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Despite starting out much later than Traeger and Pit Boss, Oklahoma Joe's managed to compete with them on even grounds. The secret to this success lies in the company's single-minded pursuit of quality over quantity.
While others spend time competing on many grounds, Oklahoma Joe's finishes things one by one. Only after they are absolutely sure that a product is perfect will they move to another.
This commitment shapes up the company motto of "good things come with time." It's something that the founder, Joe Davidson, drew from his experience designing smokers. Thanks to this motto, Joe only needed 2000 USD to build his first 12 meat smokers.
These smokers are the predecessors of the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse, which is known as one of, if not the best, meat smokers. The successor has received many upgrades, from a new reverse flow design to a stronger body.
After familiarizing with Oklahoma Joes and the Highland Reverse, we believe that it's time to properly dissect it.
Traditional offset smokers, a prime example being the original Highland smoker, place the chimney and the firebox on two sides. This design means that the smoke and heat from the firebox will go through the main chamber and escape through the chimney.
Chefs with experience know that this travel path, while good for getting a clean burn, has significant temperature variations. Smoking relies hugely on the temperature being constant, so these variations can mess up your meat.
This issue does not exist with the Highland Reverse, as it incorporates a total of 4 baffle plates. These plates will act as heat sinks below your cooking grates, redirecting the smoke. This redirection will even the smoke distribution out, minimizing hot spots.
The cool thing about this smoker is that it is not simply a reverse flow smoker. There are two locations to set the chimney up, and all baffle plates are removable. In other words, you can turn this smoker back into a regular offset smoker whenever you want.
While reverse flow smoking can ensure consistency for your meat, it's too safe. With this versatile nature, you can quickly change between the two styles, getting the traditional offset smoking's super clean burn.
There is also the option of grilling, as this smoker does have grilling grates on its firebox. With this setup, you can grill some meat to enjoy while waiting for the smoked foods.
That's not all, as the baffle plates being removable also mean that you can turn the entire smoking chamber into a huge grill. It is simply unheard of to have so many options with one single smoker.
The smoking chamber offers a total of 619 square inches of primary cooking area. For easier visualization, this chamber can cooks 4 8-pound pieces of pork shoulders simultaneously. It's the same case with 7 whole chickens or 3 briskets.
This kind of capacity is more than enough to serve a medium-sized party with more than 10 participants. Remember, we still haven't counted in the additional 281 square inches of grilling surface in the firebox. This additional area is more than capable of serving lots of grilled foods.
You cannot say that this smoker is lightweight, as it is already 181 pounds without any additional modifications. However, the portability of this machine hasn't suffered, thanks to the ten-inch wheels that Oklahoma Joes put in.
There is also the handle attaching to the main smoking chamber's end, making the lifting process much less of a hassle. Together, these design choices ensure that you can move this otherwise clunky machine with no problem.
You do need to be careful with the handle, though, as it is all metal, and the metal retains heat. As a result, there is a high risk of injuring yourself if you are not careful while moving the smoker after use. The best way is to wait a little bit for it to cool off completely.
Every single part of this reverse flow smoker is built with the goal of being as heavy-duty as possible. The whole body is made from 100% heavy gauge steel material, ensuring that it can stand up against any environmental damage.
The charcoal box has a heat-resistant internal finish. As a result, it will not get damaged no matter how high the heat goes. The days of worrying about your smoking chamber melting have finally ended.
There is nothing impressive about the warranty of this smoker, as it follows the two-year industry standard. With the durability of this thing, this warranty period may pass before the smoker can show signs of damage.
This warranty mainly covers manufacturing issues as well as shipping damages. For this reason, our suggestion is to assemble the smoker right after receiving it.
The verdict of our Oklahoma Joes Highland Reverse review is that it is much better than what its price suggests. It doesn't just have a sturdy build that can last through many kinds of environmental damage, but also an intuitive design.
There is also the fact that it is respectably portable, despite having an all-steel body. Furthermore, you can freely change it between the two available smoking modes.
You do need to be careful if you are living in a colder region, as its insulation is still lacking.