Camp Chef is one of the major players in the pellet grill market (see here). However, we are seeing more and more brands enter the pellet grill game such as Oklahoma Joe’s. While Oklahoma Joe’s have been an established name in the BBQ scene since the 1980s, they have only recently released their first line of budget pellet grills/smokers. Note the term ‘budget’, as the most expensive Oklahoma Joe pellet grill comes in at just under $600. Camp Chef is more of a mid-range pellet grill/smoker brand. However, I’ll pick suitably priced Camp Chef products for comparison. So let’s look at their strengths/weaknesses…
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So as stated above, I like to try and compare products from each brand at the same/similar price point where possible. I’ve previously written about the full Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grill range, so it might not be a bad idea to start with that as a warm-up. In terms of Camp Chef for this comparison, we’re going to look at their entry-level SmokePro pellet grill range.
Camp Chef SmokePro XT vs Oklahoma Joes Rider 900
The first two models we will compare are the Camp Chef SmokePro XT and Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900, the two models seen in the image above. In terms of price point, the SmokePro XT currently retails for $500 and the Rider 900 is $499, hence they are directly comparable on price.
So let’s look at the cooking area provided/cooking features, then a quick discussion on the hoppers and finally an important one, their control panels.
Cooking Area & Cooking Functionality
The Camp Chef SmokePro XT provides a total cooking area of 570 square inches. However, its important to note that’s divided between the main cooking grate (429 sq.in) and upper smoking area (141 sq.in).
The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider 900, on the other hand, offers a cooking area slightly over 900 square inches (hence the model name), divided up between the main cooking grate (578 sq.in) and secondary upper smoking rack (328 sq.in).
Hence, while the Oklahoma Joe does indeed offer more cooking area, in terms of the main cooking grate for smoking and grilling/searing, the difference is not as significant (additional 149 sq.in).
A notable difference between these two pellet grills is that the Oklahoma Joe Rider 900 does offer direct-flame access, whereas the Camp Chef SmokePro XT does not. Camp Chef do offer the feature, however, its only found on the more expensive SmokePro SGX and Woodwind range.
What direct flame offers is higher searing temperatures around 650 degrees above the flames. Now, the direct-flame feature on the Rider 900 is not as well integrated as it is on the Rider DLX below as you have to lift up the cooking grate to slide the flame deflector open, however, its a good feature to have.
Pellet Hopper Capacity & Functionality
On the Camp Chef SmokePro XT its the pretty standard affair of an 18lb pellet hopper. Therefore, based on typical pellet usage figures, that will be enough for around 12 hours of smoking and around 6 hours of grilling.
The hopper on the Oklahoma Joe Rider 900 is only slightly larger at 20lbs, but that does mean it can therefore take a whole bag of BBQ wood pellets in one go. However, for me, its the hopper emptying feature of the Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grills I really like, I actually think its of the best in the business currently.
You may be thinking ‘why is a pellet emptying feature so important?!’. Well, the first thing to know is pellets can go bad if they absorb moisture. Therefore, its not ideal to leave pellets in the hopper, especially if you want to leave your pellet grill outside.
Hence, the Oklahoma Joe grills come with the quickest/easiest hopper emptying feature currently available, with a plastic bucket and lid included. I think its a great design and I expect other brands to ‘borrow’ it with their future models.
Control Panel Features & Functionality
So after reading the above, so far in this comparison, it may seem like an easy win for the Oklahoma Joe Rider 900. Well, when it comes to the control panel, arguably the most important feature of a pellet grill, its the Camp Chef SmokePro XT that takes the easy win here.
While neither of these two particular pellet grills features WiFi, what the Camp Chef control panel has which the Rider 900 doesn’t is a PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) algorithm.
If you are not aware of what PID control panel can do and the significance, you can read my article on PID control panels. Essentially though, the PID control panel on the Camp Chef SmokePro XT will be able to maintain the internal temperature to within 5 degrees of the set temperature.
The best the Oklahoma Joe Rider 900 can do is maintain the temperature within 25 degrees. Hence, that’s quite a difference when it comes to temperature accuracy. Furthermore, on the Camp Chef SmokePro XT you can set the smoke level (1 to 10) independent of the temperature setting. Again, this feature is not possible on the Oklahoma Joe Rider 900.
Now, if you were to purchase a SmokePro XT through Campchef.com, they only supply models with the new PID control panel. If you are looking around at models on Amazon etc you have to be careful, as some retailers are still selling older stock fitted with time-based controllers, hence without PID functionality.
Just something to be aware of. Anyway, when it comes down to it. While the Camp Chef SmokPro XT offers a smaller cooking area etc, it excels over the Oklahoma Joe when it comes to the important aspect of temperature accuracy and smoke control.
