We regularly see BBQ fans pondering over different grill types and models, determining the kind of cooking experience they want, before diving right into which size, design and additional features elevate the grill’s effectiveness. What is often missed out is the bit in the middle – doing the research to decide what type of grill you are looking for, and then exploring the different brand options by taking into account the advantages and priorities of different brands and manufacturers.
You see, the truth is that all brands are different – and each boasts their own selling points to separate them from the rest of the market. Traeger for example was the first brand to launch a complete pellet smoker concept to the mass market, instantly elevating the brand name to one of power in the pellet smoker market. Other brands that have evolved in the 30 years since have had to find their niche and determine where they slot into the market, each taking the idea of the pellet smoker and adapting and shaping it into the perfect BBQ smoker grill for the modern market.
Let’s take a closer look at the industry starter Traeger, and one of its main competitors, Pit Boss.
Pit Boss – uncovered
Despite being relatively new to the BBQ smoker UK market, Pit Boss is a brand which has made a name for itself with user friendly designs, effective smoking, additional features and very affordable prices – instantly making their grills and smokers ideal and accessible for a wide market of buyers.
The Pit Boss pellet smoker seems to roll around the number 8, with 8 different models currently available – each boasting Pit Boss’ industry-leading 8-in-1 cooking methods which allow the pellet smoker to be used not just for smoking, but also for chargrilling, flame grilling, roasting and even baking.
To any new buyer on the pellet smoker market, the main thing to understand about the design of a pellet smoker is that it relies on fuelling from 100% hardwood pellets, which are fed into the fire pit through a funnel built into the cavity below the cooking grill. This fire pit emits fire, heat and smoke, and it is these 3 cooking components which can be utilised or blocked according to the user specifications and the way they want their meat to be cooked. The high level build quality and usability of the Pit Boss range includes an adjustable flame broiler cooking plate which can be moved across to conceal or expose the direct flame, while the exterior digital display and meat probes allow the user to keep track of what is going on inside without having to open the lid and release the aromatic and flavoursome smoke.
Pit Boss pellet smokers are built to last with strong and sturdy structures – even on the portable Tailgater model – but buyers still benefit from a 5-year warranty which provides extra assurance with every purchase. At affordable prices, and with such a vast range available which can cater to all group sizes, specifications and requirements, Pit Boss is a high level competitor for a reason. And that reason is high quality, amazing results, and accessible pricing.
Traeger – uncovered
Traeger, meanwhile, is built on its reputation as the original provider of pellet smokers on the market, giving it a status which is reflected in the high prices of Traeger grills and smokers. Just like the Pit Boss range, Traeger heralds the versatile use of its pellet smokers as an all-in-one outdoor component for cooking meat, though they tend to represent just 6 different cooking methods as opposed to the 8 offered by Pit Boss.
One of the leading elements to the modern models of Traeger pellet smokers is the addition of a WiFi and Bluetooth connection, allowing the user to link the device up with their smartphone for complete control, whether you are stood next to the grill or sat inside on the sofa. This is a particularly popular and relevant solution to the modern user who values control and a user friendly experience, and one which makes Traeger an ideal solution particularly during the wet weather months of winter when you may wish to use your smoker but don’t want to stand outside monitoring it.
Similarly to the Pit Boss range, Traeger is currently offering 8 different models, each boasting their own unique elements and design traits – particularly the portable Ranger model which has been created with an entirely unique design aimed at making smoking on the go as easy as possible. These levels of detail make Traeger a great option for those looking for an innovative solution to their smoking needs, though the high price point is still difficult to stomach – particularly when compared with Pit Boss’ far more affordable range.
The build quality of Traeger is decent though not as user friendly or ergonomic as the Pit Boss range, and most of the grills do not come with the same level of additional features as other competitors do. That said, the materials used make the Traeger suitable for use all year round, and the positioning of all the key elements for a great cooking experience is largely the same as those in the Pit Boss range – making it no better or worse.
If you’re looking for a high level pellet smoking experience, which is also open to BBQ chargrilling, roasting or heating, then both Traeger and Pit Boss will give you what you need. The primary differences become more obvious once you start to look closer at the models they offer and the ease with which different features can be used. The Pit Boss portable grill, for example, can be folded up and then reassembled to provide the same kind of user experience as a standard Pit Boss smoker - whereas the Traeger portable option, while easy to transport, is a lot less user friendly once you get it set up and started.
And then there’s value and cost. Traeger may have provided the first pellet smokers to the market, but with competitors like Pit Boss rising to join them with the same level of quality and effectiveness, hidden behind much cheaper prices, it seems clear that Traeger has been knocked off the top spot and that Pit Boss prevails as the winner.