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View Full Version : What type of smoker???


rdodd
02-17-2014, 12:34 PM
What type of smoker would you buy to start comp. cooking? I am looking at a Yoder640 comp cart or a Backwoods I just don't know what direction to go? If you had it to do over again what would you do?

White Dog BBQ
02-17-2014, 12:43 PM
How will you be transporting the cooker? That plays a big part in the recommendation. And how much competing do you expect to do?

Personally, if I was just starting out in competition I don't think I'd drop the coin necessary for either smoker. Do a couple using some WSMs and UDSs, then decide if you want to go with something bigger.

cpw
02-17-2014, 12:48 PM
White dog speaks the truth. But, the yoder 640 would take some meat/time management to work in a comp, and the backwoods would be fine depending on what size you buy.

fnbish
02-17-2014, 12:50 PM
What's your budget estimate? That is a big factor. Also how are you transporting the smokers? Do you just want one smoker?

I really like my current setup running my G2 Party and Chubby. Very portable and fits all the meat I need to smoke. Also I can get hem in the back of my truck.

Ron_L
02-17-2014, 01:58 PM
What type of competitions? KCBS, MBN, ICBA, backyard, etc?

It makes a big difference.

RumRunner_1492
02-17-2014, 02:00 PM
I have a stumps gravity smoker and it is great. You don't have to deal with the fire control and watching that constantly. It makes it a lot easier to get some sleep.

CivilWarBBQ
02-17-2014, 02:56 PM
It doesn't matter what you choose for your first smoker, I **guarantee** you will want something different in short order as you gain experience in competition cooking.

Given this fact, I suggest you start with something inexpensive. I've owned many smokers, but I still keep a WSM in the garage because it is so portable. Long after you retire your bullet from comp cooking it will still be handy for taking to the beach on or the family reunion!

hedge
02-17-2014, 03:48 PM
chevy vs ford. coke vs pepsi. blonde vs brunette.

Everyone is going to have a different opinion.

BMerrill
02-17-2014, 04:01 PM
For my first comp I took what I had (Traeger Texas) and joined up with 3 others each cooking just one meat. Had a blast. Got a 3rd place walk in pork and the team won the GC. When cooking with just one Traeger, carried it on a trailer hitch carrier with the gear in the back of an Explorer.

Will be starting my third year. Presently cooking with 2 Traegers strapped on an open trailer, but have my eye on a used gravity/direct combo smoker.

NRA4Life
02-17-2014, 04:06 PM
What type can you cook your best BBQ on? That is the type cooker you should consider.

Lake Dogs
02-17-2014, 04:06 PM
Everyone said above, but seriously do a little research on the type first, because a smoke that is big enough for one might require multiples in another, or might not even work in multiples in yet another. Seek the comps and type of comps first. Then think of how you cook, how you enjoy cooking, and frankly the type of BBQ you plan to present (they can taste and look different depending on the smoker).

For example, I have what is basically an older Lang 84. I can barely do shoulders and ribs of an MBN comp in it, and that's maxed out. I'd need another one to do a whole hog. But, for KCBS, this is plenty to do it all. For a backyard, I wouldn't bother towing this beast; I'd just use my significantly smaller Yoder knock-off. That stated, I obviously like offset smokers and the product they produce. With it comes fire tending; all night. Someone who wants to get some sleep would be better suited to a cabinet type of smoker...

rdodd
02-17-2014, 04:28 PM
Wow!!!! So many responses that just lead me to more questions and a few answers first off I plan on doing KCBS and IBCA.. As far as transporting the rigs it doesn't matter to me tow or haul.. I currently using a offset cooker but its home made and doesn't hold the heat leading to a lot of fire watching time and not enough time asking questions from other teams and learning this whole game of comp cooking. As far as how many cooks a year just starting a few here locally until I can get to a good cook school.. I would like to get a good cooker and start learning it that would work in mainly KBCS.... Budget is at or under 3500

IowaWildHogsBbq
02-17-2014, 04:49 PM
Check out assasin smokers just got mine .built like a tank easy to use. Be right at your budget .

FatCoyote
02-17-2014, 04:55 PM
My only advice would be to think about how many meats you plan on entering, at what temperature range and cooking intervals for each so that you can maintain temperatures for them all simultaneously. Personally I like and use an offset but there are many other designs that work just as well based on the needs one has, therefore before you buy I would figure out what you like by starting with something small - 3 or 4 bullets always work well as they can grill and smoke but do take a fair bit of attention.

fnbish
02-17-2014, 04:59 PM
Wow!!!! So many responses that just lead me to more questions and a few answers first off I plan on doing KCBS and IBCA.. As far as transporting the rigs it doesn't matter to me tow or haul.. I currently using a offset cooker but its home made and doesn't hold the heat leading to a lot of fire watching time and not enough time asking questions from other teams and learning this whole game of comp cooking. As far as how many cooks a year just starting a few here locally until I can get to a good cook school.. I would like to get a good cooker and start learning it that would work in mainly KBCS.... Budget is at or under 3500

With knowing you are just doing a few local comps and KCBS/IBCA I would say run two 22.5 WSMs. Then lots of $$ leftover for other comp expenses :becky:. Try them out and you can always sell them and upgrade. I started on 2 WSMs.

