Travel Buddy & Road Chef 12v portable ovens

An unbiased look at the two portable 12v ovens currently available the Travel Buddy and the Road Chef. Check the facts and decide for yourself which one suits you best! An unbiased look at the two portable 12v ovens currently available the Travel Buddy and the Road Chef. Check the facts and decide for yourself which one suits you best!

Travel Buddy - Road Chef

An overwhelming majority of online and in store shoppers make their own educated decisions when it comes to products they would like to buy, and while we are always willing to offer advice and suggestions, we do not dictate to people what they should and should not buy.

We recently started to stock the Road Chef oven, some tout this as a direct copy of the Travel Buddy oven. While fundamentally very similar there is a back story and some elements of difference. So to provide our customers with the most important thing (choice!) here is a side by side of the two products, leaving you to decide what suits your needs best.

The Backstory:

Some simply brand the Road Chef as a cheap Chinese knock off, that someone has taken and copied for no reason other than profit, while we aren't here to get into politics, the back story from the suppliers of the Road Chef is that the travel Buddy’s supply capabilities had been outstripped by demand and an existing retailer, who was an advocate for the product, with the inability to supply his customers, decided to take the idea and develop it and market it themselves.


That aside lets look at the products side by side.



The Travel Buddy has packaging suitable for basic retailing, with the Road chef having a full colour box and foam packaging all round gives better suitability to shipping without damage.




Out of the Box:

Out of the box the two units are very similar, build quality and stainless steel quality looks on a par. With spot welded and riveted construction. There are some differences however, highlighted in the following sections. Here are some images of the products out of the box side by side.



Probably the most obvious change in design, the door has a second skin internally and insulation. The Road Chef Oven also pivots on bolt as opposed to the Travel Buddy’s Bifricated Rivets. The Travel Buddy has a simple push close pull open spring style clip to hold the door closed where the Road Chef sports an over centre latch. We did notice a slight bit of run out on the Road Chef’s door leaving a small (less than 1mm) gap along the front face.

Power cable:

The power cable is about 250mm longer on the Travel Buddy, with a 2 way (merit and normal 12v accessory) plug with integrated fuse fitted. The Road Chef gives a few more options here with a 50A Anderson connector fitted with an inline blade fuse. They do also provide an Anderson adapter to a (nearly identical) 2 way accessory plug. So while shorter and not as streamlined this does provide options for installation without having to re-wire the unit.

Mounting points:

The hold down brackets are very similar, however the Road Chef has a second set of holes toward the top of the unit to allow the unit to be hung under a shelf etc. As well as be held down on top of a flat surface like the Travel Buddy.


The racks are nearly identical with only a slightly different finish and radius on the corners to speak of


The Travel Buddy has a 120w element drawing 12A @ 12v, the Road Chef is a little less powered here with an 8.3A 100w element. When questioned the supplier cited reduced load on vehicle systems and the door insulation providing similar performance at the lower power level. At the time of writing we have not been able to validate the performance side by side with the Travel Buddy.

Country of manufacture:

The Travel Buddy is manufactured/assembled in Bendigo Australia, the Road Chef is produced and packaged in China take what you wish from this, we aren't writing this to say one is better or worse than the other, that is for you to decide!  

Product links:

Travel Buddy

Road Chef