Since starting my work in the wood pellet industry in 2007 I’ve seen the popularity of pellet grills and Traeger grills, in particular, grow and grow. Its gone from being a small niche in the wood pellet industry to being one of if not the most common use most people know of for wood pellets. Within recent years Traeger has updated its range of smokers with more premium products, namely the Ironwood and Timberline range. With this post, I want to focus on the Timberline range and provide an in-depth post on the features of this grill to show why its the top of the Traeger range. I’ve included several videos on the grills features and /videos to of reviews from BBQ professionals and Timberline owners.
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The Traeger Timberline range being their most premium product it should be no surprise that is significantly more expensive than other Traeger grills. You will have to spend north of £1,500 to purchase one. Therefore, in many instances, if you only want to grill/smoke occasionally the Timberline is not the grill for you unless money is no object. If you have never owned a pellet grill before you may want to start with a small/portable pellet grill such as the Tailgater which serves as a good entry into the world of pellet grills. Though the Tailgater is a lot more basic than the Timberline as you will see below. Even if at this point you’re not ready for a Timberline I would still encourage you to read/watch the content below. It demonstrates where the peak art/science of wood pellet grilling is today.
Introduction On The Traeger Timberline Pellet Grill Range
There are currently two grills available in the Timberline range the 850 and the 1300. Both grills have the same feature set and benefits over lower-spec Traeger grills such as the Ironwood and Pro Series. However, as you probably guessed the numbers indicate that there is a size difference between the two grills. The numbers actually relate to the cooking area provided with each grill in square inches. Both units have the same height at 51″ and depth at 28″. However, the length of the units vary. I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn the 850 is the smaller of the two with a width of 46″ with the 1300 at a width of 58″.
The only other notable difference between the Timberline 850 and 1300 is the weight of the units. Unsurprisingly the 1300 is the heavier of the two at 226lbs compared to 216lbs for the 850. However, the difference of 10lbs in weight could hardly be regarded as significant. Anyway, that’s the boring bits out of the way. Let’s start to look at the features of the Timberline pellet grills, and why these grills can cook in a way that no Traeger could do before.
Below I’m going to discuss the specific features of the Timberline pellet grills and why they are the most advanced and sophisticated wood pellet smokers Traeger have produced to date.
The Benefits of WiFire Technology
The original selling point of the original Traeger wood pellet grills over charcoal or standard log/wood chip grills was the convenience and ease of use. Before Traeger cooking with wood while trying to regulate the temperature properly was a true skill. Therefore, many back yard grill owners have previously opted for propane. However, anyone who has compared food cooked with propane to BBQ wood pellets knows there is no real comparison. The original Traeger pellet grills made cooking with wood so much easier than it had been before. However, the original digital control panel was not ‘smart’, you could simply set a temperature. Traeger has listened to feedback from their grill owners and re-engineered the control panel on the Timberline to be much more advanced with WiFi integration. Or as Traeger brands, it WiFire.
The video above gives you a quick glimpse at the functionality of WiFire implementation on the Timberline pellet grills. In the simplest terms with your smartphone and the Traeger app downloaded you can remotely monitor and change the temperature of your smoker from ‘anywhere in the world’. The reality being while your down the shops or at a game maybe. The point being when cooking something such as Brisket you can be away from your pellet grill doing other things and still be in complete control of the cooking process. Once its done, you can then set the Timberline pellet grill to ‘keep warm’ until you’re ready to eat.
However, the Traeger app also contains an ever-growing selection of recipes and videos for cooking beef, poultry, pork, seafood and vegetables. Covering burgers, steaks, briskets etc. The particularly ‘cool’ part though is you select a food type/recipe and the app sends the cooking settings to the Timberline grill! I’m going to write a separate post soon on the full functionality and features of WiFire.
Tru Convection and Smoke Science Cooking
If you compare a Traeger Pro Series or any of the earlier generation pellet grills to the Timberline (and Ironwood) smokers a significant difference should be particularly apparent. The Timberline grill has no chimney! Now, that’s not actually the case, it does have a chimney. However, the combustion process in the Timberline works very differently to the earlier generation Traeger grills.
