Camp Chef vs Pit Boss: Which Will Earn a Promotion?

Since the expiration of Traeger’s original patent on the pellet grill, many other manufacturers have attempted to jostle their way into the top spot. Camp Chef and Pit Boss are just two of the major players in the game. Let’s see how their models compare to one another in this Camp Chef vs Pit Boss review.

Camp Chef

The Camp Chef experience began to take off in 1990, when founder Ty Measom created the Pro60. At the time, the entrepreneur was annoyed at how difficult it was to whip up tasty dishes in an outdoor setting. As a business, Camp Chef prides itself on creating lasting memories in addition to scrumptious outdoor cuisine.

The Camp Chef brand is responsible for a myriad of outdoor cooking accessories. You could easily set up a full-scale kitchen on your deck or patio using their products alone. For the purposes of this roundup, we’ve chosen the SmokePro DLX24. This is a pellet-fueled grill with a bevy of neat features and a strong performance record.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX24

Specifications

  • Cooking Surface: 570 square inches
  • Total Weight: 140 pounds
  • Temperature Range: 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • User-friendly
  • Delivers excellent results
  • Top-notch construction
  • Good value for the price

Cons

  • Can be prone to temperature swings
  • Customer service can be hit or miss

Pit Boss

This brand has been around for even less time than Camp Chef, but they’ve made their niche in the industry nonetheless. Pit Boss is actually a subsidiary of a company called Dansons, which was created in 1999. Their grills come with a heavy-duty construction and some of the most generous warranty packages in the field.

The Pit Boss Sportsman 500 (sometimes referred to as the PB500SP) is a close competitor to Camp Chef’s SmokePro DLX24. How close is that? Let’s take a look.

Pit Boss Sportsman 500

Specifications

  • Cooking Surface: 542 square inches
  • Total Weight: 121.5 pounds
  • Temperature Range: 180 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Hopper Capacity: 15 pounds
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • 5-year warranty package
  • Removable side shelf
  • Open-flame searing function

Cons

  • Handle is set in an awkward position
  • P-setting can be difficult to navigate, especially for first-timers

Camp Chef vs Pit Boss: Features Face to Face

Affordability

Let’s start with the good news: Both of these units are set at a reasonable price point. Unlike some of the competition, Camp Chef and Pit Boss recognize that not everyone can afford to shell out a month’s worth of wages for a pellet grill. These models aren’t exactly cheap, but they offer good value for the money.

This race is almost too close to call. The only reason we’re calling it for Camp Chef is because the SmokePro DLX24 offers a fraction more cooking space for each dollar spent. In practical terms, you would probably be just as happy with either one.

Winner: Camp Chef

Design

The Camp Chef SmokePro DLX24 features straight legs and a set of two wheels for maneuverability. The barrel-style cooking chamber is flanked by a side shelf and a large hopper, which can also be used to hold utensils in a pinch. A large capped chimney rises from the back of the grill, a feature that draws the eye.

We love the fact that the hopper comes with a narrow window, which allows you to keep an eye on the pellet supply. There’s also a bottle opener attached to the front of the hopper, in keeping with Camp Chef’s commitment to detail.

This model comes in a choice of three colors for the domed lid: black, stainless, and bronze. We’re partial to the bronze finish because it offers a more rustic look, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

The first thing most people notice about the Pit Boss Sportsman 500 is the prominent logo on the hopper. Once you inspect the grill itself, though, you’ll find plenty to like about this model.

The sawhorse chassis is outfitted with legs that are sturdier than we would expect from a unit this size. A low shelf can be used for extra pellet storage, and there’s also a side shelf that can be removed when it’s not in use. Like the SmokePro DLX24, the Sportsman 500 comes with a set of rugged wheels for easy maneuverability.

You can also use the lid of the hopper for storage, but it’s a bit small to hold more than a set of grilling tongs. On the whole, this unit is smaller than Camp Chef’s grill, which we’ll talk more about in Grilling Capacity later on. However, if you’re looking for a grill with a small footprint, the Sportsman 500 could be your best bet.

One thing we should mention about the Sportsman 500: The handle is positioned in a way that can cause forearm burns if you’re not careful. It’s difficult to tell by looking at it, but this is a flaw that should be addressed in future models. Fortunately, there’s also a bottle opener, so you can immediately treat any potential burns with a cold beverage.

A spice shelf is built into the side of the hopper on the Sportsman 500. In our opinion, this is also a peculiar design choice. Still, it’s nice to have the option, especially if you like to entertain often and don’t want to leave the grill as you’re seasoning the meat.

This is another tough category. The Pit Boss model has a ton of eye appeal, but the Camp Chef offers a more user-friendly design. In the end, that’s all that matters.

Winner: Camp Chef

Construction

When you purchase the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX24, you’re getting a grill that’s built to last. Like many pellet grills, this one features a steel construction throughout. The cooking grates are made of stainless steel also, which is a popular choice. Considering the price, the grill is about as well-made as you would expect.

The Pit Boss Sportsman 500 is no slouch in this department either. The heavy-duty steel frame and porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates are both efficient and easy to care for. The oversized steel wheels and extra-thick legs help you position the grill right where you want it. Again, the unit offers excellent value on the dollar.

