In this Traeger Tailgater review, we’ll take a close look at this high-quality small pellet grill.
The Traeger Tailgater 20 is an excellent choice for a portable smoker.
This is a tailgaters’ paradise. It is lightweight, spacious, and packed with features that make tailgating, camping and fishing a breeze.
We were able to fit two chickens, three racks of ribs, twelve burgers, and eighteen hotdogs in the Tailgater 20 (at various times, of course!). This is due to its 300-square-inch grilling surface. You’ll have more than enough for a great backyard or parking lot party.
- First, we’ll take a look at what’s inside the package.
- Then there’s the design, build quality, performance, and user experience.
- We’ll discuss what we like and dislike about the grill.
The article should then be concluded with its alternatives.
Table of Contents
What is Traeger?
Traeger is the one who started it all. In Oregon, the business pioneered the pellet smoker some 30 years ago. And it is still the industry’s most recognizable brand.
Traeger has been aggressively investing in marketing and product development since the popularity of the pellet grill. It features a wide range of goods, from large commercial units to a mid-sized one shaped like a pink pig (dubbed Lil’ Pig). There are also various tiny and portable variants available from the company. The Traeger Tailgater 20 is the most popular.
The Traeger tailgater 20
This grill is designed for campers, tailgaters, and RVers. It has a similar quality to its larger counterparts but is smaller for mobility (even smaller with the legs folding down). Having said that, because of its size, the Tailgater 20 is also appropriate for folks with limited backyard space or living in apartments/condos.
Remember that the actual purpose of this grill is for travel. As a result, being light is always the primary goal. As a result, its construction is not as strong as that of other stay-at-home models. Just something to keep in mind if you intend to use it at home.
- For travel and small homes, it is compact and lightweight.
- The grill’s footprint is reduced thanks to the EZ folding legs.
- The user interface is straightforward.
- For a travel smoker, the cooking space and pellet hopper capacity are enough.
- The porcelain-coated steel cooking grate makes cleanup a breeze.
- A reliable grease management method
- Provide cooking variety
- The legs must be folded down by two individuals.
- Expensive for a portable model.
- Wheels and grips made of plastic
- There is no Wifi connectivity.
- Even with the legs, it’s a little low.
Traeger Tailgater Review in Depth
Design and construction quality
As previously said, this smoker aspires to be mobile and light. As a result, its design and construction truly reflect that.
This Tailgater is made of heavy-duty steel and is designed to withstand not just the heat from within but also the elements from outside. You don’t have to be concerned about leaving this grill out in the rain for a few days.
The two locking wheels are both tough and durable. We liked these features because, as a portable barbecue, you don’t want the wheels to get in the way.
If you’re 5’9″ or taller, you might find this grill’s 36″ height small. It’s much shorter when the legs are folded, measuring 20″ in height. It’s not a problem for tailgating because the tailgate raises the grill high enough. To compensate for the lack of height, we recommend putting it on a cart or table for camping and home use.
This is done to make the legs lighter. If Traeger installs taller legs, it may increase weight, making moving the barbecue difficult. The Tailgater, by the way, weighs only 62 pounds. That’s quite light for a pellet grill.
In addition, unlike some portable variants, the Tailgater lacks a smoke stack on top of its lid. Traeger, on the other hand, has two vent holes. We enjoy how the smoke stack isn’t there. It maintains the grill’s sleek shape. You don’t have to be concerned about the stack getting in the way of loading the barbecue onto your vehicle.
The lid is composed of thin steel powder coated to give it a lustrous sheen. The same may be said for the main housing and the hopper. Again, the goal is to reduce weight as much as feasible.
That’s just fine with us. One disadvantage is that there is no latch to secure the lid. When moving the grill, this will be a problem. If you go down a rocky wilderness road, the lid will bounce up and down. The hopper lid suffers from the same issue.
The rest of the grill is constructed of plastic, including the handles and wheels. It’s okay if the wheels are plastic, but the handles should be something else. After all, when cooking, the handles are in direct contact with the grill. You don’t want them to melt due to the high temperatures. Fortunately, no previous customers have reported a similar occurrence.
