There are a lot of cool things out there that make us wonder — do they really work? In our I Tried It series, we set out to use them in the real world and have determined that, in fact, they really do.
On Trial: Weber Traveler Portable Gas Grill
The Tester: Brandon Carte, a frequent griller who appreciates when designers put their heads together to make great products portable
The Brief: The Weber Traveler doesn’t require as many sacrifices as other portable grills. When you use it, you’ll feel like you’re grilling on your full-sized grill at home.
As convenient and portable as propane camping grills are, it’s no secret that they don’t hold their own against their full-sized counterparts. Most have poor temperature control, smaller-sized cooking surfaces, and you oftentimes need a table to put them on. On the plus side, they’re cheaper, lightweight, and still get the job done.
The $325 Weber Traveler is a new portable grill that doesn’t cut any corners. Other portable grills can feel a bit like grilling on a kid’s toy. The Weber is much more versatile and powerful.
An Innovative Integrated Cart
What makes the Weber stand out is its built-in cart. It looks a bit like a cross between a dolly and a pair of scissors. You can quickly raise and lower the grill one-handed, and since it’s on two wheels, it can easily be dragged around with little effort on your part.
The 44-inch-wide grill folds down to just 15 inches, making it short enough to stow in the trunk of your car. When the grill is raised, it stands independently at 36 inches tall.
While the cart makes the grill easier to move, and its handles on each side help you lift and carry it, the Weber Traveler is quite heavy — a whole 47 pounds. So you probably wouldn’t want to lug it throughout the woods.
Plenty of Useful Features
Weber thought of everything — even the smallest of details — while designing the Weber Traveler. The grill has an automatically locking lid, gas spring lifters, and locks that prevent the cart from folding down when the propane tank is attached.
The grill, which only took me 7 minutes to assemble, is appealing to car campers, tailgaters, parkgoers, condo owners, and apartment dwellers alike. It ignites instantly and offers grillers a generously spacious 320 square inches of cooking space — enough for 15 burgers. Plus, there are three hooks for your tools, a built-in thermometer, and a convenient side table for holding your food before and after you grill it.
The Traveler’s single 13,000 BTU burner — which wraps around the entirety of the grill — gives off some serious heat. The grill is powered by small 1-pound liquid-propane tanks, which can be purchased for around $6 at stores that carry sporting goods and camping gear. It can also be hooked up to a larger-sized propane tank with the purchase of a separate adapter.
During my tests, the grill’s internal temperature rose to 500 degrees Fahrenheit in only about 5 minutes. The tank ran out of juice after 2 hours of grilling. I recommend picking up the Bernzomatic Fuel Gauge, so you always have a clear sense of how much fuel remains.
What It’s Like to Grill on the Traveler
I found that the Traveler evenly distributed the heat for cooking my steak to perfection. I was able to get some nice sear marks on some burgers I grilled without trouble, but when I filled the grill to capacity and cooked some corn on the cob and onions, the edges of the grill didn't cook as rapidly. I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling the edges “cold spots,” but my veggies didn’t heat as quickly as the burgers in the center did.
The grill’s porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates split into two pieces down the middle. They were easy to remove and clean, however I did let mine soak in the sink overnight with some Dawn Powerwash to later scrape off the burned bits of food. The grill hood and cook box wiped clean with a wet rag. I liked that the Traveler has a removable disposable grease trap (sold in a set of 10) to make cleanup less of a burden.
I personally wouldn’t use the grill for low and slow barbecue like ribs or brisket, since its single knob for controlling fuel output doesn't allow for precise temperature control. It’s also worth mentioning that the Traveler has just 5 inches of headroom under its lid, so you likely couldn't cook large roasts, shoulders, or turkeys in it.
Closing Argument: The Weber Traveler is a premium gas grill that is durable, quick to heat up, and is incredibly user-friendly. When you grill on it, you’ll forget you’re grilling on a portable grill. That’s how good it is. It’s not as portable as other gas grills, but its ingenious cart makes it easy to fold down and roll from place to place. Considering the Traveler’s power output, its versatility, and the fact that its components are backed by a generous 2- to 5-year warranty, make it worth buying.