Camp Chef Vs. Traeger: Which Grill is Better? (2023)
While Traeger's innovation, quality, and reputation stand above the rest, Camp Chef products are more affordable and worthy of consideration.
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Many brands make pellet grills now, but comparing Camp Chef vs. Traeger is a great place to start if you are in the market for a new grill. Gone are the days in which your only options are charcoal grills and gas grills. Pellet grills are as easy to use as gas grills and provide better flavoring than charcoal grills.
The fact that pellet grills are perfect for low-and-slow barbecue makes them even better. We love pellet grills for their versatility. You don't need one grill for steaks, burgers, and hot dogs and a separate hardwood smoker for your pork butt and brisket. A pellet grill is versatile enough to handle both.
Camp Chef vs. Traeger Grills: Which Should You Choose?
Traeger is far and away the leader in pellet grills. The newly redesigned Traeger Timberline has more advanced features than any pellet grill in history. Still, Camp Chef is a quality brand, and its pellet grills are a little more affordable than the top-end Traeger grills.
Comparing Camp Chef vs. Traeger will surely find the perfect pellet grill. You don't have to be a grillmaster to enjoy the art of grilling, and choosing a pellet smoker from one of these brands will make the job easier.
Is Camp Chef A Good Brand?
Camp Chef's portfolio is much broader than Traeger and some of its pellet grill competitors. They are perhaps best known for their portable cooking systems, found at campgrounds everywhere. Camp enthusiasts everywhere are familiar with Camp Chef griddles and BBQ boxes, but you might be surprised to learn they also make fire pits and cast iron cookware.
More importantly, they've also designed an impressive series of wood pellet grills and smokers for this conversation. Camp Chef products are innovative and made with quality design and construction.
Camp Chef Apex Grill Technology
The Camp Chef Apex grill sits near the pinnacle of grilling. The Apex grill is a large pellet grill, but it is designed so you can add on a gas kit and sidekick accessory. Functionally, this means you can switch fuel sources with the twist of a knob. Plus, you can add one of Camp Chef's famous griddles above the propane tank.
There are few products on the pellet grill market that are this versatile. Plus, it packs some serious technology. A pellet sensor and WiFi controller mean this is a true set-it-and-forget-it type device. And when you do need to check on your meat, there is an internal chef's light so you can see what is going on.
This Camp Chef pellet grill elevates the cooking process and grilling to a new level. Joe Traeger may not have designed the Apex, but that doesn't mean it is less worthy of your consideration.
Customers love the Apex grill because you can enjoy the flavor of wood pellets and the grill marks that a gas grill is known for. Start by smoking your dinner, and then pump up the gas at the end for open flame grilling and perfectly seared grill marks.
Camp Chef Woodwind Pellet Grills
The Camp Chef Woodwind and Woodwind Pro Series look more like traditional smokers. Still, in true Camp Chef fashion, you can choose a Woodwind with a Sidekick Flat Top or a Sidekick Sear station.
The combination of grilling stations, like adding a flat top grill alongside a traditional grill and smoker, is really where Camp Chef Woodwind shines. You might not even realize you want a flat top until you see it alongside the man chamber. Then all of a sudden, you are thinking about cooking up some steak and fried rice while your pork butt cooks low and slow.
Plus, the Woodwind Pro Series offers more versatility than your average grill. Camp Chef's Smoke Box allows you to cook with wood chunks or wood chips in addition to wood pellets. In fact, you can even cook with charcoal. This is perfect for anyone that likes to experiment with flavors and cooking techniques.
On the other hand, if you prefer to fill the pellet hopper and sit back and wait, you can do that too. The Woodwind Pro 36 has a pellet hopper capacity of 22 lbs, providing hours and hours of cook time.
While Traeger is generally considered the leader in pellet grill technology, Camp Chef offers everything the average user might need. The high-end Camp Chef products feature a WiFi controller, which is controlled via the Camp Chef Connect app. Plus, Smoke Control can dial in the exact amount of smoky goodness you want in your cooking chamber.
