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When it comes to all around versatility for outdoor cooking, it’s hard to beat a pellet grill.
They’re designed to handle all of your outdoor cooking needs – everything from smoking low and slow to searing a steak at high temperatures is possible on a pellet grill.
If you’re looking for a new one, Camp Chef and Traeger are two of the best brands on the market. You might be wondering what the similarities and differences are, and which brand is better between the two.
In this post, we hope to help with the answers to all of your questions with a complete brand comparison of Camp Chef vs Traeger. By the end you’ll know about what makes each brand unique, and what the pros and cons are of each.
On top of that, we’ll take a close look and review the best individual pellet grills that both brands offer.
A Quick Look at Our Top Picks:
- Traeger Ironwood 885 – Best Traeger Grill
- Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi 24 – Best Camp Chef Grill
- Camp Chef SG 24 SmokePro Pellet Grill
- Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill
- Camp Chef Pursuit Pellet Grill – Portable Option
Camp Chef vs Traeger – Brand Overviews
When it comes to pellet grills, Traeger is the brand that comes to mind first for most.
It’s for good reason too. Traeger was the first and original pellet grill. Back in the mid 1980’s, Traeger designed, patented, and produced the very first pellet grills to ever hit the market.
On the outside, the first Traeger grills aesthetically were very similar to a traditional offset smoker. In place of a smoke box though, they placed a wood pellet hopper. An internal system and auger then ignited the wood pellets to create heat and smoke, which is how the grills actually cooked food.
This new technology developed by Traeger revolutionized outdoor cooking and changed the trajectory of the history grilling. In 2006 Traeger’s patent expired, which opened the door for competing grill manufacturers to develop their own pellet grills relying on the same technology that Traeger put on the map.
All of that to say, Traeger grills are the original pellet grills. They have a long standing reputation of innovation, high quality products, and a trusted brand name in the grilling community.
Camp Chef’s brand history has a slightly different arc. The company was founded in 1990 and initially aimed to create products for an underserved audience. Namely, outdoorsmen (and women) who loved to camp and be outdoors, and make dang good food while they were doing it.
At first, that meant things like camping grills, flat top grills, and portable grills. They make incredibly high quality products and excelled at just about every design they tried, which over the years has included pizza ovens, dutch ovens, outdoor stoves, and much more.
Shortly after Traeger’s patent expired, Camp Chef tried their hand at pellet grills. They brought their same signature workmanship and attention to detail to pellet grills, and the result has been some of the best products on the market.
Side By Side Comparison
Before getting into individual grill reviews, let’s do a high level comparison of the attributes of each brand. Hopefully this will help to clarify some of the similarities and differences in this comparison conversation!
Pellet grills are essentially smokers and grills, and to perform both of those tasks well temperature control and consistency is incredibly important.
Temperature control to us means two different things. First, the grill should retain heat extremely well – leaked heat will lead to inconsistent results at best.
The second factor we consider for temperature control is how precisely you’re able to control your temperature while grilling, and how easy it is to do so. A lot of recipes require specific temperatures for long periods of time, so your grill should help to make doing that as easy as possible.
Traeger grills across the board do a fantastic job of temperature retention. We read through a lot of product reviews and customer feedback, and temper retention is never an issue with Traeger grills. They are perfect vessels for long term cooking, and will cook your heat consistently and evenly.
You can manage your grill’s temperature via a LED interface built into the grill. Setting and changing your temperature in increments of 15°F is literally as easy as turning a knob. On top of that, modern Traeger grills feature the ability to manage all aspects of your temperature from the convenience of a phone app.
That means you can change grill temperature, monitor food temperature, and add smoke all from your smartphone or tablet while you watch the game inside!
Camp Chef grills are similar to Traeger in that they do an outstanding job of retaining heat. Very rarely, if ever, will you hear a complaint about a Camp Chef pellet grill not cooking food evenly.
They also have an easy to use, bright LED display to monitor the temperature of your grill. A simple knob allows the pit master to manage your temperature. From the LED display you can also toggle to see your food’s internal temperature measured by included probes.
Verdict (Temperature Control): Traeger
At the end of the day, both of these brands make grills that retain heat extremely well. Both also include intuitive, easy to use knobs and LED displays to manage all aspects of your cook.
