Pit Boss vs Camp Chef: Which Is The Better Buy?

Pit Boss vs Camp Chef

They’re two of the biggest names in pellet smokers. And, they both offer direct flame grilling as well as effortless low and slow smoking. So, is one better?

In this Pit Boss vs Camp Chef comparison, we put these two major brands head to head to help you choose which one’s best for you. Yes, that’s right, what’s best for someone else might not be the one for you, even though we do share what we’d buy with you.

If you’re after the quick version, there’s a short summary at the start of this article. Then, we dive into both of these brands, comparing their major selling features against each other.

After that, you’ll also find some of the most popular Pit Boss and Camp Chef smokers stacked side by side. If you haven’t looked at models yet, this is a good place to start, and, it’s easy to see what your money will actually buy with both of these brands.

So, let’s get choosing!

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The Quick Version: Pit Boss vs Camp Chef

Camp Chef’s and Pit Boss’s are actually fairly similar pellet smokers because they both offer the awesome option to be able to grill over the open flame in the firebox, instead of just getting indirect heat like most other competitors’ offer.

But, there are a few key differences that will help you make up your mind about which one’s right for you.

Firstly, Camp Chef’s are great because they’ve got PID temperature controllers for tighter control, WiFi connectivity, include more probes, and, some have more durable stainless steel components.

But, Pit Boss take the edge with nice thick steel, huge pellet hoppers and a wide choice of sizes from micro to mammoth. They’ve also got the longer warranty for peace of mind.

So, although we’d err towards Camp Chef for their PID controllers and larger number of meat probe ports, what’s best for you is going to depend on what you’re looking for.

If any of the features mentioned above are must-have’s for you, shop that brands range by clicking one of the links below. Or, read on for our full analysis of these two popular brands.

A Bit About Pit Boss

Being one of the first few companies to start making pellet smokers (after Traeger of course), Pit Boss are one of the best known pellet grill manufacturers. They’ve been around since 1999, aiming to build pellet smokers that deliver on their promise of ‘bigger, hotter, heavier’.

And, they’ve done a great job of it.

Reasonably priced as one of the more affordable pellet smoker options, Pit Boss sell very well-built smokers, many of which feature their Flame Broiler Lever that lets you open up the heat deflector plate so you can get even hotter, direct wood-flamed heat to grill or sear.

They’ve also got an extensive range of really large vertical smokers that are ideal for hunters, large families, or anyone with a big appetite.

Pit Boss don’t just specialize in pellet smokers. They also make charcoal and propane barbecues as well.

Where are Pit Boss pellet smokers made?

Pit Boss’s are made in China while their headquarters are based in the US.

A Bit About Camp Chef

Camp Chef are also a leading manufacturer who’s built their name on bringing portable, yet powerful and high-quality, outdoor cooking equipment to the market.

And, with set and forget pellet smokers being ideal for cooking when you’re busy setting up a tent, catching fish, or just spending time with friends and family, they’ve branched out into pellet grills.

But, Camp Chef don’t just sell portable pellet smoker models. In fact, most of their range is focused on at-home barbecues that are great quality, and, like Pit Boss, let you grill over the direct flames instead of having to rely on indirect heat.

Well-built plus affordable, Camp Chef’s an ideal alternative and competitor to Pit Boss.

Where are Camp Chef pellet smokers made?

Like Pit Boss, and most smoker manufacturers these days, Camp Chef are made in China. Their headquarters are based in Utah where they design and test all of their products.

Comparing Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Pellet Grills

Whether or not you’ve looked at particular models yet, there’s a few major areas you’re going to check out to compare Pit Boss and Camp Chef. So, in this section, we’ll go through how these two major brands stack up against each other in these critical areas.

Construction

Both Pit Boss and Camp Chef pellet grills are surprisingly well-built considering they’re not the most expensive brands on the market.

Pit Boss’s range, with the exception of their newer Platinum Larendo all have powder-coated steel exteriors and porcelain-coated steel grates.

It’s not as durable as stainless steel alternatives. But, the steel is thick, the welds are strong, and, they go together nicely for a solid unit that’s strong enough to withstand a lot of use over the years.

Camp Chef also use powder-coated steel for most of their bodies. But, more than half of their range also have stainless steel cooking chamber lids and stainless steel firepots, adding an extra level of rust-resistance and durability.

In general, we’ve found the steel isn’t quite as thick as Pit Boss use. But, Camp Chef’s are definitely well put together and are more than strong enough for backyard use. Like Pit Boss, their grates are also porcelain-coated steel.

Neither brand currently have any double-walled designs for built-in insulation in colder weather. But, thermal blankets are available as extras for a lot of models.

