What’s a better pick in the Camp Chef vs Traeger comparison? Both of them are well-known brands in the pellet grill space and have an excellent reputation. While Traeger lives on the premium side of things, Camp Chef has carved its niche as a value proposition.
Even with a lower price, Camp Chef has managed to keep its quality in good shape. But can they really stand up to the premium Traeger? Well, let’s find out!
Traeger vs Camp Chef: Comparing The Key Aspects
Business Profile And Expectations For Both Brands
Traeger started with a headstart in the pellet grill business. This company invented the pellet grill (or rather, its founder did) and received a patent. The company monopolized the pellet grill space until 2006 when competition started to show up.
It has been a while since the competition in the pellet grill space heated up. Yet, Traeger enjoys some benefits thanks to its role as the pioneer of this technology. And even with intense competition, the company has managed to stay at the forefront of the pellet grill space.
As its name implies, Camp Chef started as a company supplying outdoor cooking equipment to campers. After seeing success, the company expanded and eventually reached the pellet grill space. They have quite a range for BBQ and food smoking enthusiasts.
The company has retained its focus on quality. When compared to Traeger, Camp Chef takes on a value for money proposition. In a way, it’s quite similar to the Pit Boss and Traeger comparison. However, Camp Chef itself has a healthy value and quality comparison with Pit Boss.
Sizing Things Up On Build Quality And Pricing
Cheap pellet grills that parade as offering value for money usually fare poorly in construction quality. Thankfully, that’s not Camp Chef. Their pellet grills generally have a powder-coated steel construction combined with enamel-coated grates. That’s a pretty sturdy build.
Many of their grills come with a stainless steel firebox, which further enhances their life and durability. After all, it is the firebox that’s most likely to take damage from the high heat. There are no insulated grills in the Camp Chef range, so you’ll have to rely on insulation blankets if you intend to use them in the cold.
Traeger shows off its build quality and construction in style. Their pellet grills use powder-coated steel matched with porcelain-coated grates. On the higher-end Timberline series models, the company uses durable stainless steel grates, much like the offerings from Traeger’s competitor Recteq.
Insulation too comes into play at higher-end models. The Ironwood series gets double-side-wall insulation, while the Timberline series is fully insulated. Of course, there’s always the choice of using insulation blankets if you want greater temperature control.
Pricing is worth consideration here since it can often be the deciding factor. There is some diversity in the Camp Chef pricing range. The cheapest model, the SE 24 Pellet Grill has a price tag of $449.99, while the top-line model Woodwind WiFi with Sidekick carries a tag of $1499.99. Keeping the extremities aside, the general range goes from $700-1200.
Traeger’s conventional range goes from $649.99 to $2199.99. However, cheaper models are available too, like the tiny and portable Traeger Range for $429.00.
Overall, as we see, Traeger models are more expensive than their Camp Chef counterparts.
Camp Chef vs Traeger On Temperature Control And Range
Precise temperature control is a key element for any grill. More so for pellet grills, because we expect them to run on a set-and-forget routine. If you intend to be away from the grill for hours, it better be running at the expected temperature!
For temperature control checks, we consider the behavior of the grill under normal circumstances. External factors that may have an effect, like wind and low ambient temperature, aren’t considered.
Both companies offer a temperature range of 150-500 °F. That should be enough for smoking and some grilling. Camp Chef does one better and has a setup to use the burning pellets to its advantage. Their grills have a slide and grill mode.
By moving a knob, you can cook food on an actual/real flame, rather than by utilizing indirect heat. Cooking over a direct flame gives you more options, including searing.
For temperature control, Traeger makes use of the D2 drivetrain. This ensures better smoke and temperature management. It allows the grills faster heating on startup and greater precision in temperature control.
The higher-end Timberline and Ironwood series include a Turbo Temp function to quickly boost the temperature to set levels as soon as the lid closes. Traeger’s D2 drivetrain keeps the temperature in the grill within 10-15 °F of the set temperature. That is quite impressive.
Camp Chef appears to one-up Traeger on temperature control. The company uses PID controllers, which are known to keep the grill temperature very close to set ranges. Usually, the temperature inside the grill will have a variation of 5 °F from the set temperature level.
Practically, both grills have excellent temperature control and are suitable for set-and-forget cooking. The slight difference in temperature control rarely matters, but if you’re looking at precision, Camp Chef does it better!
