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Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser 200A: Quality or Budget?

The Z Grills Cruiser 200A is quite a bit cheaper than the Traeger Ranger. And, it’s got a slightly larger cooking capacity.

But, is it anywhere near as good as the tried and true favorite?

In this comparison of the Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser 200A, we pour over what’s different and what’s the same between these two popular tabletop pellet grills to help you decide which one’s right for you.

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Table of Contents

A Quick Comparison of the Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser

Traeger Ranger Portable Pellet Grill
Z Grills Cruiser 200A Closed

184 square inches of cooking space

202 square inches of cooking space

8 pound hopper

8 pound hopper

21"W x 13"H x 20"D

25"W x 15"H x 20"D

60 pounds

40 pounds

Digital Arc Controller

Digial Controller

180-450°F (in 5°F increments)

180-450°F (in 25°F increments)

  • Meat probe

  • Keep warm mode

  • Cast iron griddle included

An In-Depth Look at the Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser

Build Quality

Traeger’s built it’s name on great quality and the Ranger is no exception.

Solidly built with a powder-coated exterior, a locking lid and durable porcelain-coated steel, the Ranger won’t have any problems handling the bit rough and tough life on the road.

And, the quality of the Z Grills Cruiser is very similar.

You’ve got a powder-coated exterior, great a porcelain-coated cooking grate and two latches to keep the lid shut during transportation.

The whole unit feels impressivly strong and sturdy, especially when you consider it’s low price. It’s maybe a little below the Ranger in terms of build quality. But, really, they’re pretty on par.

Cooking and Hopper Capacity

On the Traeger Ranger, you’re looking at 184 square inches of cooking space.

The Z Grills Cruiser gives you 202 square inches.

Both are on a single grate layout so they’re 100% usable. And, although they are small, you can cook for a reasonable amount of people if you’re careful with what you cook.

Both brands actually advertise they can hold the same amount of food; 6 burgers, 4-6 steaks or 1 rack of ribs (cut in half). But, with the almost 20 square inches of extra space, you will get larger burgers, steaks or ribs on the Z Grills.

You can do larger cuts like a whole chicken or pork butt as well.

Throw some veggies around it and you can cook a complete meal for 1-2 people easily.

Both have an 8 pound hopper capacity. That’ll let you smoke low and slow for 7-8 hours before you need to refill.

Grilling at a higher temperature will burn through the pellets faster. But, cooking won’t take as long either so no issues there.

Just keep in mind that if you’re doing really long cooks on either of these smokers, you do need to open the main lid to refill the pellets. The hopper sits inside the cooking chamber. I like to time a refill with wrapping or unwrapping meat to avoid an extra temperature dip.

Size and Weight

The Z Grills Cruiser gets it’s little bit of extra space by being that much larger than the Traeger Ranger.

It’s 4 inches wider but just as deep. Part of that extra width is because of the side handles. Z Grills have added these to make the whole unit easier to move.

And, because the Cruiser is a whole 20 pounds lighter than the Ranger, coming in at 40 pounds instead of the Ranger’s 60 pounds, it is substantially easier to pick up and move around.

Temperature Controller

The biggest difference between temperature control on the Ranger vs Cruiser is that Traeger’s digital panel lets you set the temperature in 5°F increments while the Z Grills is in 25°F lots with an analog knob.

But, both do a good job of keeping a steady temperature. And, both have the same range of 180-450°F.

Keep it low for smoking, crank it way up for high-heat grilling, or, set it somewhere in the middle to use as a portable oven. Both of these units are so versatile that you really can use them as an all-in-one cooking solution on the go.

One thing to note about the Traeger Ranger is that it’s got a keep warm button too if that’s something you like to use.

Power Requirements

Whichever way you go, these portable smokers come with a standard 110 AC power cable.

If you’re at home or in an RV, simply plug it in.

But, if you’re camping, tailgating or somewhere remote, you’ll need a portable power station or an inverter/battery combo.

Included Extras

It’s not very Z Grills, but the Cruiser doesn’t come with any extras! No cover and there’s not even a meat probe included although there is a port for one.

If you use something wireless like the MEATER, you won’t need a probe. But, if not, you’ll need to pick up a standard, 3.5mm plug-in meat probe so you can see the internal meat temperature and make smoking a whole heap easier. Any will work but we like this Pit Boss one.

With the Ranger, you do get a meat probe, tick! But, it also comes with a sweet cast iron griddle that helps take your grilling to the next level.

If you’ve ever grilled in a pellet smoker before, the indirect heat makes it a little like doing burgers in a really hot oven. But, the cast iron griddle holds more heat and catches the juices to make your steak that much juicier.

It’s definitely a nice extra. And, makes that higher Ranger price a bit more justifiable.

Price

The Traeger Ranger is more expensive than the Z Grills Cruiser. You do get those included extras with the Ranger. But, if it’s value for money you’re after, you can’t beat the Cruiser when it comes to a portable tabletop pellet smoker.

To check the latest prices, click on the links below.

Specs for the Traeger Ranger and Z Grills Cruiser

Traeger Ranger

Model: TFT18KLD

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated steel

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Cooking capacity: 184 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat Range: 180°F – 450°F

WiFi: No

Dimensions: 21″W x 13″H x 20″D

Weight: 60 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Z Grills Cruiser 200A

Model: 200A

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material: Porcelain-coated steel

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Cooking capacity: 202 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 8 lbs

Heat Range: 180°F – 450°F

WiFi: No

Dimensions: 25″W x 15″H x 20″D

Weight: 40 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

Our Verdict On The Traeger Ranger vs Z Grills Cruiser

Either way, both the Traeger Ranger and Z Grills Cruiser are essentially great grills.

Well-built, strong, durable, versatile and practical, they’re not only ideal for camping, tailgating or RV life, they’re also suitable for home use by anyone who wants an efficient solution to smoking just one pork shoulder at a time.

We recommend going the Traeger Ranger if you:

  • Want that extra good quality;
  • Like the ability to set the temperature in smaller increments; or
  • Think you’ll use the included cast iron grate to improve your grilling

The Z Grills Cruiser is perfect if you’re:

  • After incredible value;
  • Need that slightly larger cooking capacity; or
  • Will appreciate the side handles and lighter weight for moving it around

Not Quite What You Were Looking For? Other Options...

ASMOKE AS350

ASMOKE AS300
  • Slightly larger cooking capacity
  • Open flame grilling
  • Mid-priced option
  • Add liquid of choice for more moisture and unique flavor

Or, check out our full list of the best portable tabletop pellet smokers.

Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is commited to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.

About Burning Brisket

Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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