Camp Chef Vertical WiFi XXL Smoker vs Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX
I’ve previously discussed horizontal vs vertical pellet smokers, and we are going to look at an example here. The Camp Chef Vertical WiFi XXL smoker is available for $650, and for just under $600 you can pick up the highest-priced/highest spec Oklahoma Joes Rider DLX.
Now, if you need an actual grill as well as a smoker, only the Rider DLX can perform both functions. However, as I’ve discussed in my pellet vs gas grills article, many people already own a gas grill, they are just looking for more flavour in their food. Hence, I personally think in many scenarios for price/features quite a few people could be better served with a vertical pellet smoker.
Cooking Area & Functionality
It’s important to remember in this comparison we can only directly compare these two pellet cookers on smoking area, as the Camp Chef is purely a pellet smoker. So the Camp Chef XXL provides a total of 2,408 square inches of cooking/smoking area.
That’s divided up over the full eight racks. However, racks can be removed to cook larger/taller cuts of meat, something like beer can chicken for example. Though in that scenario the total cooking area available would obviously be less, as some of the cooking racks would need to be removed.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX provides a total cooking area of 1,200 square inches from 578 sq.in on the main cooking grate and 328 sq.in each from two upper cooking racks.
In terms of cooking temperature range, as the Camp Chef is purely a vertical smoker its temperature range is 150 to 350 degrees. Whereas the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX has a temperature range of 180 to 650 degrees when the sear function/direct-flame access is used.
Therefore, as referenced above, these are two pellet cookers are best suited for two different purposes. However, when it comes to smoking, the Camp Chef XXL is not only the superior option when it comes to cooking area, you guessed it, the control panel is playing its part.
Control Panel Features & Functionality
The Oklahoma Joe’s Rider DLX features the same control panel as that fitted to the Rider 900 discussed above. While functional, it does lack the temperature accuracy of a PID panel also discussed above. So does the Camp Chef XXL WiFi Vertical Pellet Smoker feature the same control panel as the SmokePro XT discussed above?
Well, its very similar and does include PID functionality, however as the name of this product implies, it also features WiFi. This particular control panel is the Gen 2 WiFi/PID control panel that Camp Chef first released as an upgrade option for older Camp Chef pellet grills/smokers.
On a pellet grill which is used exclusively for grilling, WiFi is pretty much a wasted feature. Grilling/searing is obviously a rapid method of cooking, you are never going to be too far away from the grill. However, smoking (going low and slow) is a different matter entirely.
Many people commonly leave a pellet smoker overnight or maybe smoking all day. Hence, that’s where WiFi functionality and meat probe sensors really can make the whole smoking experience a lot simpler and save you a lot of time/effort.
Conclusions On Camp Chef vs Oklahoma Joe’s
There are several features of the Oklahoma Joe’s pellet grill range I like for a budget range of products. For the price, they do offer a larger grilling/searing area over price equivalent Camp Chef products.
Furthermore, they also offer direct-flame access which is only found on more premium Camp Chef pellet grills. However, currently, when it comes to the control panel technology Camp Chef has the edge over Oklahoma Joe’s.
Whether its PID technology or WiFi integration these are both features which the Oklahoma Joe’s Rider pellet grill range are lacking.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found the above comparison interesting/useful. Feel free to check out my previous Traeger vs Camp Chef and Pit Boss vs Oklahoma Joe’s comparisons, and I’ve done quite a few more comparisons on other pellet grill/smoker brands. Please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide for a full rundown of all your options. 🙂
Back in 2007 when I first become aware of pellet grills and smokers the only brand I was really aware of was Traeger. Traeger is really where this whole concept of cooking with pellets started in the 1980s. It was a ‘slow burner’ (pardon the pun) but since the 2010s is really when pellet grills and smokers started to get mainstream awareness, discussed alongside gas and charcoal grills. There are now over 30 pellet grill/smoker brands that I’m aware of, and the link above goes to my A to Z list of brands article.
Now, you may already be aware of a few of the other brands such as Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Z Grills and I’m sure you are aware of Weber, though you may not have known they have entered the pellet grill game. However, they are now many, many more brands to look into. Some may be what are commonly referred to as ‘Traeger clones’, but many others are offering their own unique designs and features.
A pellet grill/smoker is only as good as the BBQ pellets you put into it. The type/quality of the BBQ wood pellets you use will impact temperature performance and smoke flavour. There are many pellet flavours including Apple, Hickory, Mapel, Oak and Walnut to name but a few. However, some brands are hardwood blended pellets whereas others are 100% single wood species.
In this article, I provide details on over 20 brands of BBQ wood pellets, their range of flavours, whether they are 100% single wood species or hardwood blended pellets, their typical price and where they are available. I also provide tips on how to get the best deal when buying BBQ wood pellets and how to test pellet quality. Finally, I discuss the new kid on the block, charcoal pellets and their special attributes compared to all other hardwood BBQ pellets.