As long as all the parts are in proper working order, you would probably be just as happy with either one of these units. We’re awarding the category to Pit Boss because the main components seem just a shade more sturdy than the ones on the Camp Chef. Additionally, the Sportsman 500 has a powder-coated finish, which helps that “new grill” look last longer.

Winner: Pit Boss

Grilling Capacity

Camp Chef’s SmokePro DLX24 comes with 570 square inches of available grilling space. That’s a decent number, and one that should allow you to prepare at least 25 hamburger patties at once. Grills in this size category are best suited to groups of 5 to 6 people, but you might be able to squeeze in a few more.

We should point out that of the 570 inches available, only 429 are located on the main cooking surface. The additional 141 inches are situated on the upper warming rack. It’s reasonable for pellet grills to offer a configuration like this, but it’s still a point worth making.

The Sportsman 500 is in the same ballpark. With 542 square inches of cooking space, the unit is just the right size for families and small groups. As we pointed out earlier, though, it’s technically smaller than the Camp Chef. If the size of the grill is the driving factor in your decision, the SmokePro model is a better choice.

Winner: Camp Chef

Hopper Size

The hopper capacity helps to determine how long you’ll be able to cook on your pellet grill before you have to refuel. At high temps, a well-functioning pellet grill should burn through about 1 pound of pellets per hour. When the temperature is set low enough for smoking or braising, you can expect to go through about 2 pounds per hour.

The hopper on the SmokePro DLX24 can hold up to 18 pounds of pellets at once. This gives you 18 to 36 hours of cooking time. People who use their grill several times a week are sure to be happy with this feature. Bear in mind that pellets can deteriorate if they sit in the hopper too long, so make sure you’re going through them regularly.

What about the Sportsman 500? Like most of the components, the hopper on this model is a bit smaller. It has a pellet capacity of 15 pounds, allowing for 15 to 30 hours of grilling or smoking. The size is perfectly adequate, and it might even be preferable if you only plan on grilling every week or two.

The bottom line here is that frequent grillers who enjoy slow-smoking large batches would be happier with the Camp Chef. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, as long as you clean out the hopper on a regular basis.

Winner: Camp Chef

Heat Retention

This category is directly related to the construction of the grill. Why? Because if a grill is made with cheap materials, the heat will leak right out, leading to long cook times and disappointing results.

In this regard, we’re impressed with the SmokePro DLX24. The firebox is capable of maintaining its set temperature for long cooking applications. It uses PID technology to keep the temperature within 5 degrees of your designated number, so your meat will cook to perfection.

Pit Boss has a good reputation for build quality, so it stands to reason that the Sportsman 500 would have effective heat retention as well. The barrel is designed so that the lid only opens partway, rather than exposing the entire cooking surface. While this can make it awkward when you’re grilling batches of burgers or hot dogs, it’s great for smoked meats.

Who comes out on top? After careful consideration, we’ve decided that Pit Boss is the better choice. When the Camp Chef model is in good working order, it delivers excellent results. However, some units can be prone to wild temperature swings, whereas we haven’t heard any similar complaints about the Sportsman 500.

Winner: Pit Boss

Temperature Range

The SmokePro DLX24 is capable of cooking at temperatures in a range of 160 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. While we wish it could go a bit higher, the lower temperatures are ideal for smoked ribs, pulled pork, and beef brisket. You can even use the grill to make dehydrated foods, like dried fruit rings and beef jerky.

In addition to the PID technology, Camp Chef includes a Smoke Control feature for the SmokePro DLX24. This allows you to choose between smoke settings on a 1-to-10 scale. The higher the number, the more smoke flavor you’ll get.

The temperature range on the Pit Boss Sportsman 500 is a shade less generous. You can set the grill to cook at 180 degrees for slow cooking, 500 for baking and searing, or anywhere in between. This is still a broad range, but it’s not really suitable for dehydrating.

Pit Boss claims that this model features “8-in-1” grilling capabilities. If you don’t know what that means, it refers to the number of cooking techniques that the grill can achieve. In this case, the “8” stands for grilling, smoking, roasting, searing, braising, barbecuing, baking, and char-grilling.

There’s also a “P-setting” function on the Pit Boss. This setting determines the amount of time that the auger will stop between cycles. If the P-setting is high, the fire will burn lower; a high P-setting cranks the temperature up higher.

For the Sportsman 500, Pit Boss also offers a Flame Broiler Lever that makes it easier to choose between direct and indirect cooking techniques. There’s also an open-flame sear option that can climb to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. For those of you who enjoy a good strong sear on grilled meats, the Sportsman 500 delivers.

Winner: Camp Chef

Ease of Assembly

First-time buyers, take note: The SmokePro DLX24 is one of the most user-friendly pellet grills we’ve seen. Not only is it simple to use, but the assembly is speedy and efficient, even if you’ve never put together a grill before. You should plan on giving yourself at least two hours for the entire process.

That said, assembling the Sportsman 500 will probably take the same amount of time. It may go more quickly with two people, so we would suggest asking a family member or a friend to help you with it. The best way to do this is to have one person unbox the unit and keep track of the manual while the other does the hard labor.

