Home Reviews Camp Chef vs Traeger: How Do They Compare?

Camp Chef vs Traeger: How Do They Compare?

by Burning Brisket
Camp Chef vs Traeger

So, you’re tossing up between two of the most popular choices in pellet grills. Traeger is the original house name. But, comes with that price tag. On the other hand, Camp Chef promises a solid smoker in a more value for money package.

To help you decide which brand will end up in your backyard, this review takes a detailed look at the Camp Chef vs Traeger debate.

First, we dive into how the two compare in terms of construction, function and extra features. Then, we take real Camp Chef and Traeger grills head to head to show you what you get with each of these brands at each different price points.

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A Bit About Camp Chef

Camp Chef began out of a need to make high-quality, portable and powerful outdoor cooking equipment with campers in mind. Their simple and durable designs were really popular so they started to expand their product line to eventually include pellet grills.

Today, Camp Chef don’t just make portable pellet grills. In fact, most of their pellet smoker range is focused on at-home barbecue.

Quality and affordability are still at the forefront of their philosophy as they’ve established themselves as one of the major players in the pellet grill market.

Where are Camp Chef grills made?

Camp Chef’s pellet grills are designed and tested in Utah but manufactured in China just like most other companies these days.

A Bit About Traeger

Traeger Grills are the designers of the first ever pellet grill. And, recognizing how great the idea of a set and forget wood fired smoker was, founder Joe Traeger patented the idea in 1985. This prevented competitors from copying the idea while Traeger established themselves as the original pellet smoker manufacturer and their popularity soared.

Since then, Traeger’s patent expired and other barbecue manufacturers tried their hand at making pellet smokers too.

But, Traeger have held on to their position as one of the most popular brands on the market. Despite having a few quality issues as the company changed hands, Traeger are known for their quality and reliability which translates into some of the best results in town.

Where are Traeger grills produced?

Traeger’s pellet grills are now manufactured in China although their headquarters are still based in the USA.

Comparing Camp Chef Vs Traeger Pellet Grills

Before we put the real pellet smokers up against each other, here’s an overview of how the major buying factors of Camp Chef and Traeger stack up against each other.

Price

Of the two brands, Camp Chef’s pellet smoker range is priced lower than that of Traeger’s.

Not only do Camp Chef’s cheapest models start at a lower price, but the majority of their range sits around the $700-$1,000 USD range with their most expensive models topping out a little higher than this.

On the other hand, Traeger’s start at around $700 USD and quickly shoot over the $1,000 mark to hit about $2,000 for their top of the line models.

Yes, there’s differences that account for the higher price in Traeger’s line-up. But, if you’re on a smaller budget, Camp Chef do sit lower and still have great features. Keep reading to find out what we’re talking about.

The bottom line – Camp Chef’s range of pellet smokers are more affordable than Traeger’s range – CAMP CHEF.

Construction

We’ll start by saying that both Traeger and Camp Chef make well-built pellet grills. Although any of these barbecues can be a bit tricky to put together, the pieces fit well resulting in a solid smoker that holds heat and smoke well.

The majority of Camp Chef’s range feature a powder-coated steel body with enamel-coated grates. They’re not insulated. But, you can get insulation blankets for some smokers for improved efficiency if you live somewhere that gets really cold.

But, some of their smokers have a stainless steel firebox which is a nice addition that boosts the durability of the section of smoker that’s most likely to be damaged from high-heat.

With Traeger, you’re looking at powder-coated steel to protect the body against rust with porcelain-coated grates throughout most of their range. The exception is their top of the line Timberline series that has more durable stainless steel grates instead.

Like Camp Chef, Traeger’s cheaper ranges are single layered steel. But, the mid-range Ironwood pellet grills have double-side-wall insulation for better heat retention and the top-range Timberline are fully-insulated for the best protection against smoking in colder climates.

The bottom line – Traeger do offer more in the way of premium materials and better insulation, even if it is only in the more expensive ranges – TRAEGER.

Temperature Range

Camp Chef and Traeger’s range of pellet smokers pretty much all max out at a good 500°F. That’s hot enough to get the job done pretty well when you’re grilling or searing.

But, Camp Chef definitely have the edge here with their slide and grill mode. By simply sliding a knob, you can switch between indirect heat to direct heat so you can cook straight over the pellet fire and hit higher temperatures of about 650°F.

