating and everything else besides. On this point, I have to hand it to the Camp Chef Explorer. Check it at CampChef.com

Which Griddle Is Right For You?

I’m not here to tell you which product you should buy, but I am here to tell you which product suits you based on what you want to use it for.

It’s probably no surprise to you to hear that if you’re tailgating, I’d recommend the Blackstone Tailgater every time. I appreciate the extra cooking space for this activity, and you won’t care about the extra weight of the griddle itself.

For any activity where you plan on carrying your griddle with you for even a short while though, it’d have to be the Camp Chef Explorer – and the only reason I say this is the weight difference. Having a griddle that you can take with you anywhere you like is a wonderful thing.

If the Tailgater was even 20 lbs lighter, I’d recommend it instead, but as it stands, it’s only a practical choice if you aren’t planning on carrying it far, or you have a few extra hands around to help you out.

It’s a shame, because practically, whilst cooking, the Tailgater is the better option, but until such a time when Blackstone releases a lighter griddle with the same specs, it just isn’t a viable option when having to carry it with you.

In short – when it comes to actual tailgating take the Camp Chef Tailgater, and when out exploring take the Blackstone Explorer. An obvious conclusion? Perhaps. But I’d still stand by that rule when deciding which of these two products was right for me!