Some people believe that everything tastes better when eaten outdoors. Whether or not there’s science behind that claim, we don’t really care – we just prefer being outdoors in general, so we’ll back it.
As enjoyable as eating a meal outside, is cooking a meal outside. When it comes to camp cooking, you can run the gamut from simple hot dogs over the campfire to four-course meals, depending on your mood, and the Traeger Ranger Grill ($399.99) is portable enough and capable enough to answer the call of any camp chef.
We recently headed out on a family camping trip to Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, California, for some lovely R&R, great waves and quality time outdoors with no tablets or TVs in sight. However, with two kids in tow and several surfboards on the roof, extra space in the SUV was one thing we didn’t have much of.
Luckily, this little grill fit snugly in the back of the car. Measuring only 13 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and 20 inches deep, the Ranger is the perfect size to pack inside just about any SUV tailgate, and even in sedan trunks.
Traeger grills are known for being capable of cooking just about anything from ribs to apple pie – so when planning your camp menu you have an endless list of mouth-watering options. My wife and I had multiple meals in mind to test out this grill, including Parmesan-crusted grilled cheese, rosemary and garlic potatoes, mac & cheese shells for the kids, as well a good ol’ tri-tip (covered in the tasty Traeger Garlic and Chili Pepper rub).
The Ranger comes with a cast-iron griddle for things like bacon and eggs, but we opted to also bring along a cast-iron pan which – with the Ranger’s 184-square-inch cooking capacity – fit comfortably inside the grill, with room to spare for a few hot dogs, as well as mac & cheese melting together in a tin-foil pouch.
The operation of this grill is simple, thanks to the Digital Arc Controller with Traeger’s “Advanced Grilling Logic” that regulates internal temps and allows you to select precise temperatures. It also activates the cook timer, sets the “Keep Warm” mode, and controls the meat probe for accurate readings of the internal temps of your meat.
For us, one of the greatest things about Traeger grills is the lack of attention needed while cooking. You don’t need to do nearly as much as you would with a traditional propane or charcoal grill, and there’s little-to-no mess when you’re finished cooking.
You set the temp you need, place the food on the grate, and then just keep a loose eye on it to make sure it’s cooking to your preference. (Note: Keeping the lid closed for the most part is the best way to get your food cooked in proper fashion.)
The Ranger runs on a standard 120V outlet, so a power source is a must-have for operation while in remote areas. You’ll need at least a 400-watt output to operate the Ranger. You can opt for a Traeger High Efficiency Power Inverter that hooks up directly to your car battery, or run from an external generator like the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator. You can also use a RV hook-up.
When it comes time to cook, Traeger recommends using genuine Traeger hardwood pellets which are available in over a dozen different flavors (we opted for Applewood on this trip).
From camping in the woods to tailgating at a football game, the Ranger can tag along with minimal hassle. While it’s not exactly lightweight (60 pounds), it’s compact and convenient for those who enjoy their meals outdoors – grilled.
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