It’s simple, it’s easy and it does an excellent job of converting a pellet smoker into a legit grill.

The bottom line – Traeger are good. But, Camp Chef are great with the Slide n’ Grill option for direct wood-fired flame grilling – CAMP CHEF.

Temperature Control

Having a reliable temperature is a must-have when you want set and forget cooking.

And, precise temperature control is an area where both Camp Chef and Traeger both perform very well.

Traeger’s upgraded D2® drivetrain allows for faster heating on startup and better smoke quality. The Ironwood and Timberline series have the extra Turbo Temp functionality which bumps the temperature up faster as soon as you open the lid to help reduce fluctuations if you want to throw more food on.

In terms of keeping a steady temperature, most Traeger’s stick within 10-15°F of the set temperature, and, let you set the temperature in 15° increments as well.

But, for anyone who values preciseness in their cooking, Camp Chef’s range use PID-style temperature controllers. They’re based on what commercial bakeries use for repeatable results and will hold the heat within +/-5°F of your target. Plus, the Smart Smoke Technology lets you set the smoke level between 1 and 10 independent of how hot the smoker is. We love having that extra level of control depending on what we’re cooking.

Whether you go Camp Chef or Traeger, most of the smokers from both brands have WiFi allowing you to control the temperature remotely from your smartphone.

The bottom line – Although Traeger’s temperature control is up there with the best, Camp Chef’s PID controller gives slightly more preciseness than Traeger’s D2 Drivetrain. Camp Chef also let you set the smoke level separately so we’re going to give this one to – CAMP CHEF.

Cooking Space

Both Camp Chef and Traeger have a good range of sizes available.

From about 575 square inches (enough to fit 4 chickens or 24 burgers) to 1,300 square inches (fitting 12 chickens), the only downside with Traeger is that their larger grills are only available in their more expensive ranges. So, as well as paying more for more space, you’re also paying for more features. Great if you’ve got the budget, not so good if you’ve just got more mouths to feed.

On the other hand, Camp Chef smallest pellet smoker is 500 square inches. And, the same model is available in an 800 square inch, square inch and 1,236 square inch model. The larger ones are, of course, more expensive to account for more materials. But, you’re not paying extra for upgraded components as well.

And, if it’s really size you’re after, Camp Chef’s XXL WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker holds a huge amount of food. It’s a bestseller. But, keep in mind it’s a dedicated smoker only. You can’t grill on the WiFi XXL Vertical.

The bottom line – Both brands have a range of sizes that will suit most people. But, because Camp Chef has a bit more size choice in each of their models, plus the XXL WiFi Vertical Smoker, this one goes to – CAMP CHEF.

Pellet Hopper Size

When it comes to pellet hopper capacity, Camp Chef and Traeger feature similar sizes.

Traeger’s range (except for their smaller portable models), have 18, 20 or 24 pound hoppers. While Camp Chef have either 18 or 22 pound capacities, depending on the size of the grill.

What that translates to in terms of unassisted cook time is about 18-24 hours of low and slow smoking.

Both brands also have pellet purge systems so that you can empty

The bottom line – Camp Chef and Traeger have similarly sized pellet hoppers with larger hoppers on their larger grills – CAMP CHEF AND TRAEGER.

Warranty

Whether you’re leaning towards Camp Chef or Traeger, both options come with solid 3 year warranties. They’re pretty similar in what they cover. And, both brands are known for their good customer service so, if you do have any problems, it shouldn’t be too hard to get it sorted.

The bottom line – Both offer pretty standard but good 3 year warranties – CAMP CHEF AND TRAEGER.

Extra Features

Let’s start with Camp Chef. Most of Camp Chef’s pellet grills come with 2-4 meat probes for precise feedback on how cooked your meat is, shown directly on your smartphone. They also have a taller cooking chamber which is ideal for cooking larger cuts of meat or whole turkeys. And, their ash cleanout system is well-known for making the worst part of smoking really easy.

But, what’s also notable about Camp Chef is they offer two add-ons, the sear box and the sidekick that add propane powered grilling and barbecuing to most of their pellet smokers.

The sear box is a 180 square inch propane burner that reaches temperatures up to 900°F for an incredible sear, great marks and all the flavor.

