Camp Chef vs. Traeger: Which Pellet Grill Should you Buy?

Wood pellet grills are increasingly popular for their versatility. Many of the best wood pellet grills give you the ability to grill, smoke, bake, roast, and even braise.

They use wood pellets created from the shavings and remnants of processing hardwood trees.

The pellets are then put into a hopper where an automated auger delivers them to a small internal firepot.

An electric element starts the ignition and an internal fan delivers a constant stream of air to maintain combustion. The heat and smoke then rise up into the primary cooking chamber.

Traeger was one of the first companies in the wood pellet grill niche, and they dominated for years with a basic range of models. As their popularity started to take off, more and more grill manufacturers started to offer their own wood pellet grills.

One of the strongest competitors is Camp Chef. They have been steadily growing their presence in the grill industry since their founding in 1990.

So, it’s no surprise that they’ve made it a point to become a strong contender in the wood pellet grill niche.

You might be wondering which wood pellet grill is the best Traeger or Camp Chef?

The prevailing wisdom is that Traeger makes the best wood pellet grill, as they’ve got the experience to get it right every time. Though there are certainly a lot of people who will profess their love for the value and build quality of a Camp Chef wood pellet grill.

To truly find the best wood pellet grill to meet all your needs, we’ll need to take a closer look at what makes Traeger and Camp Chef wood pellet grills so popular. This includes evaluating some of their best models.

Traeger vs Camp Chef In A Head To Head Comparison

There are a few different factors to consider when filtering through Traeger and Camp Chef’s successful line up of wood pellet grills. This includes things like build quality, temperature control, and ease of use.

Build Quality & Engineering

Both Traeger and Camp Chef have a strong reputation for good build quality and thoughtful engineering.

A few years ago outdoor chefs were chiding Traeger for simply reproducing the same models year-in and year-out without refining the design or being innovative.

At first, Traeger seemed not to respond. Though in recent years they’ve made it a point to put thoughtful little tweaks and special features into their product line to make sure they are keeping up with competitors who are offering models with things like pellet purge hoppers and wireless control systems.

Temperature Control

Wood pellet grills use indirect heating and smoke to cook the meat. This means accurate temperature control is essential for successful cooking.

There are several things to consider when it comes to temperature control. This includes how quickly the wood pellet grill preheats, as well as how well it holds that heat.

The more the primary cooking chamber leaks smoke, the more heat it loses. This translates into inconsistent temperature control as well as faster use of wood pellets.

It’s especially disconcerting if you are going to be smoking during cold or wet weather. As the wood pellet grill loses heat, the flame inside will put the meat at risk of overcooking or undercooking.

Traeger does the best job of maintaining a consistent internal temperature. This is largely due to the superior quality of their seals as well as their insulation. Though they only take the gold star here by a small margin. It’s also worth noting that Camp Chef does offer accessory grill blankets. You could improvise them to help with heat retention in cold, wet, or windy conditions.

Both manufacturers offer models that have a digital control system, multi-temperature probes, and optional wireless monitoring apps.

These special features are handy for helping you stay in control of your smoking sessions.

Temperature Range

Wood pellet grills tend to have a wider temperature range than traditional charcoal and gas grills.

On the average Traeger’s wood pellet have a range between 180-degrees on the low end to as much as 450-degrees Fahrenheit on the high end. In contrast, Camp Chef’s most popular wood pellet grills have an average range from as low as 160-degrees to as high as 500-degrees.

This means that Traeger is just capable of kissing the proper temperature range to cold smoke things like jerky and wild-caught fish fillets.

When cranked up to the max the high-end temperature range of the Camp Chef means you can do things like bake a smoky pizza.

It’s also important to note that with most wood pellet grills they tend to produce less dense smoke at high temperatures.

This is something handy to keep in mind when you want to smoke large pieces of meat like a Boston Butt pork shoulder that prefers temperatures around 225-degrees to infuse the fat with smoke, before rendering it and letting that smoky flavor soak into the meat.

Cooking Area & Capacity

Cooking capacity is another important factor to consider when choosing the best wood pellet grill to meet your needs.

Take the time to think about how often you’ll use your new wood pellet grill and the kind of things you will make on it most often.

