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Help me choose the right offset smoker!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi all!  I'm new here, obviously, and in the planning/research stages of buying my first smoker! So, I'm deliberating between 3 or 4 options and need your advice!  I do understand that I'll need to make some minor modifications to any of these choices but I'm assuming the mods would be the same, for each. 


Brinkmann horizontal Trailmaster vs. Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn? They appear to be similar build quality, almost the same cooking area, but the Brinkman is much less expensive.


Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn vs. Oklahoma Joe's Highlander? The only difference is about 200 square inches of cooking surface, for a much less expensive price tag.


Brinkmann Horizontal Trailmaster vs Brinkmann Vertical Trailmaster?

post #2 of 19

:welcome1: I don't have any experience with those. I would say spend some time reading the reviews. I see this is your first post. When you get a chance will you drop by roll call so everyone can give you a proper SMF welcome?

Happy smoken.


post #3 of 19
The Oklahoma Joe longhorn is built a little heavier than the other two. If it was me I'd go with that one.
post #4 of 19

Heavy  (thicker) is better



post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

I see that the Oklahoma Joe's have a 2 year warranty, while Brinkmann has a 1 year warranty. The OK Joe's Highlander is 900 square inches of cooking surface, the Brinkmann Trailmaster is 962 square inches. The OK Joe's Highlander is $299.00 at Lowes, and in stock locally. The Brinkmann Trailmaster is $299.00 at Home Depot, not sold at our nearest Home Depot, out of stock (back ordered) at the next nearest HD. A HD 33 miles away has 2 in stock. Ordering online, it's back ordered until the second week of March...

Same price
62 square inches of cooking surface
2 year vs. 1 year warranty
in stock locally, vs. a 66 mile round trip or waiting 3 weeks...

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by icyhot View Post

The Oklahoma Joe longhorn is built a little heavier than the other two. If it was me I'd go with that one.

The problem is, the Longhorn is $130.00 more than the Highlander, for what appears to be only 160 square inches more of smoking surface.  Are you saying the Oklahoma Joe's Longhorn is built with heavier steel than the Oklahoma Joe's Highlander? I was under the impression that the only difference between the two was size. Locally, Lowes has both in stock, side by side.  I'll have to check out both display models. Unfortunately, while I may be able to talk my girlfriend into spending $300...$430.00 will probably be pushing it...haha

post #7 of 19
From what I could tell is the longhorn is built a little heavier than the highlander. But either one will make some good q.
post #8 of 19

Hello.  You said "new here" and "first smoker".  I have used an offset for years BUT it is NOT the easiest, stress free smoker to use as I am sure all the offset users will agree.  Mods make these type smokers much easier to use and hold temp but they are still not set it and forget it smokers without serious mods and lots of experience.  The mods are not that expensive to do but the experience takes some time.  As my friend gary s pointed out HEAVIER IS BETTER!  Offsets are USUALLY ( not always ) for folks who like "tending" the fire and meat.  A brisket for example may need to be moved from one end to the other depending on heat and "doneness"  I can't speak to those particular models but unless you go custom quality HEAVY DUTY build with high temp sealer everywhere you will be adding fuel, adding chips/chunks etc., shuffling meat from end to end,  opening and closing vents for temp control.  I don't mean to put you off buying an offset, I like them.  I like checking the heat and being proactive.  They are not for the faint hearted.  If you want simple I would chose another type smoker.  Just my opinion for what it's worth.  Keep Smokin!


post #9 of 19

the highlander is $268 online@walmart, Lowes said they'd do a price match and give another 10% to boot @ the Plano store



post #10 of 19
I agree they do take some getting used to but I love the challenge of keeping things just right. That's why I have two stick burners and one charcoal smoker. But like kc5pty said it is a lot of work involved. Good luck with what ever u purchase and make sure we get pics of smoker and q view.
post #11 of 19

One thing to keep in mind about the offset configuration is, it can usually double as a grill or even imitate a campfire.

post #12 of 19

Yep!  As stated it is versatile.  Low and slow with proper mods.  Grill ( hot and fast ) a steak or 2 on the fire box end.  Build a fire in the cook chamber and grill for a party.  Put the AMNPS in the fire box end and use to cold smoke.  Just not the easiest of smokers to play with.  I LOVE 'em but been using one for many years and i like the "tending".  Keep Smokin!


post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Red Farr View Post

the highlander is $268 online@walmart, Lowes said they'd do a price match and give another 10% to boot @ the Plano store



I sure wish I could find where you're seeing the Highlander for $268, at Walmart.  From what I'm finding, Walmart's online price is $288. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Oklahoma-Joe-s-Highland-Smoker-Grill-Black/33605961


Yesterday, I checked out a Highlander and Longhorn, side by side.  Each appeared to be made out of the same gauge steel.  The lid, on both, was a heavier steel than the rest of the areas.  Then I went to Home Depot and found an assembled Brinkmann Trailmaster.  While the lid appeared to be made out of a thick steel, the remainder was made out of a much thinner steel than either of the Oklahoma Joe's models.