Lake Dogs
02-17-2014, 05:18 PM
+1 above. For under $800 you have 2 smokers; you can run them at 2 different temps if you'd like. Many notable KCBS competitors succeed quite well on only WSM's.

msavard
02-17-2014, 05:54 PM
Yep... start with a couple WSMs... then get a feel for what you're looking to do and what comps you're going to compete in. That will likely change/evolve once you get going.

Once you've done a year of events you'll have a much better idea of what you NEED.

If you don't want to keep them, you can likely sell the WSMs for 75 cents on the dollar pretty easily to recoup much of your money. Once you walk around osme events and look at a bunch of different smokers you're likely going to change your mind 2-3x anyway :lol:

fnbish
02-17-2014, 07:09 PM
Why did this get moved to q-talk?

rdodd
02-17-2014, 07:33 PM
Thanks guys for all your help!!!!

Bill Corum
02-17-2014, 07:44 PM
Lots of good advice. I agree with the WSM.

EverettBBQ
02-17-2014, 08:13 PM
With your budget.....I would go with a gravity feed smoker.
If you want to struggle for a while...start with a off set stick burner.
Have fun:grin:

bbqgeekess
02-17-2014, 08:28 PM
Harry Soo walked in all 4 categories, in the same contest, with a Mini WSM.

smokinb
02-17-2014, 08:47 PM
Start small and look around the comps. You'll get the good, the bad and the ugly. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'd like bourbon with a strawberry blonde, in a Mercedes Benz.

BB-Kuhn
02-17-2014, 09:04 PM
You can't go wrong with a wsm. Reasonably small investment, and if you want something more major later, I guarantee you'll keep the weber forever.

CivilWarBBQ
02-17-2014, 09:34 PM
One nice thing about the Weber Smoky Mountain is that they are very rust resistant and will pretty much hold their value forever unless you back over the cooker and crush it with your truck. I lucked into an 18" off Craigs List for 75 bucks and zoomed over to scoop it up before 9 in the morning - good thing because three other guys showed up minutes later!

Now days the original 18" WSM has somewhat lost favor with comp cooks who want to step up to the much larger cooking space of the 22" model. That may open the door for some great deals on the 18s, or you can even try visiting a comp and making an offer if you see somebody cooking on one - the lure of ready cash towards a new cooker after awards can be a powerful thing.

Good luck, and have fun!

Scuffletown Smokers
02-17-2014, 09:53 PM
No one has said humphrey smokers yet. I've got one on the way right now and you could get a very nice one for your budget

Alexa RnQ
02-17-2014, 10:06 PM
If we had it to do all over again, we'd still do the same -- WSMs. Seven years and 25 GCs later, we're still not looking to change.

gettinbasted
02-17-2014, 11:33 PM
Check out Gateway Drums at gatewaybbqstore.com

They look great and cook even better for way under your budget.

TailGateJoecom
02-18-2014, 12:53 AM
You mentioned the yoder 640. I am a pellet guy too, FEC120, and did my first 3 comps last year. I am happy I went with a high quality pellet unit from the beginning. After using it in a few comps, here are the positives I came away with:



It allowed me to worry less about fire management and more about my preparations, techniques, recipes, and box building/presentation.
Sleep
It allowed me to have team members who had some cooking experience but not much bbq or smoking experience and have them still help managing the cooker. Pretty much anyone can monitor the pit
Sleep
I was able to cook a very large and competitive comp and still get a call doing the whole thing solo
Sleep
Most important, it is so easy to fire up the smoker and get cooking that I find myself practicing and cooking at home a lot more year round regardless of weather, which definitely helps improve my skills.
Oh, and it allowed me to delegate some work and get some decent sleep before the last 3-4 hours before turn-ins.

Lots of people talking up the wsm, and I own a 22 and recommend it all the time to people looking to get into true bbq. But with the consistency and quality product I get from my fec120 I just find myself always going to that cooker. At some point I am going to buy a huge stick burner, but that would be to just further my education in my craft and hone my fire management skills. Pellet smoking will probably always be my main method of smoking.