Also bear in mind that the indirect heating and smoke of a wood pellet grill means that the “Warming Rack” area is fair game as a primary cooking space. This is rarely the case with traditional charcoal and gas grills.

What matters with a wood pellet grill is the shape or overall dimensions of the food. If you are crazy about smoky wood-fired pizza, then the warming rack in either brand of wood pellet grill is going to be out of play.

Though Traeger does have some larger models that can potentially hold two medium pizzas at the same time. In contrast, there are some wood pellet grills in the Camp Chef line that have a lot of extra rack space which could let you smoke a larger volume of things like riblets, sausage, and small fish fillets like trout.

Beyond these minor special items, the Camp Chef and Traeger lineup of wood pellet grills are pretty much equal.

Warranty Coverage

Warranty protection matters in two ways. Of course, a warranty means the manufacturer will handle any material or assembly defects to ensure a solid return on your investment.

Warranty coverage also makes a statement from the manufacturer about overall material selection, engineering, and build quality.

They’re essentially saying “We believe that we’ve done such a good job on this wood pellet grill that it’s not going to breakdown on you over the stated period of time.”

Both Traeger and Camp Chef offer 3-year warranty programs for most of their line. This is on the average in the field. Though some other competitors offer longer warranty coverage on some of their high-end grills.

Still, you can trust that Traeger and Camp Chef are both going to give you a quality wood pellet grill that’s backed with confidence.

If you need greater coverage, some online retailers offer additional protection programs for a minimal fee.

Wood Pellet Hopper Capacity

The capacity of the wood pellet hopper can also be a factor if you plan on having a lot of long smoking sessions.

The hotter your smoking sessions are the faster the wood pellet grill will go through pellets.

On average, at 250-degrees you can expect the average wood pellet grill to burn through about half a pound of wood pellets per hour.

Wood pellet capacity becomes a major deal if you intend to smoke a lot of pork shoulders, briskets, and ribs.

In a case like this, you’ll want to prioritize a wood pellet hopper that can handle more than 10 to 15 pounds of wood pellets.

When we look through some of Traeger and Camp Chef’s lineup, Traeger has a lot of wood pellet grills with a capacity of 18-pounds. This is sufficient for most Boston Butt pork shoulders and briskets. Though most wood pellet bags hold 20-pounds, which leaves you with an annoying 2-pounds of leftover pellets. Camp Chef has a few models in their lineup with over more than a 20-pound capacity.

If you plan on shorter sessions, making smoky steaks, and burger patties, then the wood pellet hopper capacity is less of a factor.

Wood Pellet Purge Features

One of the minor foibles of wood pellets is that they are bound together with all-natural, water-soluble lignin.

This means that if you leave the wood pellet hopper filled during times of high humidity the wood pellets can gradually start to break down.

In an extreme case, this could jam up the auger for your next smoking session.

Fortunately, wood pellet grill manufacturers have caught on to this problem, and they make pellet hoppers will some type of pellet purge of release system to let you empty it out when you’re done grilling.

Both Traeger and Camp Chef offer models with these features. If you are planning a lot of longer smoking sessions, then you might want to prioritize one to spare you the hassle of manually scooping the hopper out. 

Special Features

Wood pellet grills are constantly evolving and models are coming out with special features like broiler plates, side burners, and searing stations.

Not to mention wireless monitoring apps that let you stay in touch with what’s going on inside the primary cooking chamber.

It’s great for dual-probe systems, where you can monitor the meat inside, without having to open the chamber, which drastically changes the heat and smoke dynamic.

Traeger has more wireless connectivity features and digital controls. This gives them a little bit of a nod for people who want to smoke large chunks of meat during long grilling sessions.

Though Camp Chef offers models with accessory searing stations and side burners. If you buy one of these upgraded models, Camp Chef’s side searing station might be preferable for doing things like smoking bone-in pieces of chicken, and then firing up the searing station to crisp and mark the skin.

Which One Is The Better Wood Pellet Grill Traeger Or Camp Chef?

It’s honestly too close to call if we’re just looking at a glance. Though there are certainly some models that might be better for certain preferences.

So, to find the best wood pellet grill for you, we’ll need to take a quick look at some of the best models in both the Traeger and Camp Chef lineup.