The bottom line – Both choices are well built, and, Pit Boss do feel more solid. But, we do like the extra durability you get from Camp Chef’s stainless steel components – CAMP CHEF.

Temperature Range

When you’re looking at temperature range, Pit Boss and Camp Chef are much of a muchness. But, that doesn’t mean they’re average! No, not at all!

These two brands are the main ones that offer direct flame grilling on most of their pellet smokers.

Simply slide a lever and the bottom heat deflector and drip tray opens up, revealing the firepot and real wood fire underneath.

It definitely takes grilling on a pellet smoker to the next level when most other competitors just give you higher indirect heat, that’s sort of like trying to grill a steak in a pretty hot oven.

So, if you’re looking at Pit Boss, most of their smokers (except for their vertical range which has a lower max temperature and doesn’t do grilling at all), can be set anywhere between 180-500°F with settings in 25°F increments.

Camp Chef’s generally sit between 160-500ºF with 25°F increments as well.

Camp Chef advertise that Slide n Grill gets you up to 650°F while Pit Boss state up to 1,000° F with the Flame Broiler Lever. Both are open flame though, they do get really hot. I’m not sure why the measurement variation between the two. But, I wouldn’t choose Pit Boss over Camp Chef because they say it’s higher. Both are hot and they grill well.

The bottom line – Camp Chef and Pit Boss pretty much offer identical temperature ranges throughout their pellet smoker ranges letting you smoke, bake, roast, grill and sear over either direct or indirect heat modes – PIT BOSS AND CAMP CHEF.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is really important in what’s designed to be a set and forget barbecue. Without it, your results simply won’t be as consistent.

Pit Boss uses a regular temperature controller that, from experience, we’ve seen fluctuate about +/-20°F.

When the more precise PID-style controllers are becoming ever so popular, regular controllers sometimes get a bad wrap. But, they’re not all bad. Bigger fluctuations mean more smoke which means more smokiness in your meat if you like the flavor strong.

Camp Chef, on the other hand, do use PID-based controllers in most of their range. So, with them, you’re looking at a smaller range of temperature dips and spikes of about +/-5°F.

The flavor’s still nice and smoky. In fact, one awesome and unique thing about Camp Chef is that you can select the smoke level setting between 1 and 10, independent of what the temperature is doing. You’ve got that added layer of flexibility and control.

The bottom line – We do like Camp Chef’s newer PID temperature controller with separate smoke settings. Yep, Pit Boss are perfectly adequate. But, if we’re choosing, we would go with the greater control – CAMP CHEF.

WiFi

WiFi is another area where Camp Chef sit a bit ahead of Pit Boss.

When Camp Chef updated their controllers across most of their ranges, they also added WiFi so you can control the whole grill, plus see your internal meat temperature probe results directly from your smartphone. The app works pretty well. And, just adds another level of ease/laziness to pellet smoking.

Pit Boss are yet to upgrade their controllers WiFi-enabled ones. But, you can buy a new control panel now that’ll let you do WiFi. It’s not too expensive, but, you do need to open up the unit and actually change the wiring over to the newer panel.

The bottom line – Camp Chef offer WiFi in most of their smokers. Pit Boss don’t, but, you can get a new controller for them that does – CAMP CHEF.

Cooking Space

Both Camp Chef and Pit Boss have a good choice of grill sizes available.

Camp Chef are a little more limited with their main ranges coming in at about 500 square inches to 1,200 square inches. It’s enough for most people’s needs and covers everything from a portable model with folding legs to a very large family smoker. But, if you’re after an even larger option, there’s the Camp Chef XXL WiFi Vertical with 2,400 square inches.

Pit Boss start at a ‘micro’ portable tabletop model with 250 square inches of space and go through to a mega almost 2,000 square inches of cooking space on their largest vertical model.

The bottom line – Most people will probably find a good size option with either brand. But, Pit Boss do offer a bigger size range from micro to mammoth pellet smokers – PIT BOSS.

Pellet Hopper Size

If you buy a Camp Chef, you’ll probably be getting either an 18 pound or 22 pound pellet hopper.

At low and slow temperatures, you should get about 1 hour out of 1 pound of quality pellets. So, you’re looking at a pretty long unassisted smoke time.

Pit Boss, however, do have more variety in pellet hopper sizes. Most start at 18 pounds, average around the 28 pound mark and max out at a huge 55 pound capacity on their largest vertical smoker.

The bottom line – Both brands have hoppers that are big enough to do overnight smokes without touching anything. But, Pit Boss’s hoppers are generally a bit larger – PIT BOSS.

