Pit Boss VS Traeger: Which Pellet Grill Should you Buy?

Traeger vs pit boss brand icons

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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.

Not sold on Pit Boss or Traeger? Z Grills are a popular new brand that sell grills like the popular 700E which are a similar quality but at a lower price point. Check out our full Z Grills review.

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 a situation where each brand is constantly updating its 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 are much better
  • 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.
  • Most Pit Boss grills utilize a “slide and sear” system to give you a small searing zone directly above the fire pot.

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:

  • Price
  • Construction
  • Temperature Range
  • Cooking space
  • Hopper Size
  • Features (e.g. WiFi connectivity)

To help you compare we’ve selected two of the most popular grills that Traeger and Pit Boss sell, and compared them across a range of categories.

Pit Boss Sportsman 820Traeger Pro 575
Dimensions58 x 32 x 52 in53x41x27 in
Hopper capacity21 lb18 lb
Cooking surface area (sq in)849 (592 main grate + 256 secondary)575 (425 main grate + 150 secondary)
Direct flame Slide plate flame broilerNo
Meat probes11
Temperature range180°F – 500°F165°F-500°F
ControlDial-in digital control with LED read-outD2® drivetrain
StorageRemovable side shelfFolding front shelf sold seperately
Pellet purge systemYesYes
Warranty5 years3 years
PriceCheck latest priceCheck latest price

With the Traeger Pro 575 you will be paying more for a smaller grill, but you get the WiFIRE system to control the grill via an App, plus a more advanced control system.

With the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 you save a bit of money, get a larger grill which has some nice usability features like the slide plate for grilling and removable side shelf to help with prep work.

In the next section, we go into a bit more detail about the two brands, or you can skip ahead to see our break down of all the most popular grills from each company.

Brand History

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, some of which can only be bought from Walmart or Lowes.

A lot of their grills are almost identical but come in slightly different configurations.

For this guide, we’ll look at the most popular models of Pit Boss including both horizontal and vertical pellet smokers that you can actually buy from their website.

1. Pit Boss Sportsman 820 Wood Pellet Grill

Pit Boss Sportsman 820

The Sportsman 820 is one of the newest releases from Pit Boss and packs plenty of features at a budget-friendly price.

In our review, we pointed out the generous size for the price, with 829 square inches of cooking space split between a primary and a secondary grate.

There’s also the 21 lb hopper with a window to keep an eye on your pellet level, and an easy way to drain unused pellets at the end of a cook.

You can check out all the features and what we thought in more detail in our video review below.

The only real negatives with the Sportsman was the small searing zone, which is common with most ‘slide and sear’ systems, and the rounded diverter plate, which we found affected our ability to collect drippings.

If you don’t want the option to control your grill via an app, then the Sportsman is cheaper, holds more food and comes with better storage and prep areas than the Traeger.

2. Pit Boss 700FB Wood Pellet Grill

Pit Boss 700FB Pellet Grill Review

The 700FB was one of Pit Boss’ top selling grills but it’s become a little outdated now with the release of the Sportsman and Navigator range.

Like its name suggests the Pit Boss 700FB has 700 sq inches of cooking surface. To get the same space on a Traeger you would be looking at the Traeger Pro 780 which is double the price.

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 the temperature will fluctuate a little more. The control unit isn’t as nice as the Sportsman and there are no side or front shelves.

Otherwise, the features of this grill are all fairly similar to those we discussed in our Pit Boss 440 review above.

3. Pit Boss 5 Series Vertical Wood Pellet Smoker

Pit Boss Vertical Pellet Smoker on deck

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.

If you want to go down the vertical smoker path, Pit Boss offer their 3 series, 5 series and 7 series.

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.

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.

4. Pit Boss 440 Deluxe Wood Pellet Grill

You have a huge choice when it comes to portable pellet grills.

We picked the 440 Deluxe, although you could just as easily go with the Sportsman Portable which comes with folding legs.

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 set up a cook and then leave for the day.

5. Pit Boss Lockhart Platinum Series

Pit Boss Platinum Series Lockhart Pellet Grill and Smoker Review

Traeger doesn’t have any grills like the Lockhart, but it’s a fun grill so we thought we would include it anyway.

You get a fairly standard pellet grill on the bottom, with a double-door smoke cabinet stuck on top.

This gives you an insane 2136 square inches of cooking space, all within a fairly moderate footprint (assembled dimensions are 55.12L x 31.50W x 66.93H).

You get a large 40 lb hopper to keep you cooking, and two probes are included although you can add up to four total.

It’s a fun, unique smoker that doesn’t fit into the same mold as 99% of the other pellet grills you see out there.

It’s a good choice for anyone that wants to feed a crowd, without spending too much money.

Top Traeger Grills

We’ve got a full guide to the best Traeger grill reviews which goes into a lot more detail or read on to get the overview to help you decide between a Pit Boss or a Traeger

traeger pro series 575 pellet grill

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 sold directly from Traeger.com

These days Traeger produces three main lines of pellet grill, plus a handful of other popular models.

