Product Review: Traeger Ranger

The latest addition to the Traeger Grills line, the Ranger offers the perfect balance between portability, size and performance. The grill comes with an eight-pound hopper capacity allowing for longer cooks with larger cuts of meat, such as beef brisket, pork ribs, wild game loins and steaks, multiple burgers and more. It's a great size to feed two people, or even a small group of hunters and anglers on a long weekend outing. 

Pork spareribs seasoned with Traeger's Pork and Poultry Rub.
Whether you're looking for something to fit into the back of your truck, camper, boat or horse trailer, the Traeger Ranger will have you putting out perfectly cooked meat each and every time. In the few days that we've owned the Ranger, we've cooked elk tenderloin, beef brisket and pork spareribs, and we were amazed by the Ranger's consistency and delicious results. 

Smoking meat really doesn't get any easier than this, and in such a small, convenient package, it is now possible to bring great BBQ to your favorite outdoor haunts.


Construction and Specs: Solidly built, the Traeger Ranger can go wherever you venture. At 13x21x41 inches and weighing 60 pounds, it's little sweat to bring with you to camp. Latches on the lid allow for safe transport, while other convenient highlights include easy-to-clean, rust-resistant porcelain grill grates with 184 square inches of cooking area.  

The Digital Arc Controller allows temperatures to be set in five-degree increments for precise temperature control. It also includes a Keep Warm Mode to ensure food is “hot-off-the-grill,” but not overcooked, no matter when it is served. Each Ranger grill also comes with a cast iron griddle, adding more versatility and allowing users to perfectly sear meat before smoking, and cooking eggs or pancakes on their grill for breakfast.

A few things we noted: While in operation, be careful when opening and closing the lid; the handle does get a bit warm when cooking at higher temperatures. A feature we'd like to see is collapsible handles on the sides for easier lifting, especially when moving the Ranger in and out of tight spaces, which we all invariably encounter when packing for trips to the great outdoors.

Though portable, the Ranger does run on electricity. This allows for the most consistent operation, but be aware of this if you're looking for something to use in the backwoods with limited electricity.

Elk tenderloin seasoned with Traeger's Big Game Rub.
Functionality: The Ranger is easy to operate. Fill the hopper with your choice of wood pellets and with the touch of a button, you're on your way to cooking. The digital temperature adjustment is easy to set up, and the grill warms up fairly quickly. Temperatures remained consistent throughout the entire cooking process, provided that you don't open the lid too often.

The only difficulty we had with this grill is operating the middle function button that cycles through the temperature, timer, probe and alarm functions. It was not as responsive as we expected. Regardless, this is a small complaint and does not affect the Ranger's cooking performance. And it may just be just a glitch with our particular machine. It was little inconvenience to use a separate digital probe, which every BBQ enthusiast should own anyway. 

But should you encounter any problems, Traeger offers a 3-year warranty on all their grills and customer service is just a phone call away to address all your questions and concerns.

Perfectly cooked pork spareribs.
Results: Hands-down, the Ranger produced the best BBQ we've had in a long time, and we are thrilled to be able to do this ourselves.

We smoked the elk tenderloin using the Realtree Big Game Blend Hardwood and seasoned it with Traeger's Big Game Rub. The result was a perfectly medium-rare piece of meat with just the right amount of smoke. 

We followed directions in the included cookbook, and our Wagyu beef brisket (point cut) also came out tender and juicy with a beautiful bark all around it. We used hickory and seasoned it with Traeger's Blackened Saskatchewan Rub. We were able to fit a piece of brisket on the grates to feed 4-6 people.

The pork spareribs had a great smoke ring and a slightly crispy bark on the outside while still remaining juicy and succulent inside. Sweet and slightly tangy, Traeger's Pork and Poultry Rub was our favorite of the three; apple and honey is a great combination. 

All in all, for the price, portability, pack ability, construction, convenience and results, we highly recommend the Traeger Ranger, which retails for $399.99. With just the two of us, it's a great size as far as cooking capacity, with leftovers for the next day. 

Using the Ranger is so easy that you'll find yourself wanting to use it all the time. You won't find better results in such a small package. To find out more, visit https://www.traegergrills.com/shop/grills/town-travel-portable-series/ranger/TFT18KLD.html


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