Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman – Is There A Difference?


Hi, I’m Chris I started PelHeat.com back in 2007.

Outside of the Pit Boss Pro Series (Lowes exclusive) and the Pit Boss Platinum Series (Walmart exclusive), there are other Pit Boss product ranges. Two such examples are the Navigator range and the Sportsman range. Many of the models appear to share a similar size. Therefore, the question is, what are the differences between these two ranges of pellet grills/smokers? Then following on from that question, are we able to work out which range is the better deal?

Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman
For instance, are there any real significant differences between the Pit Boss Navigator 850 (left) and the Sportsman 820 (right)?: Images – PitBoss-Grills.com

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other sites are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Introduction To The Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman Ranges

As you will see below, there are several sizes of horizontal pellet grill/smoker models that have the Navigator and Sportsman branding of a very similar size.

There is also a pellet/gas combo grill available under each product range that appears to be very similar.

However, while there are Sportsman-branded vertical pellet smokers, there are currently no Navigator-branded vertical pellet smokers.

Currently, none of the Navigator or Sportsman pellet grills/smokers is fitted with a PID control panel or WiFi/App integration. This is a little bit odd since Pit Boss now have the SmokeIT panel upgrades.

I’ve created a table below of the similar products from each product range we are comparing for a quick reference, and then we’ll get into discussing the differences between them.


Pit Boss Navigator Pellet Grills/Smokers

Features5508501150Pellet/Gas
Total Cooking Area542 sq.in879 sq.in1,158 sq.in1,261 sq.in
Main Grate400 sq.in593 sq.in711 sq.in631 sq.in x 2
Hopper Size16 lbs27 lbs32 lbs16 lbs
Temp Range180-500180-500180-500180-500
Direct Flame Access?YesYesYesYes
Chimney/Rear Vent?Rear VentRear VentRear VentRear Vent
Typical Price$749$899$999$1,249

In terms of the ‘Typical Price’ figures above, I’ve referenced them directly from PitBoss-Grills.com, and you can use the button above to check the prices should a sale be on etc.

Now, please bear in mind that your conclusions may be very different from mine if you find a particular model on sale at Amazon.com, for instance.


Pit Boss Sportsman Pellet Grills/Smokers

Features5008201100Pellet/Gas
Total Cooking Area542 sq.in849 sq.in1,610 sq.in1,261 sq.in
Main Grate400 sq.in593 sq.in711 sq.in631 sq.in x 2
Hopper Size15 lbs21 lbs30 lbs21 lbs
Temp Range180-500180-500180-500180-500
Direct Flame Access?YesYesYesYes
Chimney/Rear Vent?VentChimneyChimneyChimney
Typical Price$579$699$799$1,049

In terms of the ‘Typical Price’ figures above, I’ve referenced them directly from PitBoss-Grills.com, and you can use the button above to check the prices should a sale be on etc.

Now, please bear in mind that your conclusions may be very different from mine if you find a particular model on sale at Amazon.com, for instance.


Pit Boss Navigator 550 vs Sportsman 500

Logically we are starting with the two smallest units from each range. While the model numbers are different, as you probably noticed from the tables above, their cooking area is the same.

Both the Navigator 550 and the Sportsman 500 offer the same overall cooking area of 542 sq.in and a main cooking grate of 400 sq.in.

Pit Boss Navigator 550 vs Sportsman 500
Other than cosmetic differences, the only specification difference is the size of their hoppers: Images – PitBoss-Grills.com

Both the Navigator 550 and the Sportman 500 feature the same control panel with a temperature range of 180 to 500 degrees, and both offer direct-flame access for temps of 650 plus.

Besides the cosmetic differences, the only specification difference is the Navigator 550 has a 16 lb pellet hopper, and the Sportsman 500 has a slightly smaller 15 lb hopper.

Therefore, when it comes to pricing, as the Navigator 550 is typically $749, and the Sportsman 500 is typically $570, the latter is by far the better deal.


Pit Boss Navigator 850 vs Sportsman 820

So the first obvious difference between the Navigator 850 and the Sportsman 820, besides the change in colour scheme, is one has a chimney, and the other doesn’t.

I wouldn’t expect a significant difference in smoking performance between the two, though if you prefer the sleaker design of the Navigator 850, that might be the one for you.