Where Traeger slightly differentiates itself is with its phone app that allows you to fire up and manage your grill from your smartphone or tablet. It just adds an extra level of convenience to the cooking experience, and gives you the flexibility to monitor things from inside if you want to watch the game or stay out of the cold.
Pellet grills are advertised as all in one grilling solutions, so with that in mind temperature range is incredibly important. The sweet spot for smoking meat is 225°F, give or take, and the honey hole for searing is 500°F or more, although it can be done at temperatures in the 400’s.
With that in mind, the best pellet grill should be able to easily maintain temperatures at both ends of the smoking and searing spectrum.
The temperature range of most Traeger grills is 180°F to 400°F. On the other hand, most Camp Chef pellet grills have a temperature range of 160°F to 500°F.
Verdict (Temperature Range): Camp Chef
The winner here is obvious. While you can get just about anything done that you need to on a Traeger, Camp Chef simply offers a better temperature range. Things like achieving a delicious crust when searing your steak in particular will be a little easier on a Camp Chef.
Cooking Surface Area
Both of these brands have pretty robust lines of grills, and you can find a grill that suits your needs in regards to how much cooking area you want.
So as far as availability of cooking surface area goes, it’s a tie.
What’s probably more important though is bang for your buck. In other words, which brand gives you more cooking area per dollar spent?
Verdict (Cooking Surface Area): Traeger
Pretty much across the board, your dollar goes further with Traeger specifically in regards to cooking surface area. You’ll find that when there are similarly sized grills between the two brands, the Traeger option typically has the better price.
One of the first things I look for when I’m shopping for anything, especially grills, is a manufacturer’s warranty.
Not only does it protect your investment, often times the manufacturers with the most generous warranties are the ones whose products have the lowest probability of defects.
In the case of Camp Chef vs Traeger, both brands offer a 3 year warranty. Compared to the rest of the industry, this warranty length is pretty standard. In this brand comparison though, there’s no warranty advantage between the two.
Verdict (Warranty): Tie
Hopper capacity is another feature that might not sound like the biggest deal, but it can make a huge difference in your overall grilling experience.
If your pellet grill has too small of a hopper, you’ll have to refill it quite frequently. It’s not a difficult task, but it can get a little obnoxious to have to do it over and over.
Camp Chef’s smaller units have hoppers with 18 pounds of capacity. Some of their larger grills have 22 pounds of hopper capacity.
Traeger grills on the other hand all are kitted with a hopper that can handle 18 pounds of pellets.
Verdict (Hopper Capacity): Camp Chef
The extra 4 pounds might not sound like a lot of a difference, but with a bigger grill that burns more pellets, the extra 20% can make a difference. So if you’re buying a smaller grill it might not matter as much, but for larger grills Camp Chef gets the edge here.
When we evaluate extra features, we’re really looking for things that take the grilling experience to the next level. Most every brand offers things like grill covers, side shelves, and basic add ons.
It’s hard to pick a true winner here as neither brand particularly differentiates itself. Traeger’s phone app is pretty cool. Camp Chef offers models that include propane fueled side burners that have griddle attachments to create maximum versatility in your grilling space.
While each brand offers different extra features, it’s hard to definitively say one is better than the other because this category in the Camp Chef vs Traeger debate largely comes down to personal preference.
Verdict (Extra Features): Camp Chef
Lately, Camp Chef has just been taking the features to the next level. If you want to see just how sophisticated these cookers have become, take a look at our deep dive on the Camp Chef Woodwind series right here.
Camp Chef vs Traeger – Overall Winner
When it comes to the overall winner, it’s an extremely close call to us.
But based on all of the factors we outlined above, we have to give the slight edge to Traeger.
Traeger is the OG and is still the leader in our mind at delivering pellet grills that create superior flavor on your food.
If you like the bells and whistles that come on Camp Chef products – namely the pizza oven, flat top grill, and sidekick burner attachments, then Camp Chef is still an excellent choice.
So all of this is to say that Camp Chef grills are still a fantastic choice – but when it comes to the nuts and bolts, Traeger just still performs a little better.