But, the sidekick adds even more versatility allowing you to use any of Camp Chef’s 14 inch cooking systems including a grill, artisan oven for pizzas, a stock pot and more.

Of course neither of them are essential. You can smoke pizzas and grill over the open flame on Camp Chef’s main grate. But, they’re a awesome, fairly inexpensive add-on that comes in handy if you want extra capacity or a more purpose-built component.

Extras with a Traeger depend a bit on which model you go with. Some come with 1 or 2 meat probes, Super Smoke mode, Turbo Temp for faster heating up, a downdraft exhaust system for better smoke distribution, a low pellet sensor and an integrated grease management system.

But, what you get does vary model to model. So, have a good look at what extra features are included with the particular pellet smoker you’re looking at.

The bottom line – Camp Chef and Traeger have some cool extra features that help with performance and ease of use. We do like how Camp Chef include these extras or option to add-on in their cheaper models so we’ll give this one to – CAMP CHEF.

Our Overall Camp Chef vs Traeger Winner

We always want to be completely honest with you guys. And, that means we’ve got to say that we’re a bit gutted that Camp Chef took the cake in most aspects of comparison. Don’t get us wrong, we do love Camp Chef and we stand by their grills 100%! But, Traeger do make a really great pellet grill as well and we don’t want anyone thinking that any Traeger pellet grill would lack at all in terms of performance and quality.

So, although we are going to label Camp Chef as our winner in the Camp Chef vs Traeger debate (and there’s no denying what great value for money their line-up is), remember that both brands are extremely strong competitors and you won’t be disappointed with having a Camp Chef or a Traeger smoking you your next meal.

Camp Chef vs Traeger Grill Comparisons

So, Camp Chef has a slight edge over Traeger when you’re looking at the big picture. But, how do these two popular brands measure when you place their grills side by side?

Here are some of the most popular Camp Chef and Traeger pellet smokers compared at different price points.

Camp Chef vs Traeger - Budget Options

Image

Price range

$$

$$$

Construction

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Temperature Range

180 - 500°F

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

570 square inches

575 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

18 pounds

18 pounds

Warranty

3 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • Adjustable smoke setting

  • 2 meat probes

  • Sear box and sidekick compatible

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 built-in meat probe

Shop



Camp Chef vs Traeger - Mid-Range Options

Image

Price range

$$$

$$$$

Construction

Powder-coated steel with stainless steel firebox and porcelain-coated steel grates

Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Temperature Range

150 - 500°F (or 650°F with Slide and Grill)

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

800 square inches

885 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

22 pounds

20 pounds

Warranty

3 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • WiFi connectivity

  •  4 meat probes

  • Slide n Grill function allows open flame, high heat grilling

  • Adjustable smoke levels

  • Pellet purge system

  • Searbox and sidekick compatible

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 built-in meat probe

  • Low pellet sensor alert

  • Super smoke mode

  • Turbo Temp

  • Downdraft exhaust system

  • Pellet purge system

Shop



Camp Chef vs Traeger - Top of the Line Options

Image

Price range

$$$$

$$$$

Construction

Powder-coated steel with stainless steel firebox and porcelain-coated steel grates

Double side walled, insulated, powder-coated steel with stainless steel grates

Temperature Range

180 - 500°F (or 650°F using Slide n Grill)

150 - 500°F

Cooking space

1,236 square inches + 231 square inches in sidekick

885 square inches

Pellet hopper capacity

22 pounds

24 pounds

Warranty

3 years

3 years

Extra Features

  • WiFi connectivity

  • Slide n Grill for direct flame, high heat grilling

  • 4 stainless steel meat probes

  • Adjustable smoke levels

  • Pellet purge system

  • WiFIRE connectivity

  • Alexa enabled

  • 1 meat probe

  • Low pellet sensor alert

  • Super smoke mode

  • Turbo Temp

  • Downdraft exhaust system

  • Pellet purge system

  • Magnetic bamboo cutting board

  • Integrated Grease Management System

Shop

So, there you go. Two top brands, 6 quality smokers and no wrong decision.

We do love Traeger for their high-quality and reliability. But, gotta love Camp Chef for bringing PID temperature controllers and open flame grilling to the table in an affordable way.

Happy shopping! Happy smoking!

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