In this article, I’m going to compare and discuss the features and capabilities of Pit Boss vs Camp Chef pellet grills. However, as both brands also produce vertical pellet smokers I’ll also discuss how they compare and differ. Outside of Traeger, in terms of pellet focussed brands Pit Boss and Camp Chef are the next in line in terms of popularity/consumer awareness (here’s proof). While Weber (the biggest name in BBQ) has now entered the pellet grill game, their brand recognition has been established on their charcoal/gas grills, not pellet grills. Below I’ll compare Pit Boss vs Camp Chef of models at similar price points/budgets. I’ll discuss why I believe recent changes to all Camp Chef grills currently gives them the edge.
Both Pit Boss and Camp Chef are focused on domestic pellet grills/smokers, neither is really designed and suited for commercial use. Furthermore, as I discuss in my best pellet grill warranty post, commercial use is also excluded in the warranty terms for both brands. Furthermore, neither Pit Boss nor Camp Chef is a heavy user of stainless steel. Yes, on Camp Chef you will find stainless steel lids, buts that’s about it. Really, both of these brands are trying to offer grills at a price point that’s affordable for most people with models under $500 and under $1,000.
Introduction To Pit Boss vs Camp Chef
Pit Boss and Camp Chef are the 2nd and 3rd most popular pellet grill brands behind Traeger respectively. As I discuss in my Traeger vs Pit Boss post, Traeger is now more fused on high-end grills with their Ironwood and Timberline models. Whereas Pit Boss is still focused heavily on affordability, trying to offer the largest grills they can for as little money as possible. Camp Chef on the other hand as I discuss in my Traeger vs Camp Chef post with their product range sort of sits between Traeger and Pit Boss. Generally cheaper than many Traeger grills and on average a bit more expensive than Pit Boss pellet grills of a similar size.
However, as I’ve stated many times on this blog ‘never judge a pellet grill purely by its cooking area‘. How many burgers/steaks you can fit on the grill is obviously a consideration, but it shouldn’t be your primary reason for choosing a pellet grill. How well a pellet grill can actually cook those burgers/steaks is obviously equally if not more important.
Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Budget Pellet Grills
First, let’s look at how the entry-level pellet grills/smokers from Pit Boss and Camp Chef compare. Within the Pit Boss budget pellet grill range there are models such as the 340, Tailgater and 700 series. However, there is actually a huge range of Pit Boss pellet grills which come under what I would describe as their budget range. To make this simple, when I refer to Pit Boss budget grills I’m talking about any model other than the Platinum Series discussed below. Essentially, any Pit Boss pellet grill which is not fitted with a PID controller, I regard as a budget grill.
What you will generally find with Pit Boss compared to Camp Chef in this budget range is a larger cooking area on a $ per square inch basis. You will also find the option of direct flame broiling on all budget Pit Boss pellet grills (except the 340). You will also find cast-iron grates which along with the direct-flame access can provide above-average grilling performance for budget pellet grills within the under $500/under $1,000 categories. Though as I discuss in my article linked above, you don’t necessarily need direct flame access for good grilling performance, and it does come with certain risks.
When it comes to Camp Chef, their budget range is called SmokePro. Now, with the Camp Chef SmokePro range, you don’t get direct-flame access (except on the SmokePro SGX). Furthermore, as standard, the Camp Chef pellet grills only come with steel wire (not cast-iron) cooking racks, unlike most Pit Boss models. Therefore, on average, out of the box when it comes to budget pellet grills a Pit Boss pellet grill is typically going to provide higher temperature grilling/searing performance. You can purchase cast-iron grates from Camp Chef separately, though personally I would use a set of GrillGrates instead.
So in the budget pellet grill category Pit Boss pellet grills generally provide a larger cooking area and improved grilling/searing performance. Does the Camp Chef SmokePro range excel in any other area? Yes, temperature accuracy, as all Camp Chef pellet grills including the SmokePro range now come fitted with their Gen 2 PID temperature controller, some models with WiFi and some without. The important point being though, using a PID temperature controller budget Camp Chef pellet grills will maintain a temperature accuracy within 5 degrees. Whereas budget Pit Boss pellet grills using time-based controllers will only be able to hold temperature accuracy within 25 degrees of the set temperature.
Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Premium Pellet Grills
Now we’ll look at and compare higher priced/higher specification Pit Boss and Camp Chef pellet grills closer to $1,000. Namely, the Pit Boss Platinum Series and the Camp Chef Woodwind range. There are two models in the Pit Boss Platinum series, the Lockhart and the KC Combo. I want to discuss the KC Combo later on in the post as its a pellet/gas combo grill. The Lockhart is an interesting beast, and I mean beast, its a massive horizontal pellet grill with a vertical pellet smoker cabinet on top. There is currently nothing quite like the Lockhart on the market from any other pellet grill brand.
If you add up the cooking area of the horizontal grill and the vertical smoking cabinet on the Pit Boss Lockhart its a huge 2,136 square inches. If you have to cook for a large family/group of friends on a regular basis, the Lockhart is appealing. Though due to its size/weight its not going to be the easiest pellet grill to move around. Therefore, you would have to leave it outside and as its not made from stainless steel, you would want to make sure it had a decent cover, as rust/corrosion is not covered under the Pit Boss warranty. Then again, if you live in a dry/low humidity climate corrosion may not be a problem, you might even be ok leaving pellets in the hopper.