Speaking of which, you should always make sure that all the parts have arrived before you start to put the grill together. Additionally, check the major components to ensure that they’re in good working order. If any of the parts are faulty when you install them, you’ll probably have to visit the Troubleshooting segment of the user manual.

Winner: Tie

Care and Maintenance

Camp Chef offers plenty of features to help you keep the grill in good working order. The stainless steel cooking grates clean up well, as long as you scrub them with a wire brush and wash them thoroughly after each use. This is an important point, but for Camp Chef, it’s only the beginning.

The SmokePro DLX24 has an ash cleanout feature that cuts way down on the amount of time you’ll spend on maintenance. Instead of using a suction hose to deal with the ash buildup in the firebox, you have a system in place that will take care of that step for you.

Similarly, the pellet hopper is equipped with a purge function. This is also a great perk for those of you who would prefer a low-maintenance unit. However, it has a second benefit as well: It allows you to change the pellets easily during cooking, so you can experiment with different flavor combinations.

Finally, Camp Chef’s grease management system is both low-key and effective. A drip bucket is positioned at a convenient level beneath the side shelf, allowing for fast removal. The bucket is large enough to hold the runoff from several long cooking applications, and it cleans up well after use.

The Pit Boss Sportsman 500 comes with a hatch door on the lower section of the hopper. That makes it easier to empty out the pellets and swap out flavors if you’d like. The porcelain enameling gives the cast iron grilling grates a nonstick coating, which allows for a quick and simple cleanup.

As for grease management, the system on the Pit Boss is similar to the one on the Camp Chef. The drip bucket is a bit smaller, but so is the rest of the grill, so that shouldn’t make much difference. When the side shelf is removed, it’s easier to access the bucket.

All in all, the Camp Chef offers more features that help with grill maintenance. To be fair, though, we should remind you that the Sportsman 500 has a reduced grilling surface, so the cleaning process shouldn’t take very long.

Winner: Camp Chef

Troubleshooting

Every quality pellet grill should come with a clear and concise instruction manual that includes a troubleshooting section.

Camp Chef and Pit Boss both offer advice on how to handle malfunctions, but the Pit Boss manual is far easier to read. The section is formatted so that you can quickly identify the problem. Better still, there are multiple solutions offered for most of the potential issues.

By contrast, the Camp Chef booklet has a confusing layout. The troubleshooting section is harder to navigate. Novices in particular may become overwhelmed when dealing with overheating or mechanical issues. Fortunately, the SmokePro DLX24 doesn’t break down often enough for this to be a major drawback.

Winner: Pit Boss

Warranty

The Camp Chef guarantee falls in line with the industry standard with a 3-year “No-Hassle” warranty. During this period, the manufacturers will replace any defective or malfunctioning part free of charge. Be aware that this warranty excludes the paint and finish, so if that starts to peel or crack, you’re on your own.

Pit Boss has stepped up their game in this department. Since late 2018, a 5-year warranty has been included with the sale of all new Pit Boss pellet grills. This indicates strong company faith in the product, which usually translates into superior workmanship.

In addition, if you’ve purchased a Pit Boss pellet grill and changed your mind before using it, you can return the unit within 60 days. The grill has to be unused and in its original packaging for the company to honor the return guarantee.

Winner: Pit Boss

Camp Chef vs Pit Boss: Standout Features

Does the Sportsman 500 have any qualities that are lacking in the SmokePro DLX24? Or does the Camp Chef model include special features that go above and beyond the Pit Boss offering? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Camp Chef SmokePro DLX24

  • Adjustable smoke settings-Utilizes a scale from 1 to 10, allowing you to fully customize your barbecue
  • Low-glare digital display-Can be spotted easily from a distance
  • Pellet hopper purge system-Makes it easier to clean out pellets and switch them out mid-cook
  • Ash cleanout feature-Saves a ton of time on firepot maintenance
  • Cord management system-Reduces your risk of tripping over a misplaced cord

Pit Boss Sportsman 500

  • Dial-in digital control panel-Monitors meat temperature, grill temperature, and pellet levels
  • Flame Broiler Lever-Allows you to choose between indirect or direct cooking techniques
  • Built-in spice rack-Comes in handy for storing spices and rubs
  • Removable side shelf-Reduces the footprint of the grill when it’s not needed

The Verdict

Use the Camp Chef SmokePro DLX24 if:

  • You want as much grilling space as you can afford
  • You would prefer a bronze or stainless steel finish over a classic black lid
  • You’re hoping to use your grill for dehydrated meat or fruit products
  • You love to grill, but hate cleaning up afterward

If this sounds like a good fit for you, add the SmokePro DLX24 to your grilling lineup.

Use the Pit Boss Sportsman 500 if:

  • Having sufficient storage space is more important to you than having a large cooking surface
  • You’re looking to save a few bucks on your pellet grill
  • You want to use your pellet grill to deliver impressive sear marks on grilled steaks and pork chops
  • You would prefer a grill with a generous warranty and return policy

Check out the Pit Boss Sportsman 500 and start adding spice and flair to your outdoor gatherings.

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