Pit Boss and Traeger are two very well-known names in the pellet grill space. Both companies have a good reputation and plenty of happy owners for their products. However, a choice of Traeger vs Pit Boss isn’t as subtle as a Recteq vs Traeger comparison.
Traeger and Pit Boss aren’t exactly similar pellet grills competing for market share. Sure, they do have an overlapping customer base in some areas, but their differences are quite stark. This is especially true for their pricing and construction.
So, let’s take a more detailed look and see which of these brands is better suited for you.
Pit Boss vs Traeger – Details On Most Relevant Aspects
In a Traeger vs Pit Boss matchup, I’d avoid saying one brand is definitely better than the other. Though famous brands, these cater to somewhat different requirements. And that shows in how they approach different aspects of a pellet grill.
Traeger is the pioneer of pellet grills. The company got a patent on pellet grills in 1986, enabling it to monopolize the pellet grill market until 2006. As the patent duration came to an end, several competitors lined up to get a piece of the pellet grill pie. Amongst the first on the scene was Pit Boss.
As a pioneer of the technology, Traeger still commands a huge share of the market. There is no dearth of competition in the market and there are plenty of alternatives to pick from, including Pit Boss.
1. Build Quality And Construction Set The Ball Rolling
Traeger puts a premium on construction and build quality and that is easily discernible from their grills. There’s liberal use of high-quality materials, clean welds, and dependable quality assurance.
Pit Boss too has a good hold on the quality scale, though value seems to be the driving aspect of this brand. The company’s grills feature a fairly durable build, good construction, and general attention to top features.
Traeger grills are generally made from powder-coated steel, with handles made from stainless steel, and porcelain-coated grates. As you go higher up on the Traeger model lineup, around the mid-tier models, you’ll find models with double-walled insulation. Also, more features start to show up and the overall experience gets a lot more interesting.
Pit Boss too uses powder-coated steel on several of its models. However, the company offers a rather wide range of models, sold through several channels. So, a general baseline for build quality is more difficult to draw here.
For example, you’d find several Pit Boss models that are exclusive to Walmart, Lowes, or Tractor Supply.
That said, the build quality of Pit Boss is generally considered as good. The company builds sturdy models with durability and dependability in mind.
As far as build quality and construction goes, I’d say both companies are on an equal footing.
Pricing Of Pellet Grills By Both Brands
In many ways, pricing might as well be the crux of Traeger vs Pit Boss comparison. This is where both brands take a different approach, which in turn affects all features and applications.
On average, Pit Boss pellet grills are cheaper than Traeger’s offerings. Having grills priced lower than Traeger is a big selling point for Pit Boss.
This is not to say that Pit Boss grills are cheap. While they do offer good value for money, quality features come at a price.
Also, lower prices demand some sacrifices. Features on Traeger grills often outperform their competitor. But then again, many of these features (like WiFi connectivity) may not necessarily sway your buying decision.
How Pit Boss And Traeger Perform On Temperature Control
We expect pellet grills to work on the set and forget routine. That’s why temperature control is a key consideration for any best pellet smoker or grill. A reliable pellet grill will keep the temperature close to its set limit. That way, you don’t have to worry about the cooking going sideways.
Two key factors define temperature control – the controller and the insulation. The former works to maintain the grill temperature at the sweet spot of the temperature set by the user. Insulation prevents outside influences from affecting the internal temperature of the grill. The latter is especially important for use of these grills in colder regions.
Pit Boss offers good temperature control, often capable of being reliable and accurate. Their digital controllers usually offer temperature control in steps of 25°F. This is a somewhat wide berth for temperature management and puts its preciseness in question.
The temperature control shouldn’t be a problem for most users. I would say Pit Boss pellet grills do a good job in heat retention, but they don’t offer insulation. If you live somewhere cold, buy an insulation blanket with the grill.
Traeger’s digital controller doesn’t leave much room for complaint. Their Pro D2 digital controllers work on temperature in steps of 15°F. For WiFi connected models, the controllers are regularly updated and their software is kept in shape. Traeger grills will stay close to the set temperature and are fairly precise.
Insulation isn’t available throughout the Traeger line, so you may have to consider purchasing an insulation blanket. Traeger’s Ironwood and Timberline series grills do offer double-walled insulation for the sides, to help with temperature regulation.
