OK, I’ve been on a bit of a Dutch Oven “kick” lately.
(Which part of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- “High Function Aspergers” or “On The Spectrum” was unclear?)
So now I’ve “reached completion”…
(“Control it”? What part of “compulsive” was unclear?)
FWIW, 100% of donations to this site are used to “answer questions” related to postings here. Should you wish to have a ‘directed question’ answered, just shoot the money to fund the search and “I’ll go there”. Any non-directed funds go to answering questions raised here, or whatever question strikes my fancy, and keep things interesting or to raising and answering new questions. I get nothing personal from any donation.
So with that said, I’d been on a Dutch Oven Kick. so spent donation money on Dutch Ovens. The result is that I now have 4 Dutch Ovens from 3 makers, so I can do a “Compare and Contrast”. As it is “your money” that was spent, it is your answer that is needed. So “here we go”:
So I “blew” your money on 3 out of 4 of these Dutch Ovens. The top one is a “Texasport” 4 quart. The bottom one is a 14 inch Camp Chef “Grand Canyon” that we saw here:
With an almost 8 lb ( just over 3 kilo) 1/2 a ham (butt portion) and 3 giant potatoes along with carrots roast dinner.
Sitting just on top of that one is the 12 inch “Lodge” that I’ve owned for several years. On top of it is a smaller Camp Chef “Yosemite” 10 inch.
First off. Something I’d never thought of before. The “Aspect Ratio” of the Dutch Oven.
I spent nearly $60 of “your money” on that bottom oven just because the “almost the same diameter” 12 inch Lodge would not hold a “1/2 a ham” that is the usual size sold here. Now look at that picture. The Lodge is short. (Just on top of the bottom one). That extra 2 inches of diameter is NOT as important as the fact that the Camp Chef is just deeper.
I could not get the lid onto the Lodge with the ham in it. I’d wager that the 12 inch Camp Chef would have worked. Lesson Learned. Aspect ratio matters. (Height vs width ratio)
Don’t get me wrong. The Lodge is a fine Dutch Oven. Yet, I find that I like the Camp Chef ‘a little bit deeper’ more.
Now, look at the top two. That top one is a ‘4 quart’ Texasport. They come coated in wax, not seasoned. So I’ve spent a couple of pounds (kilo) of charcoal to burn off the wax, wiped it in cooking oil, and seasoned it. OTOH, it was $25 or so, and about 1/2 the cost of the pre-seasoned ones. So if “economy” is your driver, it seems quite competent, has a deeper aspect ratio (more depth / height) and as near as I can tell so far is “just fine” design. But you get to season it yourself.
So if you want best “economy of volume per mass or diameter” it’s better.
FWIW, the “fit and finish” of each of the D.Ovens looks about the same, with the Lodge maybe a tiny bit better? But not enough to matter, IMHO.
Now, notice that the Lodge is much shorter compared to the Camp Chef on each side. You can put more, and taller, things in the Camp Chef. I suspect the Lodge folks of going for the “less mass of iron in a given diameter” marketing position…
FWIW the cement paver that things are standing upon is a 16 inch square slab.
Turns out that the lid designs vary.
I’ve set the Texasport to the side. It has a lid rather like the Lodge. Here you can see the Camp Chef on top, and the Lodge under it. The Lodge has a plain lid with a high ridge around the outside to hold coals in place. The Camp Chef has a shorter ridge, but also has 3 short legs. The lid is also deeper. Part of the added volume is the lid depth, so you can’t make 6 quarts of stew in the 6 quart oven. It is more like “5 quarts and the lid”. Yet that lid can stand over coals as a skillet for frying or browning. I like that. It also has a ‘thermometer notch’ in it that lets you stick in a thermometer to measure what is happening.
Here is a picture of the Camp Chef lid on a Coleman Gas Stove in ‘frying pan’ position:
I have not yet tried it as a frying pan. But I’ve used many a cast iron skillet. IMHO this is a perfectly fine griddle or frying pan. It will work well over coals or on a stove.
I have used the Camp Chef to roast St. Paddy’s dinner. It did fine with the lower ridge around the edge.
OK, I’ve not used the Texasport yet. It looks fine and seasoned fine and costs about 1/2 the price of the others. I expect it will work fine too. As it is “made in China” just like the Camp Chef (and, while I don’t know, I’d guess the current Lodge production is not made in China) it is likely a fine economical option. Personally, I’d rather go a bit more ‘upscale’ but if money is a concern and you are willing to season it yourself, I see nothing about it that will disappoint.
