I’ve done my time on the hot side. I’ve unwillingly sacrificed a few fingertips at the altar of the mandoline, and I’ve been shoulder-to-shoulder with dish pit felons dans le merde. But my camp cooking, it seems, never translated. The highest-brow al fresco meal I ever managed was probably cooked on a PocketRocket, making generous use of hiker-box instant mashed potatoes, pouch chicken, and hot sauce.
The iKamper Disco Series provided the much-needed kick in the pants I needed to change all that. It’s a modular and modern take on some old-school cooking systems. Done up with a big ol’ camping skillet balanced atop a cooking tripod, this overland-ready camping stove doesn’t shy away from involved meals. And it sports the muscle to feed the whole convoy.
I leaned fully into the role of backcountry culinary this summer with my iKamper Disco Series setup. Whether the tool makes the man or the man makes the tool, the Disco made it easy. Cooking with this system is a joy.
In short: Call it what you will — a skottle, a discada, a cowboy wok, or just a good time — the iKamper Disco Series is a modular cooking system that orbits around a 16-inch enameled cast iron camping skillet. It offers several different cooking methods to elevate your outdoor grub rustling. It’s burly, durable, and easy to use, and it changed how I approach camp cooking entirely.
For a deep dive into the kitchen drawer of camp cookery, check out GearJunkie’s guide to the Best Camping Stoves.
- Number of burners One
- BTU output 8,455 BTU
- Fuel type Isobutane
- Weight 27 lbs.
- All-in-one modular cooking system
- Kovea-made burner head
- Easy-to-clean enameled cast iron skillet
- Campfire-tripod cooking mode
- Burly anodized aluminum leg system
- On the heavier side
iKamper Disco Series: Review
Promising to be the centerpiece of your overlanding chuckwagon, the iKamper Disco Series is a formidable piece of equipment. It stands tall above other dual-burner camp stoves and offers several different cooking styles.
Popular in offroad camper circles for many years, “skottles” like this one have earned their well-worn grooves in truck beds. So, this past summer, I set out to see if these overlanders knew something I didn’t.
But first, a little taxonomy: The term skottle — a South African invention — has more recognition in the overlanding community. But iKamper claims a Southwestern muse for the Disco. The brand ties it to the discada cookers of agricultural workers in New and Old Mexico. Those laborers would take harrow blades and weld the hole in the center closed. Then they could cook on them over propane stoves.
Or, potentially, it is a direct descendant of the Argentinian frypan — disco de arado — literally, a “plow disc.”
No matter where the Disco draws its roots from, it is truly, unapologetically, here to cook. The skillet is enameled cast iron and is naturally seasoned. It’s a nonstick and easy-to-clean surface straight out of the gate. A gentle dish keeps (most) of your food where it belongs. It also allows for differential heating to whip up meat and veg simultaneously (more on this later).
Setting Up the iKamper Disco Series
Providing the firepower is a Kovea-made 8,455-BTU burner, which may sound underpowered compared to some 20,000-BTU brutes on the market. But the iKamper Disco Series makes good use of the output when combined with the metal mass of the camping skillet. The burner itself sets solidly into the tripod or sports its own deployable feet for solo use.
More than anything, the Disco Series is a cooking system. It’s made to be put together and taken apart. It’s supposed to be used in different ways depending on what the camp crowds are clamoring for. The cooking tripod is almost infinitely adjustable in height. It can be used atop a picnic table or set up taller than most mortals could feasibly use it.
Affixed to the tripod is a handy table that can be mounted to any side. It’s a catch-all for your implements, ingredients, and a brew or two.
Additional available pieces of kit include several smart bags and totes for carrying the entire system together (the base series individually packs these). There is also a nine-piece stainless steel cook set.
Finally, a solid birch cutting board takes the place of the Disco table. This cutting board proved a burly asset when prepping ingredients or portioning protein.
Fire It Up: First Impressions
The thud the Disco Series Stove made when it was unceremoniously thumped onto my porch was hard to mistake. I don’t blame the mail guy. This cooking setup weighs nearly 30 pounds.
The Disco Series stands a full 55 inches tall on burly anodized aluminum legs. Or, if it suits you, foreshortened at 25 inches tall atop a camp table. Or even still: the Disco Series stands all on its own. The burner separates from the stand and can be set up on your tailgate for a quick boil.
It’s this modular aspect that sets the Disco apart from other camp stoves, and campfire cooking options. While the camping skillet may intimidate some, it certainly isn’t the only method of whipping up a meal. Using the Kovea burner on its own makes boiling water or coffee a breeze.
Pulling the Disco stove from my truck bed for the first time, the answer to the question of how to break in this new stove was simple: classic discada tacos. Carne, tortillas, onion, cilantro — hard to mess up.
