Traeger Scout is a micro-sized portable pellet smoker, the cheapest and smallest in the entire Traeger lineup. It’s about the size of a briefcase, so it can easily pack inside the back of your car. You can take it to the beach, go camping or fishing, or even use it home if you’re only cooking for a few.
When exploring for dozen or options among portable pellet grills, these are only Traeger Scout grills to come into your mind first. Again, among Traeger grills, the Scout is a predecessor. So, you tend to think,
“is this micro pellet smoker worth having first place?” The unpleasing reviews also make you scratch your head before draining your bank.
So, what should you do? We’ll help you by explaining and reviewing the Traeger Scout in detail; it will be satisfactory, anyway!
Disclaimer: This Traeger Scout Review Explains a Few Technical Differences.
Yes, it will be a more detailed and comprehensive Traeger Scout review. So, it’ll require a keen reading to let you decide more confidently. Mainly you’ll understand the PD temperature controller and how it works in this portable tabletop grill.
Do you want to read it?
What’s a Pellet Smoker? Let’s Know First!
A pellet grill, commonly known as a pellet smoker, is a barrel-shaped grill with a hopper and an auger system. Wood pellets generate heat. And it’s the hopper that stores wood pellets and feeds the firebox slowly through the auger system.
The auger system consists of a motor to relocate the pellets from the hopper into the fire pot and a fan that dispenses the heat and smoke to the entire cooking chamber.
That said, standard pellet grills are colossal, making them unsuitable for RV life, tailgating, and camping. Indeed, they’re anything but portable.
What’s a micro pellet smoker? Another Must KnowThing!
A micro pellet grill/smoker is smaller grill than standard-sized pellet grill. It’s a mini pellet grill working on the same principles as a standard pellet smoker–featuring a hopper, an auger system, and digital controls to set and monitor your grill’s temperature. Other than size, there’s no difference between a micro pellet smoker and a full-fledged, standard-sized pellet grill.
What is Traeger Scout – Brief Overview
Scout is the first generation of Traeger tabletop-style smokers. It allows you to cook with poor hardwood pellets, but the capacity is undoubtedly limited. But anyway, you don’t need a bonfire to cook for 4-6 people.
Thanks to the compact, well-thought design, the Scout looks like a sleek, lightweight box. Everything from the hopper to the auger system to the firebox is so perfectly packed that you’re left speechless. Despite being Traeger’s entry-level, the Scout is as solid and reliable as any of Traeger’s flagship models.
It heats up fast as there’s little distance between the firebox and the cooking surface. A meat probe is there to let you monitor your food’s temperature with mathematical precision (yes, it’s highly accurate).
As for the quality, it’s stable enough to withstand a harsh RV life or camping. It’s a tiny but dependable pellet grill for baking, grilling, smoking, and roasting on the road.
Detailed Review of the Traeger Scout Pellet Grill
Traeger Scout is an entry-level portable pellet smoker with all the basic features of a standard pellet grill. But it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles or fancy features of a full-sized pellet smoker, not even those of its successor, the Traeger Ranger.
Yet it’s designed for the tough road life and the harsh environment you face while on an RV trip. So it can withstand sudden blows, and even a few freefalls from the back of your car or its stand. The model’s ultimate goal is to provide hassle-free wood-fired cooking on the road and while camping.
The primary difference between the Traeger Scout and its most advanced successor, the Traeger Ranger, lies in the temperature controller and the size of the hopper. In the Scout, you get a very basic, conventional controller compared to the Traeger Ranger’s PID-based temp controller.
Despite these two trade-offs, the Scout is 15 pounds lighter than the Ranger. The two micro pellet smokers are of the same size with exactly similar dimensions.
Read on to learn more about the Scout’s construction, capacity, features, performance, and a few drawbacks.
Construction and design
Excellent build quality is often the last thing to expect from a portable pellet smoker. Most micro pellet smokers on the market are not built well–they’re the mini versions of full-sized smokers with poor construction and many design flaws. But this is not the case with the Scout.
