The Petromax Atago has been on our radar for some time now, we like Petromax gear, it’s well made, solid and reliable, it’s also expensive but you get what you pay for and with prices of most things these days on the rise we decided to pull the trigger on the Atago early just to snap one up while we could.
The Petromax Atago is a unique piece of kit, an investment for sure and a set up you can build upon with a variety of accessories. It is suitable for all who love to cook outdoors and an essential if the grid goes down.
Why we made the purchase
Who knows what the price of gas and electricity will be in the future, prices are on the rise, a higher likelyhood of a SHTF situation and everything else that’s going on including a cost of living crisis. One thing that we do have in abundance is free firewood so for us, investing in a wood fired cooking system made all the sense in the world.
Many Spanish homes feature wood ovens, barbeques etc and firewood tends to be a popular fuel source in rural areas, the one advantage of the Atago is that it’s portable, yeah it’s a bit on the bulky side for overlanding but we are covering more bass than that here, if utilities become too expensive or rationed to a degree than have a cooking solution that needs neither gas or electricity is peace of mind. A few days before writing this post we had the water cut off due to an ‘incident’ for the whole day so you just never know…
What makes the Atago unique is it’s ability to accommodate many different ways of cooking all in one compact unit. Add to this it’s portability and you open the door to cooking much more thasn you ever could before such as bread by the riverside or a chilli con carne on the campsite…
Barbeque/grill: The grill speaks for itself, the Atago makes a good sized barbeque with a thick grill grate that feels reasuringly heavy, get the steaks on and peppers or use the grill with a cast iron skillet to fry.
Oven/stove: Several sizes of cast iron Dutch oven cookware will fit inside the unit as well as fitting just right inside the circumference [FT6 for example]. This opens up the world of Dutch oven cooking on the go where the sky really is the limit when it comes to outdoor food and recipes.
Fire bowl/pit: End of the evening and you need a little heat or some atmosphere, the Atago acts as a fire pit too. The unit can be used asa fire pit/bowl when both extended and retracted
What Petromax say:
Extremely robust and indispensable for outdoor enthusiasts: the Petromax Atago is an unrivalled all-rounder that can be used as a conventional barbecue, stove, oven and fire pit with charcoal briquettes or firewood. With its four basic functions, numerous preparation procedures and cooking methods are possible.Petromax website
Double walled design – does it smoke?
If you burn wood it’s going to smoke to some degree but the Atago has a double walled design as well as a lever to regulate how much air enters the drum. Once up to temperature which takes less time than expected much of the rising smoke enters through the double wall where it is burned off – a secondary combustion.
In real life useage the Atago smokes yes, but it’s not like having an open barbeque or fire. The burn is quite efficient, we cook on ours inside a warehouse environment and do not have any smoke issues when cooking with charcoal, with wood then yes – until you get some real heat which is the case with all fires, once you get a good burn going the Atago is pretty much [but not 100%] smokeless.
|Length [retracted]||14cm [5.5″]|
|Width [retracted]||40cm [15.7″]|
|Height [retracted]||40cm [15.7″]|
|Length [extended]||28cm [11″]|
|Width [extended]||40cm [15.7″]|
|Height [extended]||40xm [15.7″]|
|Carry bag||not included|
|Contents||Petromax Atago + user manual|
Cooking: [the reality]
When we first received the Atago and the FT9 cast iron Dutch oven we seasoned the FT9 and lit up the Atago that same day. We cooked on charcoal first then the next night we used almond wood just to see the difference.
The result from both was that the heat was too extreme, with the charcoal we used too much and the same with the wood although when we prepared the fire we thought we were being quite reserved. The main problem is that with the Dutch oven in the Atago you can’t see the coals underneath without removing the pot completely.
The Atago burns very efficiently and is something to bear in mind when you are first putting it to the test, the heat is concentrated thus generating a higher temperature than a standard barbeque for example because of the design. The airflow can reduce the burn slightly by using the lever on the side of the unit.
Using smaller cast iron cookware would be easier as you will be able to guage the level of remaining coals. The Atago peforms brilliantly as a fire fit and it is surprising how little smoke is given off once up to temperature.