With previous Traegers, the heat/smoke from the firepot had a pretty direct route up and out through the little chimney stack located on the opposite side of the grill to the pellet hopper. However, the Timberline (and Ironwood) grills are very different. They feature a downdraft exhaust horizontally mounted across the back of the smoker. Does this actually make a significant difference to how the grill performs? Quite simply yes, both the cooking performance with convection heating and smoke distribution through the grill are significant upgrades.
As can be seen throughout the video above, with the Timberline as the heat/smoke comes from the firebox it circulates through the contents of the grill like a vortex. This means not only better heat distribution for more even cooking and baking, but it means smoking performance has also been improved. Now, the smoke circulates and penetrates the food like never before. With the downdraft rear exhaust and Tru Convection cooking, you get more of that great smoky flavour into your food quicker and while using fewer pellets to do the job.
Then there’s also ‘Super Smoke Mode’, a specifically dedicated button on the front of the D2 controller. Unlike earlier generation Traeger grills the new induction fan is variable speed, first-generation induction fans were fixed/single speed. However, Timberline pellet grills benefit from the D2 Direct Drive system. What this means is that the new D2 controller between 165 and 225 degrees can precisely control the speed of the induction fan to generate more smoke when desired.
Double-Walled Stainless Steel Interior
The Timberline range is about taking cooking with wood pellets to its highest level. Well, another feature which sets these particular grills apart is the insulated stainless steel double-walled interior lining. The benefits of a stainless steel interior should be obvious in terms of making it easier to clean the pellet grill and you no longer have to be concerned about corrosion (rust). However, the feature of a second interior liner to the sides and lid of the grill is important in its own right.
Having the internal cooking area inside the grill separated from the outside environment by a double-walled lining helps with temperature regulation. For instance, if you’re in your backyard cooking and the wind speed and direction changes, well that can impact on your grills performance. Higher wind speeds can draw heat out of the grill faster. While the internal RTD temperature sensor is always monitoring the temperature to feed in more pellets when required, there is a delay. Hence, the double-walled liner on the Timberline protects your food much better from temperature fluctuation due to changes in the climate around the grill. It should also be noted, the lid has a perimeter gasket to help keep heat/smoke inside the smoker.
Now, that’s not to say when using the grill outside during the colder months of the year you wouldn’t need to use an insulated external jacket as discussed in my Traeger accessories post. But in all weather conditions, the double-walled construction of the Timberline will help to keep the internal temperatures more consistent. Hence, you’ll get more consistent/better quality grilled/smoked food as a result.
Other Notable Timberline Features
The above features are what I wanted to draw your attention to the most, as they set the Timberline range apart from other Traeger grills. However, below are a few of the other features which are also worth noting. For instance, as of writing this post, the Timberline is currently the only Traeger grill to feature a pellet level sensor as standard. If you are using the WiFire feature of the grill to monitor the cook remotely it is a nice feature to have to know that the hopper is not going to run out of pellets halfway through cooking a brisket for instance. Though its not essential, before walking away from the grill for several hours at a time its good practice to brim the hopper with pellets.
The Traeger pellet hopper sensor can also be fitted to Pro Series and Ironwood grills: Image – Amazon
If you have compared the appearance of the Timberline and Pro Series beyond the differences in the chimneys you may have noticed another difference, the Timberline has not grease bucket! Now, just as we discussed above with the chimney, that’s obviously not the case. The fact is with the Timberline Traeger has decided to go for a more discrete approach with the grease trap and use a slide-out draw. However, just as with the grease bucket on older Traeger’s, you still want to use a grease tray liner to make clean up a lot easier.
There are lots of other nice little features such as the magnetic bamboo chopping board as seen in the image above along with front and side facing stainless steel shelf for food prep. Again, just like the interior liner, being stainless steel it not only makes clean up easier but they are much more durable. The Timberline also has caster wheels all-round, unlike lower-spec Traeger pellet grills which makes moving the grill around much easier. Which is a good job because these are also the heaviest Traeger grills, partly due to their size but also due to the upgrades in the materials used.
