Camp Chef Woodwind 24 and Sidekick Review
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I’ve always had a burning desire to cook all my meals on a grill, but it remained a distant dream until I stumbled upon the ultimate outdoor cooking platform. Camp Chef, with its range of innovative products, has transformed my outdoor cooking experience and turned it into my primary culinary outlet.
Since its establishment in 1990, Camp Chef has been a leading name in outdoor cooking. Families and friends have come together over delicious meals prepared on Camp Chef equipment. Initially focusing on a groundbreaking camping stove, the company has expanded its repertoire in remarkable ways. Today, Camp Chef boasts a diverse array of cooking-themed products, including pizza ovens (which I did a review on a few years ago), grills, smokers, ovens, and an extensive range of accessories. Exploring their website alone is enough to get any outdoor enthusiast like myself excited.
The perfect Grill?
The quest to find the perfect grill setup has consumed me for the past couple of years. With countless options saturating the market, choosing the right one proved to be a daunting task. Each grill type—be it the traditional grill, pellet grill, or flat top grill—had its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Frankly, I longed for all three setups to fulfill my outdoor cooking needs. Unfortunately, convincing my significant other to sacrifice our patio table and surrender our entire deck to a multitude of grills was simply out of the question. Consequently, my visits to hardware stores turned into moments of awe and drooling over the sheer variety of grills on display. That is, until I discovered Camp Chef’s Woodwind 24 and Sidekick system.
Camp Chef offers a modular grilling system that ingeniously combines all the different types of grills I had been lusting after for years. I was able to obtain the Woodwind 24 Wifi pellet grill, the Sidekick Flattop griddle, and the grill box attachment for a traditional grilling experience. What truly sets this setup apart is that it occupies the same space as a regular grill. Now, the patio set can peacefully coexist with my multifunctional grilling setup. Allow me to delve into the various components of this setup and their performance when put to the test.
About the Woodwind 24, Sidekick Flat Top, GrillBox, and Covers
The Camp Chef Woodwind 24 is a 24-inch WiFi-enabled pellet grill that boasts a highly efficient PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) controller. With the PID controller, you have complete control over the temperature and smoke level during your cooking sessions. The temperature can be fine-tuned from a low and slow 160 degrees Fahrenheit up to a scorching 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjusting the smoke level allows you to achieve the perfect balance of smoky flavor, ranging from a subtle hint to producing beautiful smoke rings on a succulent pork shoulder.
The PID controller also features a convenient manual feed button, used primarily for initial setup or when reloading pellets into the smoke box. Additionally, it offers a shutdown setting, ensuring a hassle-free process once you’ve completed your cook. This controller is where the WiFi connection is initially established, enabling you to monitor your cook using up to four digital meat probes. You can view the probe readings directly on the PID controller or conveniently on your smartphone through the WiFi connection.
The Woodwind 24 is designed to be compatible with Camp Chef’s Sidekick add-ons, which expand the grilling options and versatility of your setup. Located on the right side of the pellet grill, there is an attachment point for either the standard shelf or various add-ons. By removing the shelf, you can easily incorporate accessories like a flat top griddle, grill box, or pizza oven. These Sidekick add-ons operate on propane, adding another dynamic to your cooking experience. In my Woodwind 24 setup, I’ve incorporated the sidekick flattop and grill box, which I’ll discuss further in this review.
Woodwind 24 Heat Deflector Shield
One innovative feature of the Woodwind 24 is the heat deflector shield. When applied, this shield promotes slow and even cooking, making it perfect for smoking meats or achieving consistent results in longer cooking sessions. However, removing the heat deflector shield allows for direct flame grilling, creating a crispy outer layer on your food.
Keeping your grill clean is essential, and the Woodwind 24 simplifies the process with its easy clean out feature. Instead of laborious vacuuming to remove soot and ash, the grill incorporates a simple pullout design. Ash collects in a small clean out cup, allowing effortless cleaning after each cook.
