First Look: Kamado Joe 2017 Updates

By Bob McCarthy

The first months of the New Year bring a deluge of announcements about new grill releases. Often the hype proves unwarranted, with too many manufacturers touting minor updates to last year’s models. This year, however, there are some highly anticipated releases worthy of your attention. Among them is Kamado Joe, who in February will unveil new versions of their ceramic grills with impressive new features that will set the bar for kamado grills.

2017 Kamado Joe Updates

There are a lot of kamado grills on the market, all fairly similar in capability, all trying to bite into the huge sales of Big Green Egg. However, only Kamado Joe has truly differentiated itself from the BGE experience. Kamado Joe in particular has built its brand by offering what Big Green Egg doesn’t: desirable user-friendly features and an everything-included accessories package that are standard with every grill.

Building on their that success, Kamado Joe has announced a series of innovative features for its 2017 grills, some of which are truly groundbreaking. They range from a game-changing hinge, a and a redesigned top vent to an upgraded gasket and new dome latch and firebox design. All will be standard on the Kamado Joe Classic and Big Joe (stand alone and cart models).

A Groundbreaking Air Lift Hinge

The most impressive of Kamado Joe’s 2017 innovations, the Air Lift Hinge is a true kamado grill game-changer. The sheer heft of traditional ceramic grill is both its greatest asset and biggest weakness. On the one hand, that heavy-duty ceramic construction is what’s responsible for the amazing heat (and moisture) retention. That heft is on full display when you open the grill—simply lifting the lid on a well-built ceramic kamado can be a chore. Lowering it is even more of a challenge, with that heavy lid always a threat to slam shut and crack or break. Although current hinges do a good job of making the dome easier to lift, the lid always has to be all the way open or completely shut.

Kamado Joe’s new Air Lift Hinge provides a unique solution to lifting and lowering that heavy lid, while also giving you control of all that weight. When lifting the dome, this breakthrough counterbalanced hinge reduces the weight by 90%. Even better, the hinge offers complete control. Defying gravity, the lid can be opened or closed part way without slamming shut. If you begin to lower the lid and let go halfway down, it stops with you, remaining half-open. The Air Lift Hinge is the only one like it on the market and should set a new standard for every other kamado grill on the market.

Redesigned Kontrol Tower Top Vent

One of the key components to any kamado, the top vent plays a key role in airflow and temperature control. Traditionally, the top vent consists of a painted cast iron or steel cap with a daisy wheel on top. Typically the vents face upwards, to the sky, leaving them exposed to precipitation. Rain or snow can get in, adversely affecting the cook.

However, Kamado Joe’s new Kontrol Tower Top Vent is redesigned with the air vents on the side of the cap. Somewhat similar to Smokeware Chimney Cap, the design protects against the elements while still providing efficient air control. Made entirely of aluminum, the Kontrol Tower Top Vent is rust-proof and Kamado Joe claims it better maintains its setting when the lid is opened and closed.

Wire Mesh Fiberglass Gasket

Anyone with with a kamado grill knows that the gasket is one of the first parts that needs to be replaced. Although it’s typically little more than a felt strip, the gasket performs an essential role, providing a protective barrier where the dome meets the grill and creating a seal that helps minimize heat loss. Wool felt, however, doesn’t stand up well to high heat and tends to wear out relatively quickly. Kamado Joe’s new double-thick wire mesh fiberglass gasket is more durable and creates a high temperature thermal seal, even under high-heat conditions. It was developed with Davlyn Manufacturing, one of the world’s most renowned high temperature gasket manufacturers.

A Self-Activating Stainless Steel Latch

A new feature for 2017, Kamado Joe’s stainless steel latch further helps maximize heat retention, creating an airtight seal between the dome and grill. Kamado Joe is promoting it as a self-activating latch, presumably meaning the lid will latch on its own when the dome is closed. Given that the new Air Lift Hinge makes it easier to lift the lid, the rust-resistant stainless steel latch is also a valuable safety feature, keeping little hands from opening the grill too easily.

A Patented Advanced Multi-Panel (AMP) Firebox

The firebox is one the most vital parts of a kamado grill, and it’s also one of the most frequently damaged. Ceramic fireboxes have typically been one solid piece. Over time, and throughout the course of regular use, that ceramic can become brittle and crack, necessitating replacement. Kamado Joe set out to cut down on the number of fireboxes it replaces by creating a multi-piece ceramic firebox. Called AMP (Advanced Multi-Panel), this patented firebox features interlocking panels that are designed to resist breaking and last longer than their one-piece predecessors.

New Version, New Pricing

According to Kamado Joe, the new 2017 grills will ship in February. The new features will be standard on all Kamado Joe Classic and Big Joe grills. The updates come with a change in the pricing structure. Kamado Joe has typically priced the stand-alone and with-cart models the same. However, with the release of these new features, that will change, with the cart version coming in at a slightly higher price point.

Another notable change is that Kamado Joe will not be offering stainless steel upgrades with the new stand-alone grills. Instead the cart and stand-alone will include the same features. For those who like the idea of the stainless steel bands, top vent, handle and hinge, you may still be able to find the 2016 Kamado Joe Classic Stand-Alone and Big Joe Stand-Alone for a little while longer.