The pellet smoker features overall stainless steel construction for maximum longevity. The rugged exterior is black powder coated to prevent damage from weather and elements. Although prone to dents and scratches, it’s potent, stable, and sturdy enough for life on the road.
The grill grates are porcelain-coated, so they need little to no cleaning. At least you don’t have to clean them right away. You can scrape any burnt or residual food out when you’re free.
There are two latches on the front that hold the lid shut tight. It’s a nice feature that translates to easy maneuverability and transportation.
The Scout measures 21″ wide by 20″ deep and 13 inches high with a weight of only 45 pounds.
In terms of design, the Scout looks like an engineering marvel. Traeger has so beautifully packed many intricate components inside that you get mesmerized. But we advise against disassembling your Scout pellet grill to see what’s inside.
The lid on this model protrudes in the middle to give a somewhat bulged appearance. While not aesthetically pleasing, it gives you more space to cook larger foods, for example, a whole bird, such as chicken, or a medium-sized turkey. The newer model, the Traeger Ranger, comes with a sleek, flat-top lid, more suitable for cooking or smoking smaller cuts of meat.
When you lift the lid, you find a rectangular hopper on the right. The hopper’s door is continuous with the grilling surface and doesn’t stand above it, as we see in the Traeger Ranger.
On the downside, there’s much space left between the hopper’s door and the Scout’s lid. It sometimes results in pellets spilling out of the hopper when holding your grill by its handle.
The upgraded Ranger doesn’t spill because its hopper is larger (double the size of its predecessor) and is continuous with the lid rather than straight with the grill grate.
On the left side, you get a 184-square inch porcelain-enameled grill grate. A drip tray of a similar size goes underneath it, snapping through the grill’s rear into the grease bucket.
The air vents are located on the right and back of the Traeger Scout. You need an AC power outlet for the Scout to function. The smoker has four tiny rubber legs, which protect the surface it rests on from the heat of the pellets. You must either place it on the tabletop or buy a stand separately.
The hopper on this unit can store up to 4 pounds of pellets at a time. It translates to about four hours of smoking time over a low and slow temperature.
Increasing the temperature also increases the pellets’ burn rate, meaning fewer hours of cooking before you refill. But remember that the faster burn rate, in turn, also reduces the overall cooking time.
Had Traeger intended, it could have increased the hopper capacity without hassle–there’s a lot of space left between the hopper and the lid. It’s also interesting to note that the 8-pound hopper of the upgraded Ranger employs the spare room to double its capacity.
But thanks partly to a smaller hopper, the Scout is about 15 pounds lighter than the Traeger Ranger.
Now for the actual cooking capacity, the Scout doesn’t offer much space. You are looking for a portable pellet grill which implies you don’t expect too much in terms of cooking capacity. Performance, maybe yes.
The Scout doesn’t disappoint you in terms of cooking performance. But in terms of cooking capacity, too, the Scout offers ample space to cook for 4-6 people.
But the actual question is, how much food can the Scout accommodate?
You can fit about 6 burgers, 10 sausages, 4-6 steaks, 6 chicken breasts, 10 hot dogs, or 100 asparagus stalks on its 184-square inch cooking grate. Since there’s a lot of headspace in the Scout—thanks to the protruding lid—you can even fit two whole chickens on there or even a pork butt.
While you can’t feed an army using the Scout, you can quickly relieve the hunger pangs of four. Feeding 6 or more isn’t undoable, especially if you look at children who eat much less than adults.
The Scout’s grilling performance is on par with any of the best micro pellet smokers on the market. But how? The answer is pretty simple.
Regular pellet grills are generally referred to as smokers for a reason—they don’t prove to be excellent grills. The reason is that there’s a significant distance between the firebox and the cooking grates, and also because the drip tray sits between the two, the indirect heat mode doesn’t prove to be as efficient as it should be, like in a gas grill.
However, they’re matchless for smoking and grilling over low and slow temperatures. Yes, they require babysitting.