Overall, Traeger performs better on temperature control precision. While Pit Boss isn’t as precise, the difference isn’t a huge problem.
The temperature range is an interesting metric for both these brands and pellet grills in general. Conventional pellet grills don’t reach temperatures high enough to allow proper grilling. For pellet grills, grilling is something of a shortcoming. Most of them top at 400°F, which isn’t hot enough for grilling.
Traeger and Pit Boss have both tried workarounds for this. Both companies offer a temperature range in the neighborhood of 150-500 °F. Some grilling should be possible near the maximum temperature.
Pit Boss uses a slide-open sear plate to get the edge here. After moving the plate, you can grill food directly over the open wood-fired flame. That’s an excellent option and an advantage when compared to the traditional indirect heating setup.
Of course, none of them offer a temperature enough for searing, but many other things are possible. You can use these grills for anything from cold smoking to grilling.
Cooking Space Management For Both Brands
How these pellet grills approach their cooking space is as important as how much space they offer. While the exact cooking space varies by grill and model, there are some consistencies for both brands.
With Traeger grills, you can usually move the primary and secondary grates to customize the cooking space. Some models also have a third grate, which allows some changes as well. With easier management of the cooking space, you get more options for cooking and customization. It seems simple enough, but these changes make life (and cooking) so much better!
Various Pit Boss models too offer a range of cooking space options. While the individual customization on grills isn’t as impressive here, there are more available options. Traeger only offers traditional grill-style pellet grills. As we’ve seen with Pit Boss smoker reviews, it also offers vertical pellet smokers, which make quite a difference.
But if we limit ourselves to pellet grills, Traeger appears to offer more customizations.
Hopper Capacity – Traeger vs Pit Boss
Pellet grills can be truly set and forget only if their hopper doesn’t need constant attention. Ideally, we want a hopper large enough to last a full cooking session. A pellet grill will usually consume 1-3 pounds of pellets every hour. So, a comparable hopper size is desirable.
Traeger seems to be fond of 18 pound hoppers and uses them for most of its models. It is large enough and can get the job done, but the choice of the size can sometimes feel inadequate. The one-size-fits-all approach seems unnatural for grills of varying sizes.
To top it all, the smallest bag of Traeger pellets is 20 pounds. It’s a small and very annoying discrepancy. If you use multiple flavors or types of woods/pellets, you’d probably end up with a bunch of 2 pound pellet bags lying around.
Pit Boss has a larger variety of hopper sizes. Some models have generous 30-31 pound hoppers. Want more? The company sells hopper extensions that add another 20 pounds to the total hopper size.
With a large hopper plus extension, you’re pretty much set to cook for about 24 hours without ever having to refill!
Both brands have a good reputation for their warranty and service.
Traeger offers a 3-year warranty for its pellet grills.
Pit Boss has taken it a step further and offers a 5-year warranty on its pellet grills.
Both brands have relatively good customer service, so warranty or assistance should not pose a problem to consumers.
More Features And Comparison For Both Brands
One of the more interesting new features for pellet grills is WiFi connectivity. We prefer to keep them on a set-and-forget, so might as well handle things remotely.
Traeger’s WiFIRE technology gives their smokers an edge. With this setup, you can connect the pellet grill to a WiFi network and control it with your smartphone. The accompanying Traeger app has functions for temperature management, switching the grill on or off, and a few other options. For compatible models, you can also check the amount of pellets available.
Some of these models also work with digital assistants like Amazon Alexa, so getting your grill to do your bidding is all the more easier!
Pit Boss has WiFi enabled models as well, though the range is smaller than Traeger’s. And while Traeger’s WiFIRE isn’t perfect, it’s still better than the range of options on PIt Boss grills.
Other notable features on both brands include easy pellet purge from the hopper, various setups to make cleaning easy, and heavy-duty wheels.
Some features are available on more expensive models on both brands. Traeger’s super smoke mode, turbo temp, low pellet sensor, and downdraft exhaust system are quite impressive.
Model Comparison – Traeger vs Pit Boss Top Offerings
Traeger Grills Pro Series 575 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker
As the name implies, the Traeger Pro Series 575 offers a cooking area of 575 square inches. The grill has some of the classic features of Traeger. These include powder-coated steel construction, porcelain-coated grates, and stainless steel handles.
The use of heavy-gauge steel is quite evident in the build. It looks sturdy, dependable, and likely to last several years. The finish on this 124-pound grill is excellent and encourages confidence.