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 but they’ve actually been building pellet grills for other companies (like Traeger!) for many years.

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 700E which was recently updated in 2019 to fix a few issues with the temperature controller.

We’ve cooked a lot of food on the 700E and think it’s a fantastic pellet grill. It doesn’t have quite as many features as a grill likes the Sportsman 820, but it does have a proper cabinet which is great for storage.

A solid mid-range alternative – Camp Chef

We’re huge fans of Camp Chef’s Pellet Grills. We named their popular Woodwind 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.

Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill review

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.

We also did an in-depth Camp Chef vs Traeger comparison, where you can learn what distinguishes these grills from each other.

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 latest grills from Traeger offer WiFi connectivity and the ability to control your grill from your phone which is too tempting for some people to pass up.

Joe Clements

Joe Clements

As the son of a vegeterian, I grew up dreaming about meat. Now as the founder and editor in chief of Smoked Barbecue Source I get to grill, barbecue and write about meat for a living! I'm sharing everything I learn along the way on my journey from amateur to pitmaster.

21 Responses

  1. i love the pit boss vertical pro series, cook real good food from the moment i started using it. to be able to look through the glass to see how its cooking w/o opening the door is awesome, dont have to lose heat opening it. but the price was drew me to it, it is half the price of traeger.. the price, set up and the all around smooth smoking is what would have me go to pit boss. if you follow the directions right you should have a wonderful experience

  2. PitBoss Grill is not of good build quality the first use the paint burned off . The flame cover rusted out after the 3rd use. Would not recommend to anyone..

    1. Hector…..
      30 days old, used 4 times, paint peeled off on bottom really bad.
      Sent request for information, filed a warranty claim.
      They say their paint is NOT COVERED UNDER WARRANTY, and refuse to even respond now.
      I have purchases the upright smoker and 1000 grill. NEVER NEVER —-ANOTHER PIT BOSS

  3. Thank you for your reviews. I did, indeed, purchase and use the Pit Boss Series 5 “Copperhead” vertical smoker. As a first time smoker (of meats) I liked the features to price ratio, and saw several positive reviews on the unit. Unfortunately, I did not heed your, and others, warning. My unit’s control board face warped severely after first smoke. Then just at the end of the second smoke the temperature started going haywire, and the unit tripped off on an “ERH” code (overheat). As I had already contacted Pit Boss about the control board we decided to hold off our return until installing the new one, which they shipped out promptly. Once installed I fired up (pun intended) the unit and watched it carefully with a set temperature of 200 deg. As the unit blasted past 200 deg the temperature indication started fluctuating between 150 and 300 deg then tripped off on “ERH” code. Pit Boss said, “Return it to Walmart as the temperature probes are back-ordered until end of June.” I will not be getting another series 5 vertical smoker, and am leery of any Pit Boss smoker at this point. Sorry for the long comment, but I don’t want anyone to think I just didn’t like it. I loved it actually, but reliability issues are a deal breaker. DO NOT RECOMMEND PIT BOSS SERIES 5 VERTICAL SMOKER.

    1. Jamie,
      I’m in the same shoes…
      Didn’t listen to others………..
      I bought the upright smoker, then went back and bought the Grill.
      The smoker has a Warped digital face board and PIT BOSS won’t RESPOND……
      The Grill. it has serious paint issues, It turns out they are CHEAP BUILT for a premium price.
      PIT BOSS won’t RESPOND to either issues…….
      Should have gone ahead and gone with REAL Quality, the YODER pellet grill.

  4. I bought the Pit Boss Sportsman 820 model at Costco. I was going after a Traeger Silverton 620. After visually inspecting each grill, I went with the Pit Boss. Better materials and build. Also better warranty. I’ve been making brisket, chicken, shoulder, burgers and pizza on my Sportsman. It is an awesome grill at great value as compared to the Silverton. (Traeger Silverton 620 was $699, Pit Boss Sportsman 820 was $479.)

  5. I have a 2016 700D which we have used a lot and great smokes until last weekend. Overnight smoke on “smoke” and with a full hopper of pellets and 6 hours later we’re out of pellets and the meat was cooler. Realized that the smoker was off, went back out and unplugged the smoker, filled the hopper back up and pulled back in on smoke. 15 minutes later I’ve got a smoker at 500-600 degrees and flames coming out of all areas of the smoker. Call Shawn @ Pit Boss and they informed that our unit was out of warranty and piss off basically. This was a fire hazard and they don’t care. Never again will I buy a Pit Boss after this. Word of advise, don’t leave your Pit Boss anywhere around flammable items. I’ve got a video of the flame up (security camera) and they don’t even care…beware of Pit Boss

  6. We have had the Pitboss Copperhead vertical smoker series 5 for one year now. We have not had the issues others have had. We are happy with it overall as our first pellet smoker. One downside is the temperatures do fluctuate a bit too much in my opinion. If you set it at 200 degrees it may bounce between 150-250. The average is still 200 but I don’t think that gives the best smoke. We bought the cover for it as it stays outside year-round. So far the paint looks good but I have also never had it above 350F.

