Rec Tec vs Camp Chef: 2 Solid Brands, A Clear Winner?

Rec-Tec-vs-Camp-Chef

So, you’re looking for a good quality pellet smoker at a great price? You’re totally thinking the right way looking at the Rec Tec and Camp Chef’s ranges. And, it is a really hard choice. Both are great buys. But, which one’s right for you?

In this guide, we take a detailed look at Rec Tec vs Camp Chef, pointing out similarities and differences to help you decide.

There’s a ‘cheat sheet’ quick overview first up, then we dive into their comparison points, looking at build quality, performance and warranties. Then, we’ve put some comparable Rec Tec and Camp Chef models side by side so you can see what your actual dollar will buy you at their different price points.

Before we get started, we just want to mention that Rec Tec have changed their name to Recteq. It’s the same company but most people still refer to the as Rec Tec. If we use the names interchangeably, you know what we’re on about.

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Table of Contents

The Quick Version: Camp Chef vs Rec Tec

If you’re looking for a high-quality, mid-priced pellet smoker with WiFi, both Camp Chef and Rec Tec are great brands to consider.

Camp Chef are generally priced a little lower than recteq, have a good range of sizes available, perform really well, and, have the added bonus of doubling as a grill thanks to their Slide and Grill technology.

Rec Tec have positioned themselves as a brand that offers that little bit of extra quality with more stainless steel components, what’s apparently an unbreakable firepot, and an industry-leading warranty to match. They don’t grill quite as well as Camp Chef’s do. But, if you’re primarily after a smoker and have the budget for them, their quality, durability and useful features make them our top pick between these popular brands. Their top user ratings also see them featured in best-of lists time and time again.

But, if price is a big factor for you, Camp Chef is a great option. You get a lot for your money. They’re still without a doubt, one of our favorite pellet smokers out there.

A Bit About Rec Tec AKA Recteq

Rec Tec burst into the pellet grill arena in 2009, aiming to make an affordable smoker with superior technology from very high-quality materials. And, what started as a passion between two friends has grown into a large company that really has brought an extra level of quality, innovation and price competition to the market.

Their smokers aren’t the cheapest (they never promised to be). But, they pack A LOT of value into their bull-horned drum.

In fact, Rec Tec’s quality and features are up there with the best while their price sits around the middle of the market. It’s what’s got them noticed while they’ve earned their top reviews and feature mentions.

In 2020, Rec Tec changed their name to recteq. So, you’ll see them referred to as both in our articles and other places.

Where are recteq’s manufactured?

Recteq source some of their components from China. Their computers are US-made, and, quality control is done in their facility in Georgia.

A Bit About Camp Chef

Camp Chef started by filling a need for good-quality outdoor cooking equipment. But, as they’ve grown, they so have their ranges. And, today, they make some of the best at-home pellet smokers you can buy.

Quality and affordability are still at the forefront of their business philosophy and you really see that when you look at their products. They’ve also innovated, solving the problem of ‘can pellet smokers really grill?’ with their Slide n Grill plates and side attachments.

Where do Camp Chef make their grills?

Camp Chef are based in Utah but manufacture their barbecues in China these days.

Comparing Rec Tec Vs Camp Chef Pellet Grills

Regardless of which model you’re look at from recteq or Camp Chef, you’re going to be looking at a few major areas before you buy. So, here’s an overview of how both of these brands perform and where they sit in the market.

Construction

Both recteq and Camp Chef do offer a very good build quality.

But, while Camp Chef offer a high-quality, mainstream build of powder-coated steel with a stainless steel lid, recteq have set themselves apart by offering that next-level of build.

With a Rec Tec, you’re getting more stainless steel parts for improved rust-resistance and durability. They’re designed to last a lifetime, and, to be handed down to your kids with stainless steel grates, firepots, heat deflectors, drip pans and smoke caps. The ignitor rod is made from ceramic so it physically can’t rust or corrode and has been rated to light up to 100,000 cycles.

Rec Tec claim they’ve never had a firepot fail on them. They’ve literally driven a dump truck and a steamroller over one. And, their grills are all made with a modular approach so that you can easily replace individual components if you ever need to.

The bottom line – Don’t get us wrong, Camp Chef are well-built. But, recteq pellet smokers are built to be a one-time investment – REC TEC.

Temperature Range

Camp Chef pellet smokers generally can be set anywhere between 160-500°F in 5°F increments. For a pellet smoker, that’s a really wide range that should let you pretty much cook anything you could ever want to.

But, there’s also the Slide and Grill technology which will bump the heat up to 650°F for direct flame grilling. It’s an added bonus and definitely a worthwhile one if you’re hoping to grill on it as well.

Grilling on 500°F of indirect heat is doable. But, isn’t ideal. Open flame is just better and Camp Chef do give you that.

