Traeger Scout Review: How Good Can Very Small Be?

Traeger Scout Review

It’s the smallest and the cheapest pellet smoker in the Traeger line-up. So, if you’re looking for a smoker for your RV, taking car camping, fishing, to the beach, or even for using at home because you’re only cooking for a few, is the Traeger Scout a good option?

In our Traeger Scout review we’ll give you all the information you need to decide if it’s right for you. Here you’ll find the specs, pros and cons, plus all the details on how this micro smoker actually performs.

Before we get started, we’ll just point out that the Traeger Scout is the cheaper, first generation of Traeger’s tabletop-style smokers. The Traeger Ranger is the upgraded version that’s got a larger hopper, a newer temperature controller and comes with a griddle. So, if you’re more keen on that, click here to read our Traeger Ranger review. Or, keep on reading.

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The Skinny on the Traeger Scout

For anyone who wants to be able to cook with pure wood, on the go, without having to build a campfire, a micro pellet smoker is the way to go. And, the Scout, being Traeger’s entry-level but still solid and dependable portable pellet smoker, is a top choice.

With enough space to cook for 4-6 people at a pinch, and a big enough pellet hopper, wrapped up in what’s a reasonably lightweight and compact box, the Scout can easily go anywhere you and your car might venture.

Because of it’s size, it heats up fast. The temperature is reasonably stable for consistent results. And, the included meat probe takes the guess work out of knowing when your meat is fall-off-the-bone ready.

Overall, the Scout keeps things simple but does them really well with the quality you need to withstand life on the road and effectiveness you can rely on to smoke, bake, roast and grill beautifully each and every time.

Features of the Traeger Scout Portable Pellet Smoker

Construction:

  • Strong powder-coated case
  • Rust-resistant, easy to clean porcelain-coated grates
  • Decent 4 pound pellet hopper
  • Sturdy design with built-in tabletop legs

Ease of use:

  • Digital Pro Controller automatically regulates the temperature for you
  • Wide temperature range gives you the flexibility to smoke, bake, roast and grill
  • Lid latches for secure transportation

Included extras:

  • One meat probe that plugs into the temperature controller for easy reading

In-Depth Review of the Traeger Scout Portable Pellet Smoker

It’s basically a pellet grill in a suitcase. And, while it doesn’t have all the fancy features of Traeger’s high-end ranges, the Scout does just what you need for hassle-free wood fired cooking on the road.

As Traeger’s cheaper, first generation of micro pellet smoker, you’re looking at a more basic controller and a smaller hopper than you’d get with the Traeger Ranger. But, as a trade-off, it’s also lighter while taking up exactly the same amount of space.

Read on to find out how this compact grill really performs.

Construction

One of the biggest issues with portable pellet smokers, or portable smokers of any type, is that they’re often not built that well. They’re pretty much a smaller, lighter version of full-sized grills with what’s often flimsy legs that are more hassle than they’re worth.

But, not the Scout.

Traeger’s built this smoker into what’s a really tough powder-coated steel box. Yes, it can still get dings and scratches. But, it’s got a really strong and sturdy feel like it’s actually made for life on the road.

Inside, you’ve got porcelain-coated cooking grates. They’re rust-resistant so, while best-practice, they don’t NEED cleaning right away. But, when you do, they’re also really easy to clean and it won’t take long to scrape them down with one of our favorite tools.

For transportation, there’s two latches that hold the lid closed. The pellets can spill out of the hopper when you’re holding it by the handle. But, because it doesn’t hold a lot of pellets anyway, we don’t really find it to be a major problem (the upgraded Ranger doesn’t spill though).

In terms of size and weight, the Scout measures 21″ wide by 20″ deep and 13 inches high and weighs 45 pounds.

It’s not super compact or lightweight. But, it’s one of the smallest and lightest pellet smokers you can get. And, it’s not really designed to be taken hiking anyway. Car camping, RV travel, yes!

Capacity

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that the Scout doesn’t have the largest cooking capacity. It is a compact pellet smoker after all. But, you’ll find you can actually fit a reasonable amount on its 184 square inches of cooking space.

So, how much can the Scout hold?

Well, you’re looking at getting about 6 burgers, 10 sausages, 4-6 steaks or 1 rack of ribs (cut in half to fit) on the 184 square inch grate. If you want to cook a larger cut, you can fit 2 smaller chickens on there or even a pork butt that’s on the smaller side.

