Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker Review

Backwoods Chubby 3400
Image Credit: Amazon.com

Everybody loves a good barbecue (Well maybe except for vegans, but who cares about vegans anyway? Because if you are reading this, then you probably aren’t one). Nothing beats the juicy goodness of a smoked beef brisket or a smoked pulled pork shoulder. The only way to enjoy that meal though is if you go to a great barbecue joint. But if you are like us who love to cook our own food, then owning a charcoal smoker is the best way to enjoy a good barbecue. If you are new to the game, one such smoker we highly recommend is the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker.

The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is a heck of an outdoor smoker. Even though it is one of the smallest outdoor charcoal smokers available on the market, it does deliver great results. Best of all, since it is small, it is very portable. It only weighs a total of 130lbs, which will allow you to take this smoker virtually anywhere you like. Whether you want to be the BBQ master at your own backyard, the lake, camp site or even your friend’s house, you will be able to do it with the Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker.

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This charcoal smoker is considered by many barbecue enthusiasts as one of the most versatile barbecue smokers in the Backwoods cooker lineup. That’s because it has multiple uses. You can convert it into a grill or a barbecue pit by just removing the stainless water pan. It also has an award winning design that will bring competition quality to your barbecue at the comfort of your own backyard. If you want a smoky flavor to whatever you are grilling, you can just add wood to your charcoal and you’ll get that flavor without any problem. With the help of the Backwoods Chubby 3400, you will be able to cook for the entire neighbourhood or maybe your son’s little league team.

This small but heavy duty charcoal smoker has 4 racks that measure 16 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches. It also comes with one extra slider so you can arrange your meat properly. It has enough cooking space to for a beef brisket, leg and thigh combos, a rack of ribs and a pork butt to fit in all at once. That saves you a lot of time. The measurement of the cooking compartment is at 13 inches high, 17 inches deep and 16 inches wide. The fire box is 2 inches high, 18 inches deep and 16 inches wide respectively. The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is manufactured overseas.

We’ve taken the liberty to breakdown of features of this outdoor smoker so you can easily see its capabilities.

Standard Features:

  • Cooking degrees: estimated 180 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Amount of charcoal: estimated 6 to 10 lb.
  • Cooking time: estimated 6 to 10 hours (depends on the temperature)
  • All stainless steel inside
  • Heat diverter
  • Removable stainless steel water pan
  • Black doors with slam latches
  • 1 extra slider for rack height adjustment
  • Pre-drilled Caster bolt hole pattern on bottom of the 3 inch feet
  • 1/8″ nickel plated racks
  • 1″ insulation standard
  • Meat: around 8 slabs of baby back ribs, 2 to 3 brisket, 2 to 4 Boston butts

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Optional Features:

  • Castors (will raise the smoker up 6′′)

Cover

  • BBQ Guru Digi Q DX 2

Outside Dimensions:

  • 20 1/2′′ deep plus 2′′ for the thermometer and door latches
  • 29′′ tall plus 2 1/2′′ for the stack
  • 20′′ wide including handles
  • Cooking Chamber Dimensions:
  • 17′′ deep
  • 13′′ tall cooking chamber
  • 16′′ wide

Racks:

  • Four, 3′′ apart
  • 16 1⁄2” deep
  • 15 1⁄2” wide
  • 1/8′′ Nickel plated round bar

(*Note: Specs obtained from Backwoods website)

To provide a background of the manufacturer, Backwoods manufactures a range of more than a dozen sizes of notable, front-loaded charcoal or wood-fueled cabinet smokers in Louisiana. Proof of their ingenuity is that they can also custom build smokers if one of their standards won’t work for your needs. Their small units are excellent for home cookouts. Their medium sized units on the other hand are very popular on the competition scene. You can often see top teams use their medium-sized smokers. The large-sized smokers are mostly used by caterers, whole hog cookers, and in restaurants. Mike McGowan, the founder of Backwoods, together with his team have been building these excellent and well performing smokers for more than 30 years now. Backwoods started its operation in 1987.

To give you a clear picture of the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker, it has a lower door for the fuel. Above the charcoal and below the bottom shelf in the food chamber, you can see a large capacity stainless steel water pan. This water pan will put considerable humidity into the atmosphere which will keep the food moist. This moisture is both good and bad depending on how you look at it. It is bad because it takes longer to build a good hard bark. However, the moist is also good because it helps prevent the meat from becoming dry.

The Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker is built with three walls. There is a space between the outside wall and the center wall is filled with insulation so that the heat will stay trapped within the smoker. Performance wise, the Chubby 3400 will do well even in freezing weather. We made it a point to test it thoroughly in rough, cold winter weather. If you examine the smoker, you will see an air gap between the center wall and the inner wall. This gap is where the smoke and heat travel from the firebox in the lower compartment to the water pan and up to the top of the cooking chamber. The smoke and heat will enter the cooking chamber at the top of the side walls. There is also heat radiating through the inner walls. You can find the chimney opening at the bottom of the back wall. It is designed that way so that smoke and heat work their way down past the food from the top and exit the cooking chamber at the bottom. It will then go back up the chimney. Since the duct from the firebox opens at the top, don’t be alarmed if the top shelf runs a bit hotter than the lower shelves.

Upon further examination, we found that the materials, welds, and bends are very high quality. You will definitely see that the smoker was made well. You will see stainless steel protectors on the top corners. The door latches and gaskets are tight which will prevent unnecessary heat and smoke from escaping. The Shelves are made of heavy 304 stainless steel. So do not be surprised of its weight. The Chubby 3400 is heavy (we’re starting to think that is why they called this beauty Chubby). The smoker also comes with high-quality Tel-Tru dial thermometers that are built into the doors. We’ve also ran some tests and found that they were surprisingly accurate.

This small outdoor charcoal smoker will fit nicely in any backyard. Since they are also high-performing smokers, you will also find them popping up at local and national BBQ competitions. Backwoods just introduced a lower cost Chubby 3400 made in China.

If you are going for an outdoor charcoal smoker, be advised though that they require a bit more attention than electric smokers, gas smokers, or pellet smokers. This kind of smoker will have your skills tested mainly because you will have to monitor and fine tune the fuel and air supply just to keep the temperature within your target range. This takes practice, so don’t worry if you won’t get a handle of it during your first few tries. Some smokers are easier to handle than others. Since the temperature and can go up and down quite often, it can be difficult to estimate when the meat will be ready. You don’t know how many grill masters ruin a few meals learning how to handle a new smoker. Sometimes they cook too hot and the meat will dry out and be tough. When they cook it too cool, they wind up serving raw meat. If the air dampers are set incorrectly, the smoke can turn the food bitter. So if you are going to buy a charcoal smoker, our best recommendation is to make sure you buy a good one. This is where the Backwoods Chubby 3400 Outdoor Charcoal Smoker shines. It is definitely one of the best outdoor charcoal smokers money can buy. Plus, you do not need to invest in a really good thermometer because this baby already has a reliable one installed on the door. Just make sure you take enough time to learn how to handle it properly. Because once mastered, this outdoor charcoal smoker can be a beast. There’s a reason why a lot of competitive barbecue lovers find this smoker attractive. That’s because it is well worth your money.

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