On the other hand, because of the Scout’s size, the grate is closer to the firepot—hence, they have less distance for the heat to travel from the firepot to the cooking surface. Consequently, it takes very little time to heat up, and the cooking times are also faster.
Since the Scout is so small, the heat is distributed evenly across the entire cooking surface, and the temperature remains consistent. The Scout can be cranked up to its maximum of 450°F, a reasonably high temperature, to get an excellent sear. Yet, to achieve a good sear, you should always preheat the micro grill for 10-15 minutes.
To call a spade a spade, the Scout sucks at smoking which has something to do with its conventional-style temperature controller. The old-style, non-PID temp controller on the micro pellet smoker is terrible, as pointed out by every second original buyer.
Go through the Traeger Scout’s page on Amazon and Traeger, and you’ll find the eternal cries and woes of a faulty temperature regulator. The problem is that the controller fails to intervene when the temperature rises, which stays, on average, between 350°F to 450°F, way higher than the optimum smoking temperature of 165-275ºF.
If you narrow it down, the ideal temperature for smoking lies between 225°F to 250°F. But the problem is, no matter how much you tweak the controller, the Scout’s temperature never gets below 300 degrees Fahrenheit. If the controller ever obeys you, it’s for a moment, and the temperature surges again after a while.
In the later sections, you can find the details about the PID-based vs. a conventional-style controller.
This model is great for high-temperature grillings, such as sizzling steaks and creating beautiful marks. But for low and slow smoking, it’s a total disappointment unless you can babysit it and learn how to tweak the controls.
Negative Reviews – What’s the matter?
The Traeger Scout has received a mixed, divided pool of reviews both on Amazon and Traeger’s website, with about half the people singing the praises of the model and the other half warning others not to ruin their money. The two most common complaints are the following:
a) the temperature runs too hot or keeps steadily climbing despite adjusting the controller.
b) grease fires erupt too often, causing a potential safety risk.
As for the latter, grease fires are a shared phenomenon in small pellet grills of all brands. So the Traeger brand is not alone, nor is the Traeger Scout.
The problem arises when you don’t clean your portable smoker regularly. Ideally, you should clean your Scout after every cooking session. Doing so will prevent grease fires and ash buildup, which can sometimes clog the unit.
The first complaint, however, seems to be trustworthy and legitimate. Despite Traeger recalling the Scout a few years ago and later confirming that the issue in the newer models has been fixed, many genuine buyers still face the issue.
The company has also included a “P” setting, but it hasn’t solved the problem for good. The issue seems to be in the Scout’s non-PID-based temperature controller. Let’s look at what these conventional-style temp controllers are and how they differ from the more advanced, PID-based controllers.
PID vs. non-PID controllers
All controllers use a Sensor RTD (short for Resistance Temperature Detector) to measure temperature fluctuations above and below the set point (SP). Similarly, both PID and non-PID controllers either slow down or speed up the auger system to lower or raise the grill’s temperature.
For example, if the grill’s actual temperature, measured by the RTD, is less than the SP, the controller kicks in to speed up the auger motor and fan’s rotation. This, in turn, results in more pellets being fed to the firebox, which increases the grill’s temperature.
Now, if the RTD detects a rise in the temperature above the SP, it either stops the auger system or slows it down to prevent excessive pellets from being fed to the firebox.
You can see that both the PID and non-PID controllers employ the same principle to function: to intervene, primarily by controlling the auger rotation, when a rise or fall in the temperature from the SP is detected.
So, what makes the actual difference?
The short answer is how often and how precisely sampling is done. Plus, the number of data sources, controls, and the ability to predict also play a massive role in the efficacy of a particular temperature controller.
A conventional, non-PID controller employs a single variable: auger ON/OFF. It cannot predict temperature changes.
The reason is that it doesn’t store previous data, and, as a result, when it kicks in, the actual grill temperature can overshoot or undershoot the SP. For example, when it detects a rise in the temperature, it can pause the auger system for too long, resulting in the temperature dropping below the set point.
