posted February 09, 2023
Camp Chef Apex Review
Grillin’ Friends! Today, we’re talking about the Camp Chef Apex! The Apex is one of the latest grills in the Camp Chef lineup, promising all of the glorious wood-fired flavor alongside the convenience and versatility of gas. It has been designed from the ground up to be a do-it-all backyard grilling machine! Does it fill those shoes? Is it worth the incredibly steep price Camp Chef is asking? Let’s find out.
Camp Chef sent us this grill for testing and review purposes; however, all opinions are our own.
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Purchase directly from Camp Chef here.
Camp Chef Apex Features
Check out the great features of the Camp Chef Apex pellet grill:
- Easy Ash and Grease Cleanout
- Down and Out Ventilation
- Probe Storage under the controller
- WiFi enabled controller
- Low Pellet Sensor
- 30lb Hopper capacity
- 1236 square inches of rack space (36″ model)
- Optional gas burner upgrade with Sidekick included
The Apex is one of the latest grill/smoker offerings from Camp Chef. They’ve designed this unit from the ground up to be an absolute grilling machine! The Apex is available in base form as just a pellet smoker, but with a $500 (at the time of writing) add-on, you’ll get that extra gas functionality as well as an included Sidekick. The same Wi-Fi enabled controller that you’ll find on the Woodwind models is included, as well as carryovers like the ash dump system and pellet clean-out. The hopper has been increased in size over the Woodwind lineup to a 30lb capacity and features a nice low-level sensor that will notify you when it’s time to add pellets.
The Apex is built super solid and features double-wall construction throughout almost the entire cook chamber. The Sidekick has been redesigned to fit with the new aesthetic, and Camp Chef has included some super nice casters to make moving it around a breeze. The lower shelf is a nice addition which adds a ton of stability to those beefy new legs.
Camp Chef Apex Assembly
Assembly of the Camp Chef Apex is pretty straightforward. I recommend having someone there to help you put it together, though, as this grill is HEAVY. The instructions are really easy to follow, and Camp Chef has recently improved the process by individually labeling the parts bags to align with whichever step you’re at in the instructions. Nice!
The 36″ Apex took Todd and I roughly an hour to put together, extra shelf and gas kit included.
The Gas Kit and Sidekick
Since it’s such a massive feature of this grill, I’ll talk about the add-on gas kit and Sidekick a little bit. The Sidekick is an amazing system that adds a huge 30k BTU burner to the side of your grill. That burner is also compatible with ANY of Camp Chef’s 14′ camp stove accessories. It’s a super easy way to add an extra BBQ box, griddle, pizza oven etc. to the side of your grill without having a separate appliance for each purpose. With the Woodwind lineup, you just get the Sidekick, but with the Apex kit it comes bundled with the gas burners.
Using the gas burners on the Apex is just like any other gas grill. Crank the knobs and go! Unfortunately, we had igniter issues on our 36″ model for some reason, but the 24″ in my backyard has zero problems here. The gas burners and pellet grill controller are completely separate systems though, and shouldn’t be run together. You can use the controller to monitor your temperatures while using gas, but it won’t help automatically control cook chamber temperature at all.
The cook chamber on this grill is where it really starts to get interesting. I’ve already mentioned the double walled construction, but the eagle-eyed reader will also notice the brand new seal around the grill lid. There is also a seal around the door to the new drip tray located below the cook chamber. All of this new insulation means increased temperature stability and less fuel consumption in cold weather; a much welcome addition.
Camp Chef has added some new lighting to the interior as well, controlled by a switch located next to the controller. These lights are super nice when you’re checking briskets late at night, but I find the covers need frequent cleaning to keep them usable.
The upper racks seem to be made of stainless steel and work well enough, while the lower racks are porcelain coated steel. I must note that in our 36″ version, the upper racks were way too short. If placed in the chamber at even a slight angle, the slides would fail to hold the rack and it would fall down. The smaller 24″ version that I have in my back yard doesn’t have this issue.
You can see those burner covers from the added propane kit, as well as some of the “down and out” ventilation system along the back wall. The system works well and eliminates the need for a chimney. According to Camp Chef, the smoke rolls up along the sides of the grill and circulates in the chamber before being forced down and out through the vents on the back. You can see a little bit of this process in the image below.
Cooking with the Apex
Cooking on the Apex using the gas kit is so similar to any other gas grill on the market that I won’t touch on it too much. I will say that it is a hot and fast, burgers and dogs machine with great heat retention due to all that double-walled deliciousness. The burners are easy to light, even when the built-in igniters don’t do their job and it can sear a steak like nobody’s business. If you’ve used a gas grill before, you’ll be right at home here.
Low and Slow
The Apex performs just as well as a pellet grill as any other pellet grill from Camp Chef. The controller is easy to use and keeps accurate, mostly stable temperatures. It packs in the flavor as well as adding some peace of mind with the new low pellet sensor. In good weather that 30lb hopper will easily go 25-30 hours or longer. Thanks to all that new insulation and sealing Camp Chef have done, fuel burn rates seem to be much better in cold weather than a standard Woodwind as well.
What We Like
Here are some of our favorite things about the Apex from Camp Chef:
- Ease of Use It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and produces incredible food!
- Versatility Gas and pellets come together to create one of the most versatile, do-it-all machines on the market.
- Double-Walled Construction Great for keeping a stable temperature and fuel burn rates under control in colder weather.
- Interior Lighting
What Could be Improved
Even though this is a great grill, there are a few things that could be improved with the Apex:
- The Lid. If you don’t grab the handle directly in the middle to open the lid, it makes gross grinding sounds. This seems to be a much larger issue on the 36″ grills.
- The Upper Shelves Again, this seems to only be on the 36″ model, but our upper racks barely fit. If put in at too much of an angle, they’ll fall right out. That is unacceptable at this price point.
- The Price This thing is EXPENSIVE. $2449.99 at the time of writing. SHEESH.
Recipes for the Camp Chef Apex
Do you have the Apex in your backyard, or are you planning on buying one in the future? If so, I recommend trying these awesome recipes with your grill.
- Fireball Peach Smoked Ribs
- Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt (Smoked Pork Shoulder)
- Pineapple Cream Cheese Pig Shots
Camp Chef Apex Review: Final Thoughts
The Camp Chef Apex is an incredible grilling machine at a pretty steep price. If you’re just looking for a standard pellet grill or gas grill, I’d look elsewhere. If you absolutely need all the grilling power of gas combined with the smoky, low and slow flavor from pellets wrapped up in one package, the Apex is for you. Consolidating backyard appliances if you’re space constrained is a big bonus, and may even sit better with you significant other (ask mine).
Grab an Apex for yourself HERE
Have a look at the video below for more info!
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