Cooking Space Management
The exact cooking space for either brand depends on specific grills. However, some general characteristics define the cooking space on both these brands. Both brands offer plenty of cooking space dependent on their respective models.
Traeger offers easy management of the cooking space, thanks to movable primary and secondary grates. Some larger models also include a third grate, which too is manageable. These simple touches of customization are great for cooking and allow flexibility in choosing what you want to cook or smoke on the pellet grill.
Camp Chef takes a similar approach. While specific modes vary by cooking space, there is some customization available. Larger models offer huge space for cooking and smoking whatever you prefer.
If raw cooking space is what you want, Camp Chef has vertical pellet smokers with an impressive cooking area. Although, vertical smokers only allow smoking food and it’s not possible to cook over a direct flame.
Hopper Capacity Comparison
If you’re going to use a set-and-forget smoker, the hopper becomes a key element. To be truly set-and-forget, the pellet smoker should run for several hours without needing manual intervention – including for refilling the pellets.
As for this metric, both brands perform on a near-similar level. Much of Traeger’s range has hoppers at 18, 20, and 24 lbs. Camp Chef takes a similar approach, providing hoppers at 18 and 22 lbs. The available hopper sizes on both brands qualify as set-and-forget. You can expect pellet grills from either company to be in action for 18-24 hours.
Their pellet hoppers also highlight a pet peeve I have. Pellets are generally available in packs of 20 pounds. With hopper sizes at 18 or 22 lbs, we’re stuck with a situation where a bag of pellets is either too much or not enough. Sure, there are countless workarounds for these issues but it’s not the most elegant solution.
Coming back to the topic, both brands also feature simple pellet purge systems. These enable users to easily and conveniently remove any pellets in the hopper and switch pellets (and their flavors) for cooking.
WiFi Connectivity And Other Features Of Note
Pellet grills have reached an interesting technological milestone with internet connectivity through WiFi. These grills connect to the internet via WiFi, thus enabling control through smartphone apps or even digital assistants like Amazon Alexa.
Traeger has made an excellent appearance in this niche with its WiFIRE technology. A wide range of functions on these grills are available for control through the accompanying app or digital assistants.
Users can employ the app to switch the grill on/off, change temperature settings, look for recipes, and more. Some of the higher-end models, like the Timberline series, also provide alerts for low pellet quantity in the hopper.
Camp Chef takes on a similar note as Traeger and offers WiFi connectivity for several pellet grills. The accompanying WiFi app is capable of several functions, including managing temperature and switching the grill on or off.
A seemingly simple feature, the connectivity adds to the set-and-forget quality of these pellet grills. Being able to change the temperature remotely means there’s now a lower requirement of direct manual intervention and the grill.
More Features For Traeger vs Camp Chef Comparison
Both brands have other noteworthy features as well. The slide and grill setup on CampChef allows cooking over a direct flame, rather than staying with indirect heat. This makes it possible to cook food at a higher temperature.
Camp Chef cooking grills have 2-4 meat probes depending on the model. This is an excellent feature and makes it easy to track internal temperature of the grills. However, it is the two add-ons available with Camp Chef that take the cake.
These add-ons include a searbox and sidekick attachments. The sear box utilizes a propane burner and can reach temperatures as high as 900°F. With a good cooking space, the box can be true to its name and sear food the right way and at the right temperature.
With the sidekick in action, more options become available. This makes about 14 cooking modes available. You could even use the pellet grill as an oven to bake a wonderful pizza.
Traeger is no slouch in terms of features and functionality. Each grill has a super smoke mode so you can adjust the smoke levels without changing the grills’ internal temperature. The TurboTemp mode gets a faster initial setup.
As noticed above, the higher-range Traeger models also have insulation, which helps with better temperature management and good cooking.
Warranty And Customer Service
Camp Chef and Traeger both offer a 3-year warranty for their pellet grill. Both companies also have good customer service and are known to stand by their product(s).
A Look At Popular Camp Chef And Traeger Models
Camp Chef SmokePRO SG 24
A thoughtful design upgraded to add more features makes Camp Chef SmokePRO SG 24 a grill to look out for. Amongst other things, the upgrade has brought WiFi connectivity to the SG 24. This enables a smartphone to control the grill through a companion app.
