So you’ve decided to invest in a wood pellet grill but still haven’t decided which brand to buy.
Traeger and Pit Boss make some of the most popular pellet grills on the market today.
If you ask around you’ll get plenty of opinions about which is better.
The problem is, people always end up defending the grill they bought and slamming the competition so it’s hard to get an objective opinion.
In this guide, we break down the differences between Traeger and Pit Boss and look at some of the top grills from each company to help you decide which pellet grill is right for you.
- Cooking surface 1000 square inches
- Hopper capacity 31 Lb
- Temperature range 150-500°F
- Warranty 5 years
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Pit Boss vs Traeger Wood Pellet Grill – Head to head
I always try and avoid coming out and saying one grill is definitely “better” than another.
It’s very hard to compare grills fairly. For example, if one gill costs $500 and another costs $1000, is it fair to say that the $1000 grill is better?
You’ve also got the situation where each brand is constantly updating their line-up and grill construction.
So a review you read might be talking about the 2016 Pit Boss which is no-longer sold.
So with that caveat in mind, here are some general differences between Traeger and Pit Boss that most people agree on.
- Pit Boss, in general, offers better value for money.
- Most people agree that older models of Traeger were better quality although the new 2019 Traeger Grills look promising.
- Traeger grills used to be made in the USA but they have since moved to manufacture to China.
- Traeger could charge a premium when they were the only company selling pellet grills. Now that they have competition, but thanks to the large name recognition and market share they haven’t had to cut price as much as you might expect.
- in 2018 Pit Boss increased their warranty period to 5 years (2 years more than Traeger). Note that this isn’t retroactive so if you bought the grill before then you still only have a 1 year warranty.
- Both grills use a very different fire pot and heat distribution system. On the Traeger the fire pot is on the side of the grill, while on the Pit Boss it’s in the middle. This is to allow the Pit Boss sliding slit system to allow for open flame grilling.
Now that you know a little more about both brands, you’re best option is to narrow down which Traeger or Pit Boss model you would buy, and then you can compare the features of each specific grill.
I suggest comparing grills in these 6 categories:
- Temperature Range
- Cooking space
- Hopper Size
- Features (e.g. WiFi connectivity)
For me personally I have to go with Pit Boss. When you compare the size grill you can get with the Pit Boss VS the cost of the Traeger, the extra features on the Traeger don’t justify it.
This comparison was done by Pit Boss so it may be a little biased, but it does a good job comparing two similar grills from each company.
|Pit Boss Austin XL||Traeger Pro 34|
|Dimensions||26.60in x 63.00in x 50.30in||27in x 41in x 53in|
|Cooking surface area (sq in)||930||884|
|Temperature Range||180°F – 500°F||180°F-450°F|
|Control||V3 Digital Control Board||Digital Pro Controller with AGL|
|Removable side shelf||Y||N|
|Pellet purge system||Y||Y|
|Price||Check latest price||Check latest price|
Then you have the extra two years of warranty on the Pit Boss.
While this information is hard to verify, we’ve heard that both companies make some of their components in the same factory.
With the Traeger you get the latest bells and whistles, but you do pay extra for the brand name and marketing.
In the next section we go into a bit more detail about the two brands, or you can skip ahead to see our picks for the best grills from each company to buy.
Overview of Traeger
Out of the two brands, Traeger has the most interesting background.
Traeger grills was formed after Joe Traeger developed the original concept after experimenting with wood burning stoves.
His first pellet grill was created in 1985 and he patented the design in 1986.
This gave Traeger a total monopoly on the pellet grill market over the next 20 years.
Throughout this period Traeger stayed a small family company based out of Oregon.
The patent expiring in 2006 brought a rush of new competitors entering the market.
Traeger have really exploded in popularity since Jeremy Andrus joined the company back in 2014 and moved the business to Salt Lake City.
Today Traeger is easily the largest manufacturer of pellet grills, selling more than $300 million worth of grills every year.