The Traeger Tailgater 20 still feels substantial. It is small, has some clever designs, and is well-made.
Different cooking options
The Tailgater pellet grill offers a cooking zone for various cooking methods, including grilling and smoking. If you despise cleaning your barbecue, you should consider using copper grill mats.
On the other hand, the smoking feature allows you to cook a low and slow brisket for 6 hours. Brisket can also be wrapped for that crispy, juicy flavor.
You can also use high heat to sear a steak. You can cook everything from hot dogs to rib racks and get the same great flavor.
Capacity for Cooking
The cooking area is fairly small, but given that it is a travel-size machine, this may be an acceptable trade-off. They claim that you can cook up to 12 burgers at once.
While this is possible during the outdoor cooking procedure, we discovered that it tends to overcrowd the cooking surface while tailgating. We discovered that grills like these could comfortably accommodate 8 to 10 burgers.
- A maximum of 12 burgers are permitted.
- 2 grilled chickens
- three racks of ribs
The Tailgater has a computerized controller that allows you to set the temperature in 5-degree increments. This allows you to keep a precise temperature throughout the cooking process. You may also start and stop your grill from here. It operates in the same manner as other pellet grills.
One disadvantage is the lack of Wifi connectivity. That implies you can’t operate the grill from a distance.
On the other hand, the Tailgater has a reasonable temperature range for a portable pellet barbecue. It can reach 450 degrees Fahrenheit or as low as 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s hot enough to do high heat searing but also warm enough to smoke or roast low and slow.
In comparison to a gas grill, it may take some time for the grill to heat up. To put things in context, its cooking power is only about 19500 BTU. But, hey, the smoky wood flavor is a good trade-off. Keep in mind that if you frequently cook on high heat, you will go through pellets faster.
The efficiency of Pellet Burning
The hopper may contain up to 8 pounds of pellets in that regard. If you want a lot of heat, the grill will burn 2 pounds per hour. It will be 1lb for medium heat and 0.5lb for low heat.
All of the figures are approximations. Do the math: 4 hours on high heat, 8 hours on medium heat, and 16 hours on low heat. We believe that 8lbs is large enough for on-the-go cooking. It also makes the grill light even when fully loaded.
An 18- or 20-lb pellet hopper should not be linked to this grill. This will result in an additional 10 to 12 pounds of weight. It’s certainly not ideal.
Cleaning and upkeep
The Traeger Tailgater incorporates a simple grease drain mechanism that collects all surplus liquids in a single bucket. Simply place everything inside, and you’re ready to go.
In addition, the grill has a porcelain-coated grilling grate. Food particles rarely adhere to this type of substance. So, truly, this makes cleanup a snap. Use a grill scraper sparingly. Otherwise, the coating will be chipped away.
It is critical to keep this grill clean if you want to get the most out of it. The unit’s efficacy can be hampered by old detritus such as food and ash.
Cleaning is a breeze because all grease drippings are directed away from the cooking chamber and into the drip tray.
Because the ash collector is large enough to keep ash for numerous cooking sessions, removing the ash does not need to be done after each cooking session.
After that, all the grill needs is a moist towel to wipe out the exterior surfaces.
The grill body does not have an ash drain. As a result, you must spend some time between cooks scraping off the ash. There is also no drain tube for the pellet hopper. So, if you want to empty the hopper, you’ll have to put in some effort.
The User Experience
The grill is rather simple to assemble. The assembly is simpler than that of IKEA furniture. In addition, Traeger includes some basic wrenches in the box.
During our Traeger Grills review, we discovered that the setup process was significantly more difficult than other camping and tailgating models. We followed the directions below and finished it in approximately two hours.
Mount the legs to the upper chamber in step one. The axle rod should then be threaded through the legs to secure the wheels.
- Insert the hopper into the upper chamber and secure it with the hex bolts. Remember to connect the hopper to the grill using the corresponding connection.
- Attach the lid’s handle.
