Traeger might have built its reputation on being the first company to mass-market the pellet grill, but while they still have excellent brand recognition, their reputation for quality has taken a hit in recent years.
Camp Chef has grown a strong fan base by producing no-nonsense grills that nail the basics while still giving you plenty of bells and whistles to get excited about. We’ve decided it’s high time to put these two companies head to head.
Camp Chef vs Traeger head-to-head comparison
At first glance, the two brands look quite competitive, but there are a few key considerations that will help you decide which brand to go for.
- All Traeger grills (except their portable options) include WiFI and one of the best-designed apps out of any pellet grill we’ve tested. Camp Chef offers WiFi on the more expensive Woodwind but not on some cheaper models like the DLX 24
- The Traeger lineup does not include any direct searing options, while Camp Chef allows you to add to your grill with the SideKick (and some of their grills include a slide and sear system).
- If you want smoke control with Traeger, you’ll need to go for one of the more expensive Ironwood or Timberline series, while the Camp Chef offers this on all models with the Gen 2 PID controller.
- Camp Chef service is highly regarded, while Traeger is more hit and miss.
- While the Camp Chef range maxes out at $1799.99 for the largest Woodwind Pro 36 with SideKick Sear, you can spend up to $3799.99 on a Timberline XL (and that’s without any accessories)
Camp Chef Woodwind 24 VS Traeger Pro 575
|Camp Chef Woodwind 24||Traeger Pro 575|
|Hopper capacity||18 lb||18 lb|
|Cooking surface area (sq in)||811 (429 main grate + 382 secondary)||575 (425 main grate + 150 secondary)|
|Direct flame||Via sidekick add on||No|
|Temperature range||160º F – 650ºF||165°F-500°F|
|Control||Gen 2 PID controller with digital display||D2® drivetrain|
|Storage||Side shelf included||Folding front shelf sold seperately|
|Pellet purge system||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||3 years||3 years|
|Price||Check latest price||Check latest price|
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the grills we’re putting head to head, let’s take a little look at their manufacturers.
The first Traeger pellet grill was developed by Joe Traeger in 1985, and he would go on to patent it in 1986. This patent gave Traeger somewhat of a monopoly over supplying pellet grills, and the company remained a small family-run affair that operated through a limited number of stores.
When the Traeger patent expired in 2006, competition from other companies started to pick up, forcing Traeger to expand. Traeger outsourced their production to China in 2010, which led to a dip in quality, and a knock to its brand reputation.
Since then, Traeger has rallied, most notably producing a range of grills in 2019. These feature cutting-edge technology and a level of quality that fans of the brand say is reminiscent of their early, US-made, models.
Unlike Traeger, Camp Chef cut their teeth making utilitarian and straightforward outdoor cooking equipment, starting with the well-regarded Pro 60 stove in 1990. All Camp Chef products are designed in the US but manufactured in China.
Since 1990, they’ve turned their hands to stoves, smokers, fire pits, quality cast iron cookware, and now, pellet grills.
While Camp Chef doesn’t have the massive range of options that Traeger does, their Woodwind and SmokePro ranges have garnered a lot of attention because of their build quality and relative value for money.
Woodwind 24 VS Pro 575
Now we’ve got a better idea of the kind of reputation Camp Chef and Traeger Grills have, let’s take a closer look at the two grills we’re putting head to head.
Read our full Camp Chef Woodwind review.
Just like the Traeger Pro, the Woodwind comes in two sizes. The smaller 24 model gives you the same sized lower rack as the Traeger Pro 575, but thanks to the larger upper rack you get 811 square inches to work with in total.
One really nice quality of life feature on the Woodwind is the Ash Cleanout system, which allows you to empty the ash from the firebox by merely pulling a lever. No more vacuuming after each cook!
On the Traeger you’ll be pulling out the grill grates, baffle and getting the shop vac out.
The Woodwind also supports Camp Chefs famous SideKick attachment which gives you the option to attach a 16,000 BTU propane burner to the side of your grill.
You can add on a grill, griddle, or pizza oven on top for extra cooking versatility.
The grill top can reach temperatures up to 900º F, so searing a steak won’t be a problem.
If you don’t want to add the entire SideKick system, you can use the slide and sear to create small searing zone in the middle of the grill.
The Woodwind also boasts Camp Chefs Smart Smoke Technology which allows you to dial up or down the level of smoke.
You control the grill via the built-in screen which also shows a dual LED temperature readout that shows both the internal cooking temperature and internal food temperature through the use of an included food probe.
Using its simple temperature selection system controlled by a dial on the front (or via the WiFi app) you can hold a temperature from as low as 160ºF for smoking up to as high as 500ºF (or 650ºF with the slide and sear system open).
What really sets the Pro 575 apart from the SmokePRO DLX is the presence of its WiFIRE technology. WiFIRE allows you to connect your smartphone to your Traeger and then monitor and adjust your grill from the Traeger app.
The Pro 575 also uses Traeger’s new Pro D2 Direct Drive to control pellet flow and, combined with the new Turbotemp system, gets the grill up to cooking temperature ultra-fast.
With 575 square inches of cooking space and an 18lbs pellet hopper capacity, there’s not much to choose from between the Pro 575 and the SmokePRO DLX when it comes to actual rack space.
At 53 in H x 27in D x 41in W and weighing in at 124lbs, the Pro 575 is also pretty much the same size. The temperature system uses a similar dial turn to Camp Chef with a range of 165º F (73°C) and 500º F (260°C).