Overview of Pit Boss
Pit Boss were one of the first companies to start competing with Traeger.
As a subsidiary of Dansons, Inc the company was founded in 1999 by Dan Thiessen. The company is based our of Alberta.
Pit Boss Grills positioned themselves as a more affordable pellet grill option to compete with Traeger.
The same company produces the popular Louisiana range of Pellet Smokers.
In an interesting twist of fate, Joe Traeger joined Dansons in 2018 to work on both the Pit Boss and Louisiana grill brands.
Top Pit Boss Grills
Pit Boss’ lineup of grills can be a bit confusing.
If you look on their website, you can see they sell a lot of different models,.
But a lot of these models are almost identical, but come in slightly different configurations.
For example you have the Pit Boss 700S that comes with a side table, the 700SC which includes the side table and a cabinet and finally the 700FB that doesn’t come with either.
For this guide we’ll look at the most popular models of Pit Boss including the horizontal and vertical pellet smokers, and let you know if they come in multiple configurations.
1. Pit Boss 440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill
With 440 square inches of cooking space the Pit Boss Deluxe 440 is out top choice if the price of the Traeger Pro 575 is too high for you.
While you don’t get as much space, the Pit Boss is only half the price of the Traeger Pro 575.
The cooking temp range is actually slightly higher, reaching temperatures of 500°F while the Traeger maxes out at 450°F.
The cooking space is divided between a 340 square inch main grill, and a 100 square inches on the upper rack. Both grills are made out of porcelain coated steel.
The rack is removable which comes in handy when it’s time to take your meat off, just take the whole grill off.
This model includes a handy side shelf, and includes tool hooks for easy storage.
The 5lb hopper is definitely on the small side, so this isn’t a good grill if you want to setup a cook and then leave for the day.
Get the latest price on BBQGuys.com (Free Shipping).
2. Pit Boss 700FB Wood Pellet Grill
Like it’s name suggests the Pit Boss 700FB has 700 sq inches of cooking surface. This puts it up against the Traeger Pro 780.
While you do give up a bit in features like WiFi connectivity, the price difference alone makes the 700FB a very tempting buy in the mid to large sized pellet smoker range.
This grill does have plenty of options for cooking hot though. It’s able to hit 600°F and you’ve also got the flame broiler system where you use a slide-plate to get direct flame grilling.
You get a standard digital controller (Not a PID controller) so temperature will fluctuate a little more.
Otherwise the features of this grill are all fairly similar to those we discussed in our Pit Boss 440 review above.
Note that you can add the side-shelf on for a little extra.
Get the latest price on Amazon
3. Pit Boss 5 Series Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker
You don’t see many companies selling vertical pellet smokers.
Maybe it’s because people like the “old school cool” look of the drum shaped design.
We think that’s a shame because the vertical design lets you fit a lot more cooking real estate into a smaller foot print.
There isn’t really a Traeger alternative to the Pit Boss Vertical smokers.
Each smoke shares a similar design, with a prominent window door and stylish copper color.
You might also see these referred to as “Copperhead Pellet Smokers”
With 1,659 square inches of cooking space and a huge 40lb hopper the Pit Boss 5 series provides more than enough size for most people.
That cooking space is spread over 5 racks which you can adjust depending on what you’re cooking.
Obviously if you are cooking something large like a turkey or brisket you’ll need to remove a rack so you won’t have the full 1659 square inches to play with.
This video of the 5 series does a good job showing how the smoker looks.
The huge hopper allows you to cook for up to 24 hours without refilling your pellets.
We have heard of some people running into problems with this smoker.
From doing some digging it seems like some people have just received faulty grills.
Plenty of people haven’t had any problem though, and it’s always the people who have issues that leave reviews, but we would still say to proceed with caution.
For what it’s worth Pit Boss customer service seems to be very responsive.
Get the latest price on Amazon.
4. Pit Boss Austin XL Pellet Grill with Flame Broiler
The Pit Boss Austin XL is a good alternative to the Traeger Ironwood 885.
