Is The Traeger Tailgater Worth It?
The Traeger Tailgater is the next step up from the Ranger in Traeger’s limited lineup of portable wood pellet grills. You could say it’s a big step up, as the Tailgater has enough room under the lid to fit a Boston butt pork shoulder as well as a whole chicken.
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At 60-pounds with a collapsible cart base and wheels, the Traeger Tailgater is indeed portable. Though it is a little awkward on rough terrain, to the point that you might be better off carrying it with two people.
The Traeger Tailgater is also robust enough to keep on your deck as your everyday grill. It has more than enough room to grill or smoke meat for a family of four.
The Tailgater is easier to find than the Ranger and is typically in the inventory of most of Traeger’s affiliated retail stores.
You can usually buy it for $529 in stores or online, but you’ll have to pay extra for shipping and handling if you get it from Traeger or Amazon.
A tightly fitting grill cover is an essential accessory and will only cost you around $60. The $60 attachable folding front shelf is debatable but still provides you with more space to place a platter than the top of the pellet hopper.
If you want to maximize smoke density inside the Tailgater’s primary smoking chamber, you can preheat the Tailgater at 165 to 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
Traeger Tailgater Accessories
The most important accessory for the Traeger Tailgater is the companion cover that Traeger and most of their retailers offer for $59.99.
There is also a folding front shelf for $59.99 that gives you a place to set seasonings and serving platters.
Though it is arguably a little on the small side, which can get in the way as much as give you a good place to set down a small platter.
Another accessory to consider getting with the Traeger Tailgater is a good set of grills or welding gloves. The grease management system, grill grates, and other components are tightly fitted, which makes them nearly impossible to manipulate with standard grill tools.
What Can You Do with a Traeger Tailgater?
The Traeger Tailgater has enough room under the lid to let you smoke taller cuts of meat like a Boston butt pork shoulder or a whole broiler-fryer chicken.
The 300-square-inch grill grates offer just enough space to let you smoke a pair of spare rib racks side by side.
These are things you can’t do with the Ranger, which is the only other portable wood pellet grill in Traeger’s lineup.
The other nice thing about the Traeger Tailgater is that it has the size and material to build quality to live life on your deck as your everyday grill. When you want to use it as a portable grill it collapses down and has two wheels to make transport easier.
Does The Traeger Tailgater Have Any Problems?
The updated version of the Traeger Tailgater solved past grease fire issues.
Though this also means that the internal components, grease plate, and grill grates fit very tightly.
If you need to take a grate out or remove the grease plate to clean it, you have to wait until the Tailgater has completely cooled down.
If you do need to manipulate anything, a good pair of heat-rated grill gloves or welding gloves are essential!
The portability of the Traeger Tailgater is also somewhat questionable. It weighs 60-pounds on paper, but it is a bulky, somewhat awkward weight that isn’t fully balanced.
The wheels on the Tailgater are also relatively small and smooth, which isn’t ideal for wheeling it across any sort of rough terrain. The handle is short and low, which also makes it awkward to wheel along behind you if you are taller than 5’8” or so.
Ideally, if you want to use the Traeger Tailgater as a portable grill, it’s better to stay at drive-up campsites or places where two people can each take an end to confidently carry it in.
Where to Buy Traeger Tailgater?
The Traeger Tailgater is much easier to find in retail inventory than the Traeger Ranger.
You can find it at pretty all of the brick-and-mortar Traeger retailers like the Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, and Ace Hardware.
It’s also available online through Amazon and Traeger’s own website. Though you’ll have to pay an extra $25 to $50 in shipping and handling if you buy online.
Is the Traeger Tailgater Big Enough?
The Traeger Tailgater is big enough to let you grill for a family of four or more. Its 300-square-inch grill grates and the barrel-style smoking chamber also offer up enough volume to smoke bigger cuts of meat like a classic Boston butt pork shoulder.
Though some things like a beer can chicken might still be a little too tall for the tailgater.
Though you could easily fit a whole broiler-fryer chicken inside, if you laid it on its back like you would do if you were roasting it in an oven.
Does the Traeger Tailgater Smoke?
The Traeger Tailgater does a better job of smoking meat than the Traeger Ranger does.
It is just as capable of smoking as any other barrel-style wood pellet grill in Traeger’s line.
You can boost the smoke density inside the chamber by preheating the grill at 165 to 180 degrees for 15 minutes before turning it up to a higher temperature of 225 to 275.
The lower temperature will cause the wood pellets to smolder more and develop a stronger base of embers to support combustion.
Is the Traeger Tailgater Portable?
The Traeger Tailgater is technically portable and is designed to collapse and wheel with you.
Though it does weigh 60-pounds empty, and wheeling it is rather awkward.
The wheels are smooth, which isn’t ideal for rough terrain, and the short handle for pulling it has a somewhat awkward profile for pulling behind you.
The Traeger Tailgater is a major upgrade from the Traeger Ranger.
While it is a little awkward for a portable grill, it is still relatively easy to move with two people.
At the same time, the Tailgater is also sturdy enough to live its life on your deck as your everyday grill. Then you can take it with you for special occasions like camping trips or tailgating parties where power is readily available.
You can easily find the Tailgater on sale at pretty much any of Traeger’s affiliated retail stores for around $529.
You can also buy it online through Traeger or Amazon but might have to pay up to $50 extra in shipping and handling.
A model-specific grill cover from Traeger should be considered an essential accessory.
You might want to consider getting the $60 attachable folding front shelf, which gives you more functional storage space than the lid of the small pellet hopper.
The Tailgater has more than enough room inside to grill for a family of four or to smoke larger cuts of meat like a Boston butt pork shoulder.
To maximize the smoke density inside the chamber, you can preheat the Tailgater at 165 to 180 degrees for 15 minutes before turning the heat up higher.
If you want a portable wood pellet grill, the Traeger Tailgater is the better option over the Traeger Ranger. For only $80 more, you are getting practically twice the grill, and a model that is truly capable of living on your deck, while also being ready to grill on the go.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
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