Pit Boss Navigator 850 vs Sportsman 820
There are more differences between these two than just the missing chimney on the Navigator 850: Images – PitBoss-Grills.com

The size of the main cooking grate on both the Pit Boss Navigator 850 and the Sportsman 820 is 593 sq.in. However, there is a difference in their overall cooking areas.

The Navigator 850 provides a total of 879 sq.in whereas the Sportman 820 provides less at 849 sq.in. The upper rack on the Navigator 850 is just a bit larger.

The more significant difference is the size of their pellet hoppers, the Navigator 850 can hold 27 lbs of pellets, whereas the Sportsman 820 can only hold 21 lbs of pellets.

When it comes to pricing, the typical price of the Navigator 850 is $899 vs the Sportsman 820 at $699. Would I personally live with the smaller hopper etc for the lower price? Yup.


Pit Boss Navigator 1150 vs Sportsman 1100

Now we’re at the largest pure pellet grills from each range, and there are a couple of differences between these two besides their looks and the no chimney/chimney designs.

First off, there is a small size difference in their pellet hoppers, the Navigator 1150 can hold 32 lbs of pellets, whereas the Sportsman 1100 holds 30 lbs, which is not a significant difference at all.

Pit Boss Navigator 1150 vs Sportsman 1100
There is actually quite a difference in cooking area between these two: Images – PitBoss-Grills.com

While both the Navigator 1150 and the Sportsman 1100 have the same sized main grate at 711 sq.in there is a notable difference in their overall cooking areas, which I had to double-check.

The Navigator 1150 offers a total of 1,158, whereas the Sportsman 1100 offers significantly more at 1,610 sq.in, how can this be? Well, the reason is the Sportsman 1100 has an additional Jerky rack.

Now, to fit in that additional Jerky rack, there is very little space between the upper rack and the Jerky rack. Therefore with the Jerky rack removed, the cooking area is down to 1,121 sq.in.

When it comes to their typical pricing, the Navigator 1150 is priced at $1,249, and the Sportsman 1100 is $1,049. Hence, again as above, personally, I’d go with the cheaper Sportsman 1100.


Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman Pellet/Gas Combo

Now we’ve come to the last comparison of the pellet/gas combo models from the Navigator and Sportsman product ranges.

So as before, visually/cosmetically, there are obvious differences. The Navigator is going with the black stealth look, whereas the Sportsman stands out more with its orange highlights and chrome hardware.

Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman Pellet/Gas Combo
While the Navigator model (left) is missing the chimney, it does benefit from an analogue temperature gauge on the lid of the gas grill: Images – PitBoss-Grills.com

In terms of the cooking area overall and the main cooking grate, the Navigator and Sportsman pellet/gas combo models are identical.

However, as of writing this article, there is an error on the Pit Boss website stating the cooking area of the Navigator is 1,084 sq.in, its not, its 1,261 sq.in, the same as the Sportsman.

The Navigator does only have a 16 lbs pellet hopper, which is quite a bit less than that found on the Sportsman of 21 lbs.

When it comes to pricing, the typical price of the Navigator pellet/gas combo is $1,249, whereas the Sportsman pellet/gas combo is typically priced at $1,049.

Hence, as with every other comparison above, I think its the Sportsman model which is offering the better value for money.


Conclusions On The Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman

So what are my final thoughts upon comparing the respective Pit Boss Navigator vs Sportsman pellet grills/smokers?

Well, as you can see when comparing the Navigator table and the Sportsman table, the Navigator models are always a couple of hundred dollars more than their Sportsman siblings.

For me, for pellet grills/smokers, which are so closely matched in specifications, if I was going to choose between the two, I’d always go for the cheaper Sportsman model.

Even if you personally prefer the styling of the Navigator models more, surely you would like the feeling of having several hundred dollars still in your pocket?

You may also want to check out my Pit Boss Mahogany vs Sportsman article, and Mahogany models are even better value.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, if you would like to check out more of my articles, please head over to my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

A to Z List of Pellet Grill/Smoker Brands

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 to Z List of The Best BBQ Wood Pellets

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.

Chris - PelHeat.com

Hi, I’m Chris. I started PelHeat.com back in 2007. This website is intended to be an educational resource on BBQ pellets, pellet grills & smokers. I hope you find the information useful.

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