Vertical vs Offset Smoker – Which Option is the Best for You?


Who does not like an outdoor evening with some sizzling hot BBQ? Whether you are at the park for a picnic or just hanging out in your backyard, offset smokers make it easy for you to prepare some delicious meals. Grilled fish, steak, sausages, prawns, you name it!

Offset Smoker on a Backyard

Hot air rises, while cold air sinks. We have all learned that in school. Well, both horizontal smokers (offset) and vertical smokers use hot air to cook the food. But considering the vertical vs offset smoker, which one should you choose? And what is the vertical smoker with offset firebox?

These are some questions that many new buyers ask. It is likely that you are in the same position and that is why you are here in the first place. In this article, we shall take you through the ins and outs of Vertical and Offset smokers.

What Are Vertical Smokers?

Vertical Smokers feature a very simple design with three parts including the firebox, water pan, and smoking compartment. They are cheap, easy to repair, and simple to operate. 

The firebox lies at the very bottom of the smoker, which holds fuel for burning, such as charcoal fuel, gas, or wood. Some vertical electric smokers use a hotplate or coils at the base. This is where the heat rises from.

The in the middle comes the water pan, which hydrates the hot air inside the smoker. You see, smokers use moist and hot air to cook the food, rather than dry air. This is necessary, as it helps keep the meat soft and tender.

The smoking compartment exists right above the water pan. This part includes a grill, or a grate typically made of stainless steel, on top of which the food is placed for cooking.

Pros and Cons of Vertical Smokers


  • Covers lesser space due to vertical orientation
  • Uses less fuel and power
  • Portable
  • Cheaper than Offset smoker
  • Simple design
  • Faster cooking time
  • Easy to put fuel in while cooking
  • Large capacity
  • Works efficiently in a colder climate


  • Very limited space for grilling
  • Harder to rotate meat and to get it in/out
  • Cooking large cuts can be difficult
  • If there is no dual design, putting fuel in is difficult

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What Are Offset Smokers?

The design of the Offset Smokers is slightly more complex in comparison to the vertical smokers. These smokers usually have a cylindrical or barrel-like shape with a horizontal orientation.

Offset BBQ smokers have two main compartments. The first is the firebox, and the second one is the cooking chamber. Though, the working is just as simple as the vertical smokers.

Offset Smoker

You start off by burning the fuel in the firebox. The resulting heat moves horizontally into the cooking chamber through a small hole, hence heating the meat up.

After passing through the entire barrel, the heat then escapes via a smokestack located at the other end of the chamber. With that, some offset smokers come with reverse-flow thermal circulation.

This configuration features a sheet of metal just below the grill, resulting in equal temperature distribution and even heating. Though, Offset Smokers with a reverse-flow feature might be slightly more expensive as compared with the regular ones.

Pros and Cons of Offset Smokers


  • Authentic barbeque experience
  • Large capacity
  • Suitable to larger cuts of meat
  • Easy to add fuel due to dual chambers
  • Many offset smokers can be turned to charcoal pit
  • Can use wood as fuel


  • More expensive than vertical smokers
  • Complex design
  • Difficult to repair
  • It takes time to learn how to operate it
  • Loses heat quicker in a cold climate

Similarities and Differences in Vertical Smokers and Offset Smokers

Well, both the vertical smoker and offset smoker can be similar in the sense that they are used to cook meat and other food items. Both these types can be portable, and are hence, great options for outdoor cooking and picnics.

However, with that, some stark differences exist between the two. The most obvious difference would be the orientation. While vertical smokers stand vertically, offset smokers have a horizontal orientation.

This also means that the vertical smokers cover lesser space on the ground as compared with offset smokers.

Another notable difference is that of the chambers. Vertical BBQ smokers feature a single chamber while the offset smokers contain two chambers. With that, some hybrid models are also available in the market. These include box smokers, drum smokers, smoker ovens, kamado grills, and pellet grills.

Top Product Vertical Smokers

Weber Smokey Mountain 22″ Cooker

The Weber Smokey Mountain 22″ Cooker is the perfect example of a standard vertical smoker. It has a single chamber, with the firebox right beneath it, a water box in the middle, and the grill on the top.

Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker

This is a hybrid model, that features two chambers. The Dyna-Glo Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker features a separate firebox with legs that are sturdy enough to support its weight. At the same time, it covers an area of only 1176 sq inches on the ground.

Top Horizontal Offset Smokers

Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker

The Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker is a standard horizontal offset smoker. It features two separate chambers, one for the fuel, and the other for the cooking.

Furthermore, this model also has the reverse-flow capability, which simply improves the heating performance. The smokestack in this model is located near the connection point of the firebox and cooking chamber. As a result of this, the heat stays in the chamber for longer before exiting.

Char-Griller Smokin Pro Offset Barbecue

The Char-Griller Smokin Pro Offset Barbecue is another example of a regular offset smoker. Unlike the previous option, this one does not come with reverse-flow capability. Hence, the smokestack is located at the very end of the second chamber.

Though, since it has a horizontal orientation, it can easily be used for both grilling and smoking purposes. Overall, it might be the best lightweight offset smoker that is affordable from Amazon.


Both the vertical and offset smokers can be a solid choice, depending on your requirements and the budget. Furthermore, both have their pros and cons, which you would already be familiar with now.

We hope that this vertical vs offset smoker article proved to be incredibly valuable to you. For more information, do not forget to read the other posts in our blog.

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Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.