Which Camp Chef Pellet And Traeger Grill Is Best?

In their lineup Camp Chef and Traeger have a few models that standout from the rest for their unique engineering and special features.

Traeger’s Lineup Or Wood Pellet Grills

In recent years, Traeger has started to embrace more innovative features in their wood pellet grills. This includes pellet purge features, digital control centers, and wireless connectivity with companion apps. These are all great features to consider when you think about how you are going to use your Traeger wood pellet grill.

1. Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker

The Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 is a heavy-duty model in their lineup, with thick durable steel and a strong powder coat finish.

It has a sophisticated digital control center that lets you intuitively control the smoking session. 

This is thanks in large part to their Advanced Grill Logic software.

I also like the porcelain coated grill grates that make it easy to scrape down after you’re done grilling.

2. Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker

This is one of Traeger’s premium wood pellet grills. It has an impressively large 884 square inches of grill grate space to smoke a staggering load of food in a single session.

Once again they use their Grilling Logic monitoring system that’s paired with dual temperature probes.

One of the things I really like about this wood pellet grill is the sturdy build quality.

It’s got a lot of thick grade metal and solid engineering principles.

This includes a staunch sawhorse chassis and bracing to hold the massive weight. The downside here is that you aren’t going to be moving this wood pellet grill a lot. It’s meant to be set in one place and live there for years to come.

Camp Chef’s Lineup Of Wood Pellet Grills

Camp Chef has really come on strong with a diverse lineup of wood pellet grills.

They made it a point to learn from some of the complaints consumers have made about Traeger and other competitor grills, to infuse innovation in their lineup.

This includes things like optional broiler plates, dual probe monitoring systems, and even a model of wood pellet grill that is truly portable.

3. Camp Chef SG 24 SmokePro

The Camp Chef SG 24 SmokePro is massive, with plenty of room to smoke an enormous load of food at one time.

It comes with an auto-ignition system, and a digital control center with an analog knob.

It’s linked to a dual thermometer probe system that gives you finite control of the smoking process, and lets you know what’s going on with the meat you are cooking.

There are some great special features built into the Camp Chef SG 24 SmokePro.

For starters, there’s a sliding broiler plate that lets you expose the internal flame for direct heat grilling. Cleanup is also a breeze as it has an easy to use ash cleanout system as well as a pellet purge feature.

4. Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill w/New PID Gen 2 Digital Controller

Here again, Camp Chef offers a dual meat problem wood pellet grill with a digital control center for accuracy and intuitive monitoring.

The interior chamber is large and it has an automatic ignition system.

The PID control center with dual temperature probes is a great way to keep tabs on things including the relationship between the interior of the meat and the temperature of the smoke that’s cooking it.

This is great for large pieces of meat like Boston Butt pork shoulders that are sometimes prone to plateauing in temperature as they approach their final temperature. 

You also have to appreciate the hopper cleanout and the ash management system. It lets you remove the ash without the worry of using your prized shop vac to suck out the lingering ash in the fire pot.

5. The Camp Chef Pursuit Portable Pellet Grill PPG20

Most wood pellet grills are simply too large and too heavy to easily move from Point A to Point B. Though Camp Chef wasn’t going to let that stop them from making a portable wood pellet grill that you can take with you just about anywhere.

Though that doesn’t mean the Camp Chef Pursuit is only meant to be used off the beaten path.

Indeed, it’s large enough and has high enough build quality to spend the majority of its life on your deck or patio.

Inside you will find a 501 square inch primary cooking area, which is more than enough to make a pair of small pork shoulders or a medium-size brisket. Though it’s also capable of getting hot enough to grill burgers and steaks for the whole family.

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.

Conclusion

There’s certainly a lot to like about both Traeger and Camp Chef wood pellet grills. Their lineups are infused with quality materials, engineering, and innovation. Both have their loyal customers who will extol their virtues and value.

If you are comparing apples to apples with their various models, then Camp Chef starts to stand out a little bit more.

They’ve got a lot of innovative features built into just about every model they offer, which nudges them a little higher.

If you aren’t already loyal to one brand over another, then you might also want to note that Traeger’s wood pellet grills tend to have a slightly higher price tag, as you seem to pay a little more for the Traeger name badge on the grill.

>