The set-up was an instruction-less affair. A simple push-button extended the legs. I fixed the stove atop the tripod and saddled it with the Disco skillet. Even before the rest of the crew had camp squared, I was clicking the ignitor on the Disco.
Cooking on the Disco Skillet
I found cooking with this to be more of a dance than anything. The bipedal stance required shakes up your typical camp kitchen structure, making for a more fluid environment. You might stir the asada on the way to grabbing something out of the tent, or shuffle around the side of the Disco camping skillet to better flip the tortillas.
This stand design works great for people who camp without a picnic table — or for those who just want a more communal cooking experience.
I chopped veggies on the side table and sautéd them off. Then I maneuvered them to the edge of the Disco skillet and made room for the meat to cook in the middle. The Disco powered through the protein quickly. After frying up a few tortillas and putting together the taco assembly line, dinner was served. By the end of the night and with bellies full, iKamper had four new adherents to the Disco Series faith.
Temperature Zones of the Discada
One of the greatest revelations, however, was in divining the ways of the discada. The flame pattern and dish of the camping skillet concentrate the heat in the center. That creates different cooking temperature zones depending on where you’ve got the food placed.
Park your steaks in the center of the skillet and they’ll sear to perfection. But leave them there and they’ll quickly overcook. This also allows you to cook veggies first and move them to the exterior of the camping skillet to keep warm while the protein cooks.
Does all this require your attention? Sure, but this consciousness just creates a different cooking paradigm. It’s similar to the care needed to stir a risotto just enough or avoid breaking a bechamel. Using the Disco anoints the user with the responsibility of chef de cuisine for the night. This isn’t just a camp weenie cooker, friend. This is a culinary instrument — to your station, chef!
Weaker-willed camp gourmands may want to stick to their trusty dual-burners and burgers. (I also heard there’s enough cell reception to call the pizza joint a few miles back.) But once you’ve jived with the Disco method, you can actually begin to leverage its different heating zones to your advantage.
On the Road With the Disco
Once I had the basics of the Disco down, the culinary juices started flowing. “We should do paella next weekend,” I blurted out while driving home. “Or chilaquiles one morning. Do you think it would toast pine nuts?”
Along with this inspiration came a better understanding of the nuances the Disco had. Especially when it came to setup.
For example: During one setup on a cobbled riverside, I found that a well-calibrated eye is useful in getting the whole unit leveled out. But perfectly plumb isn’t necessary. The camping skillet interfaces with the tripod with a deep lip. Slick.
Similar smart design praise can be piled atop the Disco Table. That became the cockpit I piloted this stove from, wrangled my beverages and kitchen utensils. It was even co-opted into being my personal charcuterie board while manning the burner. I also took the optional Disco cutting board for a whirl while testing — but I kept coming back to the table as the more useful surface.
Stashing the Disco away, too, is refined and easy, with each component filing away into its own storage bag. Being able to separate all of the pieces makes puzzling them away into odd spaces possible (instead of packing around the solid brick of a dual-burner stove). And even though you’ll still need to wrestle the hefty skillet, I preferred taking the Disco along on overpacked excursions.
Cowboy Campfire Cooking
There’s something decidedly medieval about lowering a skillet down into campfire flames. While it initially seemed like an accessory means of cooking, it has actually become one of my favorites.
Setting up the camping skillet for this acrobat act isn’t as hard as it looks. There is no rigging knowledge required. Simply thread the chain through the pulley beneath the tripod, and then attach the skillet via the three holes around the rim. The pulley itself cams shut to hold your ideal position. An included keeper chain seals the deal.
Then, it’s only a matter of getting the old cowboy TV tuned in right. (You brought matches, yeah?) Adjusting the Disco skillet height to dial in the heat isn’t much of an art. Lower is hotter. Higher is cooler. However, I did find that cooking over coals (instead of flames) made for a more even and consistent heat.
Then, simply, easily, beautifully, you wait. Poke at the fire. Contemplate — flip fish — contemplate. It is a higher art — and one best accompanied by a cool beverage. The stance of the tripod is wide enough to accommodate most all metal campfire rings. And the legs themselves are adjustable to level out on sloping beaches and river bars.
While you won’t always be able to whip up a campfire (though portable fire pits are a thing), having the option to cook in this manner opened up new horizons I greatly enjoyed this summer. It is slow food in the best way possible.
What’s on the Menu?
I’m glad you asked. Tonight we’ll be enjoying strip steak au poivre from our station high on the logging roads above town. I prepped the protein at home in the sous vide style before tossing it in a cooler ice bath and lighting out for some open-air cooking. It wasn’t exactly shades of Parisian fine dining. But I also only used a few bucks in gas to huff it up here.
