Contrary to popular belief, a quick BBQ on the beach or in the park does not have to mean reverting back to cheap smoke inducing charcoal BBQs and burnt fingers. It does not have to mean limiting your cooking time to a mere matter of minutes, in between too much fire and not enough heat. And it does not have to mean relying on disposable materials which are no good for you, and no good for the environment.
Finding the right kind of grill which offers high quality alongside a portable design is no mean feat, and so we at Buff BBQ are delighted to see that both Pit Boss and Traeger have done just that – in very different ways.
In fact, the only real similarity is in the type of fuel they use and the level of smoked meat intensity they can achieve – from there, everything is wildly different.
Exploring the Pit Boss Tailgater
If you’re piling into the car and heading off on an adventure, taking your grill with you may not be the first thing you think of – but with the high quality of Pit Boss’ pellet smoker range, who can resist authentically smoked meat wherever they go? After all, reverting back to a plain charcoal grill is never quite the same once you’ve tasted and experienced the quality of a true pellet smoker.
The Tailgater is designed for travel, with the 341 square inch cooking space contained within a portable case with extendable legs, allowing it to be packed up for travel and then fully assembled for use once you’ve reached your destination. The great thing about the Pit Boss Tailgater is that they have managed to package everything you would expect from a Pit Boss pellet smoker into a product which is easy to move, without compromising on quality or ease of use at all – in fact, it really is the same design as any other pellet smoker, just with removable legs and a slightly smaller surface area.
Once you get into the nitty gritty of the internal design of the Tailgater, you realise that great things really do come in small packages, with the exterior concealing the funnel and fire pit used to provide that direct source of heat and flavour. The adjustable flame broiler works as you would expect, providing the user with the opportunity to use their pellet smoker as a smoker, a roasting oven, a chargrilling machine or a simple grill. More than that, it comes with a grease bucket for ease of use and to ensure that you can leave your picnic site exactly as you found it – no mess, no worries.
Finally, to value and additional features. One of the best things about this particular model by Pit Boss is that they have managed to include everything you need for an authentic pellet smoker experience, simply in a smaller capacity which is not only easy to transport, but also easy to assemble and start using straight away. The wheels at the bottom of two of the legs can be folded up and added to the main body of the grill, meaning you can drag it along just as easily as you might when it was assembled. And the price itself is so affordable that you will never again go running to the supermarket for a disposable alternative – the Pit Boss Tailgater is an investment into your BBQ picnic future, giving you access to the best smoked meats no matter where you are.
Exploring the Traeger Ranger
The Traeger Ranger, meanwhile, has gone in a completely different direction – becoming almost unrecognisable from the classic Traeger design which we have come to know and love. Far from the rounded lid of the classic Traeger, the Ranger model is built to resemble more of a suitcase than a BBQ grill – opening up to reveal a built-in pellet box and 176 square inch grill ideal for smoking on the go. Despite this excellent use of space to create an easy to transport grill, what the Traeger Ranger misses out on is the versatility of different cooking methods – offering an open grill or cast iron griddle which allows you to cook meat differently but without the internal control that lets you grill, roast, smoke and braise among other options. In short, the loss of the 6-in-1 cooking methods that Traeger usually offers is a shame, but given the proximity of the pellet box to the cooking area itself, it isn’t feasible for the small box to have the space for an adjustable cooking plate and exposure to and away from the direct flame.
Is this a problem? Not really, and with the addition of the iron griddle users are able to cook everything from a fired egg breakfast to a piece of steak – transferring their meat between the griddle and the grill grate as required. The keep warm mode is also a really great addition, giving you the option of shutting the lid and keeping food warm without cooking it any further. However, it is something that you should note if you are looking for versatile cooking.
Other features of the Traeger Ranger include 5-degree incremental temperature control and a meat probe which lets you track and monitor the temperature and cook of your meat without opening the lid and losing heat. When you’re on the go, we understand that time is of the essence in many cases, and so the fact that the Traeger Ranger heats up quickly and can be packed down equally as quickly is an added bonus to an already beneficial design.
Traeger may have lost out on a couple of their benefits in terms of the portable design, but users will be glad to see that this has also been reflected in the price – with the Ranger sitting at around the same level as the Pit Boss Tailgater. What this does mean, by the powers of deduction, is that the Pit Boss Tailgater – with its uncompromising design and ability to package all the Pit Boss benefits into a portable grill – provides much better value for the money you spend, making it the overall best product for grilling and smoking on the go.