So take all of this with a grain of salt! At the end of the day, you should do the research and figure out which brand between Camp Chef vs Traeger is best for you personally.
In order to help you do that, we’ve compiled some grill reviews for both brands so you can see from both brands in a product by product comparison.
Camp Chef vs Traeger – Grill Reviews
Traeger Ironwood 650
When it comes to the best of the best, Traeger’s Ironwood series competes with just about any pellet grill out there, including the Camp Chef Woodwind Series in terms of quality.
Traeger Ironwood grills have two popular sizes, the 650 and the Ironwood 885. The 650, as the name suggests, comes with 650 square inches of cooking surface area and a 20 pound hopper capacity. The Traeger Ironwood 885 has 885 square inches of cooking surface area and also has a 20 pound hopper.
Each grill has a temperature range of 180-500°F and is expertly crafted to be an excellent insulator of heat – you don’t have to worry about heat escaping ever with the Ironwood series.
While these grills are spectacular, the downside is that they are pretty expensive – at least compared to similar quality Camp Chef models that even have a little extra cooking surface area.
At the end of the day though, if you’re a Traeger fan or looking for a top of the line cooker, you’d do really well to pick up a Traeger Ironwood.
Camp Chef Woodwind Wifi
When it comes to all around versatility and quality of construction, it’s hard to get much better than the Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi. This style of grill comes in both a 24 inch wide cooking chamber and a 36 inch wide chamber.
The Woodwind 24 has 811 square inches of cooking surface area across two cooking racks whereas the Woodwind 36 has a whopping 1,236 square inches of cooking surface area. The temperature range is 160-500°F.
Other than size, both share quite similar characteristics. Each grill is loaded with a PID controller to set your temperature and smoke levels (you can customize smoke strength on 10 different settings), which also connects to a phone app via WiFi or Bluetooth. That means that you can control every aspect of your cook from the convenience of your phone.
Furthermore, this grill has 4 built in probe thermometers that allow you to monitor 4 separate cuts of meat that you might be smoking, all at the same time. The temperature data is also visible on the phone app.
The hopper capacity is 22 pounds of pellets, which is plenty to get through 10-20 hours of cooking, depending on what temperature you are working with.
Perhaps most impressive is the Camp Chef’s Sidekick setup. These grills come with a high quality, powerful cast aluminum burner (it can heat a pizza oven up to 750°F) that is fit for some pretty cool extra attachments like a flat top grill, sear box, and even a pizza oven. For a lower price, you can also get this unit with a regular side shelf in place of the Sidekick.
All of these features make it one of our favorite grills on the market, regardless of type.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker
Traeger’s best selling grill is the Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill, and it’s easy to see why.
As with any Traeger grill, the exterior is made of a powerful steel with a powder coated finish that’s easy to clean and made to last a long time. When cared for properly, it’s not unheard of for this grill to last for decades
572 square inches of cooking area is split across two racks, which is plenty room to handle 4 chickens, 5 racks of ribs or 24 burgers at once.
The control box is also incredibly easy to use, and the temperature settings are very accurate and precise. It’s a bona fide set it and forget it grill, and you’ll find yourself making incredible wood fired food with ease by using this grill.
Camp Chef SG 24 SmokePro
The Camp Chef SG 24 SmokePro is another excellent choice, and a more bargain priced unit compared to the Woodwind Wifi.
Like you’d expect with any quality pellet grill, it can grill, smoke, bake, roast, and braise all on the same surface.
One of my favorite features about this grill is Camp Chef’s Slide and Grill technology. Basically, there’s a knob built into the grill that controls a retractable deflector plate.
So with a turn of a knob, you can cover your flame with the deflector plate for smoking. If you want to grill on an open flame, all you have to do is turn it back to remove the deflector plate and expose your flame.
The digital controller that’s built into the grill is easy and intuitive, and gives you maximum control over your grill’s temperature. Two built in probe thermometers also allow you to simultaneously track the internal temperature of two pieces of meat.
The main cooking surface and an adjustable cooking surface add up to 811 square inches of cooking area. For the price of this grill, you really can’t ask for much more than that.