Traeger Timberline Reviews
Since the Timberline was launched in 2017 there have been a number of major news outlets, BBQ websites, personalities and grill owners who have published reviews on the Timberline. Now, I know a lot about how wood pellets are made, but I’m no BBQ pitmaster. Therefore, I wanted to reference the best reviews from BBQ professionals and owners of the Timberline pellet grills. The Timberline pellet grills just like any pellet grill has its pros and cons. And with the Timberline grills being a ‘premium’ and high priced choice these grills have come under, and rightly so, more scrutiny than other Traeger grills in the past. Therefore, if you are considering purchasing either the Timberline 850 or 1300 I would encourage you to watch as many of the videos reviews as possible to get as broader an opinion as possible on the pros and cons of these wood pellet smokers.
The BBQ Guys highlight that the large 24lb pellet hopper on the Traeger Timberline grills can cope with a whole 20lb bag of Traeger pellets with room to spare. As you can see from the video the start-up procedure on the D2 controller is a little different from the previous generation Traeger control panels. Previously you would turn the dial to the set temperature and the grill would start. With the D2 you first set the temperature and then press ignite. It should be noted at this point the Timberline has a maximum temperature setting of 500 degrees which is higher than any other Traeger grill to this point.
In the video above you can see the use of the probe thermometer for cooking a Turkey. With the WiFire app, you can remotely monitor the internal temperature of the meat to know when its ready. Personally, the only slight disappointment I have with the D2 controller is there is only one external temperature probe connection. With the previous generation Pro Series controller you could connect two external temperature probes. The BBQ Guys also do a good job of highlighting the stainless steel cooking racks which is definitely a premium feature and not found on most grills.
Timberline Owners Review
The BBQ Guys review of the Timberline grills above does a good job highlighting its features. However, they are a retailer of grills. Hence, its also good to hear some ‘real-world’ feedback from an actual Timberline owner. Therefore, I’ve also included below the best owners video review I could find highlighting both the pros and cons of the Timberline. Importantly though its from an owner who uses their grill in a cold northern climate. Hence, where the insulated double-wall lining of this grill really stands out.
The reason I particularly like this review is the owner emphasises that the Timberline range is not designed for everyone. If you live in a warm climate or only intend to cook infrequently on calm sunny days unless money is no object the Timberline grills are probably not your best option. However, if you live in a colder northern climate, in this case, Canada, the ability of the Timberline to suffer fewer temperature fluctuations than other grills is its stand out feature. In those sorts of climates, a cheaper grill is actually a false economy. Because during most of the year a cheaper grill will be producing food which is simply inferior. After all, the main reason anyone buys a wood pellet grill is to produce the best BBQ food they can. Hence, not to just settle for the bland flavour you’ll get from a propane grill.
Conclusions On The Traeger Timberline Pellet Grill Range
So what are my own thoughts on the Timberline range? Well, unquestionably these are the most advanced/consistent smokers Traeger has produced to date. All the way down to the auger pellet feed system Traeger have re-designed/re-engineered these grills to be superior to previous models. Are these grills expensive? To your average BBQ owner, yes they are. Hence, the question then becomes are Timberline grills worth the money? Well, as with most decisions when it comes to money, its about individual circumstances.
As stated above if you BBQ just a could of times a year in peak summer, a more basic pellet grill is probably the better option, maybe even a portable pellet grill. However, if you want to be able to BBQ pretty much all year round and get consistent quality food no matter what’s going on outside (within reason). In that case, I do think you should put either the 850 or 1300 Timberline grill on your shortlist. As I do believe, the Traeger Timberline is one of the best pellet grills on sale today.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, I hope you’re now clear on the full range of features/capabilities of the Traeger Timberline range. You can purchase grills directly through Traegergrills.com. They also offer 0% finance, starting from just $40 a month. I have lots of other posts on pellet grills, please check out my wood pellet grill/smoker guide. 🙂