When the temperature drops, it begins another cycle by speeding up the auger motor, resulting in temperature overshooting the set point. The consequence is apparent—the temperature faces perpetual swings amounting to 10, 20, and sometimes even 50 degrees.
The Traeger Scout comes with the Digital Pro temperature controller, a non-PID controller with fluctuations up to +/-25°F.
PID stands for Proportion, Integral, and Derivative, three separate calculations that help to keep the temperature as close to the set point as possible. Compared to a conventional controller, which uses auger ON/OFF as the sole variable, the PID controller takes input from multiple sources besides the RTD. Additionally, it stores data, performs complex algebraic and algorithmic calculations, and controls the auger motor and the fan separately.
The proportion part in a PID controller determines the auger ON/OFF time, the integral part ascertains how frequently the temperature should be measured, and the derivative part predicts the changes that will occur, when they will happen, and how fast they will appear. The last part is the brain of the unit.
Since the PID controller processes data from multiple sources, it also considers the ambient temperature and makes predictions about it for accurately adjusting the smoker’s temperature. In a nutshell, the PID controller is more accurate and keeps the fluctuations in the range of +/-5°F, compared to +/-25°F for the non-PID controller.
Are the negative reviews legitimate?
Yes, but the Scout, too, is a legitimate product. Indeed, there are multiple facets to the Scout’s temperature controller issue:
a) the conventional-style, non-PID Digital Pro temp controller in the Scout, just like other conventional controllers, is far from accurate. So you can expect temperature swings in the range of +/-25°F.
b) Traeger recalled the Scout a few years ago and claimed to have fixed the problem. But they just ended up adding a “P” setting in the controller (more about the P-setting in the later section). The fix works for most users, helping them eliminate frequent temperature spikes.
c) while Traeger is known for the excellent quality control they exercise, manufacturing faults are a common phenomenon. Sometimes, these faults can elude the careful eyes of quality controllers in the company’s facility.
The Scout needs a regular cleanup to prevent grease fires and ash buildup. The latter can clog up the auger system (including the motor and fan).
Scraping down the grill grate while it’s warm is recommended because the grease comes off easily. Then start by wiping away the oil from the drip tray and grease bucket. Let the grill cool down for some time before cleaning the ash out of the firepot and surrounding space.
You can use a paper towel or a shovel to clean the firepot. But the easiest way to clean the Scout is using a vacuum cleaner (a battery-powered, cordless one is preferable).
As mentioned, the Scout is the cheapest entry-level grill in Traeger’s range, so it’s useless to expect too much in terms of included extras. But, it does come with a meat probe. The probe plugs in directly to the control panel to show your food’s internal temperature.
The Scout, unlike the Traeger Ranger, comes without a griddle plate, so you have to buy one for yourself separately. The griddle plate retains heat better than the grill grate and comes in handy for frying things, like eggs, which you can’t do on the grate.
Other separately sold accessories for this model include the Traeger To Go Bag, Traeger Scout & Ranger Grill Cover, Traeger Drip Tray Liners, and Mini Grease Tray Liners.
The Traeger Scout Pellet Grill comes with a standard 3-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Traeger’s customer service is also excellent should you face a problem.
- The Scout is built to last on the road. The case, especially, is solid and durable.
- Stable while in use. It doesn’t give in to minor hits or sudden blows on any flat tabletop surface.
- Cooks great food. Most buyers are delighted with the results.
- Since it can smoke, bake, roast, and grill without needing accessories, it’s a complete package.
- There’s a meat probe included in the box.
- Comes with a standard 3-year warranty you get on all Traeger grills.
- Significantly lighter than the Traeger Ranger, making it easy to move and transport.
- Heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, a reasonably high temperature for cooking most foods.
- Well-designed and well-constructed. The parts are seamlessly integrated—no rough edges.
- Hopper capacity is diminutive. Since there’s a lot of headspace between the hopper and the lid, the hopper could be a little bigger. Anyway, you need to refill before each cooking session.
- The conventional-style, non-PID controller is pretty useless. First, you can only raise or lower the temperature in 25°F increments. Second, the temp controller is inefficient and poorly programmed, leading to frequent temperature spikes.