Warranty

Camp Chef’s come with a what’s pretty standard for pellet smokers, 3 year warranty. But, Pit Boss one-up them to a lengthy 5 years. Both seem to have good inclusions.

The bottom line – Pit Boss takes the cake here with it’s 5 year warranty – PIT BOSS.

Extra Features

To help keep Pit Boss’s prices low, you won’t get much in the way of extras with them. Most include a single meat probe. There’s usually another port so you can plug in a second probe. But, you’ve got to buy it as an extra.

A lot of their smokes do have awesome side and/or front shelves that give easy workspace if you don’t have an outdoor kitchen.

As with Camp Chef, you generally get between 2 and 4 meat probes depending on the model and size.

Their Ash Cleanout System is also worth a mention because it’s awesome and makes clearing out the majority of ash just a matter of pulling a lever.

But, if you’re planning on using your pellet smoker for grilling as well, Camp Chef have two awesome add-ons that give you more options. There’s the propane-powered sidekick for a versatile single burner, and, the propane-powered sear box with it’s cast iron grill grate.

These replace the side shelf and fit any of the full-sized Camp Chef 24 or 36″ pellet smokers.

The bottom line – Even if you’re just looking at the included extras, Camp Chef top Pit Boss simply because they include more probes (and, generally have more probe ports to start with), so you shouldn’t need to get a separate wireless meat thermometer set CAMP CHEF.

Price

Although both Pit Boss and Camp Chef sit about in the middle of the market price-wise, Pit Boss’s range starts at a lower price point than Camp Chef’s.

Camp Chef isn’t hugely more expensive than Pit Boss’s. And, they’re both great value for money. But, Pit Boss are the slightly more affordable option.

The bottom line – Pit Boss have basic models that are cheaper to pick up than a Camp Chef – PIT BOSS.

So, Which To Pick? Our Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Decision

If you actually counted the categories winners above, it’s split equally between Camp Chef and Pit Boss.

They’re both great brands and sell solid smokers that do a much better job of grilling and searing than the regular indirect heat pellet smokers do.

But, if we have to choose one, like you do when you’re buying, we’d have to go Camp Chef. We just like the reliability that their PID temperature controllers give us and appreciate the stainless steel components, fact that they include more temperature probes, and, have WiFi.

But, if Pit Boss fit your budget better, you like the huge pellet hoppers, or, want the extra sizes that they’re extensive range gives you, they’re a great buy as well. Super solid, and, the 5 year warranty is a nice bonus.

So, if you haven’t done so already, check out the Pit Boss and Camp Chef ranges by clicking on the links below.

Or, keep on scrolling to see how some of the actual Pit Boss and Camp Chef smokers stack up against each other below.

Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Real Grill Comparisons

Looking at brand vs brand is all very well. But, what does your money actually get you with each of these choices?

Here you’ll find a few of the most popular Pit Boss and Camp Chef models side by side based on size and budget.

Pit Boss vs Camp Chef - Smaller or Budget-Friendly Options

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Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

180 - 500°F

180 - 500°F

542 square inches of cooking space

570 square inches of cooking space

15 pound hopper

18 pound hopper

5 year warranty

3 year warranty

  • Flame Broiler Lever for direct & indirect cooking

  • Removeable stainless steel side shelf

  • Adjustable smoke setting

  • 2 meat probes

  • Sear box and sidekick compatible

Pit Boss vs Camp Chef - Mid-Size and Mid-Range Options

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Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

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

180 - 500°F (or 1,000°F in direct flame mode)

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

879 square inches of cooking space

800 square inches of cooking space

27 pound hopper

22 pound hopper

5 year warranty

3 year warranty

  • Flame-Broiler Lever for direct or indirect cooking modes

  • 1 meat probe

  • Large pellet hopper window

  • Hopper clean out

  • Front and side shelf

  • PID temperature controller

  • WiFi

  • 4 meat probes

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

  • Adjustable smoke levels

  • Pellet purge system

  • Searbox and sidekick compatible

Pit Boss vs Camp Chef - Larger, Top of the Line Options

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Powder-coated steel with stainless steel grates

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

180 - 500°F (or 1,000°F in direct flame mode)

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

1,158 square inches of cooking space

1,236 square inches of cooking space + 231 square inches in sidekick

32 pound hopper

22 pound hopper

5 year warranty

3 year warranty

  • Flame-Broiler Lever gives direct & indirect heat modes

  • 2 meat probes

  • Front and side shelves

  • Large hopper window with clean out door

  • PID temperature controller

  • WiFi

  • Slide n Grill for direct flame, high heat grilling

  • 4 stainless steel meat probes

  • Adjustable smoke levels

  • Pellet purge system