The Head to Head
Now that we’ve got a good idea of the specs of these two grilling beasts, it’s time to put them head to head.
To do that, we’ll be comparing them on seven crucial factors, warranty, temperature control, pellet hopper capacity, clean out, customer service, appearance, and WiFi/app experience.
Both the Traeger Pro 575 and the SmokePRO DLX come with a three-year warranty, so there’s not much to choose between them there.
The warranties are also basically the same, offering to repair or replace any defects in material and workmanship under normal use and maintenance. This excludes paint or finish, and is voided if the damage is caused by neglectful operation misuse, abuse, overheating or alteration.
Unfortunately, the Traeger Pro 575 has developed a bit of a reputation for its Pro WiFire Controller not being able to hold a consistent temperature. The stated temperature of the Pro Controller is +/- 10º F, but many customers have reported temperature swings that are much larger than that.
I’ve tested this on my own pro 575 and never noticed any issues but I wanted to mention it because I’ve read of others running into problems.
The Camp Chef temperature controllers offer a range of +/- 10º F across their range, which, while it isn’t fantastic, is at least consistent.
They also include the Smart Smoke Technology, which gives you the option to dial in smoke from 1-to 10.
Overall, the SmokePRO DLX, and the Camp Chef range as a whole, seem to have more consistent temperature controllers and greater utility with the Smart Smoke settings.
Pellet hopper capacity
Both models have a capacity of 18lbs, which doesn’t leave much room to choose between them, but the Traeger Pro 575 has the benefit of their new Pro D2 Direct Drive.
The Pro D2 Direct Drive has an industry-first brushless motor, which means it wears out slower, and the Turbotemp, which increases the number of pellets to compensate for the lid being open and gets the grill up to temperature faster.
You can add an optional pellet sensor that will let you monitor your pellet levels via the Traeger app.
The Pro D2 also has a pellet jam solution that reverses the auger drill to try and remove any jammed pellets, which is a common issue with pellet grills.
The addition of the Pro D2 Direct Drive, which is only seen on seven of Traeger’s grills, definitely tips this section in favor of Traeger. By all accounts, the Camp Chef’s hopper and pellet feed setup works perfectly well, it just lacks some of the utility of the Pro D2 Drive.
Camp Chef and their SmokePRO DLX take this one hands down.
What puts some people off buying a pellet grill is that they are messy to clean out, especially in comparison to a gas grill or an electric smoker.
The new Easy Ash Cleanout System lets you simply pull a lever and it empties all the ash and unburned pellets into a small burn cup on the bottom of the machine, which you can just empty out. Quick, easy, and absolutely ideal.
Both Camp Chef and Traeger have a reputation for excellent customer service. Both have US-based customer service teams, with Traeger being based in Mt. Angel, Oregon, and Camp Chef being based in Cache Valley, Utah.
While it’s anecdotal evidence, I do hear more positive things said about the customer service from Camp Chef.
There’s really not much to choose from when it comes to the appearance of the SmokePRO DLX and Pro 575, with their designs being very similar. The only significant difference is that SmokePRO DLX has color options, coming in both bronze and black.
Bot the Woodwind and Pro can be connected to WiFi and controlled via the app.
Using Traeger’s WiFIRE system, the Pro 575 can be easily connected to the Traeger Grill for remote monitoring and control.
The app is feature-packed and includes access to Traeger’s extensive recipe library.
The app on the Camp Chef has similar features, although it’s not quite as slick or well designed as the Traeger.
One of the common complaints about pellet grills is they don’t get hot enough to sear meat properly. Camp Chef has addressed that issue with the SmokePro BBQ Sear Box.
The Sear Box attaches to the side of your Pro 575 and provides you with a 16,000 BTU burner that will quickly get up to temperatures up to 900º F (482°C) to ensure you can get the perfect sear, or perfect reverse sear, every time.
Alternatives grills to consider
Of course, the Pro 575 and the Woodwind DLX aren’t the only grills on the market. With Traeger you can step up to the Ironwood series which gives you a bit more size, super smoke, mode, and better insulation for more steady heat.
Here are some other options that have caught our attention recently.
Camp Chef DLX 24 Pellet Grill
If you want to save some money and don’t need WiFi then the DLX 24 is an excellent choice.
You give up a little space, but it’s on the upper shelf which isn’t as useful anyway.
You also don’t get the slide and sear system, but it is compatible with the Camp Chef SideKick attachment system.
Pit Boss Sportsman 820
We’ve reviewed the Pit Boss range of pellet grills before and were impressed with their quality and the bang you get for your buck.
The Sportsman is a new entry to their range, offering a generous 849 square inches of cooking space.
There are also some nice ease of use features like the removable side shelf, front shelf and the all important bottle opener.
Pit Boss offer a five year warranty on all their grills which is better than most of the competition.
Wrapping it all up
Camp Chef might not be the first company you think of when it comes to pellet grills, but the Woodwind proves that they certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to making one.
Traeger, for their part, has really pushed to rehabilitate their reputation with the 2019 range of grills, and the Pro 575 is an excellent cooker that is only slightly let down by some temperature control issues.
If you’ve used either of these grills and want to share your experiences with us, or have some advice on getting the best out of them, we’d love to hear about it! Drop us a line in the comments, and don’t forget to show some love by sharing this review.