Rec Tec’s will sit anywhere between 200-500°F in the same 5°F increments. There’s a LO setting for extra smoke at the start of your cook. And, for high-heat grilling, there is a FULL setting that will bump it up a bit hotter. But, it’s still indirect heat and won’t give you the same sort of flavor, crust or sear that you’d get from open flame cooking.

The bottom line – For most people, you won’t be setting your smoker down below the 200°F so both Camp Chef and recteq offer good temperature ranges with tight incremental settings. But, the results you’ll get from grilling on Camp Chef’s Slide and Grill open flame make them the winner in this department – CAMP CHEF.

Temperature Control

What’s arguably way more important than temperature range is how well a pellet smoker stays at the temperature you want it. And, whether you go Camp Chef or Rec Tec, you’ll be getting a PID temperature controller that offers the tightest temperature control for consistent and repeatable results.

Before being adopted by the barbecue world, PID controllers were typically found in commercial breweries and bakeries. They’re what’s in charge of maintaining a steady enough temperature for commercial-level consistency. And, if you can get that at home now, we’re here for it.

Both brands claim that their temperature controllers will keep your smoker within +/- 5°F of your target at all times. And, after testing, both do what they say they do. In decent weather conditions, you shouldn’t have any trouble maintaining a steady temperature and don’t need to worry about keeping an eye on it throughout your cook.

Your smokers got your back and that’s exactly what you want from set and forget technology.

The bottom line – Both Camp Chef and recteq offer industry-leading PID temperature controllers for the most precise control – BOTH.

Cooking Space

The Camp Chef ranges generally offer models in standard 20, 24 and 36 inch sizes. The smallest will give you about 501 square inches of space, stepping up to 800 square inches on the mid-sized options to a considerably larger 1,236 square inches.

The larger sizes in the same range have exactly the same features as the smaller models. So, you can easily choose to upgrade your size without having to pay more for additional features.

Reqtec are similar in that they offer 4 different sized pellet grills all with what are practically the same features. The smallest RT-340 holds 340 square inches (or 511 with a second rack), the RT-590 gives you 592 square inches of cooking space, the RT-700, 702 square inches. And, there’s a super-sized RT-2500 model that’s ideal for hunters or serious entertainers, offering 2,535 square inches of space.

The bottom line – Whether you’re cooking for 2, your immediate family, or, like the entertain a lot, you should have a well-sized smoker option with either Camp Chef or Rec Tec – BOTH.

Pellet Hopper Size

The hopper sizes on both Camp Chef and Rec Tec vary depending on how big the grill is.

With Camp Chef, you’re looking at fitting about 10 pounds of pellets into their smallest grills while recteq start at 20 pounds. From there, Camp Chef step up to a 22 pound hopper and that stays the same on their larger sizes as well. Recteq step the hopper size up with every grate size increase. Their mid-sized RT-700 has a huge 40 pound hopper and their RT-2500 Beast has a 66 pound dual-hopper.

How long’s that going to last you?

In general, and as advertised, you’re looking at getting about 1 hour of low and slow smoking time from 1 pound of pellets. Crank the temperature up and the pellet usage will bump up too. As it will if the weather’s colder and the smoker needs more fuel to keep the temperature steady.

So, yes, Rec Tec do have bigger hoppers so you don’t need to fill up as often. But also, Camp Chef’s 22 pound hopper that they use on their 24 and 36″ smokers will give you a heap of time. If you’re smoking for longer than that, you probably won’t mind filling it up.

Note that neither brand have pellet hopper clean-out features. The plus of this is that there’s less space for moisture to get into the hopper so you can store pellets there for some time between cooks. But, they are harder to empty to clean or change flavors.

The bottom line – Both brands offer adequate pellet hopper sizes. But, Rec Tec’s are bigger – REC TEC.

Warranty

Recteq’s are designed with it in mind that you’ll be handing this smoker down to your grandkids. And, while their warranty obviously isn’t long enough to cover that, they do offer what’s currently the pellet smoker industry-best warranty of 6 years.

At the time of writing this, the 6 years isn’t on all of their grills. It’s on the larger sizes from RT-700 up. The smaller models have 2 and 4 year warranties. But, every part of their grills are covered during those 6 years. There aren’t exclusions or exceptions. And, their customer service is second to none. They back their products and we love it.

Camp Chef, on the other hand, have a pretty standard 3 year warranty. It’s not bad by any means and is in line with what other pellet smoker manufacturers like Traeger offer. But, 3 years vs 6 years… you don’t even need to do the math.

The bottom line – Rec Tec’s warranty length depends on which grill you buy. But, their mid-large sized grills have industry leading coverage on them – REC TEC.

Extra Features

Whether you go Camp Chef or recteq, both brands come with WiFi so you can control them remotely.

Rec Tec’s line-up come with 2 stainless steel meat probes so you can monitor the progress and internal temperature of two meats. Camp Chef’s have 4 stainless steel meat probes that all hook up to the control panel as well.

But, there’s a few other extra features that are worth mentioning as well.