Besides the Pit Boss Lockhart being a huge pellet grill/smoker, the other notable feature is its the first Pit Boss grill to come with a PID control panel. Therefore, it will be able to hold a much more accurate temperature than any other Pit Boss grill and adapt to grilling in the winter months. While you can control the Lockhart with your phone its not a WiFi pellet grill, its purely fitted with Bluetooth. I discuss in my linked WiFi post, that gives the Lockhart certain limitations. Then again, if you never intend to control/monitor the grill from your phone, its not a big deal at all.
The Camp Chef Woodwind range features a range of upgrades over the SmokePro range. First off, all Woodwind grills feature a PID/WiFi control panel with a full-colour screen. Its very easy to read to adjust the temperature and smoke settings. Camp Chef Connect is the app that links to your phone directly via WiFi or through ‘the cloud’, so you can control/monitor the grill while your down the shops etc. The largest Woodwind is the WiFi 36, and while it provides a very respectable 1,236 square inches of cooking space, that’s obviously less than the Pit Boss Lockhart.
Where the Pit Boss Lockhart and Camp Chef Woodwind are very similar is they both provide direct-flame broiling. Every Camp Chef Woodwind model is fitted with their ‘Slide ‘n Grill’ feature. Both Pit Boss and Camp Chef direct-flame access works in a similar way. On the outside of the grills, there is a lever. You push and pull the leave to close or open up gaps in the grease tray to lets the flames from the pellet fire through.
So both the Pit Boss Lockhart and Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grills are fitted with a PID temperature controller. Though the Camp Chef grills are WiFi-enabled, where the Pit Boss grill is not. Both provide direct flame access, though the Pit Boss grill offers quite a lot more cooking space. Though much of it is dedicated to the upper vertical smoking cabinet. So what about the price? Well, the Pit Boss Lockhart is only currently available through Walmart for just under $750. In terms of the Camp Chef Woodwind grills, they can be purchased directly through Campchef.com. Prices range from $600 up to $1,000.
Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Pellet/Gas Combo Grills
Both Pit Boss and Camp Chef offer pellet/gas combo grills. However, the product offerings from each brand in this regard are different. For instance, with Pit Boss, they offer a couple of different pellet/gas combo grills, with the KC Combo being the best currently available. The KC Combo is also part of the Pit Boss Platinum Series. Its a 50/50 split pellet/gas combo grill with an equal amount of cooking space dedicated to pellet or gas cooking. However, I should note, there is a port between the two to let the smoke from the pellet fire enter the gas grilling cooking chamber.
Now whether you actually need to the facilities of a gas grill is debatable and highly personal depending on what you intended to cook. Though as I discuss in my article on which pellet grills get the hottest, a gas grill will get to a higher temperature and get there more quickly. Though they cannot provide the same great flavour as a pellet grill. Hence, the appeal of a pellet/gas combo grill. Camp Chef offers a slightly different solution with their propane Sear Box/Sidekick. The Camp Chef solution of an optional extra propane attachment is my personal preferred option. As I feel in most cases most people will find the pellet grill meets their need, but they can add a propane attachment at a later date if its needed.
However, as I discuss in my pellet vs gas grills article, if you already own a working gas grill I would probably recommend keeping it. In that scenario (provided you have space) I would recommend considering a vertical pellet smoker instead, and then using your existing gas grill to finish off the cook for searing. Both Pit Boss and Camp Chef produce vertical smokers.
Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Vertical Pellet Smokers
So let’s presume for second your in the market for a vertical pellet smoker and not a horizontal pellet/grill smoker. Well, both Pit Boss and Camp Chef produce vertical pellet smokers, though at different price points and with different features. I have a separate article on the best vertical pellet smokers, but I’ll just quickly reference the offerings from Pit Boss and Camp Chef below. If you on a very tight budget (under $500) Pit Boss has a range of vertical pellet smokers. One of the smallest/cheapest is the 77350 (catchy name), anyway, it can help you get some great pellet smoke flavour for a relatively low price.
Pit Boss has a couple of variations of this smoker, some are even electric. However, as I discuss in my pellet vs electric smokers article, they work very differently to smoke food. If you have a little bit more disposable income to spend on a vertical pellet smoker, personally my favourite for domestic use is the Camp Chef XXL. Not only is this a larger smoker with a total cooking rack capacity of 2,408 square inches, but it now comes with the Camp Chef Gen 2 WiFi/PID controller. Basically this is the only domestic vertical pellet smoker you can currently buy right now with PID temperature accuracy and WiFi functionality.
Conclusions On Pit Boss vs Camp Chef Pellet Grills/Smokers
In many ways, the pellet grill/smoker offerings from Pit Boss and Camp Chef are very similar. They are both currently focused on low to mid-range products for the domestic market, offering a couple of pellet/gas combo options along with the option of a vertical pellet smoker. On the more budget end of their product offerings, out of the box Pit Boss grills are typically offering cast-iron grates and direct flame broiling. Where that’s typically not the case with Camp Chef pellet grills, all Camp Chef pellet grills now come with PID temperature controllers for much better temperature accuracy. While Pit Boss does offer some of the largest cooking areas the lack of PID controllers on most of their range I do feel is currently a weakness. Therefore, in many instances, I personally lean towards Camp Chef. Though I do expect Pit Boss to change all their models over to PID controllers eventually, how much that will impact the price of their grills is yet to be seen.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading this comparison of the offerings from Pit Boss and Camp Chef. Both brands have good products on offer, they just have different strengths in different areas. You may also want to check out my Pit Boss vs RECTEQ or RECTEQ vs Camp Chef comparisons or if you would like to learn more about all the different pellet grills on the market today, please check out my Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker Guide. 🙂