Pit Boss or Traeger? When buying a new pellet smoker, this question appears a whole lot of times. I have decided to provide an objective info on those two brands and present my personal choice.
There is no doubt that Traeger and Pit Boss are very popular brands on the market. Sadly, it is hard to find an objective opinion on which one of them is better, which is why I have prepared an article in which you will see who will win in the Pit Boss vs Traeger confrontation.
I will make a general comparison of both brands based on their most popular models in similar sizes and configurations.
Pit Boss vs Traeger
Pit Boss – One of the first manufacturers that upon the expiration of Traeger patent started selling their own pellet smoker. The company was founded in 1999 and right from their start their goal was to manufacture pellet smokers for everyone’s budget. The purpose of Pit Boss is to manufacture a smoker at the lowest possible price while maintaining a decent quality. In the hindsight one could notice that they did a great job. Today the Pit Boss offer includes smokers of very similar sizes and qualities to Traeger.
Traeger –It is the brand responsible for creating the first pellet grill and promoting it, it was founded in 1985, and one year later they already patented their product which gave them a monopoly for selling pellet grills for whole 20 years. Through all that time Traeger was responsible for promoting the pellet grill which is why today whenever someone hears about the pellet grill they instantly think of the Traeger brand. To this day they are still the best selling pellet smoker even though after the patent expired there were a lot of new competitive brands. Even though you will find many other more interesting manufacturers on the market, none of them has gone down in history as much as Traeger.
Pit Boss – The price is definitely lower and more convenient compared to other manufacturers. I can clearly say that most of the Pit Boss offer is models for everyone’s budget. Pellet smokers are associated with very high prices whereas Pit Boss proves that one can make a decent pellet grill at a low price. Right from the start, the goal of Pit Boss was the lowest possible price so that the sales would be very high and that plan was accomplished.
Traeger – From the moment the Treger patent expired, a lot of manufacturers appeared on the market, willing to compete for every client. That way a lot of much cheaper and better models were made which resulted in an opinion that by buying a Traeger product you’re overpaying for the brand only. Sadly, I have to partially agree that grills from Traeger usually have a higher price than models from competitive brands with similar quality and size.
Pit Boss – Here it was solved in a completely different way by giving the customer more options. First of all, the fire pot is located right in the middle of the smoker and doesn’t have a heat deflector. Instead, the furnace was covered with a metal dome with open slots right above the furnace. Such solution makes it possible to cook using direct heat ( grilling ). Of course smoking was also taken into account here, if you’re not interested in grilling then all you have to do is move another metal cover that will cover the slots, creating perfect conditions for smoking.
Traeger – Upon opening the lid and looking deeper into the structure one could see right away that the fire pot is located on the left side of the smoker. It is also clear that the fire pot is covered by a heavy steel heat deflector, and then located above those elements is a solid metal grease tray.
What I mentioned above, which was the ability to choose between grilling or smoking. Sadly, Traeger doesn’t come with such feature, but you will find it in Pit Boss. The furnace is covered with a metal plate that has slots that flames go through. You can cover the slots by covering them with a second plate which I think is a great solution.
Pit Boss – It comes with all the basic features that were also present in the older series from Traeger. Sadly, with development of technology most people these days expect a better digital controller, Wi-Fi etc. You need to know that in a pellet smoker for this kind of money something like that cannot exist, but Pit Boss offer does include more advanced versions, although they cost more.
Traeger – As recently as 2018 I would say that there is no difference when it comes to the basic features and equipment compared to Pit Boss. It all changed with introduction of the new refurbished series from Traeger, which includes plenty of useful features up to date with modern technology. ( developed digital controller, Wi-Fi and much more ).
In both cases the capacity of pellets containers is very similar or even the same. In practice, a full container is enough to last for very long and there is no need to install any bigger one.
The structures of pellet smokers from both manufacturers are very similar, they only differ in minor details. Pit Boss added a shelf under the grill that is not present in Traeger, which is a pity as it’s a very useful solution.
By default you can expect a temperature range of 0-500 ( or even 550 ) degrees F. Both manufacturers have very similar parameters when it comes to the maximum temperature. Some models from Pit Boss declare a maximum temperature of around 600 degrees but in reality you actually get around 500.
Brand & Marketing
Pit Boss – A brand perfectly known among BBQ enthusiasts but not quite as much as its competitor. It mostly comes from the fact that Pit Boss is a much younger brand and their target market are people with a limited budget.
Traeger – The brand responsible for creating and then promoting this type of smoker. Traeger did a great job when it comes to marketing and because of that to this day it’s a brand that sells most pellet smokers. Every person, even when not into BBQ, recognizes that brand, they are a sponsor of many important events and teams and plenty of important people or celebrities are very happy to talk about them on their social media etc.
Pit Boss – Despite much lower price, it is Pit Boss that offers a much better warranty. Most models are covered with whole 5 years of warranty period which is something rare in this type of smoker.
Traeger – Considering the price, popularity of the brand and the whole history, three years for even the most expensive models is a pretty disappointing warranty period. One could expect more from a brand like this, especially considering the pretty high prices for their grills.
Traeger vs Pit Boss – Conclusion
Who won this clash in my opinion?
I compared both brands objectively as a potential customer, to whom the most important factor is the ratio of price to what they get. In this regard, the winner is definitely Pit Boss, which offers more for less.
What is surprising is how a much cheaper manufacturer can provide a much longer warranty for their product.
Therefore, based on my experience and this article, I will repeat once again that my choice is Pit Boss.
Of course it doesn’t mean that Traeger is much inferior because in technical terms they both represent a similar level. However, Traeger is a valued and easily recognizable brand in the world of BBQ which means the prices are sadly also higher than with competitive manufacturers.