Traeger Tailgater vs The Pro 22 – What’s The Best Small Traeger?


The Tailgater and Pro 22 are two of Traeger’s smaller pellet grills. These grills are perfect for anyone wanting to smoke meat, but have a small budget and a small outdoor area. The Tailgater, as the name suggests, is designed for tailgating, but can also be used at home. I wanted to take a closer look at these grills, so I did a side-by-side comparison.

SpecsTraeger TailgaterTraeger Pro 22
ManufacturerTraeger Pellet GrillsTraeger Pellet Grills
Price (US)$529.95 grill only$589.90 grill + cover$609.85 grill + cover + pellets$544.94 grill + drip tray liner$549.90 grill + pellets, hickory
SEE LATEST PRICE HERE
$599.95 grill only$669.00 grill + cover, black$514.90 grill + tray$569.90 grill + folding shelf$519.90 grill + pellets.
SEE LATEST PRICE HERE
Weight62 pounds103 pounds
Dimension (DxHxW)37” x 18” 36”49” x 41” x 27”
Grill Capacity3 racks of ribs, or 2 whole chickens or 12 burgers5 racks of ribs, or 4 whole chickens, or 24 burgers
Grilling area300 sq. in572 sq. in.
Hopper Capacity8 lb18 lb
Hopper CleanoutYesYes
Control StyleDigital Arc ControllerDigital Pro Controller
Special Features* Easy Foldable Legs *  With precise temperature control *  Beginner friendly *  Guarantee precise grilling *  Easy to Use* Water Resistant * It has an extra rack (154 sq. in.) *  Made from all-weather and heavy duty material * No Assemble Required *  Easy to Use
Power sourceElectric power source and wood burning100% All-natural Wood pellet
Fuel TypeWood PelletCharcoal, Wood Pellet
Colour VariationsBlackCharcoal and Black
Outer MaterialSteelSteel
Inner MaterialStainless SteelStainless Steel
WheelsRugged all-terrain wheelsRugged all-terrain wheels

Main Differences

  • The Pro 22 holds 10 pounds more wood pellets when compared to the Tailgater. 
  • The Tailgater costs $80 to $100 less than the Pro 22 (check latest)
  • The Pro 22 has 572 square inches of cooking area, which is 272 square inches more than the Tailgater.
  • The Tailgater has a regular digital Arc temperature controller. The Pro Series the Pro Controllers. 

FeaturesTraeger TailgaterTraeger Pro 22
Temperature ControlDigital Arc temperature controller with guarantee precision grillingDigital Pro temperature controller with advance grilling logic
Max Temperature450 °F450 °F
Cooking Methods6-in-1 versatility to smoke, grill, bake, braise, BBQ, and roast food to juicy perfection6-in-1 versatility to smoke, grill, bake, braise, BBQ, and roast food to juicy perfection
Advanced GrillingYesYes
Food production6-15 people12-20 people
Standard SizeMedium sizedExtra Large
Water ResistantNoneYes
All Terrain WheelsYesYes
WiFired EnableNoneNone
Easy Fold LegsYesNone
Turbo TemperatureYesYes
AssemblingEasy to AssembleNo Assemble Required
All Weather ProtectionNoneYes
Versatile Barbeque CookingHot and Fast, orLow and SlowHot and Fast, orLow and Slow

Price Difference

There’s about a $70 to $100 price difference between the Tailgater and the Pro 22. The Tailgater sells for around $530 and the Pro 22 is close to $600. Prices change constantly, so see the updated prices here. The Pro 22 is a much larger grill, with 572 square inches of cooking space.

Where To Buy

You can buy the Tailgater and Pro 22 from the Traeger website. Most grills qualify for FREE DELIVERY. Traeger also offer buy-now-pay-later with affirm. The Pro 22 works out to $55 per month and the Tailgater is $48 per month.

Hopper

The Tailgater only has an 8 pound hopper, so if you want to cook a brisket, you will need to refill the wood several times throughout the cook. The Pro 22 has an 18 lb hopper, so you can comfortably cook a brisket without having to top up the wood. 

Is the Tailgater Worth it? 

If you can afford an extra $100, you are better off getting the Pro 22 Traeger. 

The only reason you would buy a Tailgater over a Pro 22 is if you want a grill for camping or tailgating, or if you find a Tailgater discounted.

Cooking Capacity

The Tailgater has 300 square inches of cooking area. This is enough to cook 12 burgers, or 3 full rib racks, or two whole chickens. You can cook about 25 chicken wings. 

