The Ranger is Traeger’s latest attempt at a portable grill and it looks like they have made a pretty nice product. Folks have a lot of questions about this grill so I am trying to answer as many of them as possible in this review.
Today we are going to cover the following:
- Basic Dimensions and Specifications of the Ranger.
- How is the Ranger different from the awful Scout?
- What can you cook on a Ranger?
- Problems with the Ranger.
- Is the Ranger worth it?
Ranger Specifications and Dimensions of the Ranger
Let’s go ahead and get the boring numbers stuff out of the way. The basic dimensions for the Ranger are:
- Cooking Area: 184 sq in
- Weight: 60 pounds
- L x W x H: 21 x 20 x 13 inches
- Hopper Capacity: 8 pounds
- Min/Max Temperature: 165-450F
The Ranger comes with the same Digital Arc Controller found on the slightly larger Tailgater grill that should hold temperatures in the plus/minus ten degree range and features a “Keep Warm” mode that will hold the grill at 165F.
You can use the center button on the controller to cycle between the temperature of the grill and the temperature of the included meat probe.
The Ranger comes with a porcelain enameled grill cast and a heavy duty cast iron griddle.
Ranger vs Scout: What Are the Differences?
The last version of Traeger’s portable grill was called the Scout and it was simply awful.
The Scout had a controller panel that could only be adjusted in 25 degree increments and was unable to reliably hold temperatures, especially at the low end. The Scout had a much smaller, four pound, pellet hopper.
Between the wonky controllers and smaller hopper the Scout required constant attention and was of questionable use as a “Low and Slow” smoker. The biggest issues with the Scout was that the controller severely overshot temperatures and the small hopper would hard a hard time suppling pellets resulting in flameouts.
Just for kicks I grabbed he customer reviews for the Ranger and Scout from Traeger’s website and posted them below. The Scout actually had more 1 Star Reviews than 5 and 4 Star reviews combined! You can see that the picture is completed changed with the reviews for the Ranger
If you have been doing research into portable pellet grills and have read about how awful Traeger’s version was then you were probably reading about the Scout.
It looks like Traeger paid attention to all of the negative feedback and created the upgraded Ranger that actually works.
What Can You Cook on a Traeger Ranger?
The Ranger is larger than you think and can hold a lot of meat.
The cooking grate is long enough to let you can easily smoke a 2-3 pound tri tip on this grill. The grate is also large enough to handle six burgers or 3-4 ribeye steaks. Cooking a spatchcock chicken would be a breeze.
There is enough room under the lid to fit a ten pound pork butt or a whole chicken.
Here are some links to some YouTube videos showing the Ranger in action.
As far as size limitations you will run into issues with ribs and brisket.
You can fit a whole slab of spare ribs on the Ranger but you will need to cut it is half first.
I would not even try to fit a full sized brisket into this grill. While you might be able to shoehorn it in somehow you would run the real risk of the brisket overhanging the grease tray and causing a serious grease fire.
The included cast iron griddle really increases the range of the Ranger’s cooking versatility. The griddle allows you to cook smash burgers, a bacon and eggs breakfast, pancakes, blackened catfish, etc.
The griddle is also great for putting a sear on a steak. You can either grill the steak with high heat on the griddle for the entire cook or smoke the steak at low temperatures and finish with a high temperature sear.
Click on the embedded Pin below to see and listen to the sizzle!
Problems With the Ranger
The Ranger is a fine portable pellet grill but it is not perfect. None of the issues that I am going to bring up are deal killers but they are things you should be aware of before you make the purchase.
This grill is absolutely portable but moving it is not as simple as you might imagine.
When the Ranger has the griddle inserted and the pellet hopper is full the grill weighs almost 70 pounds. Seventy pounds is manageable but is heavier than you would expect for a portable grill.
Combine the weight with the fact that the grill does not have side handles and you get a portable grill that is a chore to move.
The pellet hopper holds eight pounds of pellets which will be enough to last for most cooks but not if you leave the grill unattended.
The slope of the hopper isn’t always enough to maintain a gravity feed of the pellets into the auger. It is pretty easy for an air void to form over the auger while pellets are still stuck on the sides of the hopper which can lead to a low temperature shut off.
I would suggest opening the pellet hopper every couple of hours and stirring the pellets to make sure the auger stays primed.
Don’t go into this purchase with the expectation that the Ranger is going to have the same precise temperature control ability as a Pro or Ironwood.
This is a small grill and small variations like a few extra pellets in the auger will cause the temperature to spike. In a larger grill a few extra pellets every now and then are barely noticeable since there is so much air and mass to absorb the heat.
This is an issue that you will have with any portable pellet grill, not just the Ranger.
In general you can expect more precise temperature control at higher temps than lower.
The Ranger has two lid latches on the front of the grill. The latches keep things from rattling around during transport and help seal the lid and keep the smoke in while cooking.
The latch on the left side of the grill remains cool to the touch during use but the latch on the right side of the grill gets really freaking hot. I strongly suggest wearing a glove when opening the right latch.
Is the Traeger Ranger Worth It?
The Ranger is, like just about everything from Traeger, a little overpriced but not a bad investment. The Ranger is worth the money and after you use it a few times you will stop thinking about the extra $50-$100 is cost over the other brands.Table could not be displayed.
If you really need to save some cash then there are less expensive models produced by:
I have even seen a few random Chinese brands that are being sold on Amazon for almost half the price as a Ranger.
The biggest value question for me is that for just about the same the price of a Ranger you can buy a Pit Boss Sportsman pellet grill. The Sportsman is a “Tailgater” type grill with collapsible legs for easy transport and it offers significantly more cooking area.