- Place the heat baffle over the burner box, centered over the firepot.
- Place the grease drain pan in the grilling area’s bottom.
- Insert the porcelain grill grates into the smoker grill.
A burnoff is also required to season the grill. Simply load some pellets. Turn on the grill, raise the temperature, and cook for 45 minutes. The goal is to burn all manufacturing oil and shipment dust away.
It works by plugging it into an electrical outlet. It gets power from the outlet to heat its hot rod. Simply set the grill’s built-in thermostat to the appropriate temperature.
There are also pre-sets such as “Smoke,” “High,” and various temperatures ranging from 180 to 375°F.
After you’ve chosen the temperature, you start the fire by loading wood pellets into the grill’s hopper.
The pellets will be dropped into the hopper and ignited by the hot rod, resulting in smoke and fire.
The Tailgater 20 offers a larger grilling space than comparable models, at 300 square inches. Traeger claims that you can fit two birds, three racks of pork ribs, or twelve burgers. This is sufficient food to feed a small group of people. Keep in mind that this grill does not include a warming rack.
It does, however, include a Keep Warm mode. This feature is fantastic. It keeps all of your prepared food warm until all of your buddies arrive for the game.
The Traeger Tailgater also includes a meat probe. It allows you to check the internal temperature of your food without having to lift the lid. As previously stated, the grill can reach temperatures as low as 180°F and as high as 450°F. That’s quite adaptable for all forms of cooking, from low and slow to high heat grilling.
This grill, as you may have guessed, has folding legs. They lower the grill’s footprint. This allows you to store it in your RV beside your YETI coolers or set it on any flat surface. While this feature is useful for transit and storage, folding the legs might be difficult for a single person.
To do so, you must first lay it on its side. And, as we mentioned at the start of this essay, there is no latch to secure the main and hopper lid. As you might expect, the cooking grate and pellets will just fall out of the grill. It’s not at all enjoyable.
Another issue we have is that the grill only supports one power source, which is a regular household 110V. If you want to take it on the road, you’ll need a generator or a power inverter to plug it into your car.
Accessories and replacement parts are available.
You will have no trouble acquiring replacement components for a respectable and established business like Traeger.
They also sell additional Tailgater pellet grill accessories. The front rack is one of them. This creates more prep room in front of the grill, transforming it into a cross between a pellet grill and an offset smoker.
Another wonderful one is the winter grilling insulating blanket. It insulates your grill and keeps it at a constant temperature regardless of the outside weather. In severely cold temperatures, the blanket also prevents excess pellets from burning.
Warranty & Support
Traeger provides a three-year warranty from the date of purchase. Their customer service is quick to respond. They also have a fantastic Instagram account, as well as a blog, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel. You can always contact us on these channels if you have any questions.
Who is it for?
The Traeger Grills Tailgater is ideal for anyone looking for a small, portable pellet barbecue that they can take camping or to a tailgating party. It’s light and portable, weighing only 62 pounds.
It could also be useful for folks looking for a compact alternative to their gas grill because it can fit on an apartment balcony. This series is recommended for anyone interested in getting started with pellet grilling.
However, some Traeger Grill reviews observed that one disadvantage is that it fluctuates more at lower temperatures than at higher ones.
Temperature control functions operate best when the grill is heated to roughly 220 degrees Fahrenheit (104.4 degrees Celsius), plus or minus 20 degrees, which is perfect for smoking.
If you wish to go lower, you may have difficulty staying there. It consumes approximately 300 watts while powering up and then drops to 50 watts for the duration of the cooking time. However, we had no issues based on our expertise with this grill evaluation.
Here are some of the Traeger Tailgater 20’s rivals.
As a result, your decision should be based on your needs in the kitchen. If you anticipate a small number of guests, the Traeger Tailgater 20 is the way to go, and vice versa.
Z GRILLS ZPG-7002ENC
Because the Z GRILLS ZPG-7002ENC costs a little more, it has a larger cooking space than the others. Aside from that, both grills are small, portable, and completely capable of grilling.
