One of the main questions we get asked about BBQ grills and pellet smokers is what their model names actually mean. Is there method behind the madness, or is it all there to entice us in and make us feel like real grilling experts when we next meet up with friends and start discussing the latest Navigator model we picked up for the weekend?
We’re going to let you in on a little secret – the names may mean nothing obvious, but the numbers actually refer to the cooking capacity provided by that specific model, making a direct comparison between sizes super easy. One thing to note is that while Traeger use the number which directly matches their grill space (or adapt the grill space to match a nice round number), Pit Boss tend to round down to the nearest 10 – the Navigator 1150 actually boasts a cooking capacity of 1158 square inches.
Clever, huh? Now onto the comparison itself.
Exploring the Pit Boss Navigator 1150
With the cooking area of 1158 square inches and a hopper pellet box which holds up to 32lbs of hardwood pellets, the Navigator 1150 is the perfect companion for those outdoor feasts, large get-togethers and BBQ parties. The removable inside grill tray allows the user to cook their food on a choice or one or two levels, allowing for segmented cooking which can be finished in batches depending on preference and cooking method, while the outside trays can also be moved from the side of the structure to the front or even the bottom, depending on where the user needs to maximise their surface space.
Of course, one of the best features of any Pit Boss pellet smoker is its 8-in-1 cooking allowance – and the Navigator 1150 is no different. Utilising all the advantages of a traditional pellet smoker and combining them with the control of a gas grill and the authenticity of a wood fire, the Pit Boss Navigator 1150 gives the user a choice of 8 different ways to cook and finish their meat, ranging from smoking to roasting, chargrilling and even baking. As such, the versatility that users get with the Navigator 1150 is unmatched and allows for a high level controlled yet authentic cooking experience.
And it doesn’t end there. Learning from other brands and other designs is something that Pit Boss have nailed, taking the external digital control of a gas grill and putting it on their pellet smoker series, so that every method of cooking can be controlled from the outside without having to open the lid.
In terms of design, both the inside and outside of the Navigator 1150 has everything you would expect from a Pit Boss pellet smoker, with the adjustable slide-plate flame broiler sitting atop the direct flame which is fed and fuelled by the funnel of hardwood pellets which flow into the fire pit from the external pellet box. This box can also be opened from the outside, allowing you to keep feeding your pellet smoker without affecting the cooking process. Outside, the structure of the Navigator 1150 is sturdy and stable, made with reinforced materials which make up an ergonomic and weather-resistant frame – ideal for use no matter what the weather is doing.
All in all, the Pit Boss Navigator 1150 boasts all the features and advantages you would expect from a top level pellet smoker – without the extortionate cost. Buff BBQ, one of the leading retailers of Pit Boss pellet smokers, also give all buyers an industry-leading 5-year warranty which protects their purchase.
Exploring the Traeger Ironwood 885
We have already determined through its name that the Ironwood 885 has an impressive 885 square inches of cooking space within its interior cavity. But what does that translate to?
In short, it means a total of 10 full chickens, or 7 complete rib racks. More than that, it means being able to cook all of that in one go, giving you and your guests a chance to all each together – a far better experience than a standard sized small BBQ where guests have to take it in turns to pull a piece of meat off of the BBQ depending on which bits are ready and how many items can cook at once.
The Traeger Ironwood 885 is a model built for usability and user experience, having upgraded their most modern ranges in light of the increase in competition across the BBQ smoker UK market. The Traeger Ironwood series is one of the model ranges which has benefitted from these upgrades, with Traeger expanding their technological intervention to not only elevate the external experience for the user, but also to clear up any potential challenges on the inside of the grill – namely around the draw of pellets into the fire pit during the cooking process.
What Traeger have done is add what they call a D2 Direct Drive to their models, drawing on high powered DC motors to pull pellets into the fire pit and thus resulting in less blockages which were rife in earlier models which utilised a lower powered motor. For the user, this provides them with increased control over the exact temperature of the grill, and a much faster surge of heat at the beginning of the cooking process.
And that’s not the only modern innovation that Traeger have added to their Ironwood range. WiFi connectivity is another technical advance that the brand is now using, giving users complete control over their grill using a smartphone app which can alter and monitor temperature, cook time and more.
However, Traeger’s Ironwood 885 does come with its drawbacks – namely with regards to cost and the lack of cooking versatility when compared with Pit Boss’ 8-in-1 cooking method feature. Pellet smokers are typically diverse in their design, particularly when the user has control over the exposure of the meat to the direct flame, as we see with both Pit Boss and Traeger. As such, the finer details start to come into light, with Pit Boss simply offering more options for a much lower price – giving them a high value proposition and more of a unique selling point.