Backyard barbecues are one of the quintessential American pastimes. Whether it’s cooking for the family at Thanksgiving or on a hunting or fishing trip with buddies, the outdoor cooker has firmly entrenched its place in American culture.
Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of companies offering disc and grill cookers, and two of those are FireDisc and RTIC. The question of which is better and why will be carefully considered in this showdown with various aspects of each product weight and measured.
To begin with, let us take a brief look at these different companies, who they are, and what they do before we get into the products themselves.
RTIC & FireDisc – Company Overview
RTIC is headquartered out of Houston, Texas, and owned by brothers Jim and John Jacobsen, who started with coolers and then branched out into more outdoor-related products.
RTCI is about cost-effective products that deliver quality but at the same time don’t require you to mortgage your house to get decent quality coolers or cookers.
“It’s about the adventure, and how you can take RTIC along—you spend the money on the adventure, not on the gear.” – Jim Jacobsen
FireDisc is also based in Houston and is owned by brothers Griff and Hunter Jaggard. Their focus was to provide the best high-quality portable cooker available.
“Two brothers armed with a makeshift tractor plow disc and a welding shop for hire set out to make a cooker that was not only portable and durable but would out-cook, outperform and outlast any propane grill on the market.”
It seems that to be in this business, you need a Houston-based operation run by passionate brothers, so both FireDisc and RTIC have this in common!
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of each cooker, it’s important to have some background on the origins of the disc cooker.
The Discada – From Rural Origins to Big Business
Disc cookers are based on a Mexican rural cooking method that uses converted farm plow discs over a fire to cook various foods. This type of disc also has many other names like the Wok, and in South Africa, it’s called a Skottel!
So the concept of disc cooking is not found only in the US but all over the world. Powered by either attached gas cylinders or simply laid over the fire, disc cooking has been around for many years now, but, as with any competitive product, there are always differences.
FireDisc – The High-End Niche In Portability
FireDisc targets the high-end market offering customers high-quality, sturdy portable cookers that can be taken anywhere, feed many people, and withstand the rigors of outdoor cooking.
For them, the risk was high because while there were a lot of cheaper and lower quality products around, they felt that producing better quality but the higher-priced product would appeal to a market that demanded better from their cooks.
At the time, there were either portable, disposable cookers that were flimsy and small and, once used, were dumped. This meant that the customer then had to go and buy another for the next trip.
The higher-end models were designed for use on a flat, stable surface and weren’t suited to the varying levels of the beach or the slick surfaces of ice fishing.
The Jaggards saw an opening for a sturdy but highly portable cooker that could be transported easily and used wherever needed.
RTIC – Affordable Portable Cooking Value
RTIC took a different approach to this and looked at how they could make the products more affordable and still deliver a good quality cooker at a lower price. They sought to cut out the links that raised the cost to the end consumer as a business model.
RTIC is a ‘direct-to-the-consumer’ operation relying on word of mouth without the fuss and spotlight of expensive distribution networks, celebrity endorsements, or ‘big-box’ retail chains getting between them and their customers.
By effectively circumventing the ‘fluff’ in the supply chains, RTIC has successfully delivered its vision to provide affordable quality products to the market.
RTIC King Disc Specs
With the design of each system, the cookers have some variances in construction and fuel source capacity.
Let’s start with the dimensions. Both grills are 36″ high with a 22″ diameter cooking disc. The 36″ height gives a good comfortable cooking position, easy to access the disc from anywhere without feeling like the cooking surface is too low.
The RTIC King Disc is made from non-ceramic premium carbon steel with a premium powder-coated finish for maximum heat resistance. According to RTIC, this powder-coated finish is impervious to heat!
The King Disc operates with a standard 16.4 oz propane canister but can also run off a 6lb or 20lb LP canister as well, and you’ll need a separate adapter for those.
The King Disc also provides a low-pressure regulator, and their unique burner gives three separate temperature zones on the grill for high, medium, and low heat. This is useful to keep food warm on the outside while cooking in the middle.
With adjustable feet to adapt to uneven surfaces, the legs fold out and set up the sturdy base quickly and easily, and the two-piece design allows the grill to be broken down and set up in just a few seconds.
This makes for an ideal solution for hunting, fishing, camping, and tailgate cooking. Like other cookers, the LP adaptor allows for a larger gas cylinder to be used, so cooking for large groups of people is a breeze.
Staying with the promise of a high-end disc cooker, the finish on the King Disc lives up to that and should provide years of hassle-free operation without the finish chipping or cracking.
A word on the skillet to finish off. Over time the 22″ disc will season up like a skillet, and this will add flavor to cooking as the disc is used; and for many cooks, this aspect is a bonus on this cooker.
Getting that skillet flavor from a discada-type cooker speaks greatly to the design and vision behind the King Disc system.
As seen already, the FireDisc has the same dimensions but also offers a more compact 24″ version. The FireDisc also runs from the 16.4 oz gas canister and comes with the 20lb LP tank adapter hose, which the RTIC does not.