- Not suitable for smoking unless you know how to tweak the controller, especially the P-setting on it.
- No wireless connectivity.
- Doesn’t include a stand. You must set it on a tabletop or kitchen counter.
Get the Best Out of Traeger Scout: P-Setting Explained it
Traeger Scout is an excellent tabletop pellet grill that is more a grill than a smoker. Indeed, it can do the perfect grilling, especially for the challenging meats requiring a higher temperature. And you can get more from this grill as a smoker if you understand it well. Below we’ll explain how you can hold a magic wand in your hand.
What’s the “P” setting?
The “P” setting, short for Pause Setting, controls the pause length between the auger cycles. It’s used on some older Traeger grills, such as the Scout and Junior 20. Other units that used this setting have been discontinued, and the newer models do this automatically.
You can find the “P” setting by locating a tiny hole next to the Scout’s digital display. Sometimes, it can be covered by a black round sticker that says “CALL SERVICE.”
How does the “P” setting on the Traeger Scout work?
The Digital Pro controller on the Scout causes the auger system to stop once the grill reaches the set temperature. This delay is referred to as the “pause cycle.” Your pellet grill enters this phase to prevent the pellets from flowing into the firepot.
Traeger grills usually have 5 P-Settings: P-1 to P-5. The lower the P-value, the shorter the pause, and vice versa. P-2 used to be the default “P” setting on Traeger’s old models, including the Scout.
Yet, because of frequent complaints of temperature spikes, Traeger has started shipping its Scout grills with P-4 as the default “P” setting. This has solved the problem of temperature spikes for many.
The pause for the P-1 setting is about 55 seconds. For each increase in the P-value, the break increases by increments of 10. For example, on P-5, there’s a 95-second pause.
As a rule of thumb, a lower P-setting is ideal for low ambient temperatures and vice versa.
How can you change the P-setting on the Traeger Scout?
You can use a paperclip to press the button inside the hole on the controller’s front face. As soon as you press the button, the digital display on your grill starts displaying your current P-setting. Keep pressing the button until it shows you your desired P-setting.
Which P-setting is ideal for preventing temperature swings on the Scout?
Ideally, P-4 is the best setting to avoid frequent temperature swings. At this setting, there’s an 85-second pause after every 15 seconds of auger rotation.
If you have a newly-purchased Scout smoker, P-4 should be your default P-setting. In this case, you don’t have to do anything. But in older units, the default P-setting is P-2, so you have to set it to P-4 for optimum temperature configuration.
If your Scout is set to P-4 but still experiencing temperature spikes, you may need to put it to P-5.
Traeger Scout Pellet Grill – Our Final Verdict
The Traeger Scout is a well-built micro pellet smoker designed for life on the road. Due to its small size, you can pack it inside the back of your car and take it anywhere. In terms of performance, especially when grilling, it puts any full-sized pellet smoker or a flagship gas grill to shame.
Many people love how nicely it cooks the food and adds a bit of smoke to it. But this doesn’t mean it hasn’t got any issues.
One, its older, first-generation temp controller is quite distressing. The good news is that it doesn’t affect grilling anyway because, for grilling, you need higher temperatures. There’s no problem related to temperature drops in the Scout–instead, you face frequent temperature spikes.
On the other hand, smoking is best done low and slow, which is made impossible by the Scout’s faulty temp controller. However, not all users face the same problem. The reason is that Traeger has changed the default P-setting for the Scout from P-2 to P-4. You can change the default setting if you have an older model.
As for the price, the Scout may not be the cheapest on the market but is affordable, nay budget-friendly.
If you are budget conscious, you can opt for the Scout without regret. Given its build quality and extraordinary performance, it’s worth every penny.
But if you can’t let go of the bells and whistles of the Traeger Ranger, which has got an upgraded temp controller, a griddle plate, and more hopper capacity, the Scout can be a waste of your hard-earned money. This is because if you only order a griddle plate with the Scout, the price of the two items gets closer to the Ranger’s price.
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