I’ve been using the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen for the last 8 years so I guess it’s as good a time as any to do a review.
With over 8 years of testing and general use, you could say this review is long overdue.
Update: Pre-Order the newest Thermapen, the new Thermapen ONE, available mid-July 2021.
The Super-Fast Thermapen has been around since 2009 so there aren’t any new insights on my part as to the quality of this meat thermometer.
Seriously, who am I to review the Thermapen? Until the newer Thermapen MK4 came on the scene, the Super-Fast Thermapen was the best meat thermometer on the market.
With this version of the Thermapen having been on the market for over a decade you may be asking yourself, why are you even doing a review? I’ll tell you why.
Even though the newer Thermapen MK4 has a few more great additions, I still think the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen has a tremendous value at its lower price-point.
It is still just as fast and accurate as the newer Thermapen MK4, without all of the bells and whistles.
The bells and whistles being the 360-degree rotating backlit screen, motion-sensor activation, and waterproof body.
In this review, I will tell you why the Classic Thermapen is still a worthy purchase and better than every other meat thermometer whose name doesn’t end in MK4.
The Classic Super-Fast Thermapen
The Super-Fast Thermapen debuted on June 1st, 2009, and was actually the third version of the Thermapen. The new Super-Fast Thermapen was already making waves in the culinary community even before its release.
Why the commotion? No other meat thermometer companies had come close (still hasn’t) to the number of high-grade features that the Super-Fast Thermapen has to offer.
When you combine world-class speed and accuracy and then put it into a durable thermometer body that has no buttons you’re going to get some people talking.
What are these innovative features? I’m glad you asked.
Features of the Classic Thermapen
A lot of the features of the Super-Fast Thermapen are innovative even now, over a decade later, so you can imagine how they were received in 2009.
Some of the innovative features include:
- 2 to 3-second readings
For a thermometer that includes “Super Fast” in the title, you would expect this result. The Classic Thermapen is fast. A thermocouple thermometer, it hits the target temperature in 2 seconds and doesn’t fluctuate much. You will see cheaper thermometers’ temperature readouts flitter about and not lock onto a temperature due to their low-grade thermistors.
- Splash-Proof Water-Resistant Body
I’ve definitely gotten the Classic Thermapen wet over the years with no negative consequences. It will stand up to most common cooking situations.
- Anti-Microbial Casing
The body’s hard polymer body is impregnated with a silver-based solution making the surface inhospitable for bacteria.
- NIST-Traceable Calibration Certificate
The Thermapen is hand-made in England and you get a certificate of calibration that verifies its accuracy.
- Automatic On/Off Feature
The Thermapen will shut itself off after 10 minutes if you leave the probe opened out. To turn it back on simply fold the probe in and pull it out again.
- 1,500 hours battery life
As I write this I finally had to change the batteries in my Classic Thermapen. I would consider that pretty amazing considering 7 years of constant use. It takes two-3v batteries.
- Made by hand in England
As I mentioned above, the Thermapen is hand-made in England and not mass-produced in a factory. Actual people check the functioning and calibration before it’s sent to you.
Classic Thermapen vs Thermapen MK4
The Thermapen MK4 is the updated version of the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen. Here are the upgraded features that the Thermapen MK4 has that the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen does not.
When the probe is folded out the Thermapen MK4 will shut itself off if it hasn’t been used in 30 seconds. To turn it back on just simply pick it up and it will turn back on. The Classic Thermapen will stay on for 10 minutes before it shuts off and has no motion activation feature.
- 360-Degree Rotating Display
You can view the MK4’s display from any angle as it rotates around whichever way you hold it. To my knowledge, it is the only meat thermometer that does this without pressing buttons. The Classic Thermapen had no screen rotation ability.
- Light-sensor Backlight
The Thermapen MK4 has a backlight that turns on automatically in low light or if you touch the sensor window. This is a feature I love and comes in handy when cooking out on your grill at night during the summertime.
- IP67 Waterproof Body
The Classic Thermapen has a water-resistant splash-proof body, whereas the Thermapen MK4 has a waterproof body. It is rated IP67 which correlates to withstanding immersion in water. I wouldn’t go dunking the MK4 in the water anytime soon but if it fell into a sink full of water on accident it should still be ok.
Classic Thermapen vs the ThermoPop
Although the ThermoPop by Thermoworks is an impressive thermometer at its price-point, it isn’t in the same league as the Classic Thermapen.
For starters, it is a thermistor thermometer with a 3-4 second response time. The Thermapen is a thermocouple thermometer with a 2 to 3-second response time. Thermocouple thermometers are also more accurate than thermistor ones. For more information on the differences check out how meat thermometers work.
The ThermoPop isn’t as accurate as the Thermapen. It’s usually about one degree off in temperature, which isn’t bad for a thermometer that costs less than half the price.
The other major difference between the ThermoPop and the Thermapen is that the Thermapen can be fixed by Thermoworks should something ever go awry. The ThermoPop can’t be fixed if something goes wrong.
Also, there is a two-year warranty on the Thermapen. I do recommend the ThermoPop if your budget is around $30.
Update July 2020: Thermoworks just released the DASH Super-Fast Instant-Read thermometer. The DASH has a few more upgraded features than the DOT at a comparable price.
Classic Thermapen vs Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo
The Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo is the closest imitation of a Thermapen that a thermistor-type thermometer can get. Now, I’m not saying the Javelin PRO is just as good as a Thermapen, it’s not. Is it still a good thermometer? Yes.
The dilemma with the Javelin PRO Duo is that it sits at a price point right between the cheaper houseware-type thermometers ($15 to 30) and the Thermapens ($79 to $99).
If you are willing to pay $55 for a meat thermometer you might be willing to pay a little more for the gold standard and something that has proven the test of time.
This isn’t to knock the Lavatools Javelin PRO, it still has its merits. It just doesn’t have the credentials of a Thermapen.
With a reported response time of 3 to 4 seconds, it should be slower than the Thermapen. However, I’ve noticed it’s a little faster than that. It’s not quite as fast as the Thermapen, but faster than its reported times.
It has a similar splashproof rating as the Thermapen as well
Because the Javelin PRO Duo made its debut in the last few years it has the benefit of the advances made in the thermometer industry recently. It has a rotating, backlit screen with motion-sensor on/off features.
Those are definite advantages of the Javelin PRO Duo over the Classic Thermapen.
So, with all of the newer features, the Javelin should be the easy pick over the Classic Thermapen, right? Maybe, but I will still go with the Classic Thermapen due to its faster response time, premium components, superior customer service, and years of usage with no problems.
I like the Javelin PRO Duo a lot, I just like the Classic Thermapen better.
Here’s my full review of the Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo meat thermometer.
In my opinion, the Classic Super-Fast Thermapen still holds tremendous value at its price point. It is just as fast as the newer Thermapen MK4, just without all the extra features.
If you are in the market for a premium thermocouple meat thermometer that reads food temperatures fast and accurately then you would be well served to purchase the Classic Thermapen.
If you are someone that can see the added value of a rotating, backlit screen with motion-activation capabilities then the newer Thermapen MK4 might be more up your alley.
They are both solid choices and my picks for the best (MK4) and second-best (Classic) meat thermometers on the market today.