Because the temperature distribution on the Disco Series camping skillet is pretty concentrated at the center of the dish, it’s perfect for getting ripping hot to pan-fry and butter-baste steaks. In with the thinly sliced shallot and thyme, along with a glug of oil to slick the Disco skillet. One minute per side, flip only once, and ladle with butter constantly. Then, let it rest. Consider how damn easy this thing is to use.
A little single-burner stove playing harmony here makes a big difference when throwing together the separate cream and pepper sauce (I quite like the Eureka SPRK stoves for this). But taking it to the tabletop with the Disco burner is also fair play. In the end, I went right back into the skillet with the butter, cream, and pepper. Divine.
Or, maybe, the humble frankfurter is more your vibe. I get it — and so does the Disco (no dirtbag shame, here, friends). When we did true dragged-through-the-garden Chicago dogs during a recent trail crew feed, the Disco didn’t miss a beat. It grilled up scores of dogs for our mud-spattered friends.
The edge of the skillet worked a treat to lightly toast buns. The center did the heavy lifting in getting our ballpark protein snapping hot. Condiments parked it on the table (sorry, no ketchup), and even after killing the heat, the skillet stayed warm enough to keep dogs in the wings for those who wanted seconds.
Fresh From the Water
Still unsatiated? Pull up a piece of driftwood, friend, as we also did fresh-caught rainbow trout done up à la Navarra in a manner that would suit Francis Mallmann: slung beneath the Disco over a beachside campfire. First, however, we’ve got to get this asparagus done off. After the fire had ebbed a bit, I dropped the skillet down and fired the Serrano ham-wrapped trout.
The 16-inch camping skillet itself has enough dish for shallow frying. Once it got going, the ham crisped into an incredible salty swaddle around the fish. Yard the skillet up a few notches, and back in with the veg to warm everything together. Then sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and eat while looking out at the ocean — enjoy your religious experience.
This version of cooking requires a bit more flexibility in terms of cooking times, as you’re at the whim of your fire. But every result has the smoky taste of having earned it.
One of the things I noticed immediately while setting up the Disco was its fuel of choice: isobutane camping gas. The vast majority of other camping stoves elect to use your trusty green bottles of propane. So the decision to use a fuel more commonly associated with backpacking was intriguing.
Isobutane has more energy packed into it. And because it’s stored at lower pressures, it isn’t as heavy as propane. That makes it ideal for schlepping out on hiking trips. It is, however, generally more expensive, and not as keen on low temperatures. iKamper’s choice to go with isobutane apparently boiled down to it being easier to obtain globally, per iKamper.
Thankfully, a separate adapter allows you to use propane if you so choose.
Beyond the fuel discussion, another observation that frequently came up was the shallow dish of the Disco skillet. It lands somewhere between a wok and a flat top. At times, this had me wishing for something with elevated sides like a paella pan, and while you can certainly sub in your own cookware, it won’t interface as nicely with the stove.
Finally, the price tag: $490. I haven’t owned cars as cheap, but some have been pretty damn close. So the idea of parading around in your overlander rig with the Disco in tow might be close to galling for some. The whole humble farmworker origin tale doesn’t help, either. But I offer this salve: nobody is wrenching your trusty Coleman from you.
A bit more palatable (but still overland-ready) setup may be the Camp Chef Everest 2X ($190). Or spring for the Mountaineer ($390), which features an all-aluminum build. Both are rugged dual-burners that have seen long lives in the backs of pickups and vans alike. Both would undoubtedly provide the cooking power you need.
Or, for the same price, buy five Coleman Cascade Camp Stoves and run them into the dirt. But know that sustainability is not only a metric of the things that go into a product but also how long you use it until the wheels fall off. Looking at the build of the Disco system, I can’t honestly say I see a failure point yet. I imagine it far outlasting all five of those Coleman burners.
Consider it a righteous reason to invest in a high-end cooking system.
iKamper Disco Stove System: Conclusion
So there I sat; well-done, sautéd, over-easy, but more than anything, satiated. The iKamper Disco Series makes a statement boldly shouted across the campsite. I paid heed to the call this summer, attempting to do the stove justice with a number of meals in lofty and naturally air-conditioned locales. And based on the clean-plate club most nights, I’d say I didn’t do half-bad.
The credit is owed all to the Disco, however. More often than not, it lived up to the promise of elevating our outdoor cooking. The system is overland-ready, rugged enough to toss into the back of your rig, and modular out-the-wazoo with just about as many cooking modes as there are days in the week.
Don’t get it twisted, the Disco Series will do honest, blue-collar burgers as well as the rest of them — it just won’t hand them to you, and more than that, it wants to be used for a higher calling.
Try something new, visit the hole-in-the-wall market, experiment with an ingredient, royally screw it up, try again. Take the Disco somewhere beautiful, and throw together some nosh worthy of it.