As with most Traeger pellet grills, this one gets an 18-pound hopper. It’s good enough to run the pellet grill for several hours but as I’ve said earlier, there’s plenty of room for improvement with how Traeger manages hopper size.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 575 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker gets the company’s WiFIRE technology. That means it can connect to the internet and be controlled remotely through an accompanying app.
Don’t want to use the app? This pellet grill is compatible with digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The D2 temperature management system is dependable and the overall controls are quite impressive.
The grill comes with a 3-year warranty.
Pit Boss Pellet Grill Reviews Sportsman 500
Pit Boss Sportsman 500 Pellet Grill is close to the Traeger Pro Series 575 in terms of cooking surface area. You get 542 square inches of cooking surface on this grill.
The differences between both brands become significantly clear when we look at comparable models. For example, while the Sportsman 500 has a comparable cooking area to the Traeger Pro 575, it’s cheaper by a few hundred dollars.
Sportsman 500 also lacks some of the more advanced features like WiFi connectivity. And while it too boasts a powder-coated steel construction, it feels slightly flimsy in comparison to Traeger’s offering.
That said, this is a pretty impressive pellet grill at its own ground.
Pit Boss Sportsman 500 features porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates, a 15-pound hopper, a digital control board with a dial for temperature management, and a removable stainless steel side shelf.
The Adjustable Flame Broiler Lever provides an option for cooking directly over the flame, if you choose so. The option to cook directly over a flame is one of the more impressive features of Pit Boss pellet grills.
Pit Boss Sportsman 500 has fairly good temperature management, though it does run a risk of getting hot. Although it remains manageable and offers excellent value for money and quality.
Traeger Ironwood 885
Traeger Ironwood is the mid-priced offering from the company, placed below the premium Timberline grills. This range has a good set of features (including several top-line offerings) from Traeger, along with its standard dependability.
These pellet grills include the usual features like a powder-coated steel construction, porcelain-coated grill grates, and locking caster wheels. But there is one interesting change that sets it apart from most pellet grills and smokers.
Look ma, no smokestack!
With the chimney gone, the smoke finds its way out from the back of the grill. Traeger’s Tru Convection technology sees an internal fan create a rolling vortex of air inside the chamber. This keeps good smoke (air circulation) around the grates and food. Eventually, the fan pushes out the smoke through a channel at the back of the grill.
In its Super Smoke Mode, Ironwood 885 manages air circulation at lower temperatures. Working between 170 to 225 degrees, this mode intends to provide the highest level of smoke and air circulation at lower temperatures.
WiFIRE technology on this model can also make use of the sensor placed in the hopper. It will let you know if the grill is running low on pellets and needs a refill. The sides get double wall insulation for better temperature management, thus keeping the grill at the right temperature through the cooking process.
As with the other WiFIRE models, the Ironwood 885 is controllable through a phone app or digital assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Finally, as the name implies, the available cooking area on the Traeger Ironwood 885 is about 885 square inches.
Pit Boss Navigator 850 Wood Pellet Grill
Blessed with a cooking area of 879 square inches, Pit Boss Navigator 850 Wood Pellet Grill is a worthy competitor to the Traeger Ironwood 885.
Navigator 850 includes some of the most interesting and impressive cooking technology from Pit Boss. This model is compatible with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and can work with the company’s SmokeIt app. The app allows remote management of the grill, like temperature control and switching it on or off.
However, if you want the WiFi or Bluetooth control, you’ll have to buy and install the Pit Boss legacy wifi and Bluetooth connected control board.
Getting a separate unit is a pain. On the other hand, if you have no interest in smart device connectivity, this approach can save you some unnecessary expense.
Other notable features include the Adjustable Flame Broiler Lever for direct cooking over the flame, built-in tool hooks, locking caster wheels, and modular front-to-bottom folding shelf.
Making The Pit Boss vs Traeger Decision
As we notice with this Traeger vs Pit Boss comparison, both companies have excellent features but slightly different approaches. One brand is definitely not better than the other. Both of them have an excellent range of features and options.
The good thing if you’re looking to buy one is, you can’t go wrong with either. Pit Boss and Traeger are both good brands with excellent products.
If value for money moves you, pick Pit Boss. Those who prefer additional features and more refinements should consider putting in the bucks to buy a Traeger pellet grill.