If you are considering buying a smoker then the Weber Smokey Mountain needs to be on your list. There are lots of things to consider when buying a new smoker such as:
- Ease of Operation
- Quality of the Barbecue Produced
- Fuel Type
- Value for the Money
.Let’s talk about that last bullet point of Value for the Money because that is a major issue for most people. If you are asking, “Is the Weber Smokey Mountain worth it?” then the answer is: “The Weber Smokey Mountain is a world class smoker that is worth every penny.”
Stick with me and let me show you why the Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the best values you can find.
What Makes the Weber Smokey Mountain Great
Before we even start to think about cost and value the very first thing we have to establish is whether or not the WSM is a decent smoker or not.
The beauty of the Weber Smokey Mountain is that it offers precision air control. There are three air inlet dampers at the base of the smoker and one air outlet damper on the top of the smoker. Precise air control results in precise temperature control and that can be a massive benefit when learning how to barbecue.
Weber Smokey Mountain cookers are routinely used on the competition barbecue circuit and some of the most successful teams, like Slap Yo Daddy Barbecue, use them exclusively.
Teams routinely win Grand Championships with these cookers because they are awesome.
Extended Knowledge Base
The WSM has been around a long time and has a dedicated and friendly fan base.
One of the best barbecue forums on the Internet is the Virtual Weber Bullet and it is a goldmine of knowledge for how to get the most from these cookers.
The crowd over there is extremely friendly, helpful and welcoming towards beginners.
Why the Weber Smokey Mountain is a Value
At first glance a WSM might seem expensive but they are actually pretty budget friendly.
Long Term Cost of Ownership
The WSM that I currently use is 25 years old and in those years we have needed to replace one of the cooking grates and the charcoal grate. The longevity of my WSM is nothing special and many owners have models that are much older than mine.
When you take the current price of an 18 inch WSM ($349) and spread it out over 25 years of use you will see that owning one of the best smokers in the world will cost about $14 per year.
Before I started using a WSM I had a cheap offset smoker that was pretty similar to an Oklahoma Joe’s Highland. I thought it was “cool and authentic” to smoke meats on an offset smoker.
It turns out that what smoking on an offset smoker is not only “authentic” but it is expensive as heck.
I couldn’t believe how much charcoal I had to feed that beast to maintain temperatures. I was having to add fuel every 45 minutes and would go through BAGS of charcoal for a standard brisket cook.
A WSM is hyper-efficient with fuel usage. You will save massive amounts of cash in charcoal alone by using a WSM.
The WSM is a value when you consider that even the largest model is less than $500 and they cook as good or better than smokers that cost over $1,000.
There are plenty of other smokers than can make great barbecue but they come with serious price tags.
Big Green Eggs are amazing cookers. You can get an Egg with a heat deflector and nest and it will set you back somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500.
Traeger pellet grills are extremely easy to use. If you want one that has Super Smoke Mode for better barbecue then you will need to buy an Ironwood Series for over $1,000.
Serious offset smokers like Lang’s and Jambo’s are amazing cookers that make barbecue as good or maybe even better than a WSM. All it will set you back is about $5,000.
What Size Weber Smokey Mountain Do You Need?
One of the biggest questions about these smokers really isn’t if they are worth the money or not. The real question is what size should you buy.
There are three sizes of the WSM available and the current prices (2021) are:
- 14 inch WSM = $229
- 18 inch WSM = $348
- 22 inch WSM = $459
Back when the 22 inch model first came out I thought it was the only logical choice to buy. After all, bigger is better! It turns out that the one I would buy if I was shopping for a new one is the smaller 14 inch model.
The 22 inch model is a little bulky and awkward if you do not have a dedicated spot and have to move it back and forth from your garage. It is also a little harder to control and uses more charcoal.
The 18 inch model is the sweet spot between ease of use and capacity.
The 14 inch model is perfect for cooking for 1-4 people, is highly fuel efficient and is the easiest smoker to transport.
You can read my full Weber Smokey Mountain Review here to learn more.
Legitimate Weber Smokey Mountain Alternatives to Consider
As much as I love the Weber Smokey Mountain I know that it is not the best choice for everyone.
The WSM is awkward to move around, some people do not like the looks and there is a learning curve when it comes to getting your vent settings just right.
I think a lot of people would enjoy the similarly priced Pit Barrel Cooker just because it is so much simpler to use. See WSM vs PBC for more details.
I am also a fan of the similarly priced Oklahoma Joe Bronco drum smoker. I think the Bronco is a handsome cooker and it makes great barbecue. I cooked on a Bronco for a year before I gave it to a friend. My main complaint about the Bronco was that you couldn’t refill the charcoal basket while cooking.
Another option for your consideration is a 26 inch Weber kettle. The 26 inch kettle is a massive grill that can easily be used as a smoker by using the Snake method, banking charcoal or using a Slow n Sear insert.
Like I said, the WSM is not the perfect smoker for everyone but, if you do decide to get another smoker, then that decision should not be based on price because the WSM is worth every penny!