We are big fans of the pellet grills from Camp Chef (The Woodwind is our top pick for best pellet grill) so when we got our hands on their portable pellet grill, the Camp Chef Pursuit 20, we were excited to see how well it performed.
As well being the only Camp Chef grill designed to be portable, the Pursuit 20 is also the lowest cost option making it a solid choice for anyone on a budget.
After putting the Pursuit 20 through a number of test cooks I’m ready to share how well it performs, and how well the portable features stack up against the competition.
Let’s get stuck into the review.
Camp Chef sent me this grill for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Click to jump straight to each topic
Overview and first impressions
Despite its lower price and focus on portability, the Pursuit 20 is still a full-featured grill with PID control, dual meat probes, multiple custom smoke settings, and many other functions available from higher-priced pellet grills. Plus a few that I haven’t seen anywhere.
The price comes in a little under the Traeger Tailgater 20, while you get more overall cooking area (501 sq/in compared to 300 sq/in on the Tailgater). You also get a larger pellet hopper (10lbs to 8lbs) and higher overall cooking temp (500°F to 450°F).
Here are Pursuit 20’s full specs:
|Cooking Area||501 sq in (lower rack 253 sq in + 248 top racks)|
|Pellet Hopper Capacity||10 lbs|
|Temp Range||160°F – 500°F|
|Temp probes||2 meat probes|
|Construction||Stainless hood, steel and aluminum body and legs|
|WiFi /App||Not yet|
|Price||Check Latest Price|
Camp Chef has put a lot of thought into the functionality and portability of this grill, but it falls a little short in the build quality of the legs and missing pellet dump system.
What I like:
- Direct and indirect heating system: with easy slide-rod control for quick sear versus slow cook.
- Ash cleanout: although there is some residual ash in the bottom of the unit after cooking, cleaning the firebox is a snap. No more dragging out the shop vac after every use.
What I don’t like:
- The legs and wheels: The wheels are too small and not sturdy. The legs are lightweight and also a bit on the flimsy side. You have to lay the unit down to deploy the legs and at 80 pounds, it’s awkward especially with pellets in the hopper (see next).
- No pellet dump: I guess you’ll need that shop vac after all.
If you plan on taking this grill on the road then the lightweight construction is a worthwhile tradeoff. You get more features than many other portable grills and the Pursuit 20 is generally well built, and easy to use.
Unboxing and setup
The box arrived from the carrier who unloaded it with a hand-truck.
As you can see the box is very large and heavy (80+ pounds) and you’ll need either a hand-truck/dolly or another person to transport it to your assembly area.
The unit was packaged securely and all the parts were easily identifiable.
The directions on the other hand were a little vague, especially with regards to the legs.
No tools were provided in the packaging, so you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver for the hood handle and possibly a socket wrench to tighten the wheels.
You have to lay the unit down to deploy the legs, a second set of hands would be helpful here.
The heat shield is coated in oil so I wiped off as much as I could prior to the initial burn-in.
Removing and reinstalling the heat shield is a bit of a struggle until you find the proper angle for it to pass through.
The grease can hangs curiously in the back to one side and rests against a leg at an angle. Strange.
Cooking on the Pursuit 20
I followed the manual’s instructions first for the initial burn-in (350°F for 30 minutes) and then for a 2-phase cook.
It took 6 minutes to get to 160°F after shutting down from the burn-in, that’s very quick!
For the burn-in and cook, I used Camp Chef’s Competition Gold hardwood pellets.
I set the control to “Feed” after filling the hopper and connecting to a 120v outlet.
I used a tri-tip beef roast and set it at “High Smoke” which the manual says will run at 220°F (it actually ran between 200°F and 230°F). And then a sear at 450℉, which was over 500°F on the center of the grill.
After the meat reached 120°F internal temp (about 2 hours), I slid out the sear bar, increased the temp to 450°F, and, after reaching temp (over actually) got a satisfactory sear in about 4 minutes per side.
I used roughly the same approach with 5 lbs of chicken wings (no internal temps) to great success. I was able to move the wings to the upper grill as some cooked faster (center grill).
I also did Korean-style short ribs or flanken (Galbi) that require high-sear and quick cook-time.