Camp Chef Pursuit 20
This grill is nearly identical to the Tailgater in terms of pricing, portability, and material. It, too, has foldable legs. The grill is converted into a rolling suitcase, so you don’t have to pick it up.
The Camp Chef has a larger pellet hopper, with a maximum capacity of 10lbs. Although its main grilling area is less than the Traeger’s (253 vs. 300 sq in), it does offer an additional warming rack for when things get a little too hot. Another great feature of this barbecue is the built-in bottle opener. So you can barbeque while also drinking beer. That’s awesome!
Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett
The Davy Crockett is not as large as the Tailgater. It has additional features that the Tailgater lacks. The dual-power system is one of them. You can connect the grill to a 12V battery or your car without purchasing an additional converter.
The Davy Crockett does have WiFi. That means you can operate the grill from the convenience of your smartphone using an App. On the other hand, the digital controller’s interface is not as user-friendly as Traeger’s. As a result, it may take some time to adjust.
Aside from that, the Davy Crockett has a side shelf, tool hooks, and a cover. Even better, the entire kit is less expensive than the Tailgater. If you’re on a tight budget, this is a must-see.
Please click here for additional information about the Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett.
Should You Invest in a Traeger Tailgater?
Yes, if you intend to take the grill with you regularly. It is large enough to meet your culinary needs while on the road but small enough to travel about easily.
If you want a stay-at-home pellet smoker, we recommend spending a little more money and getting a larger model.
Having said that, if you have a small garden or live in an apartment, the Traeger Tailgater 20 is still a feasible option in those situations. Please remember that this grill will not perform as well as a full-fledged pellet grill.
This grill’s slim and lightweight design appeals to us. The lack of a smoke stack is a good architectural choice. It makes it simple to put the grill into your vehicle without the worry of it colliding with other objects.
The porcelain-coated cooking grate and grease management system are especially appealing. They make cleanup a breeze. The pellet hopper is the final item. As previously said, 8lbs is all that is required for a mobile smoker to cook anything. This also eliminates the need for extra weight on the grill.
We’d like cast aluminum handles over plastic ones. Perhaps a latch for both the hopper lid and the main lid. It will be easier for you to fold the legs on your own this way.
Even though the vent holes are a fantastic idea, we believe Traeger should include some form of rubber grommet to plug these holes. They are intended to keep moisture from accumulating inside the grill.
Finally, there is the cost. It appears to be a little high. However, the price would be readily justified if Traeger addresses any of the abovementioned issues. However, it is difficult to find many portable pellet smokers of this size for much less.
What comes in the package, and how much assembly is required?
It arrives partially constructed in the box. The legs will be attached first, followed by the pellet box. The instructions are straightforward to follow. You even get the wrenches you need to put the hardware together. It takes less than 30 minutes to put together.
How hard is it to assemble?
Inside the box, you’ll notice that the grill is only partially built. On the other hand, the remaining elements are quite simple to install and take very little time. Attach the legs and the pallet box as directed in the instruction manual. Furthermore, the kit contains all the tools required for proper assembly.
What is the runtime with a full hopper of pallets?
With a full hopper of pallets, this grill has a runtime of about 6 or 7 hours for low-temperature cooking. The temperature should not rise above 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The runtime decreases as the temperature rises.
How hot does the Traeger Tailgater pellet grill get?
This device can reach temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232.2 Celsius).
Can you use the Traeger Tailgater in cold weather?
Yes, this smoker may be used in cold temperatures. Heat-up times should take an additional 15 minutes.
Is it large enough to hold a full-size brisket?
Yes, perhaps even two briskets.
Can an inverter power it? How much power does it consume?
You certainly can. Assemble alligator clips to a 12-volt battery or a car battery. It attracts roughly 400 per Traeger at first but drops to under 100 once lighted.
Is it okay to use it on a patio that is covered?
Yes. It will be alright if it is sufficiently aired to allow smoke to escape. Because the fire is so effectively confined, the risk of fire is nearly non-existent.
Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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