Managing the cooking temperature from your phone is a big win, but smart designs like an accessible ash cleanout also go a long way. With more than 1200 sq inches of cooking space, the Woodwind Pro 36 will do the job.
If that is a little too much grill for you, the Woodwind Pro 24 features the same technology but is a little more manageable. The Pro 24 still has more than 800 square inches of cooking area, which is plenty for most families.
Comparable Grill and Smoker: Traeger Ironwood. The Camp Chef Woodwind is most comparable in size and features to the Traeger Ironwood series. There are definitely differences, but these are the bread and butter grill series worth comparing.
Other Pellet Grill Options
Of course, not everyone needs or can afford the latest grill technology, and we get that. Camp Chef offers affordable pellet grill options like the SG 24. Like other Camp Chef products, you can customize the SG with a series of innovative accessories.
Choose from attachments such as a grill box or an artisan pizza oven. Make the Camp Chef SG your own. And by the way, SG represents the slide and grill feature, which is one of Camp Chef's most popular innovations.
The slide and grill technology makes it easier to safely manage hot food, especially when you are checking your grill's temperature in the dark. The Apex and Woodwind grills are bigger and offer more spacious cooking racks. The slide and grill feature is especially helpful on smaller cooking racks.
Pellet grill product lines can get a little out of hand. Some brands offer so many options that it is hard even to know where to start. Camp Chef offers a nice balance of optionality. There is something for everyone, but you should pretty quickly be able to pinpoint which grill is right for you.
Pellet grills are very versatile. You cansmoke mushrooms or vegetables, or your favorite pizza. Once you master brisket stall temp, the possibilities are endless.
Other Camp Chef Product
When we think about pellet grill comparisons, Camp Chef holds its own but will likely never have the cult-like following that a Traeger grill might have. Still, it's Camp Chef's other products where the brand really shines.
Take the 16-inch cooking system, for instance. It completely changes the game when it comes to camping. While Traeger offers a portable pellet grill, there may be no competition for the Camp Chef system. The base of the 16-inch cooking system is three 30,000 BTU burners, but the accessories are what stand out.
You can choose from a BBQ Box, a dutch oven, a pizza oven, a griddle, and nearly any combination above. One popular combination includes the two-burner BBQ box on one side and the ever-popular griddle on the other. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Remember that Camp Chef also has an impressive lineup of cast iron products, so you can also cook over direct flame. The accessories are awesome, but sometimes all you need is fire and a cast iron skillet.
Camp Chef also makes a griddle that rivals Blackstone griddles. You need to learn how to properly season your griddle, but griddles serve as an incredibly versatile cooking option.
Portable pellet grills are fantastic for camping but may not compare to Camp Chef's camping cooking system. The brand is likely best known for its flat-top grills and other camping grills. This is for a good reason. The brand is an innovative mainstay at the campgrounds.
Camp Chef is versatile. You can beat brisket stall temp and master low-and-slow cooking with a Camp Chef Woodwind, or simply fire up some burgers and hot dogs for dinner.
Are Camp Chef Pellet Grills Good?
Camp Chef makes solid pellet grills enhanced by the various sidekick combinations. Once you add the Sidekick Flat Top or Sear Box to your Camp Chef pellet grill, you can cook for any occasion. Plus, enhanced temperature control and smart smoke technology make Camp Chef pellet grills very easy to use.
Camp Chef takes a slightly different approach to developing its pellet grill lineup than some of the more prominent players like Pit Boss or Traeger. Still, many loyalists prefer their Camp Chef equipment.
Where Are Camp Chef Grills Made?
Like most competition, Camp Chef products are designed in the United States but manufactured in China and other manufacturing powerhouse countries. The fact is that the United States doesn't have as many advanced manufacturing facilities as China. So, many brands choose overseas manufacturing simply because the facilities are more advanced.