Woodwind 24 Grill Specifications:
The Woodwind 24 stands at a height of 42 inches and, when equipped with the Sidekick, has an overall length of 58 inches. The grill itself weighs approximately 150 lbs., with some additional weight when the Sidekick is attached. Inside the grill, you’ll find two levels of enamel grates that effortlessly slide in and out. The top grate offers 382 square inches of cooking space, while the lower level provides 429 square inches, resulting in a total capacity of 811 square inches. Beneath the grates, a louvered drip tray ensures even heat distribution and directs grease towards the catchment pan, maintaining a relatively clean cooking environment.
Pellets are loaded directly into the side hopper of the Woodwind 24 Grill, with a capacity to hold approximately 22 pounds of pellets—equivalent to a little over one full bag of Camp Chef pellets. A convenient viewing window on the side of the hopper enables you to monitor the remaining pellet level at a glance. One fantastic feature of the hopper is the clean out port, which allows for easy removal of pellets. This serves multiple purposes, such as seamlessly switching between different types of wood pellets for various cook sessions. Whether you desire the rich flavor of hickory or the fruity notes of cherry, changing out the pellets is a breeze. Additionally, in moist environments, it’s beneficial to remove the pellets and store them in a dry location when the pellet grill won’t be used for an extended period.
At the bottom of the hopper, an auger automatically transports the pellets into the smoke chamber. Initially, a manual setting is used to bring the pellets into the burn chamber during setup or if the pellets run out during a cook.
The Woodwind 24 is equipped with a state-of-the-art WiFi controller that empowers the grill master with full control over the grill’s temperature, smoke level adjustment, and monitoring of internal cook temperatures. Setting up the WiFi controller involves establishing a Bluetooth connection via the Camp Chef App. Once connected, the controller can be linked to the local WiFi network, allowing for adjustments to be made on the pellet grill from anywhere with an internet connection. This innovative feature adds a new level of convenience and flexibility to your cooking experience, ensuring that you have complete control over your grill, even when you’re not physically present.
The Sidekick Flat Top and BBQ Box
The Sidekick Flat Top and Sidekick Sear units provide incredible versatility, or as Camp Chef likes to call it, “VersaGrillity,” to the Woodwind 24 pellet grill. This system incorporates a powerful 28,000 BTU propane burner that attaches to the right side of the grill. With the 14″ burner, you have a wide range of Sidekick options to choose from, including a griddle, BBQ Box, cutting board, pizza oven, and cast iron pan.
For my ultimate grilling setup, I opted for the griddle and BBQ box. The 14″ griddle is designed to fit not only the Woodwind 24 but also other 14″ Camp Chef stoves. Made of durable steel, the griddle comes pre-seasoned for immediate use. It features a grease catchment container underneath to conveniently collect oil and grease during cooking.
Starting up the Sidekick is a breeze thanks to the matchless ignitor system. Simply turn the oversized temperature knob, and you’re good to go.
As mentioned earlier, the Sidekick offers incredible versatility. You can easily remove the griddle and place the BBQ box directly on top. This setup is perfect for adding a quick sear to smoked meats from the pellet grill, providing the flexibility to achieve those coveted crispy grill marks.
The BBQ box is ready to use straight out of the package and comes with a True Seasoned Finish. It offers a wider temperature range, capable of handling heat up to 900 degrees. With specialty heat diffuser plates, the BBQ box effectively vaporizes grease, minimizing buildup during cooking.
Covers and Bags
Both the Woodwind 24 and the Sidekick accessory have optional covers available. The Woodwind 24″ cover is specifically designed to cover both the grill and the Sidekick. Crafted from heavy-duty material with a weather-resistant liner, it provides excellent protection.
Additionally, there’s an accessory carry bag that can accommodate either the griddle or the BBQ box when they’re not in use. The bag is made from durable, weather-resistant material and features a zipper closure and a nylon carrying handle for easy transportation.
Thoughts on the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 and Sidekick
After using the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill set up for a couple of months, I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with its versatility. This cooking system has turbo charged my passion for outdoor cooking, and I find myself using it more than ever before. Choosing the 24-inch size was the right decision for my family of four. It provides ample cooking space for our needs. The 36-inch larger option would be better suited for larger families or frequent gatherings.
Setting up the grill was a straightforward process. With the help of my 7-year-old assistant, we had it unboxed and assembled in about an hour and a half. The provided directions were clear and helpful.