As a grill the Atago is a great barbeque, the grill itself is premium quality and fits the rim tightly so there is no fear of anything sliding off when your turning over your steaks etc. The Atago is large enough to make a decent amount of grilled food and of course this can be cooked using natural fuel sources such as wood.
Overall the Petromax Atago is a sturdy, premium quality, easy to use piece of kit which of course it should be given the price tag. It is a pleasure to use but does take some experimentation with fuel sources, Dutch ovens and general cooking, it does get very hot ith a minimal amount of fuel.
One thing that is a little disappointing is the fact that the Atago does not come with a carry case, given the fact that this is a portable unit you might have expected at least some kind of transportation bag. Instead, you have to purchase the bag as an extra which begins to hike the price up a bit especially considering that this is not all you are going to need.
If this is your first time into outdoor cooking with cast iron then you’re going to want a Dutch oven and also a lid lifter. On top of that you’ll need some heat-proof gloves an also a stainless steel cleaning product to keep on top of those heat marks that do develop on the outer steel shell.
As you can see the price can rise quite steeply but, you get what you pay for and this gear is going to last duration as well as offer a multitude of ways to cook in a portable unit with several fuel sources.
While the Atago collapses into itself making it significantly smaller than it is fully set up it is the shape that makes it undeniably awkward to pack in the 4×4. This is not a problem of course if you have the room but if you’re stuck for space then some creative thinking might be in order.
We have ours temporarily in a ‘fire box’ along side the FK2, fatwood, kitchen foil etc. It really all depends how much focus you like put on your outdoor cooking. The Atago is a high performer and equally versitile so is the space worth it? For us it is.
The transport issue can be made slightly more convenient with the addition of a carry bag, at €50,00 euros though, as good as it may well be it’s a big investment on top of the Atago price. We have the FK2 kettle carry bag, ripstop canvas and good quality so if the Atago bag is the same then it’s a good piece of carry kit so probably worth it although for us it will have to wait.
What fits inside the Petromax Atago?
With the aim of getting the info correct I contact Petromax and received a quick respose detailing the following:
Hello Mac, thank you very much for your inquiry.
You can use the following fire pots in the Atago. All pots from Ft0.5 to Ft9 without feet fit in the Atago. Where the Ft6 and Ft9 rests on the sides on the side handles. The potato maker can be placed in the Atago.
The poffertjes pan and the loaf pan also fit on the Atago. These two items also rest on the edge of the Atago.
I hope to have helped you a little with this. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- Dutch ovens: FT0.5 / FT1 / FT3 / FT4.5 [also including ‘t’ models]
- Other cookware: GF1 cake pan / MF6 muffin tin / PTO30 potato cooker
For Dutch ovens that are an exact fit to the Atago you will need models FT6 / FT9. The latter model is deeper, even more so if you get the variant with legs so be aware that your pot may not sit level in the Atago as it will be resting on charcoal/wood instead. Once the fuel has burned down then it will sit more level on the rim of the Atago.
Who is it for?
Overlanders, van life/campervanners, anglers, outdoor cooks, campers and preppers are to name just a few. This unique piece of kit has sufficient versatility to meet the needs of almost anyone who needs to cook outdoors from baking bread to throwing a T-bone on the grill and even a lasagna the Atago can handle it.
Pricing on the Atago is erratic, we found prices were up by around 10% on the previous year and varied from €219,00 euros to €294,00 euros just for the unit alone so it pays to shop around online [as always] for a good deal from an honest, reliable retailer.
Is it worth the price tag?
The price on the Atago is steep but yes, it is worth the price tag. You will know where your money has gone as soon as you lift up the grill while unboxing – it’s heavy, pure quality and you just know it will last. This follows through to the rest of the unit and all of the functionality too.
We paid €219,00 euros for our Atago when the rest where climbing to over €240,00+ then you need to consider the carry bag which will push you another fifty. The entire set up if you need gloves and a dutch oven etc is costly but it’s an investment, you can cook without gas or electricity several different ways and it’s mobile.
Probably the most important part [as my wife likes to remind with expensive things] is that you are buying a unique outdoor cooking experience and that makes it worth every cent for us.