I set the temp to 450°F knowing it would go higher. I wanted the char on the meat and the unit performed well (no foil on the drip pan).
I got some char (see photo) and the inside was still pink – I was impressed.
I also cooked some Johnsonville Beer Brat sausages using the High Smoke and then sear method which also came out great.
I pulled the Direct Flame Rod outward to achieve a very hot grill (500+°F) and a satisfactory sear.
I used my Inkbird IBT 4XS wireless temperature thermometer to monitor the temps and the P1 probe from the grill to monitor the meat.
Ease of operation
Once you’ve completed the “Feed” and burn-in, operating the Pursuit is fairly simple: Turn the dial to “Set Temp”, push the dial in, and choose your temp or smoke setting.
There is a Low Smoke, High Smoke, temperature set-point, and smoke set-points (like a car radio).
Dual meat probe temps are displayed simultaneously.
How portable is the Pursuit 20?
My first experience folding and unfolding the legs was a bit awkward. The next time was better and by the third time, I was an expert. The hopper lid latches closed so there won’t be pellets scattered about when tilting the Pursuit to access the legs.
Once you find the push buttons on the legs you can manage to fold the legs up or down without laying it on its side.
The grill rolls adequately even though the wheels aren’t of great quality. You have the ability to roll with the legs extended or collapsed.
It’s still 80 lbs without pellets, so lifting to transport is a 2-person task.
The main grill is powder-coated black and the top grills are stainless – cleanup is no problem.
Tip: I keep a large plastic tub with a cover half-full with a mix of vinegar, Dawn Dish Soap, Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, and water. I put the grill grates in to soak overnight for easier cleanup.
The grease pan is more work, covered in foil, the foil will burn at higher temps. Without the foil, everything sticks to it.
I don’t recommend spraying the grease pan with cooking oil (or Pam etc.) as it can catch fire.
The ash cleanout system works beautifully and is a timesaver.
The grease bucket (supplied) comes with foil lining which can also be purchased through Camp Chef. A great feature!
The unit’s temp probe is removable and cleans easily.
The unit does everything as advertised. It smokes well on the low smoke setting, not quite as much on high smoke- but still adequate.
There is a substantial temperature difference across the grill. The middle is closest to the display temp, both right and left slides run cooler.
Using the SMOKE CONTROL settings 1-10 can increase or decrease desired smoke.
I think too much smoke is lost out of the rear louvers.
It reaches 160°F in 6 minutes after starting, 350°F in about 10 minutes.
Searing is no problem when the heat rod lever is pulled out. I got over 500°F when searing my tri-tip roast.
The unit temperature probe is taller than most (it’s vertical, not horizontal) which gives a better area to sample for the PID algorithm, resulting in closer temp readings (+- 5-15°F) in the center of the grill.
|Unit Temp Probe||Probe A (R)||Probe B (M)||Probe C (L)|
|225°F set 239 +/- 10°F actual||199||248||194|
|350°F set 350 +/- 10-15°F actual||299||360||291|
Covering the drip pan with foil affecting the temps somewhat. It was a little slower to achieve temperature – not a huge factor.
The aluminum foil tends to burn on the drip pan, so use heavy-gauge aluminum.
From the Camp Chef website:
“Yes, you can line your drip pan in foil for easy cleanup. We would just recommend double-checking the foil and make sure there are no paths for the oil to go into the bottom of the pellet grill. If you have a louvered drip pan, the only time we would not recommend foil is when you are using the direct heat option. The foil would deflect the heat making it indirect heat where it cannot flow up through the louvers.”
Should you buy the Pursuit 20?
The Pursuit is the entry-level smoker grill in the Camp Chef lineup.
The model I tested, PPG20-4 does not come WiFi capable, although the manual says there are WiFi model(s) PPG20WF thru PPG29WF.
It’s much more portable than other models without wheels and folding legs.
I had no problems with the build quality or control functionality, it is a solid all-around pellet grill.
It’s priced somewhat higher than other units in its class, but its portability, ease of use, and features are worth a couple of extra bucks.
The Camp Chef Pursuit 20 works great, is well built, is very portable, and easy to use. If you’re looking for a portable grill, you can’t go wrong with this one.