You will find that your Camp Chef grill is high-quality and features an innovative and versatile design. Camp Chef models are among the few grill products that offer side accessories like a sear box or flat-top grill.
Is Camp Chef Sold In Stores?
Camp Chef is sold at sporting goods and outdoor retailers, such as REI and Academy Sports. Still, the inventory of equipment will be limited at physical retail locations and mostly focused on outdoor stoves and cooking systems that are intended for campsites.
To purchase pellet grills or smokers, your better bet is to buy them online, directly from Camp Chef. The website is easy to use, and you will find many recipes to use as inspiration. Whether interested in direct flame cooking or learning to use a sear box, starting with a recipe is a great step.
High Smoke Temp on Camp Chef
In the past, you would need to manually manage the temperature range of your Camp Chef pellet grill to ensure maximum smoke (usually around 220 degrees). The introduction of Smoke Control technology makes this much easier. You can easily manage your chosen Smoke Control number from the Camp Chef app.
The Camp Chef Smoke Control systems manage the flow of embers so that it takes the wood pellets longer to ignite. This naturally increases smoke, which is fed into the cooking area. This is perfect when you have family members or guests that don't like a strong smoke flavor. It also gives you more flexibility if you want to use your grill for baked goods.
Camp Chef PID Controllers
Many of Camp Chef's pellet grills feature a PID Controller, which regulates smoke and temperature in real-time. These PID controllers enable a set-it-and-forget-it mentality because they are responsive to the grill's environment. For example, the PID Controller will increase the heat on a cold day when the temperature range struggles to regulate.
PID Controllers are game changers. You have everything you might need when you combine the Camp Chef PID Controller with Smoke Number and WiFi technology.
Camp Chef WiFi
Camp Chef is sold at sporting goods and outdoor retailers, such as REI and Academy Sports. Still, the equipment inventory will be limited at physical retail locations and primarily focus on campsites' cooking systems. Your better bet is to buy pellet grills and smokers online directly from Camp Chef.
The Camp Chef Woodwind grills are a great place to start if you want a wood pellet grill featuring WiFi tech, but there are other Camp Chef models for which you can add a retrofitted WiFi pellet grill controller.
Who Is Camp Chef Owned Buy?
Ty Measom founded Camp Chef in 1990 when he wanted to create a better outdoor cooking system. Vista Outdoor owns Camp Chef, which it acquired in 2016 for a cool $74 million. While Camp Chef was previously privately owned, Vista Outdoor is a publicly traded company (VSTO).
Camp Chef Headquarters
The Camp Chef headquarters sits in Cache Valley, Utah, near the Bear River Mountain Range. Many of the employees are outdoor cooking enthusiasts, and the surrounding area serves as the perfect setting for a company aptly named Camp Chef.
The Camp Chef brand started with powerful yet portable outdoor cooking systems and expanded to cast iron cookware (perfect for a campsite). Most recently, they dove in as a new competitor in the pellet grill arena. Both Camp Chef and Traeger make great grills, but you will likely find that Camp Chef is the more affordable option of the two grills.
Is a Camp Chef Pellet Grill Worth It?
You might initially think about a campsite when you think of Camp Chef, but now they also make a great pellet grill. In comparing Traeger vs. Camp Chef, you will find that the grills share many of the same features. Still, Camp Chef grills have a modular design that enables you to add a sear box, pizza oven, or flat top to the side of the main grill.
For versatility alone, Camp Chef is worth considering, but we think that in comparing Camp Chef vs. Traeger grills, you will also find the Camp Chef prices to be appealing. For the most cooking surface, we recommend you consider an APEX grill or Woodwind grill, but the smaller units with less cooking area will get the job done too.SUMMARY PROS
- Modular add-ons
- Functional designs
- Reputable brand
Traeger Pellet Grills
While Camp Chef is a newer player in the pellet grill game, Traeger is an original. Both Traeger and Camp Chef grills have unique selling points, but it is hard to argue against Traeger grills being a step beyond the rest.