I'm one who likes to "tend the fire" so the idea of an off-set smoker being more work doesn't scare me off, though I do appreciate that warning.  However, if I were to go a different direction, within the same budgetary confines, what would be the best alternative bang for the buck?

post #14 of 19

I sold my offset quite a while ago and bought the Weber 22" Original One Touch Kettle and the Weber 18.5 Compact for around that same money.  Easier to control temp..  Enamelled so FAR less rusting.  The Kettle for larger joints and turkeys and the compact for mostly burgers and steaks BUT can be used for indirect cooking and between the 2 I can feed 12-15 people easily.  I have owned and built many BBQ/smokers over the years but I wish I had bought the Weber YEARS ago.  There is still a degree of "tending needed.  If you want the real challenge do your smoking without therms.  That's the old school way.


If you are set on offset style I would go all out and go for reverse flow.  Cadillac style.  I have one other suggestion ( link below ):  This is not mine but this would allow you to buy a cheaper Brinkman offset and get some better results and make control easier.  I wish I had thought of it back when using an offset.  Add the AMNPS as a smoke generator and you're away.


A tip I learned from a friend here is as soon as you can SAFELY lay your hands on your offset after your smoke wipe down the entire outside with paper towel and cooking oil.  Once completely cool wipe off any excess oil with dry paper towel.  GREATLY reduces rusting.  Keep Smokin!





post #15 of 19
I've had both the brinkmann horizontal and vertical, the vertical was nice because all you had to do was add the gasket mods and it was a good smoker, unfortunately with it being a vertical there weren't any mods to be able to regular the temp from bottom to top, I currently use the horizontal and after about 60$ in modifications and some practice burns to figure out the tuning plates I love it. It is a great smoker and like I said with a total of about 360$ it is a great smoker. I haven't used the Oklahoma joes smoker but if it's price that's going to sway you I belive the brinkmann is the way to go, I love mine and with proper maintainance it is a great smoker. There is a couple threads on both those smokers so read the reviews and let us know which way you decide to go
post #16 of 19

I will agree with some here, thicker is ALWAYS better, if money is not the issue go with the unit with thicker steel and do the mods, or go with the lang patio model, either way practice is what makes good bbq, you can make (and people do) some of the best bbq on a 55 gal drum (uds) with practice, let us know and post pics when you get your new toy, Bonz

post #17 of 19

I have been looking at the same four smokers for the last couple months.


What I have learned from my research is I'm going with the Oklahoma Joe.


Brinkmann Trailmaster LE  $299.00 HD


1.7 mm steel.  Ends of cooking chamber folded over.


Cooking chamber is 18 inches dia.


Okie Joe Highland  $288.00 Wally World


2.5 mm steel, welded on ends of c.c.

cooking surface is 35in. x 18in.  (18 in dia)


Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical $269.00 for both


Note: there are two models


855-6304-s (@ Bass Pro)

Newer model.

Has door latches and LE plate on front. Brinkmann emblem on door too.


855-6303-sb (@ Bass Pro, Home Depot, etc)

Same one you find at most places.  No door latches.


1.7 mm steel


Cooking chamber grates are 17 inches diameter.


Okie Joe Longhorn $429.00 Lowes/Ace Hardware


2.5 mm steel, welded ends

cooking surface 40in x 20in (20 inch dia)


At first I wanted the Vertical Trailmaster, but I like to smoke whole packers and dont want to split my rib racks to make em fit.  The  Vertical does need less mods, but  I dont mind making mods on the horizontal smokers.  Plenty of info on this site!


So now it comes down to the Okie Joes.


As one person told me, its better to have too much room than too little.


I'm leaning towards the Longhorn.  Also watch for 10% off coupons for Lowes and you can get 12mth interest free sometimes with their credit card.


Hope this helps you decide.  Keep us posted!

post #18 of 19

Here is how I would choose, As much cooking area you can get, the thickest and well built smoker you can find One with good reviews. You may have to do some mods but in the end you won't be sorry



post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 

In the last week, I've decided to go a completely different direction...at least for now. 

This will soon be my new smoker.  I've got a thread about the build, here, http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/178757/old-frigidaire-made-only-by-general-motors-smoker-build


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