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Thanks to the patent that gave them a head start of two decades, Traeger now dominates the pellet grill market. This Utah-based company was the first to introduce a grill of this type in the 1980s. Nowadays, they’re the number one manufacturer of pellet grills and plan to keep that position.
Traeger grills operate on a simple principle. Based on a selected temperature, an auger pushes the pellets into a firing chamber. The temperature is selected via the small digital interface directly on the grill. There’s no need to babysit the food or fiddle with air ducts – you just “set it and forget it”.
The company sells many different types of grills, trying to cater to all sorts of requirements and budgets. Their newest offering is a niche of a niche – a series of portable smokers. Although a member of a small family, the Traeger Ranger Portable promises multiple cooking options, easy-to-use controls, as well as high mobility.
If you’re interested in buying an ultra-mobile pellet grill, the Ranger Portable may be your best choice. Check out the rest of this review and find out everything you need to know about its features, advantages, and flaws.
This is a portable pellet grill manufactured by Traeger (Utah).
- Compact – easy to transport
- Multiple cooking options
- Powder-coated steel construction
- Porcelain-coated cooking grates
- Energy efficient – uses minimal wattage
- Easy-to-use digital controls
- Efficient grease management system
An important thing to mention here is that those looking crusty goodness and charring should instead opt for a proper charcoal grill. Those grills are specifically tailored for that type of cooking, and while this model is capable of it, it wasn’t exclusively designed for it.
Why Get It?
When it comes to advantages of pellet grills, the most significant one is undoubtedly the flavor. Professional BBQ chefs use wood pellets due to the fact that they provide the best flavor. Pellet grills are also user-friendly and very easy to use, with a one-button startup.
The model we’re about to analyze here has the same options as full-sized grills. However, its advantage is mobility – it is portable enough to take to a picnic or a camping trip. It’s a compact but versatile pellet grill that allows multiple cooking options. These include barbecuing, grilling, braising, roasting, and baking.
Although its dimensions stand at just 19″ x 20″ x 13″, the model has plenty of cooking space. With 173 square inches of it, you can accommodate eight burgers or sixteen hot dogs at once. This is more than enough for any smaller backyard party. However, its cooking possibilities are still limited. Those who want to cook large cuts of meat should opt for a full-sized pellet grill.
A big issue with older grills of this type was the inferior 3-position controller. It could only execute pellet run-times for high, medium, and low heat. This is because it had no thermostat to monitor the actual temperature. Fortunately, that’s not an issue with Traeger Ranger.
The model comes equipped with a multiple-options digital controller. There are 11 knob adjustments here, as well as an easy-to-read LCD screen. There’s also a shut-down option. Once selected, it will make sure that the auger is emptied out while the appliance is cooling down.
Like most Traeger pellet grills, this one also operates on a heated convection principle. The unit’s induction fan circulates the pellet smoke through the cook chamber, ensuring good flavor distribution and even heat. Ranger Portable is also energy efficient. It is powered by a standard household outlet and uses minimal wattage.
Just as we expected, the model also has a robust construction. The primary build material is powder-coated steel, ensuring durability and good heat distribution.
The grates, on the other hand, are made out of steel and are porcelain-coated. This makes cleaning them exceptionally easy.
Grease Management System
The grease management system of this grill is simple but very effective. During cooking, the grease drops onto a special tilted panel that carries it off to a removable bucket. Traeger recommends lining this bucket with some aluminum foil, which makes cleaning it up a breeze.
Pros & Cons
- Highly portable
- Multiple cooking options, from grilling to baking
- Made from durable materials
- Easy-to-clean porcelain-coated grates
- Digital elite controller with 11 settings
- Grease management system
- Energy efficient
- 3-year warranty
- Overall 85% 85%
- Not for larger cuts of meat
- Temperature fluctuations
“Even though I have a full-sized Traeger, I find myself using the portable version more often than I expected. It’s a versatile little cooker that makes a great job out of pork chops and steaks. I particularly love its portability – it’s my go-to grill for picnics and camping.”
With multiple cooking options, the Traeger Ranger Portable is a genuinely versatile grill. However, it is best-suited for typical tailgate meals, such as burgers and hot dogs.
What to Watch Out For
Not for larger cuts of meat
As we already mentioned, this model comes with 173 square inches of cooking space. Although great for steaks, burgers, and hot dogs, the unit is not suitable for larger cuts of meat. If you often prepare large amounts of food for outdoor gatherings, this grill probably isn’t your best choice.
With pellet grills, temperature fluctuations are unavoidable.
Still, the model is capable of maintaining precise temperatures within the +/- 20°F range.
A Piece of Advice
Once you spend a 40lb bag of pellets, thoroughly clean your grill. This is more of a starting point – as time goes by, you’ll get to know your grill and find out how long you can go between the cleaning sessions.
All in all, the Traeger Ranger Portable is an excellent option for the grillers on-the-go. Although small in size, the unit is still very efficient and makes a perfect companion for tailgating, picnicking, and camping. As it boasts the same great options found on Traeger’s larger pellet grills, it is undoubtedly a worthy investment and one that you won’t regret making.