The brand is no longer owned by Joe Traeger and his family; however, the benefit is that the new owners invested money in even more research and development. Features like advanced temperature control, which may be new technology for other brands, are footnotes for the Traeger brand. This investment has further driven Traeger grills to the front of the pack.
Timberline Pellet Grills
The Traeger Timberline Grill Series is the most advanced pellet grill available on the market. It is also the most expensive pellet grill we've ever seen. Still, it offers everything you might need for outdoor cooking, and users can even use the Timberline as a built-in grill.
Some of the innovations that drive the Traeger Timberline forward are small adjustments, while other features are game-changing. For instance, these Traeger grills feature an easy-to-use touchscreen display. It's technology we use every day elsewhere, but few brands were willing to add the expense to the cost of making a grill.
On the other hand, the Traeger Induction cooktop is more game-changing for Traeger loyalists. The induction cooktop sits as a side attachment on a Timberline Traeger grill. It enables more diversified cooking techniques, including frying, sauteing, and searing. You can place a sauce pot on the cooktop and whip up your favorite sauces as you make your dinner.
There are other features that drive the cost of a Timberline up, but that truly contribute toward Traeger's reputation as a preeminent grill. For instance, the cooking chamber features double-wall construction, which enables a more efficient and consistent burn. Temperature fluctuations cause chaos, but the dual-wall construction reduces these fluctuations.
Traeger's Smart Combustion temperature control system further enhances temperature control, enabling a consistent temperature range.
Of course, there are other practical features. The Timberline boasts an EZ-Clean grease and ash keg that makes cleaning up a breeze, the MEATER wireless meat thermometer system, and WiFi communication to an app on your phone. Grillmasters also love the Super Smoke mode.
The Traeger Timberline comes in two sizes. the smaller size features almost 900 sq in of cooking space, while the Timberline XL features more than 1300 sq in of cooking space. At 22 lbs, the pellet hopper size is sufficient for long and slow cooks or amping the grill temperature up for faster burgers and hot dogs.
The Traeger Timberline grill series is exceedingly versatile. Whereas most grills have two cooking racks, the Timberline is so large it boasts three cooking racks. For the serious grillmaster, there may be no better option.
Ironwood Pellet Grills
Traeger Ironwood grills are more down to earth and more closely aligned to what you might expect to see from a wood pellet grill. That's not to say that a Traeger Ironwood is disappointing in any way. In fact, it's quite the opposite. It is the most impressive mid-tier wood pellet grill on the market.
The Traeger Ironwood Series features Downdraft Exhaust and Super Smoke Mode, both of which are designed to provide maximum flavor. An Ironwood will also have other practical features, like rugged all-terrain wheels and a pellet sensor system that alerts you when the pellet hopper starts to get a little low.
Quality is the name of the game with Traeger. That's why all Ironwood grills feature some level of insulated construction designed to maximize heat retention. The Traeger Timberline series might represent the most advanced grill on the planet, but the Ironwood Series is more practical and within reach for most people.
You might consider a Traeger pellet grill even if you already have a gas or charcoal grill. Have you ever heard of charcoal-fired pizza? Nope. People love authentic wood-fired pizza because it just tastes better, and the same is true for any other food you might cook. Traeger grills provide wood flavoring, plus the ease of use that the wood pellets and various controllers provide.
Traeger Pro Pellet Grills
The Traeger Pro Series grill is designed as a more affordable grill, compared to the Traeger Ironwood or Timberline series. The Traeger Pro Series still features many of the features that other pellet grill brands claim are advanced features.
The Pro Series connects to your phone via the WiFIRE app, and comes with built-in meat probes so you don't have to open the lid and let the smoke out of the chamber. You can also control the temperature with dials similar to what you would find on an oven.
Even that's not all. The pellet hopper cleanout system is a trapdoor that allows you to clean out the hopper easily. This also helps you switch out the flavors if you want to do a little flavoring mixing experimentation.