The Lodge “has a name and a price”. I’m quite happy with my 12 inch. HOWEVER… It was too short to cook a simple ham that otherwise ought to have fit. I don’t like that. It has a clean and simple design and look (that also cleans well). I do like that. The short aspect ratio has implications. It likely cooks a bit faster than the others. But it costs easily 2 x as much.
The Camp Chef has a ‘decorative commemorative top” that, while pretty, is complex in shape and will tend to make cleaning just a bit more difficult. Frankly, I’m OK with that for the imagery. Yes, I have “Grand Canyon” and “Yosemite” Made In China. I still like it. The design itself has several features I like. The thermometer ‘notch’. The deeper aspect ratio. The lid that’s a skillet and “has legs” so can be used over coals. It also comes with a “lid lifter” in the box that can lift a pot by the bail with the backside of the hook. That $10 I spent on a Lodge lid lifter is now wasted and I’m very glad I didn’t buy a ‘pot glove’ as the lifter deals with that need. So “buy a Camp Chef” first and dodge about $20 of “accessories”…
At the end of the day, I like the Camp Chef line best. It hits the “sweet spot” of most function, modest costs, and interesting esthetics. Were I doing it all over, I’d own only Camp Chef. (Don’t know what I’d do with 4 ‘lid lifters’ though ;-) The thermometer notch matters a lot to me (though I can “calibrate me” with only one of them and then get the others right by ‘rule of thumb’.) The ability to use the lid as a ‘feet on’ skillet is nice. I will use that for bacon and eggs one morning or other. Then the deeper aspect ratio means more things just fit. Chickens, hams, turkeys… they are closer to the aspect ratio of the Camp Chef than that flat Lodge.
Yet I’d not have bought that 4 quart Dutch Oven were it not 1/2 the price. As a perfectly competent Dutch Oven for 1/2 the price, the Texasport line has a feature that matters.
At the end of the day, the one “left out” is the Lodge. Yes, it works fine and has good fit and finish. Yes, it is well made and not a “Made In China” device. Yes, I like it just fine. And if I had $100,000 / year income I might well spring for the Lodge instead just for those reasons. Heck, get the Giant Lodge that’s tall enough for a ham… Yet… As someone “on a budget”, I’d not buy another one. The other two brands “hold more per diameter” and the Camp Chef has more features; while both are cheaper.
No, no disappointment in the Lodge. It’s a fine piece of equipment. It just doesn’t quite have the “Features / cost” ratio I want. Anyone wants to give me $200,000/ year for a decade, and I’m “All Lodge all the time”….
It’s pretty simple. Not one of these is a disappointment to me. Any one
They each have a niche. The Texasport looks like a fine economical solution. Like I said, I’d not have that “small one” were it not for the low price. Being smaller, it will likely save it’s cost in charcoal in the first year of use.
The Lodge is a fine Dutch Oven. If you can afford “top drawer” and don’t want the added features of the Camp Chef, it’s your choice.
But at the end of the day, I find the Camp Chef is the best mix of “Features per Buck” with convenience of pre-seasoned with size and shape per dollar.
So that’s what I’ve learned on this particular exploration.
As it stands, I’m quite happy with the “mix of brands” that I bought. I can use each for those things that it is best suited to do. Were I “doing it all over” would I change anything?
Not so sure.
That 10 inch Camp Chef and the 12 inch Lodge have more “overlap” in function that you would expect from their diameters, due to the aspect ratio differences. Most likely I’d not have bought the 10 inch, already owning the 12 Lodge; or from scratch, I’d buy the 10 inch Camp Chef instead of the 12 inch Lodge.
Yet I can see a case of a larger cobbler in the Lodge that isn’t quite right in the smaller diameter Camp Chef.
So I suppose what really matter is just realizing that there IS an aspect ratio difference and allowing for that.
All in all, I’d likely go by “4 inch steps” instead of 2 inch steps… but then again, I didn’t know to standardize the aspect ratio either…
So, in conclusion: Think about aspect ratio. “Take big bites” ;-) or have more gradation between sizes…. And, since coals used vary by diameter, think about how small you can go for a given meal. Size Matters.