The FireDisc is made from heavy carbon steel, and its single-piece burner rests on an equally heavy two-piece interlocking stand. The large capacity disc, along with its portability, makes transport and ease of setup attractive.
Both the RTIC and the FireDisc can hold a massive five gallons of food or liquid and makes it the biggest grill surface available, so if your family is big or you need a cooker with a large food capacity, these are both well suited!
Like the King Disc, both cookers have been cleverly designed to make them easy to move and get going with very little preparation required. So from this aspect, both cookers share the honors, but because the FireDisc supplied the 20lb LP hose and the King Disc does not, maybe the FireDisc has the slight edge.
One of the other design innovations from FireDisc is that it has a rim around the top edge of the disc, which prevents food from falling off while keeping it warm. Called the Heat Ring, this subtle addition will have chefs smiling.
There is nothing more frustrating (and humiliating) than having to pick food up off the floor as it’s slipped off the outer rim, and this shows the detail that FireDisc has gone to on their cooker design.
As the 20lb hose supply, it’s the little things that differentiate the good from the great!
FireDisc VS King Disc – Temperature Control
One of the differences between the two is that the FireDisc burner maintains the temperatures at the bottom, middle and high parts of the disc, regardless of the gas flow.
The cooking zones don’t change temperature but simply expand outward on high or contract inward toward the middle on the low setting. While this wouldn’t seem to be a big deal, it does affect what you can cook effectively.
For example, burgers on this grill would be difficult as the very high temperatures at the center would sear the meat, so where meats need a little more temperature control, you’d need to be aware of the limitations here.
However, this type of temperature system also offers great consistency; knowing that your temperature zones are consistent and dependable adds a certain comfort in cooking.
This makes it easy to place the different foods on the cooker that need slightly higher or lower temperatures for optimum cooking results. As the chef, you may need to experiment a little on this – but that’s where the fun is when you buy a new cooker!
One thing to remember with both of these cookers is that the burner flame is not wind-protected, so that the flame direction will vary in windy conditions.
However, the burner design and LP controller on the Disc King offer temperature and flame control, and the disc material lends itself very well to consistent and even heating regardless of the outdoor conditions.
FireDisc VS RTIC King Disc – Maintenance
As these both have porous surfaces, similar to a cast-iron skillet, cleaning the FireDisc after use is as simple as wiping them off with a wet cloth or paper towel and then adding a light coating of oil and packing it away.
Some users on the King Disc have added water to the surface while still hot or while the burner is still on with no adverse effects on the steel.
The heat-resistant handles make it easy to move, but it’s always recommended that you let the cooker cool down before packing it down.
Both units clean up quite easily, and provided you wipe all the heat zones and the sides of the disc down; you won’t have any issues keeping your cooking surface clean.
The finishes on both units have been purposely designed to be tough and durable to withstand the bumps and rigors of outdoor living.
With any of these devices, it’s always advisable and recommended to follow the manufacturer’s manual and instructions on cleaning, setup, and use with any of these devices. Both manuals have extensive information on preventive and safety aspects when it comes to cooking with gas.
FireDisc VS King Disc – Pricing
On the RTIC website, the King Disc is priced at $299 on sale, while the regular sale price is $429.99.
On sportsdiamond.com, the King Disc was marked at $349.99, so it would pay to shop around before making a final decision.
By comparison, the FireDisc 36″ retails for around the $400 mark on most sites, and the 24″ version on eBay is priced at $379.99.
Looking at both cookers, with the price level at normal selling prices, there isn’t much in the cost differences.
FireDisc V RTIC King Disc – Conclusion
It is clear that both of these cookers are based on the discada concept but have elevated design and functionality to a more modern design bringing a combination of a variety of gas cylinder options, more durable material, and portability.
Both companies have relentlessly pursued their vision of providing the outdoor enthusiast with a high-quality, easy-to-use cooker that can be taken anywhere, anytime across any terrain.
Able to cook anything from fish to steak to seafood, breakfast, lunch, dinner, stews, gumbos, and each having a 5-gallon food capacity, there is very little to separate the two in terms of price versatility and operation.
While the small details like the adapter hose supplied (FireDisc) vs. not supplied or the heat zone controls are negligible for some, this may be the deal clincher or deal-breaker.
If you are looking for a cooker and planning to replace your old grill before venturing on your next great outdoor adventure, one of the best options is to ask around and investigate the experiences of others before you buy.
As with most competing products, folks are fans of one, like the great iPhone versus Android debate. RTIC has a long history of creating quality outdoor products like coolers and has established itself in the market as an outdoor product specialist.
As such, they have an existing market base that is loyal and have had good experiences with them on their previous products and would look at the Disc King before considering a competitive brand.
FireDisc is the new kid on the block. Still, they have done their homework and invested many resources to understand the needs and requirements to create and produce a high-quality product that will appeal to those looking for a strong, robust cooker.
Whichever you choose and based on the specs and capabilities, both FireDisc and King Disc will give you years of easy, good-lookin’ cookin!