The Weber Smokey Mountain is a smoker that’s not only efficient but budget-friendly. These two features make it a favorite on any list that ranks modern smokers based on those parameters. The dual cooking grates give it the extra space to compete with more significant smokers. And adjustable dampers make it an excellent choice for those who want precision control over heat levels. All in all, there’s no doubt that the Weber Smokey Mountain is a versatile smoker that can shine in any home and backyard.
The 14’’ vs 18’’ Debate
The only conundrum buyers usually face in choosing the size of the smoker. The Weber Smokey Mountain comes in mainly three variant sizes – 14”, 18”, and 22”.
The 22” variant is a bigger and broader smoker that consumes more fuel too. So, unless you want an industrial grade smoker or run a busy restaurant, it’s easy to skip while shopping. The real challenge comes when you have to choose between the 14” and the 18”.
The differences between these two variants are more nuanced, and they can seem pretty similar in principle. So, how do you decide which smoker suits you better? Fortunately for you, that’s precisely what we’ll talk you through today.
Head to Head
The best way to understand these two smokers is to measure them against certain qualities. These ‘qualities’ are attributes that you’ll want in any smoker. These attributes are:
- Space (flat space is different from cooking capacity).
The cooking capacity of a smoker is best understood in terms of everyday food items. So, the WSM 14” is enough for maybe four slabs of ribs (halved), two pork butts, or food items with similar volume.
Alternatively, you can smoke a whole turkey of about 12-pounds. That’s much more capacity than you’ll need to feed a regular family.
You need not invest in bigger volume capacity if you’re not going to utilize it anyway. Remember, most unnecessary purchases happen with thoughts like, ‘But I might need it one day.’
The WSM 18”, on the other hand, offers considerably more volume capacity. Think of eight rolls of baby back ribs or two briskets, whichever is more comfortable to imagine. In comparison to the 14”, you can double the number of pork butts to four in the 18”.
If you regularly have guests over at home or host small barbecue parties, this one might serve you better. It should be enough capacity for any regular home use. Just remember that it consumes more fuel compared to the 14”. So, the bigger capacity does come with inevitable tradeoffs.
Apart from volume capacity, space refers to the smoker’s ability to accommodate broader and more significant meat cuts. The cooking space is vital if you want to have it lie flat on the slab.
As far as cooking space goes, the WSM 14” isn’t as accommodating as the 18”. It can fit a 12-13 pound turkey at best, and not much beyond that. So, if you have a backyard party that has a dozen people or more, the 14” may not be able to keep up. Of course, this is assuming you’d want your ribs and snacks to be ready in batches. If your guests don’t mind waiting in line, you could still slog it out on a 14”. But all in all, the 18” fares much better as a smoker that offers more expansive space in addition to volume.
The 18” can be versatile enough to offer ‘extra’ space if you know how to use it. You can fit large briskets by draping it over/across a chunk of wood or by using rib racks. And if you don’t mind investing in a vertical roaster, you may even be able to fit a 24-pound turkey.
The Weber Smokey Mountain smokers are all portable units because you can take them apart. You can disassemble any WSB unit into its three main components – the lid, the body, and the bowl. So, if you needn’t worry about taking it along on road trips.
Both the 14” and the 18”, once taken apart, can fit into almost any car. You don’t need a monster pickup to haul the components. However, the 14” will occupy less boot space. So, that’s a plus if you’re going camping or carrying a lot of other equipment.
Besides disassembled transportation, you can also carry the full WSB units around. Of course, this isn’t as easy as lifting individual pieces since you’ll have to take the whole weight of the WSB. In this context, the WSB 14” is much more portable and convenient. It weighs about 22 pounds, which is a manageable weight for any adult to lift. And you can also manually carry the WSB 14” to a considerable distance around the house (Eg. From the garage/storage till your backyard).
The WSB 18” is a little heavier with a weight of about 37 pounds. So, you can still lift it, but carrying it around isn’t as easy as the 14”. So, if manual portability is a priority for you, the 14” is a better choice.
The price difference between the 14” and the 18” isn’t all that high. And this is another reason why people often face a dilemma on which one to get. Since they’re both priced evenly, you may find either one on a list of budget-friendly smokers. All the same, price does matter, especially if the difference is beyond a hundred dollars.
WSB units have a uniform price range over most online and retail platforms. The company uses a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy to ensure that prices remain even across platforms. So, you know you’re getting a fair deal on most outlets – online or offline.
It’s common to have difficulty in choosing between the closely priced 14” and 18” WSBs. So, you can always make comparisons with other budget-friendly smokers before you make a choice. But ultimately, it comes down to you and your cooking requirements as you choose which model suits you best!