This will be a controversial post as the purest amongst us will disagree with what I am about to write. However space restrictions, finance restrictions and limited supply means that in the UK we seldom buy a full size 1/4" thick steel offset stick smokers such as is popular in the southern states of the US, we buy smaller and thinner offset smokers BUT setup and used correctly we can get equally good results.
I use a number off BBQ's and smokers, my favourite is my Landmann Kentucky Offset Smoker, a sensible sized smoker that if not left unattended will produce some amazing results. If I'm on a long cook and planning to go out during the cook then hands down I use my Pro Q Frontier 3-in-1 BBQ / Smoker as this one I can 'Set and Forget'.
The Landmann Kentucky cannot be described as a stick burner as the metal is too thin to take the intense heat that burning 'wood splits' delivers. I set mine up with a charcoal base in the offset burner and add wood chunks in order to add that wood smoked flavour to the food as well as controlling temperature when it starts to cool. These style of smokers need constant attention in order to keep a steady temperature, the key to a succulent, tasty cook. I use Dartmoor lump wood charcoal to start my cook delivering quick heat and pour this onto Pro Q Charcoal Cocoshell Briquettes charcoal briquettes which light gradually, burn for longer and maintain the heat. I also use the level of the heat / drip tray to control heat delivered to the meat, lower down allows more direct heat whilst lift it higher and the heat is dissipated along the underside of the drip tray and more evenly across the smoker.
I bank the charcoal towards the back of the firepit, though I have added a separate wire grid in my firebox to keep the charcoal off the sides as this bleeds heat out of the firepit and I keep smoking wood and additional briquettes in the front section to heat up so that when they are added to the fire they ignite instantly which prevents excessive smoke but adds delicious flavour.
I love all kinds of barbeque, open pit, kettle style, barrel BBQ, Pro Q and offset smokers but my favourite cook is on the offset. It needs regular attention to keep the temperature stable, it needs feeding a mixture of briquettes and smoking wood to keep it fed but if you are staying in your shack, preparing sides, wings and cocktails then using an offset is very rewarding. I wouldn't suggest having one as your first BBQ or in that case your only outdoor cooker but if space and budget allows I would recommend that you try one and strangely enough they will be coming soon to The Barbeque Shack!