I’ve previously done a Traeger Pro vs Ironwood comparison where I discussed the differences in specific detail. This is the same scenario again, however, we’re discussing when (and when not) upgrading from an Ironwood model to the Timberline range will provide the user with good value. If you’re not aware, though you probably are, the Timberline models are the highest-specification Traeger grills to date. However, there is quite a jump up in price from an Ironwood model to a Timberline. So we’re going to look at what the differences are and when/if upgrading to a Timberline will be worth it to you.
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.
Something important to note is this comparison regards the Gen 1 Timberline and not the Gen 2 Timberline models, which are very different and much more expensive.
Introduction To The Traeger Ironwood vs Timberline
Before I get into discussing the similarities and differences between the Traeger Ironwood and Timberline models, I wanted to highlight the key features and price points of each model in the table below.
This way, when I’m discussing specific models below you have a reference for which model I’m talking about and its price in relation to the other models.
After all, that’s the point of this article, to help you determine if spending an additional $500 to $600 on a Timberline model will provide you with value.
|Features||Ironwood 650||Ironwood 885||Timberline 850||Timberline 1300|
|Total Cooking Area||650 sq.in||885 sq.in||850 sq.in||1300 sq.in|
|Main Grate||418 sq.in||570 sq.in||363 sq.in||561 sq.in|
|Hopper Size?||20 lbs||20 lbs||24 lbs||24 lbs|
|Twin-Wall?||Yes (Some)||Yes (Some)||Yes (Full)||Yes (Full)|
|Stainless Steel Internals?||No||No||Yes||Yes|
In terms of the ‘Typical Price’ figures above, I’ve referenced them directly from Traeger’s website which you can check by clicking the button above.
Ironwood vs Timberline Small Differences and Similarities
In many ways, Ironwood and Timberline models are very similar. For instance, they both use Traeger’s latest direct current (DC) variable speed motors for the pellet auger and combustion/induction fan, which Traeger has branded as D2 Direct Drive.
Furthermore, all Ironwood and Timberline models are fitted with the same PID control panel with a 180 to 500-degree temperature range which incorporates Traeger WiFire and the ability to monitor and adjust the grill from a smartphone. You can also watch video recipes within the app and download cooking settings to the grill.
Unlike the Traeger Pro Series, all Ironwood and Timberline models have the patented Traeger Downdraft exhaust, which I’m a big fan of for creating a more even temperature within the cooking chamber.
The Downdraft exhaust also helps to mover evenly distribute smoke around the cooking racks more than a typical pellet grill chimney stack.
There is a small difference in the hopper capacity, with Ironwood models holding 20 lbs of pellets compared to the Timberline models, which can hold 24 lbs.
A difference of 4 lbs is small by anyone’s standards, however, as I’ll discuss below, in some situations, it can actually be more significant than you may think.
Ironwood vs Timberline Grilling Areas
You may be under the impression that paying an additional $500 to $500 for a Timberline over an Ironwood model will get you more of everything.
Well, not necessarily, more features yes, more cooking area overall yes, a larger grilling area?
Well, when you looked at my Ironwood vs Timberline comparison table, you may have noticed I provided the size of the main grate separately from the total cooking area.
As you can see, while the Timberline models provide the larger overall cooking area, they don’t provide the largest main grate for grilling/searing.
This is a classic example of why I frequently discuss on this website to look at pellet grill/smoker specs closely.
Marketing departments will draw your attention to the overall cooking area. However, that can give the impression that all types of cooking areas are larger.
Here is an example where that’s not the case, with the smaller/cheaper grill providing a larger main grilling area.
Hence, if you spend most of your time cooking burgers and steaks in the summer months, a cheaper Traeger Ironwood could provide you with more value than a Timberline model.
Ironwood vs Timberline Twin-Wall Construction
While both the Ironwood and Timberline ranges feature twin-wall insulated construction, there is a notable difference. Ironwood models are only sidewall insulated, whereas Timberline models are fully insulated.
Hence, on an ironwood model, more heat is lost through the lid, rear and lower cooking chamber than that of the Timberline models.
What that ultimately means is pellet usage will be higher on Ironwood models compared to Timberline models.
As a result of the differences in twin-wall construction, if someone asked me which is the better pellet grill/smoker for using in the winter months, I would say easily a Timberline.
It would also use fewer pellets during other seasons as well to a lesser extent.
However, you obviously have to pay a premium for a Timberline grill, so does the lower pellet usage justify the $500 to $600 price premium?
Eventually, yes, but how long that payback would take would obviously depend on how frequently the grill was used.
Though I will also note, a twin-wall insulated cooking chamber like the downdraft exhaust above helps to create more even cooking temperatures across the racks.
Therefore, along with reduced pellet consumption, you are also getting better-cooked BBQ at the same time.
Ironwood vs Timberline Use Of Stainless Steel
While the Ironwood models may feature a stainless steel side self, they do not feature any other stainless steel components.
Timberline models, on the other hand, feature a full 304-grade stainless steel cooking chamber lining and also 304-grade stainless steel cooking racks.
The first advantage of stainless steel that comes to mind is corrosion resistance, and that is indeed a benefit.
The interior of the cooking chamber is obviously a hot and humid environment which stainless steel is better suited for than other materials.
Another benefit of stainless steel internals is they are easier to clean and you’re not concerned about damaging a surface finish with vigorous cleaning etc.
For example, the porcelain coating on the carbon steel wire racks in the Ironwood models will eventually fail and come off.
However, its important to note a Traeger Timberline is not a full-stainless steel pellet grill. Hence, the vast exterior of the grills is powder-coated mild steel.
Therefore, ideally, to keep it looking its best, a Traeger Timberline, like an Ironwood, would not be left outside.
Conclusions On Traeger Ironwood vs Timberline
So what are my final thoughts about if you’re looking for a premium Traeger whether you should choose an Ironwood or Timberline model?
Well, it really all comes down to when and how frequently you intend to use the grill/smoker.
If you will pretty much exclusively use the Traeger in the Summer months for cooking burgers, steaks, chicken wings etc, I would probably advise sticking to the more affordable Ironwood models.
As shown above, they actually offer larger grilling areas compared to their Timberline siblings.
However, if you intended to focus more on smoking larger cuts of meat and using the grill all year round, then that’s where the full-twin wall stainless steel lined cooking chamber is going to pay dividends.
A Timberline model will use fewer pellets and produce more consistent BBQ.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you found the above comparison interesting useful.
If you would like to learn more about you’re wider pellet grill options, I would encourage you to check out my Wood Pellet Grill Guide. 🙂
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.