In the marker for a new smoker..Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by buckysgt, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. I currently have a Brinkmann Trailmaster Limited with all the mods (baffle, stack extension, charcoal basket, DigiQ, and gaskets).  I'm currently very frustrated with it though. I just did a smoke last weekend in WI and fought temps the whole time.  It was about 30 degrees with a very light snow. Actually had a hard time getting it up to temp. About 240ish was what I was shooting for. Got it up to 240 twice, but it would fall and then almost never recovered. This has been a consistent problem for me over the last couple of years.  I'm over it!!

    So with that said, I am looking to get an insulated box style smoker.  I've just started researching but so far these are the the smokers that I like. 

    Stumps Smoker XL Baby

    Pitmaker Safe

    Assassin 24

    Backwoods - couple different smokers

    I'm looking for suggestions. This is strictly a home smoker, but do cook when we have some parties. The Trailmaster has about 950 sq inches of cooking space and I would like to stay at the size or go slightly bigger. 

    What are you thoughts?
  2. Also check out Humphrey's & Lone Star Grillz
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Wow...Cadillac or Lincoln? All good choices! The Gravity Fed Stump's is an interesting concept.  I looked hard at these from Lone Star Grillz. Bigger than some listed and in the same price range including upgrades...JJ
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    You're looking at 2 differing kinds of vertical cookers...gravity fed and vertical water smokers.  The gravity fed pits, like the Stumps and the Assassin, allow you to bank a load of charcoal in a vertical coal chute that will feed the fire box gradually over many hours.  The vert. water cookers (Backwoods, Humphrey's, Pitmaker, et al) have a coal basket in the bottom of the cabinet with a water pan between the fire and the cook chamber.  Both styles are excellent cookers that get the job done in slightly different designs.

    So, the first thing to decide is which style you're interested in.  One more gravity fed brand to look at is Southern Q.  Their Limo Junior model is about the same size as the others on you list, and is a little more affordable than the other gravity fed cookers.  I just bought a used one of these myself:

    Haven't cooked on it yet, but my first impression is it is built like a tank!

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  5. I know there are 2 different types of smokers listed. I'm not sure which ones I'd prefer. Do you have any suggestions or opinions on water smokers vs gravity fed?

    Thanks for the lone star link. I actually looked at those as well. Just forgot to list them. Right now I like the lone star, pit maker safe and Stubbs the best. But like I said, I'm looking for advice and opinions so I can make the most informed decision I can.

  6. That's a good list. I'll just add one more that's in the same ballpark, the 270 Sumo.  Check it out at  Good luck with your new smoker.
  7. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    This is only one guy's opinion, but if cost isn't your chief concern, I'd go with the Stumps or the Assassin 24...I just like the design of the gravity feds.  If I had less money and still wanted to get quality on a budget, I'd look at the Humphrey's and the Backwoods...they have nicely sized models for backyard cooks for around $1500...less than half the cost of the Stumps XL Baby.  All of these cookers are high quality products, so you can't really go wrong here whichever way you go.

    Whatever you decide to do, half the fun is looking and shopping!  Good luck and let us know what you end up getting...[​IMG]

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
  8. Good Advise Red! 
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The Gravity Smokers will probably be more easily controlled " out of the box " because a small fire burns in a controlled space. The Water smokers use more of a Minion Method and without a Guru or equivalent may need more monitoring and fresh air tweaking...JJ
  10. This is good stuff guys. I appreciate it. 

    Is there anything specific I should be looking for in a smoker of this caliber? For example, size, amount of insulation, space between cooking racks, etc.  Like I mentioned earlier, I've been cooking on a BTLE and that was my first smoker ever. I just want to get the best smoker for me and the best bang for my buck when I make this purchase. 

    I do own a DigiQ that I got for my Brinkmann so I could use that on a water smoker if I planned to go that route. I'm just not sure which way to go. 
  11. One thing that would be important to me is if I could get a hands on look at any of the smokers on your list.  I don't know if that's possible, but it would help give you a better idea of their construction.  Any bbq competitions in your area in the near future?  Anyone sell any of these in your area, its worth a couple hours drive to get close up look, before you spend this kind of money.
  12. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Whether you decide to go with a gravity fed or a water cooker, that Guru DigiQ will be good to very well for temp control on both styles.  You'll have to ask your dealer or manufacturer about any adapter you may need to mount it on your new rig.

    Some things that were important to me when I was comparison shopping for a vertical:
    • Rack size...I wanted something with at least 3 racks that would each hold 1 large brisket, 2 large butts, or a couple racks of spare ribs.
    • Rack adjustability/clearance between racks...being able to put larger meats like big butts or whole chickens on all 3 racks was important to me.  IMO some of these cabinet smokers get the racks too close together, making it more difficult to load it with larger meats.  My Southern Q has  3 racks that are about 7" apart.  Also, having extra rack runners in the cabinet, so you can adjust the rack height as needed would be nice.
    • The smokers you're considering are all constructed well, but overall build quality would always be something I'd check.  i.e. what gauge of sheet steel is used on the inner and outer skin;  what size and thickness of steel tubing is used in the frame;  what thickness and rating is the insulation;  what material and gauge are the grates, fire box, and coal baskets made of;  what kind of latches and/or clamps are used to seal doors;  do they use screws and rivets or are they 100% welded construction;  do they have good quality gaskets around all doors for a good seal;  depending on the size and weight, you'll want good quality casters under it so it's easy to move around.
    Off the top of my head, that's some things I'd be looking for.  Hope it helps...

  13. Hey guys, just wanted to say thanks for all the advice in the past. After a lot of research and talking to people that owned the smokers I was looking at, I went with the Humpherys Down East Beast. It was delivered in November. I haven't had a ton of time to cook on it yet, but so far I love it.

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  14. smokinit

    smokinit Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Lookin good

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