Firstly, Camp Chef have this cool system where you can select the smoke level independently to the heat level. So, set it at 1 for less smoky flavor. Or, bump it way up to 10 if you want a heavy brisket to come out tasting like it’s had the full treatment.

Their grease management and ash cleanout system is great and we do love their full color screen controllers. And, as we talked about earlier, their Slide and Grill heat deflector plate gives you even better grilling as well.

If that’s not enough, you can also buy propane-powered Sidekick and Sear Box attachments so you can legit grill and sear just as you would on a gas barbecue.

As far as extras go on recteqs, there’s an extra low temperature setting for maximum smoke output, an extra hot feature, automatic cool-down and 4 tie-down points you can use for transporting or security at home. If you’re hoping to cold smoke as well, there’s a side Smokebox available for the RT-700 as well that adds the extra versatility.

The bottom line – Both brands offer WiFi, meat probes plus a few extra useful features. We’ll call this a tie as it sort of depends on what extras you value – BOTH.

Price

In terms of pellet smokers, both Camp Chef and Rec Tec sit in the middle of the market price-wise.

In general, Rec Tec is a little more expensive than Camp Chef. As you’ve seen, you do get more in the way of high-quality materials. So, if you’re limited to an actual figure, you’ll have more choice with Camp Chef. There’s even a few budget-friendly options. But, if you’ve got a bit more to play with, recteq are undeniably great value for money.

The bottom line – Both Camp Chef and Rec Tec make well-priced smokers. There’s a bit more of a price range with Camp Chef while the quality is still really good. So, we’re giving this one to them – CAMP CHEF.

So, Who Takes the Cake? Our Rec Tec vs Camp Chef Winner

For the price, Rec Tec deliver so much in terms of a quality build, durability, and, useful features with enough size choices to suit most users. So, if a recteq fits into your budget, they’d be our first pick.

But, in saying that, we definitely enjoy firing up a Camp Chef. They’re well-built, so easy to use, and, the Slide and Grill plus optional propane attachments mean that you’re actually getting a good barbecue that does everything well. With their prices sitting a little lower than that of Rec Tec’s, they’re also the option for anyone who’s looking for quality, function and features at a lower price point.

So, that’s our two cents. Both are great choices so see what fits your needs and budget.

Check out both ranges by clicking the links below. Or, read on to see how Camp Chef and Rec Tec compare grill to grill.

Recteq vs Camp Chef Real Grill Comparisons

There’s nothing like actually stacking one grill against each other. So, here you’ll find Camp Chef vs Rec Tec smokers compared at different price points.

Rec Tec vs Camp Chef - Smaller or Budget-Friendly Options

$$$

$$

Powder-coated stainless steel with stainless steel grates

Powder-coated steel with porcelain-coated steel grates

200 - 500°F+

150 - 500°F (650°F using Slide and Grill)

592 sq. in. of cooking space

501 sq. in. of cooking space

30 pound hopper

10 pound hopper

6 year warranty

3 year warranty

  • WiFi

  • Optional second shelf takes it to 772 sq in

  • 2 meat probes

  • Auto shutdown

  • LO setting for max smoke

  • WiFi

  • Slide and Grill for open flame grilling

  • 4 meat probes

  • Smart Smoke settings

  • Folding side shelf

  • Ash Cleanout system

    Recteq vs Camp Chef - Mid-Size and Mid-Range Options

    $$$$

    $$$

    Powder-coated stainless steel with stainless steel grates

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

    200 - 500°F+

    160 - 500°F (650°F Slide and Grill)

    702 sq. in. of cooking space

    800 sq. in. of cooking space

    40 pound hopper

    22 pound hopper

    6 year warranty

    3 year warranty

    • WiFi

    • Slide and Grill for open flame grilling

    • 4 meat probes

    • Smart Smoke

    • Ash Cleanout system

    • Side and bottom shelf

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

      $$$$$

      $$$$

      Stainless steel with stainless steel grates

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

      200 - 500°F+

      160 - 500°F (650°F Slide n Grill) + propane burner

      2535 sq. in. of cooking space

      1236 sq. in. of cooking space + 231 sidekick

      53 pound hopper

      22 pound hopper

      6 year warranty

      3 year warranty

      • WiFi

      • 2 meat probes

      • Hydrolic lid system

      • Auto shutdown

      • LO setting for max smoke

      • Dual interior dishwasher safe lights

      • Stainless steel meat hanger

      • WiFi

      • Slide and Grill for open flame grilling

      • 4 meat probes

      • Separate smoke settings

      • Bottom shelf

      • 28,000 BTU cast aluminum side burner

      • Wind baffled technology

      • Patented ash cleanout system

        So, which one are you going for? Camp Chef or Rec Tec?

        They’re two solid brands with a good range of sizes available. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with either. While Camp Chef is definitely the more budget-friendly option, the value they’ve packed into recteq is really appealing, even if price is a big consideration for you.

        Happy smoking!