Those yoders are pretty sweet. If I don't buy a second fec120, the ys1500 is the next toy on my list.

chickenchoker
02-18-2014, 09:25 AM
WSM's have treated us well over the first five or so years. Most important thing is to know you cooker

deez butts
02-18-2014, 11:13 AM
I'd go with these guys. It is comparable to the backwoods but built better and I think cheaper than the backwoods. We used to run an extended Backwoods Party and a Pitmaker BBQ Safe and have recently gotten rid of those for a Humphrey's Q'bed Beast. We couldn't be more happy about it.

http://www.humphreysbbq.squarespace.com/

Candy Sue
02-18-2014, 11:21 AM
Got my first first on a WSM. Once upon a time a very nice lady from Texas cooked KCBS/IBCA on ONE 18" WSM. She made it to the Jack (and got a call there too). RIP

You should come visit at a local contest. There was an IBCA in Hot Springs just last month and there's a KCBS at the racetrack May 2-3. There's an IBCA coming up in Shreveport then Delight April 26th.

triplezip
02-18-2014, 06:08 PM
Took the plunge on a BW Competitor when we decided to start competing. Glad I did -- It's a ribs and chicken machine, and great capacity for parties, etc. Still prefer the UDS's for butts and brisket, though.

rdodd
02-18-2014, 07:45 PM
Candy Sue,, I did cook at the one in January (Randy Hill) and plan on cooking at Smokelawn .. I will come find you or you might even find me. My Team name is Don't Have a Clue Bar-BQ !! We are out to have fun and cook and learn....

rdodd
02-18-2014, 08:43 PM
Lol !!!!!!!!!

LTG
02-18-2014, 11:41 PM
Check out Gateway Drums at gatewaybbqstore.com

They look great and cook even better for way under your budget.
+1. I would go with a couple drums over 2 wsm's for the following reasons:

-intakes on my drums are way off the ground and are not effected by wind like my 22.5" WSM.

-drums have handles on both sides for easier loading and unloading

-drums have a hook to hang the lid off the side when checking temps, putting meat on, taking it off, etc. WSM has large lid that has to be set down somewhere.

-drum is easier on fuel. I can go a entire contest on one basket of charcoal. I almost always end up adding fuel to the WSM.

BigBellyBBQ
02-19-2014, 10:53 AM
this question is something you have to ask your self..and what style of cooking YOU know how or want to do...All cookers work, it is the pit manager that makes the music. What fits your budget and how you want to travel will answer most of your questions, best go to a comp and walk around and belly up to a team that has a simular vision of what YOU would want..So many different roads you can take, so lock on and enjoy the ride!!

Brother_Tim
02-19-2014, 10:48 PM
A WSM or similar can also be run with stoker which will give you a read out/log of the temps of the cooker and your food which may help you quite a bit.

If you decide to go another route you will always keep that bullet type.

I use a FEC100 and still bring along a bullet type for chicken.

Untraceable
02-20-2014, 07:33 AM
Hard to argue the wsm. If your new to competing, theres going to be a million things youll want to get after the first contest anyways.

heck as a former wsm owner, I now have a pit that Im overwhelmingly in love with (Humphreys), but Im thinking of picking up another 22wsm just for convenience of transporting for camping-concerts-tailgating stuff.

theBBQspecialist
02-21-2014, 08:14 AM
Hard to argue the wsm. If your new to competing, theres going to be a million things youll want to get after the first contest anyways.

heck as a former wsm owner, I now have a pit that Im overwhelmingly in love with (Humphreys), but Im thinking of picking up another 22wsm just for convenience of transporting for camping-concerts-tailgating stuff.

Overwhelmingly in love! Hehehehe.... Thanks!

CBQ
02-21-2014, 09:00 AM
My main comp cookers are a pellet smoker (FEC100) and a Backwoods Chubby. Had the Humphrey's smokers been available at the time I bought the Backwoods, I would have gone that route.

I have 2 WSMs at home. They are great cookers, but the OP already has a smoker but is looking for something with easier fire management. WSMs are great, and the 22" can run a long time, but high winds can also have a big impact on the cook. The cabinet smokers (FEC, Backwoods, Humphrey's, Stumps, Superior, etc.) tend to operate more or less the same way regardless of outside conditions, so you tend to see those a lot of in the northern states.

The original question was Backwoods vs. Yoder. The Yoder cooks a lot like an offset, but fire management is easier (at least with the pellet versions, which is what I assume is being considered.)

If you like the offset, but want easier fire management, go with the Yoder. If you cook in tough weather conditions, go with a cabinet smoker. If you like the Backwoods, give the Humphrey's a good look too.

hogzillas
02-21-2014, 05:55 PM
Given the budget of 3500 & under that's plenty of choices to go w/. I assume by comment on it doesn't matter tow/haul mean's you've a truck w/ hitch setup? If you're used to offset you may want to stick w/ the same kind & go w/ a Lang, Meadowcraft, Jambo or Yoder all good offsets not to mention more makers that I didn't list that I'm sure others would come up w/. You can go cheap w/ WSMs be it 18" or 22" & get 2+ of each that way you've more money left over for the other things for contests like canopies, tables/ coolers, entry fees, meats or the myriad of misc other things.