‘It’s on a pallet’ are not the words I wanted, nor expected, to hear from the delivery man when the Weber Traveler (American spelling) turned up. It’s allegedly the portable barbecue for anyone, from casual picnickers to retirees with big, fancy Volkswagen Grand California campervans. But at over one metre wide and nearly 60 centimetres deep, it seems to be the portable barbecue for anyone who has a vehicle with a boot capacious enough to transport it. We transported it in a Volvo XC60 and the Traveler fit in its boot exactly. First impressions were more portly than portable. At least it was easy to put together out of the box.
How the Weber Traveler was tested
The Traveler had a proper day out with us. It made up a crucial part of our camping kitchen, with the other part being the amenities found in our Volkswagen Grand California campervan.
With the Traveler we cooked the all-important burger patties and, as an impromptu addition, toasted bread for bruschetta. These two are simple items for barbecuing but cooking burger patties is something easily ruined by feeble and uneven burners.
Is the Weber really portable?
If you have the space, yes it is. The size is only half the story because while the Weber Traveler is of similar dimensions to most peoples’ permanently stationed backyard grills, the Traveler has a brilliant hydraulic mechanism in the stand for collapsing it down. Put your foot on the foot stand at the base, pull a red lever that sits beneath the side table, and the whole unit eases down gently on gas struts. There’s a lock that engages automatically on the lid to stop the inevitable open-lid disaster that would unfold if it didn’t. There’s a red tab that locks the legs shut too. You can then lift the barbecue and cart it along on the wheels.
The Traveler’s cart is an integral part of it, like a tortoise’s shell. While that makes it bigger than it would be without, it makes the Traveler so much easier to move around. It also saves you the need to carry around a camping table.
Features and usability
With an RRP of £439.95, the Traveler is quite an investment. But is it a wise one? In typical Weber fashion, the Traveler is very solid and well put together. Sure it rattles when you’re wheeling it across a gravel car park, but there is no sense that it’s being rattled to pieces.
Parked up and set up, it looks like the business. The lid has a temperature gauge, which is a very welcome addition, and beneath it, you find a single burner. Above the burner sit two cast iron grill plates. The grill plates are what contribute most noticeably to the Traveler’s rather portly 28-kilogram weight. But given how easy it is to wheel around, set up and collapse, and how solid it is, it’s a thoroughly worthwhile trade-off.
Because it’s a single burner there’s just one dial. Just next to the dial are three plastic tool hooks. In terms of gas, because it’s a travel barbecue, the Traveler uses the little screw-in butane/propane gas canisters. You can hook it up to a big gas bottle or campervan gas supply if you want to but it needs an adaptor hose, which is sold separately and is quite expensive.
In terms of oomph, the Traveler packs plenty of it. The stainless steel burner pumps out 3.8kW. That’s a little bit more than what you get from Weber’s mid-sized Q 2200 gas barbecue, which is of a similar size and price albeit without the folding stand. It’s also the same output seen on Char Broil’s All-Star 120 B-Gas travel barbecue.
Because there’s lots of power the plates heat up within a few minutes and you’re ready to start cooking. For this, there is ample space to cater for large groups. The cooking area is more than 2000 square centimetres, which dwarfed our catering for three. It’s enough for at least a dozen medium-sized burger patties. That’s because it’s all useable cooking space. The burner tube snakes around the whole grill.
As with the built-in temperature gauge, the infinitely adjustable control dial helps you to cook with more confidence. We didn’t encounter issues with anything sticking to the grill plates either. Overall, it was a stress-free barbecuing experience that produced some excellent results. No doubt the Traveler can be used for any style of grilling, from slower cooking to steak searing. In terms of fuel use, we didn’t get close to using a 445-gram gas canister. There was about a third left. Though if you're planning on quite a culinary extravaganza you'll want at least a couple of those. Or a big gas bottle.
Is Weber’s Traveler a worthwhile investment? If you own a city car, hatchback or a saloon and you intend to take it places, then no it isn’t because it simply won’t fit in the boot. You could squeeze it in by folding the seats down but then it hardly seems portable at that point. But if you own an estate car or family SUV or a campervan then you should seriously consider the Traveler because it’s a brilliant travel kitchen capable of being your home barbecue as well.
It’s the inclusion of important features and performance that impressed us most. There are no useless frills, just simple parts that work flawlessly and will last if you take care of them.
How does the Traveler stack up against competitors? Char Broil’s All-Star 120 B-Gas portable barbecue is cheaper at £379.99 and has the same power output. With the stand, it also weighs about the same, but the cooking area is smaller (43-centimetre diameter circular plate) and you have to remove the barbecue from the stand to move it because the stand doesn’t fold away. The Weber Traveler is superior in our eyes.
|• Smooth system for folding away||• Pricey|
|• Powerful burner||• Quite large for a travel BBQ|
|• Sturdy and well made|
|• Large cooking area|