The Pro Series grills and smokers are a little smaller than the Ironwood Series. Still, even the smaller Pro 575 is big enough for 24 burgers or 5 racks of rib. The Traeger Pro Series grills are more affordable largely because they are smaller. Even so, they are the perfect size for a couple or a small family.
If you are in the market for a pellet smoker but don't want to break the bank, a Traeger Pro Series grill should be at the top of your list.
Portable Traeger Pellet Grill
Did you know that Traeger makes a portable pellet grill? It's true. They do. It is so compact and portable that you can take it to the campsite or even on a boat. In fact, Traeger makes two portable pellet grills. The smaller grill is called the Traeger Ranger.
The Ranger isn't very big, but that's by design. Still, it is a grill that will fit on a boat or that you can store in your kitchen and easily pull out onto your patio. Even at its small size, it's still big enough for six burgers or a full rack of ribs. This isn't just a warming rack. It's a fully portable pellet smoker that gets the job done as you would expect from a Traeger grill.
Of course, if you want something a little bit bigger than that, we recommend checking out the Traeger Tailgater. The name says it all. The grill is the perfect size to fit in your truck bed and take to the big game. It isn't small enough to fit on a boat like the Ranger, but it is small enough to be easily portable if you have a truck.
The Tailgater has about twice the capacity of the Ranger, so choose accordingly based on your intended use.
Are Traeger Grills More Expensive?
Yes, Traeger grills are generally more expensive than competitor pellet grills. There are many reasons for this, including Traeger's unrivaled reputation as the leader in the pellet grill industry. Still, Traeger truly pioneered the space, and they continue to innovate and introduce new features. Traeger sells its grills at a premium price, but the premium is well-earned.
If you are interested in more affordable grills, you might consider a Pit Boss or Z Grills pellet grill. Still, if you can afford it, Traeger is hard to overlook.
Still, if you learn how to clean and maintain your Traeger grill, it should last a long time.SUMMARY PROS
- Pioneering innovation
- Quality construction
- Premium features
Get More Smoke From Your Traeger
Traeger designed its newest grills to dial in absolute control over smoke flavoring. Features like the Downdraft Exhaust and Super Smoke Mode provide the user with ultimate flexibility. These levers allow you to adjust the smoke level depending on what you are cooking, so you can reduce smoke to bake a blueberry pie or increase smoke when you get the brisket going.
New technology like this elevates Traeger's reputation to a whole new level. In fact, if you already have a Traeger, it might be worth upgrading to a new Ironwood, or Timberline series agree so that you can fully benefit from the modern functionality.
Serious Grilling Space
At more than 1300 square inches of cooking space across three cooking racks, the Traeger Timberline offers more cooking area than nearly any other competitor. Even at this larger size, The Timberline can reach up to 500 degrees, which makes it very versatile.
Still, some of the Ironwood grills and Pro Series grills offer a much more manageable cooking area while still packing a punch with features. Traeger pellet grills sit at the top of the price curve, but then once you are a Traeger grill owner, you will likely be a Traeger loyalist for life.
Meets All Outdoor Cooking Needs
The largest Traeger pellet grills feature all of the pellet hopper capacity you might need for set-it-and-forget-it slow cooking and enough cooking space to feed an entire party. The quality and functionality aren't new.
Still, introducing an induction cooktop transforms the Traeger Timberline grill into the near-perfect backyard grill. You can even use the Timberline as a built-in grill. For a truly authentic experience, you might add a separate Neapolitan pizza oven to your backyard to enable that perfectly crispy crust. Aside from that, a Timberline can cook just about anything.
Is Traeger Sold In Stores?
Some Traeger grills are sold in select partner retailers. You will note that the grills in the big box stores often have different model names. They are functionally the same grills but may have tweaked features. Still, we recommend purchasing through Traeger's website for the most optionality and insight.
When you purchase through the Traeger website, you will find all of the accessories and wood pellets you might need, in addition to Traeger pellet grills.