  7. We have had anything bad come off our Pit Boss. In fact, in the past two months we have not seen anything come off our Pit Boss. Holiday and special occasions have come and gone all I have is a worthless piece of metal setting in my back yard.
    We purchased a Pit Boss Pellet grill; it was great for about two months. Then it started giving us issues starting. By the end of three months it would not start at all.
    We contacted the Customer Support, after approx. an hour of trying to resolve the issue the tech determined it was the control board. The part was ordered. We were told it would take 4 – 6 weeks.
    I found that odd that it would take the manufacture of the grill 4 – 6 weeks when I could get it from E Bay in 2 days if I wanted to pay $100 out of pocket.
    It is going on 8 weeks and I am told the part is still back ordered.

  8. I bought a Pit Boss Austin XL a few months ago. I have used it to grill and smoke many times. I would give it only fair marks compared to a charcoal grill and smoker. ALSO worse yet is their COMPLETELY TERRIBLE customer service. I placed an order on their web site, they took my money in two days. That’s been a month ago and no merch yet. And don’t bother with their online customer service, you wont get an answer. I’m ready to smash the Pit Boss with a sledge hammer and go get a Treager. NEVER again Pit Boss.

  9. I bought a Pit Boss pro series in 2019, keep having err code coming up. Contacted company and have had no response but that could be do to the covid virus I don’t know, so if no response really soon I will gladly send it back to the company for them to keep.

  10. Wow…reading all these bad reviews on pit boss grills…all I can say is I love mine….i have the 440 deluxe!!! I friggin luv it! My buddy at work bought a trailer for 1200 bucks and he can’t even cook over an open flame like I can with my pit boss!! We use it all time.!!! I luv it and would recommend it to all of u considering a pellet grill!

    1. Thanks Rich, that’s good to hear. One thing to remember is that most people that have a good experience with a product never mention it, while those who have a bad experience will be much more likely to share their negative experiences.

      I’m not saying these folks’ concerns aren’t valid, sometimes you can get unlucky and you are the 1 person out of 99 that gets a dud grill. In that case I always hope the manufacturer makes it right, but I understand many companies are struggling right now with high volume and less staff.

  11. Rich, I agree. I have the Pit Boss 700s and it is bad a##. I have only had it for two months, but have used it at leases 20 times. This thing does it all! Briskets, ribs, chickens, jerky, pork loin, wood fired pizza, and pretty much anything you throw at it. The smoke flavors are excellent and Pit Boss pellets are great for the price too.

  12. I bought a Pit boss Pro 1100 in July 2020 I really love it I does everything , I compared a few grills cost , value , warranty and features is what I looked at . The Pit Boss had a Sear box to grill steaks it also had the largest hopper capacity out of all of them 35 lbs their warranty is 5 years compared to 3 years for other grills the Cooking Area is 1100 SQ. IN. it came with 2 shelves you had to purchase the side and front shelf separately for the other grills , it was also the least expensive that’s what made me chose the pit boss better value for the money . When I Started to assemble my grill I noticed the bottom shelf was damaged I contacted their tech support and sent them a picture of the damaged shelf and they sent me a replacement part with in 3 weeks I was impressed. I have purchased a grill cover and a pizza stone I am very happy with the grill.

  13. I have a Traeger, which I bought at a local Costco. I’ve had it for about 5 years. No complaints, cooks up fine every time. It’s been used a plethora of time to smoke, grill and bbq different meats

  14. I have been using my Pit Boss 440 over 4 years I love it. I have learned that proper cleaning and removing unused pellets after each use and the grill will work much better. Any problems I experienced were from user error. I Love my grill

  15. Go Traeger! Purchased the Ironwood 650 series and use it 2x a week. Well built and with the wifi feature, love it form brisket, to turkey, to pulled pork! Still use my Masterbuilt electric for smoking sausage! 2 great units! on my 2nd electric in over 30 years. Traeger my first pellet grill —Love it!

  16. I bought a Traeger grill 18 years ago and never had an issue with it and it got used at least three times a week over its life I decided I wanted a smaller pallet barbeque so I bought a pit boss Copper top I’ve nothing but troubles with it ever since I bought it and that is less than six months I’ve had to take an apartment five times to repair it
    First it was the drive motor in the heat probe popped fuses it keeps flashing on a code will not start and they say I have to take it apart again unplug it wire to decipher what is blowing the fuse they will not send me any parts until I turn this thing apart again it’s ridiculous my Traeger never had an issue I gave it to a friend of mine and it still works like it did and now never buy a pit boss again I know they are cheaper Not worth it when you want to barbeque something and you have to take it apart to fix it and you cannot get the parts locally , very disappointing to say the least I may have got a bad one I’m not sure I would love to return it for a new unit and try this again and I would repost and honest reply thank you for listening Jim

  17. I just bought a pit boss 1600 pro series that has everything plus WiFi is cool it’s 23 outside right now and we are smoking a roast for 4 hours on 250 last night was the first time using and we put some pork chops and shrimps on there and it was awesome

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