Using the Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill right out of the box is a breeze. If you’re transitioning from a traditional propane or charcoal grill, the learning curve is minimal. Camp Chef has designed this grill to be user-friendly.
Filling up the hopper with pellets and setting the desired temperature is all it takes to get started. The PID controller is intuitive, making temperature and smoke level adjustments a simple task. During the initial start-up, the grill produces a significant amount of smoke, but this settles down once the grill is running. It’s worth noting that the Woodwind 24 may experience some temperature fluctuations while generating smoke, especially at higher smoke levels. However, I discovered that this is normal and the temperature eventually stabilizes.
The inclusion of internal temperature probes is a great feature when cooking large cuts of meat. It allows for precise monitoring of both grill and internal temperatures. Using multiple probes ensure accurate readings, particularly for irregularly shaped cuts like pork shoulder.
One of the standout features of this pellet grill is its WiFi capability, which provides a whole new level of convenience. Being able to make adjustments to the grill from anywhere without being tied down to the device is truly fantastic. With the Camp Chef App, I can easily adjust the smoke level and temperature remotely. This is especially useful when cooking large cuts of meat, as I can monitor and make real-time adjustments based on the updates from the temperature probes. Additionally, the app can send notifications if something goes wrong, such as a temperature drop due to a lack of pellets (provided the battery optimization is turned off). It’s worth noting that the grill needs to be turned on and set up before using the app; the initial activation cannot be done through the app.
I did encounter some initial difficulties when setting up the WiFi connectivity. The app stalled out a few times during the setup process, which was a bit frustrating. It took some time and troubleshooting to get everything properly connected. However, once I successfully connected the Woodwind 24 to my house WiFi, I haven’t experienced any issues since then.
In terms of performance, everything I’ve cooked and smoked on the Woodwind has turned out excellent. From pork shoulders to elk steaks, burgers to chicken breasts and thighs, I’ve experimented with different temperatures and smoke levels, and each cook has been a success. Even at the lowest smoke setting, the food still has a wonderful wood fire taste that I absolutely love.
Don’t let the hopper run out
However, I did encounter a struggle when the hopper ran out of pellets during one of my pork shoulder cooks. From the viewer on the side of the pellet hopper, it appeared that there were plenty of pellets left. But when I looked into the hopper from the top, I realized that the pellet auger area was empty, despite the pellets remaining visible in the view window. This gave me a false sense of pellet availability. When the Woodwind 24 runs out of pellets, not only does the smoke stop, but the temperature throughout the unit drops significantly. Unfortunately, this caused my pork shoulder to cool down considerably, resulting in less-than-ideal shredding. It’s important to note that long cooks with large pieces of meat require a significant amount of pellets, so it’s wise to have extra on hand for all-day smoking sessions.
Despite this minor setback, the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill has exceeded my expectations. Its WiFi capabilities, excellent cooking performance, and the rich wood fire flavor it imparts to the food make it a truly outstanding choice for outdoor cooking enthusiasts. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to elevate their grilling and smoking game.
SideKick Flattop and BBQ Box Review
The name “Sidekick” doesn’t quite do justice to this versatile unit. It has become my go-to grill on many occasions, and I have developed a deep appreciation for the flattop griddle that it offers. This griddle is simply awesome. I find myself using it multiple times a week to cook a variety of dishes such as veggies, fajitas, bacon, sausage, and stir-fry. The Sidekick griddle has actually replaced my wok and large pans that I used to use on my indoor stove.
There are several benefits to cooking outdoors with the griddle that I previously would have cooked indoors. First, when cooking indoors, even with the vent on, my house ends up smelling like cooked vegetables. But cooking outdoors eliminates this issue entirely. Second, the griddle gets incredibly hot, much hotter than my indoor stove. I’ve been able to fully cook elk steak fajitas and veggies in less than 5 minutes. I love the way the high heat sears the edges of the vegetables and strips of steak. Lastly, cleanup is a breeze. I simply scrape off the cast iron, give it a quick wash (no soap needed), and it’s ready to go for the next use!