So, depending on what you cook, you should be able to feed 4 on the Scout easily, 6 people’s not undoable. And, if you’re looking at kids that only eat 1 burger each, you can do more.

In terms of the pellet hopper, the Scout’s holds 4 pounds of pellets at one time. Cooking at a low and slow temperature, you should get about 4 hours of smoking time before needing to refill. Hotter temperatures will burn through the pellets faster, but, you’re cooking time will be shorter too.

Smoking Performance

The Scout might be small, and, the temperature controller is Traeger’s older style. But, the results you can get on this thing are nothing but impressive.

The Digital Pro Controller lets you set the temperature in 25°F increments. It’s not as precise as the newer Traeger Ranger if that’s a deal-breaker for you. But, 225 or 250°F will do most people for low and slow while cranking it all the way up to its max 450°F is usually what we set it at anyway.

The temperature will fluctuate more than you’d get on the newer model too. You’re looking at seeing the Scout sitting somewhere between +/-20-25°F of your target throughout your cook. We don’t find that it really impacts the results so, it doesn’t bother us. It’s just worth mentioning that the Scout’s not going to give you the precise regulation of the Ranger or a PID-style controller in case those are really important to you.

Because the grill itself is so small, hot spots seem to be very minimal and the Scout cooks fairly evenly anywhere on the grate which means you don’t need to worry about meat placement or rotating things while they cook away.

Overall, we’re really impressed with how the Scout smokes. Maybe it’s just that everything tastes better in the wide-open outdoors… but, Traeger do know a thing to two so it’s probably not just the fresh air and sunshine.

Grilling Performance

We usually find that grilling on a pellet smoker that only offers an indirect heat mode is pretty average, although better than not being able to do it. But, because the Scout is so small and the grates are closer to the firepot, we’ve found it actually does a pretty decent job of grilling up a steak, fish or anything really.

With a maximum temperature of 450°F, you need to let the grill and grates heat up to get a good sizzle before laying your meat on. The grill marks are pretty decent and you do manage to get a bit of a smoky flavor although the meat won’t be sitting on the smoker all that long.

If you’re mainly buying the Scout for grilling instead of smoking, we do recommend grabbing a griddle plate. They hold the heat better than the regular grates and let you be able to fry things like eggs really easily.

Just keep in mind, if you are grabbing the griddle plate along with a Scout, it’s pushing the price up pretty close to the upgraded Ranger unit which already includes the griddle. And, you get the upgraded controller and a larger pellet hopper as well.

Included Extras

Being the most basic compact pellet smoker in Traeger’s range, don’t expect to get much in the way of extras. But, the Scout does come with 1 meat probe that plugs directly into the control panel so you can watch the internal temperature of your meat climb until it’s perfectly cooked.

Warranty

While a lot of portable smokers have a shorter warranty period than that brand’s regularly sized versions, you do get Traeger’s whole standard 3 year warranty with the Scout.

Their customer service department’s got a good reputation as well. So, hopefully it’s an easy fix if you do have any problems.

Negative Reviews

If you’ve seen the user reviews for the Traeger Scout, you might have noticed that they’re not too crash hot.

The main reason for this is people finding the temperature runs too hot or keeps steadily climbing. People have also had problems with grease fires.

We’ve had a good look into these issues and considered not recommending the Scout because of these reports (although our experience with it has been good). But, it looks like, one, these issues were more common a few years ago before the grill was recalled and subsequently fixed before coming back on the market.

Two, most temperature issues seem to have been easily fixed by adjusting the ‘P’ setting on the right side of the digital display. It’s a tiny hole that can be set between 1 and 4 to adjust the rate that the pellets are fed into the firepot. You won’t find information about it in the manual. But, Traeger will tell you about it if you do have any issues.

Thirdly, grease fires are unfortunately a potential issue with all pellet smokers but particularly smaller ones. It’s vital to clean the Scout between uses to minimize the risk.

Optional Extras

One easy way to make cleaning the Scout really easy is by using Traeger’s disposable drip tray liners. They also sell mini grease bucket liners so that all you need to do is clean the grates and empty the firepot.

Other optional extras available for the Scout include the grill cover to protect it from the weather and the heavy-duty carry bag that protects and makes it easy to carry.