For larger cuts of meat, the Tailgater can hold a 10 to 15 lb brisket, or two 8 lb pork butts. However, cooking large cuts is hard work with a small pellet hopper.

Temperature Fluctuations

Because the Tailgater is a small, portable grill, it will have temperature fluctuations. But this is just the price you pay for having a portable grill.

If you want fewer temperature fluctuations, spend an extra $80 to $100 for a Pro 22. The Pro Series grills may not have the insulation and stability of an Ironwood or Timberline, but it will hold temps better than the Tailgater.

Portability

One of the main reasons to buy a Tailgater is the portability. The Tailgater isn’t heavy. It only weighs 62 pounds, so it’s easy to lift. Once the legs are folded, you can easily slide it onto your tailgate. There’s no smoke stack or chimney to get in the way either. Instead of a smokestack, the Tailgater has two back vents for smoke to escape.

Folding Legs

The Tailgater has foldable legs, just like a normal grill. But if you want to go tailgating or camping, the legs fold up. Unfortunately, the Tailgater legs aren’t easy to fold. This is a common criticism. You would think Traeger would have spent more time on the foldable legs. Especially with the Tailgater being a portable grill. 

No Smoke Stack

Most pellet grills have a smokestack, or chimney. The Tailgater has vents at the back of the unit, which is more practical for a portable grill. 

Get A Folding Shelf

If you want a folding shelf for the front of the Tailgater, tit costs an extra $60. Additional shelves come in very useful when camping, so you may find the shelf to be a worthy upgrade. However, if you’re trying to keep the costs low, just place a camping table next to your grill. 

Buy A Cover

The Tailgater cover costs about $60 (see latest). A cover will keep the weather off your grill, especially in winter. A cover will also help your grill come up to temperature quicker, which means you can cook sooner. Also, the colder the metal, the more wood you need to burn to bring the Tailgater up to cooking temp. So a cover is a useful accessory, especially when camping. 

Tailgater Has Poor Insulation

The Tailgater is made from thin metal, so don’t expect the same level of insulation as the Pro 22, Ironwood, or Timberline.However, the Tailgater is a portable grill, so it needs to be light and transportable. If you want a well-insulated pellet grill, then consider another model.  

Plastic Components

Another problem is there are plastic handles and plastic wheels on the tailgater. Again, this makes the grill lighter, because it is a portable grill. Having metal handles and metal wheels would make the grill much heavier, so I can understand why Traeger wanted to keep the weight as low as possible. In comparison, the Pro Series has sturdier handles and wheels. 

The Tailgater – Perfect For Beginners

The Tailgater is a good little entry-level smoker, but if you find you like your new hobby, you will probably regret not getting a larger model. However, if your primary purpose for buying the Tailgater is portability, then you won’t have any complaints. 

Buy A Thermometer

Buying your own wireless thermometer is a good idea if you’re going to smoke on a Tailgater. As mentioned before, the Tailgater has temperature fluctuations, so a thermometer will be your best friend. A good wireless thermometer will alert you if your temperature is swings, then you can make the relevant adjustments. Never trust the in-built thermometers. They are notoriously inaccurate.  

More Affordable

If you’re on a tight budget, then the Tailgater is still good for the money. Obviously big is always better, but if you can only afford the Tailgater you will still be happy. 

Final ComparisonTraeger TailgaterTraeger Pro 22
ConvenienceBetterGood
AffordabilityGoodBetter
Eco-friendlinessBetterGood
DurabilityBetterGood
Beginner FriendlyGoodBetter
Easy to AssembleBetterGood
Temperature ControlGoodBetter
Easy to UseGoodBetter
Easy to CleanGoodBetter
Save your MoneyGoodBetter
Smoke FlavorBetterGood
Perfect SizeGoodBetter
Protection from All WeatherGoodBetter
Hot PicksBetterGood
TechnologyBetterGood

Other Traeger Reviews:

Traeger Tailgater vs The Pro 22 – What’s The Best Small Traeger?

Ranger vs Tailgater – We Compare The Portable Traeger Grills

Pro 575 vs Pro 22 – A Side-By-Side Comparison

Pro 575 vs Pro 780 – What’s The Difference?

Timberline 1300 vs 850 – A Detailed Comparison

Ironwood vs Pro Series – We Review Both Series

Pro 34 vs 780 – A Side-By-Side Comparison

Ironwood vs Timberline – We Compare Traeger’s High-End Grills

Traeger Pro 34 vs Pro 22 – A Side-By-Side Comparison

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