While my love for the griddle is immense, the BBQ box is also fantastic when I want that traditional quick and hot propane grill experience. Although I can achieve a flame-kissed grill effect by adjusting the heat deflector shield on the Woodwind 24, I often use the Grill Box to add that final touch to the meat I cook on the pellet grill. The BBQ box can reach high temperatures and provides a great finish. It has done an excellent job with burgers and sausages.
Sidekick Items Can Be Used With Other Stoves
Another great aspect of the Sidekick products is that they can be used with the 14-inch Pro 14 camp stove. During the summer, my family and I go camping at least once a week. Having the ability to use both the BBQ Box and the griddle would be a total game changer for our car camping adventures.
In conclusion, the Sidekick unit offers incredible versatility and has become an essential part of my outdoor cooking experience. The flattop griddle provides exceptional cooking performance, while the BBQ box adds that classic grill flavor. Whether I’m using it at home or taking it on camping trips, the Sidekick consistently delivers outstanding results.
Both the grill cover and the accessory bag cover are truly impressive. I am thoroughly pleased with the fit of the Woodwind 24 cover. Unlike previous grill covers that were a hassle to put on, this cover goes on easily and fits snugly. I no longer have to struggle with covers that are difficult to handle, and I no longer leave them off due to the inconvenience. Even when faced with snow, rain, or gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour, the cover has proven its durability and protection.
Regarding the accessory bag cover, it serves its purpose well. It effectively contains whichever Sidekick element I am not currently using, keeping it clean and protected. The primary objective of this cover is to maintain the cleanliness of the cooking element when it’s not in use.
I highly recommend investing in these covers, as they ensure everything remains clean and ready for the next cooking session. This is one area where I would not compromise on quality.
Specs on the Woodwind 24, Sidekick Griddle Top, and Sidekick Grill Box Taken Directly from the Camp Chef Website
- MSRP $899.99
- Wifi Controller
- Smoke Number Controller
- Sidekick Compatible
- Sliding Heat Deflector Plate
- Ash Cleanout
- Camp Chef Connect
- Lower Rack Area: 429 SQ IN
- Upper Rack Area: 382 SQ IN
- Total Rack Surface Area: 811 SQ IN
- Side Shelf Dimensions: 16 IN x 12 IN
- Chamber Capacity 4,850 CU IN
- Hopper Capacity: 22 LBS
- Overall Height: 42 IN
- Overall Weight: 150 LBS
- MSRP $274.99
- Cooking Area Dimensions: 14 in. x 16.5 in.
- Total Surface Area: 231 sq. in.
- Total Output: 28,000 BTUs/Hr. Burner
- Overall Height: 6 in.
- Overall Weight: 32.5 lbs.
- Griddle Weight: 16 lbs.
- Sidekick Weight Capacity: 40 lbs.
- Overall Unit Dimensions: 18 in. x 20.5 in. x 6 in.
- Propane tank not included
- MSRP $159.99
- Cooking Dimensions: 14 in. x 16 in.
- Total Cooking Area: 448 sq. in.
- Overall Dimensions: 14 in. x 16 in. x 10 in.
- Overall Weight: 44 lbs.
- MSRP $74.99
- Fits BBQ and Pellet Grills up to 51 in. x 21.5 in.
- Material: 600 Denier-coated nylon
- Fits With: 24
- MSRP $34.99
- Weather-Resistant Liner
- Wrap Handle for Added Support
- Large, Industrial EZ Glide Zipper
Final Thoughts on the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 and Sidekick System
If you’re in search of the ultimate outdoor cooking system, look no further than the Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill. This grill offers a range of impressive features, including WiFi connectivity, smoke control, a movable heat shield, and easy clean-out capabilities. With these features at your disposal, even a beginner griller can feel like a seasoned pro.
The versatility of this outdoor cooking system doesn’t stop at the Woodwind 24 Pellet Grill alone. By adding accessories like the Sidekick Flattop or the BBQ Grill Box, you can unlock even more possibilities. This combination creates one of the most versatile and comprehensive outdoor cooking setups available. Rest assured, you won’t find yourself missing out on any aspect of outdoor cooking with this exceptional system. For more info on the Woodwind 24 and other Camp Chef products, visit www.campchef.com or www.amazon.com/campchef.