With 1000 square inches of cooking space, the Austin XL is an absolute beast of a smoker.
Everything comes well packaged and assembly is fairly straight forward.
The color and finish make this a very attractive looking grill.
You get two meat probes included. They won’t be as reliable as using your own dedicated meat thermometer, but they do the job.
The hopper holds 31lb of pellets.
The grill uses sliding plates to allow you to access the flame for more direct grilling. It doesn’t do the best job, but it’s useful to have. This smoker is more about low and slow and roasts anyway.
This smoker gets up to temp really fast. You should be able to get up slightly over 500°F in about 10 minutes.
As with all Pit Boss grills this is a bargain when you compare it to alternatives. We’ve also heard stories of people picking this model up at Walmart for under $400 which is pretty crazy!
Get the latest price on Amazon.
Top Traeger Grills
We’ve got a full guide to the best Traeger grills which goes in to a lot more detail, or read on to get the overview to help you decide between a Pit Boss or a Traeger
One thing to note is that Traeger updated their grill lineup for 2019 with some new features and they also changed how they name each model.
For the new 2019 models, the number in the product name refers to the cooking surface.
For example the Pro 780 has 780 square inches of cooking surface.
This is different to older Traeger models where the number refers to the size of the main grilling rack. E.g. the Pro Series 34 has a 34″ x 19″ grilling rack.
At the time of writing this some of the main retailers like Amazon seem to be stocking the older Traeger Grills, so we’ve added links to the new models on BBQGuys.com.
The Traeger Pellet Grill lineup:
- Traeger Pro series – The most popular Traeger grills come in two sizes and now include WiFi connectivity
- Traeger Ironwood Series – An upgrade over the Pro series, the Ironwood series gives you larger sizes plus a bunch of new features known ad DownDraft Exhaust and TRU convection. You also get Super Smoke mode, the option to push a button and ramp up the smoke produced.
- Traeger Timberline series – The largest and most expensive option comes with all the features of the Ironwood plus futuristic pellet sensing technology that lets you monitor your pellet levels on the app.
- Traeger Tailgater – The portable model, with 300 sq inches and a lot less tech. The Tailgater is still a good small option for home use.
Other brands to consider
If you still haven’t decided between a Traeger or Pit Boss, you might find one of the many other pellet grill manufactures sells the grill you’ve been lusting after.
We’ll quickly run through some of the alternatives you might want to consider.
Another budget alternative – Z Grills
If your primary reason for considering a Pit Boss is price, then you might want to give Z Grills a look.
These guys are very new to selling to consumers,s but they’ve actually been building pellet grills for other companies for many years.
There’s even some good evidence that they used to produce grills for Traeger!
You can definitely see the resemblance when you look at the design. Everything is similar except for the high price tag.
The most popular model is the Z Grills 7002 which was recently updated in 2019 to fix a few issues with the temperature controller.
A solid mid-range alternative – Camp Chef
We’re huge fans of Camp Chef’s Pellet Grills. We named their popular PG 24 Deluxe our all around best pellet grill.
While not the largest grill for the price, you get excellent build quality, easy cleanup, and very efficient pellet consumption.
We also really like Camp Chef’s approach to searing. Rather than using a gimmick, they just give you the option to add on an optional sear box.
While that seems simple, it’s actually the best approach to searing we’ve seen from a pellet grill.
Thankfully the Camp Chef lineup is a lot simpler than brands like Traeger and Pit Boss.
Other than the PG 24 Deluxe you’ve also got the larger WoodWind classic which always receives excellent reviews.
Wrapping it up
Hopefully, you now know a lot more about the differences between Traeger and Pit Boss.
I hope we haven’t angered any hard-core Traeger fans with our analysis. We definitely aren’t saying they make bad grills, just that for the price Pit Boss gives you more bang for your buck.
Having said that the jury is still out on the recently released 2019 Traeger grills.
It’s going to take some time before we know for sure if Traeger has managed to really differentiate themselves with their new grills.