Is Camp Chef Better Than Traeger?
Camp Chef takes a unique approach to grilling, which stems from its roots in a near-modular campsite cooking system. Still, Traeger grills are often more expensive because they are built with more advanced features and higher-quality construction. In comparing Traeger vs. Camp Chef, it's important to realize that Traeger's premium pricing is earned.
For some people, Camp Chef might be the perfect solution. For those interested earning the title of Grillmaster, Traeger is the the way to go.
Traeger and Camp Chef are two of the better names in outdoor cooking. Traeger is known for their long-standing excellence in making pellet grills, while Camp Chef is known for campsite grills and recently joined the pellet grill fray. Both brands are excellent choices, but there are other brands that you might consider depending on how you intend to use your new grill.
Alternative Pellet Grills
Wood pellet grills offer excellent versatility and functionality, so you might have your heart set here. If so, comparing Traeger vs. Camp Chef is a great place to start. Still, other reputable brands making pellet grills include Pit Boss, Green Mountain Grills, and Z Grills.
Pit Boss and Green Mountain Grills look like traditional pellet grills, like Traeger, but fall in line closer to Camp Chef pricing. For a more affordable option, you might consider Z Grills. In comparing Z Grills vs. Traeger, Traeger is a higher quality product with premium pricing, but Z Grills are well designed and made in the same factory as some of the more expensive alternatives.
For competition level pellet grills, compare Traeger vs. Yoder.
While we prefer wood-fired flavoring, some people prefer the hands-on experience of charcoal cooking. There is something very raw and authentic about managing coals. Still, charcoal can be a dirty pain in the tail to deal with, which is why brands like Traeger and Camp Chef are so popular.
Even so, we recommend that you compare Char-broil vs. Weber if you are interested in buying one of the premium charcoal grills available. Incidentally, Char-broil and Weber make solid gas grills too.
Of course, neither brand offers Camp Chef's unique slide and grill technology that enables a more direct flame cooking style, but they are the top brands in the charcoal game.
Multi-use Pizza Ovens
This last category might be more of and add-on to your backyard grilling setup, rather than a replacement to one of the grills listed above. Still, you might be surprised at how much functionality a backyard pizza oven offers.
Pizza ovens can be used to bake bread or make dessert, similar to how you might alter the way you use a Traeger. The difference is that pizza ovens reach very high heat above 900 degrees, compared to pellet grills which rarely heat north of 500 degrees. The latter is most effective when used for low-and-slow smoking, after all.
The high heat that an oven like the Ooni Karu offers enables the crispy crust that makes wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas so popular. If interested, we recommend you start by comparing Ooni vs. Roccbox.
Are Wood Pellet Grills Worth It?
Wood pellet grills are worth considering if you want wood-fired flavoring but want a grill that is easier to monitor and adjust than a traditional grill. Managing the temperature in a traditional wood smoker or charcoal grill can be difficult, to say the least. Wood pellet grills make this much easier.
Regarding backyard grilling, there are many options, and you might not know where to start. We recommend wood pellet grills for anyone looking for flavor, authenticity, and easy use. Gas grills are even easier to control, but the flavors will never compare to wood-fired flavors.
Camp Chef vs. Traeger: Which Is Better?
In comparing Camp Chef vs. Traeger grills, you will find that some of the newer advances in Traeger grills already exist within the Camp Chef lineup. Namely, the Induction Cooktop is a game-changer on the Traeger Timberline series, but many Camp Chef grills allow for a sidekick attachment, such as a flat top grill or a sear box.
And while Traeger's innovation, quality, and reputation stand above the rest, Camp Chef products are more affordable and worthy of consideration. Buy a Traeger if you have the money to spend, and you will be proud to own the most well-known name in BBQ grilling. We recommend starting with theTraeger Ironwood Series.
Otherwise, Camp Chef has plenty to offer if you want something different and are looking for something more affordable. The Camp Chef Woodwind is the best place to start.
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