The general controls available include setting timers so you can cook your food in a true set and forget fashion. It is compatible with the SideKick and Sear Box attachments, so you can upgrade your food grilling options to suit your preferences.
One of the highlights of this pellet grill is its cool Ash Cleanout system. Moving ash out from the firebox only takes pressing a lever. The whole process is quick and efficient.
The combined cooking area between the upper and lower shelf is about 811 square inches. With a 22 lb hopper capacity, the pellet grill can go on for a long time without requiring any intervention.
Other notable features are 2 meat probes, a body made from powder-coated steel, Camp Chef’s Smart Smoke technology, and a PID system to maintain temperature at the set level. Camp Chef SmokePRO SG 24 has a 3-year warranty.
Traeger Pro 780
I believe the Traeger Pro 780 is a good match for the Camp Chef SmokePro SG 24. This idea is mostly based on the size and cooking area of the grills. As its name implies, Traeger Pro 780 has a cooking area of 780 square inches, which is quite close to the 811 square inches offered by the SG 24.
As with most Traeger grills, Pro 780 gets the company’s WiFIRE technology. This means the grill has WiFi connectivity and is available for control through Traeger’s app. Use this app to set the temperature, switch the grill on/off, and handle similar tasks.
Traeger Pro 780 gets the company’s new Pro D2 Direct Drive system to manage temperature and pellet flow. Couple that with the TurboTemp system, and the grill gets impressively fast to the right cooking temperature. The D2 isn’t as accurate as PID, but it is accurate enough for all practical applications.
The temperature range here goes from 165-500 ºF. Traeger Pro 780 gets a powder-coated steel construction, WiFIRE technology, porcelain-coated grates, and a 3-year warranty.
Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 36
Camp Chef Woodwind Wifi 36 is currently on the top of the line of the company’s pellet grill lineup. It’s an impressive grill with great features, build, and overall BBQ ability.
There’s a 1236 square inch cooking area divided between the upper and lower racks. That’s plenty of area to handle all your cooking needs. Since this is the flagship model, it gets a stainless steel firebox for enhanced longevity and use. This pellet grill is compatible with the company’s Sidekick and Sear Box attachments.
The company has included a full color screen controller for easier management. A PID controller keeps the temperature at your desired levels, while the Smoke Number allows customization of the amount of smoke inside the pellet grill.
The higher you set the number, the greater the smoke, though with a slight temperature variation. As the number goes lower, the smoke thins out and the temperature holds precise. It’s an excellent approach with easier smoke handling. What’s better – you can do this from the app!
The accompanying app for the Woodwind enables users to perform several functions through their smartphone. These include the basics like temperature management, switching the grill on/off, and setting timers. Useful as these features are, the Smoke Number still carries the cake.
Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 36 includes other features that make this brand so successful. These include the easy ash cleanup, slide and grill, durable build quality, and three-year warranty.
Traeger Timberline 1300
Here’s Traeger’s flagship model. To be fair, the Traeger-Camp Chef comparison could go along with the Ironwood series, but the flagships make for a better matchup. There is a general underlining of how Camp Chef usually costs lower than Traeger. Well, that’s very apparent with this model. Traeger Timberline 1300 is almost twice the price of Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 36.
Traeger Timberline 1300 offers a total cooking area of 1343 sq inches. That’s a generous space big enough for most cooking needs. Besides, it has some excellent build features. It has a powder-coated steel body and three stainless steel grates.
The cooking area has full double-wall insulation, which means the food stays at the right temperature. This also shields it from environmental influences, enabling it to have a more stable temperature.
WiFire and app control get additional features too. Apart from the conventional auto on/off and temperature management, this one also includes indicators and notifications for when the grill is low on pellets.
Other notable features include the D2 grill controller, Traeger downdraft technology, concealed grease management, super smoke mode, and a three-year warranty.
Putting It All Together
The Camp Chef vs Traeger comparison shows an interesting side of both these brands. Well, if you’re having doubts, lay them to rest. You can’t go wrong with either of these brands. They offer excellent quality, features, and overall performance.
Camp Chef tends to do better on a value for money approach, with interesting features that usually match what Traeger has to offer. While Traeger is more expensive, its pellet grills do have great features that make it worth the extra bucks.