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill
If you’re the type who loves extra features, the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill is absolutely loaded with great features.
Most notably, it’s got a sear box built in that’s fueled by propane. It adds an additional 231 square inches of cooking area to the side of your main chamber. It’s a great way to quickly sear a steak, or to prepare a side sauce or veggies while the main course cooks on the primary rack.
This grill also features Camp Chef’s Slide and Grill technology to allow you to quickly switch back and forth between open flame grilling and smoking.
In addition to a hopper clean out system, it’s also got a great ash management and clean up system. That way you don’t have to spend a ton of time cleaning after you cook or messing around with your pellet hopper.
All around, this pellet grill from Camp Chef is about as solid as it gets!
Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker
If Traeger is your brand of choice in the Camp Chef vs Traeger debate and you’re looking for a little more grilling area, the Traeger Grills Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill and Smoker is a great choice.
It features 884 square inches of grilling area which is enough for 8 chickens, 7 racks of ribs or 40 burgers.
A digital pro controller with advanced grilling logic helps to keep things as easy as possible for you while grilling, as do two built in meat probes.
When it comes to construction, this grill is a total beast. A sawhorse chassis design means added stability. Heavy duty steel with a powder coated finish means that you never have to worry about paint chipping, rusting, or other damage over the course of time.
Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill
Camp Chef makes one of the best portable grills on the market, period, with their Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill.
One of the main downsides of pellet grills has to do with how heavy they are. Most weigh in the ballpark of 150 to 200 pounds, so you’re really buying something that will probably sit in one spot on your patio.
Camp Chef seemingly pulled off the impossible and designed a practical, high performance portable pellet grill.
It features slide and grill technology along with 501(!!) square inches of cooking area. All around it’s a fantastic option to take on the go, whether that’s camping or tailgating. It’s never been easier to travel with delicious wood fired flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Traeger Made in China?
Yes, Traeger grills are now manufactured in China. This is something that a lot of people aren’t actually aware of, and this is mainly because Traeger was once an all-American brand. This was made clear by the company in all of their marketing material, so how did this all-American company end up producing their products in China?
In 2006, Traeger Pellet Grills LLC was bought out by another company. Up until this date, all Traeger grills were produced in the company’s production facilities in Oregon. However, with the sale of the company, manufacturing began to be outsourced to China, where it is much cheaper.
But, the company’s Oregon manufacturing facilities remained open until 2010. So, if you own a grill that was produced before then, there is a good chance that it was made in America. But, all grills produced since this date would have been made in China.
Is Camp Chef Made in China?
Another big American company well-known for their grills is Camp Chef. But, what you might not know is that their grills are actually made in China. The company was founded in the 1990s and quickly became one of the big names in grilling, but they actually outsource all of their manufacturing work to China.
That being said, the majority of the company is still based in the USA. All the designs and research for products is conducted in America, and even the prototypes are created here. But, when it comes to mass production, all the work is completed in China then shipped to the USA to be sold.
So, yes, in short, Camp Chef is made in China. From all accounts, it seems that production for this company has always taken place in China, despite Camp Chef being well-known as an all-American company.
Do Camp Chef Pellet Grills Go on Sale?
Camp Chef pellet grills are undoubtedly one of the best products on the market when it comes to grilling. But, there is also no denying that these grills also come with a pretty hefty price tag. So, do they ever go on sale?
Yes, Camp Chef does run sales for their pellet grills. However, these sales are often hard to spot as they do not happen all that often.
Unlike other companies who run sales regularly throughout the year, Camp Chef instead only reduces the cost of their products on big sale days. In particular, the best time of the year to pick up a Camp Chef pellet grill in the sale is on Labor Day weekend.
So, yes, Camp Chef pellet grills do go on sale. But, remember, these grills are insanely popular. So, if you want to pick one up at a good price, you will need to act quickly.
Camp Chef vs Traeger – Wrap Up
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either of these brands. Both make super high quality products, and both have a great reputation in the grilling community.
The answer to which is better between the two really depends on your individual preferences. For our taste, Camp Chef gets the slight edge but if you got me a Traeger, I definitely wouldn’t be upset!
Which one did you choose? Let us know in the comments section below.