Cleaning the Traeger Scout

As we’ve already pointed out, cleaning smaller pellet smokers like the Traeger Scout after every use is particularly important to prevent grease fires and stop ash from clogging up the unit.

Like all barbecues, start by scraping down the grates. Then, wipe any grease from the drip tray, grease drain and grease bucket. That’s usually easier when the grill’s warm. But, after it’s cooled, you’ll also need to clean the ash out of the firepot and surrounding space.

A vacuum is the easiest way to do it (we like this battery powered one for on the go). But, you can do it with a small shovel or cloth. Just make sure it’s all cold first.

The Traeger Scout manual details how to clean it in much more detail.

What We Like About the Traeger Scout

  • The case is really strong and durable so it can actually withstand the portable life
  • Easy to setup
  • Very sturdy on any flat tabletop surface
  • Turns out some great food
  • Wide temperature range means it does a good job of smoking, roasting, baking and grilling all one the one unit
  • Comes with 1 meat probe so you’ll know when the meat’s fall off the bone ready
  • Great warranty, particularly for a portable smoker
  • It’s lighter than the newer Traeger Ranger so easier to move around

What We Don’t Like About the Traeger Scout

  • The cooking capacity’s obviously limited being a very compact portable smoker
  • The first generation Digital Pro Controller doesn’t hold the temperature as tightly as newer controllers. And, you can only set it in 25°F increments
  • Pellet hopper is on the small side
  • There’s no WiFi – this actually doesn’t bother us because we’re always nearby when doing portable cooking. But, it’s worth mentioning before you buy

Specs for the Traeger Scout Portable Tabletop Pellet Smoker

Barbecue type: Portable wood pellet grill and smoker

Barbecue material: Powder-coated steel

Grate material:  Porcelain-coated cast steel

Cooking capacity: 184 sq. in.

Pellet hopper capacity: 4 lbs

Heat Range: 180-450°F

WiFi: No

Fuel type: Wood pellets

Price guide: $

Model: TFT18PLDO

Assembled size (in): 21″W x 13″H x 20″D

Weight: 45 lbs

Warranty: 3 years

FAQs About the Traeger Scout

Q. What type of power connection do you need for the Traeger Scout?

The Scout comes with a 110-120V power cord so you can plug it into any regular power outlet. If you want to hook it up to your car, you’ll need an inverter. The Traeger one’s really good.

Q. How do you empty the hopper on the Traeger Scout?

There’s no easy way to empty the pellet hopper on the Scout. You can burn them through to fully empty it or scoop and tip them out if the grill’s cold.

Q. Do I have to use Traeger pellets in the Scout?

Definitely not. The Traeger pellets are really good. But, any quality smoking pellet will work in the Scout just fine. We’d just recommend sticking to something that’s high quality and low ash to prevent the smaller firepot from getting clogged.

Q. What’s the largest piece of meat you can cook on the Traeger Scout?

We’ve done a cut up brisket before. It was just under 5 pounds. But, you should also be able to squeeze on 2 smaller chickens or 1 pork butt.

Q. Is there a table that’s made specifically for the Traeger Scout?

Not at the moment. But, you can use it on any flat surface. We like this Coleman Ultra Compact Folding Table for something that’s small and lightweight. Plus, you’ll have space to work around the Scout too.

Our Verdict on the Traeger Scout Review

When it comes to very compact portable pellet smokers, the Traeger Scout is a solid option. With a first generation temperature controller and other basic features, it’s not as fancy as some. But, what is there is solid, dependable and versatile, letting you smoke, bake, roast and grill really well on the one unit.

With a decent 184 square inch cooking capacity, you can expect to cater to 4-6 people depending on what you cook. And, the 4 pound pellet hopper should see you through about 4 hours of low and slow smoking time without a refill.

Because the Scout has the earlier style of Traeger’s temperature controllers and a smaller hopper, it’s lighter than the more expensive Traeger Ranger which is a nice bonus for easy transportation.

Ideal for anything from small cooks at home to family day-trips, fishing lunches, and, permanent RV life, the Traeger Scout delivers great quality and versatility for a fair price.

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

Traeger Ranger

  • Upgraded Digital Arc Controller for more precise setting and heat regulation
  • Larger 8 pound pellet hopper
  • Includes griddle plate

ASMOKE AS300

  • Second grate gives slightly larger cooking capacity
  • Open flame grilling
  • Similar price