Rec Tec Trailblazer Review (RT-340): Revving Up the Rec Tec

Gas grills might be the most popular type in the US, but there’s no substitute for that authentic wood flavor. If you own a pellet grill, you can take advantage of this perk even as a novice. Thanks to their digital control panels and efficient operation, most pellet grills are simple to use.

This type of grill has been around since the mid-1980s, when Traeger Grills owned the original patent for the design. Since the patent expired, other companies have been edging their way into the field. Rec Tec is one example. In our Rec Tec Trailblazer review, we’ll attempt to shine a light on this travel-sized model, which is also called the RT-340.

Pros:

  • Heavy, durable construction
  • Excellent customer service department
  • Good temperature control
  • Reasonably affordable
  • Turns out delicious smoked meats, especially pulled pork

Cons:

  • May be too small for some people
  • Some shipping issues reported
organic dried peppered beef jerky

Rec Tec Trailblazer Review: Features & Benefits

Design

The sturdy cooking barrel on the Rec Tec Trailblazer rests on a cart-style frame, which is typical of grills this size. Two of the legs end in wheels for maneuverability, while the two right-hand legs are stable. The wheels are the only aspect of the construction that I don’t care for–they could be larger, especially since this is marketed as a travel unit.

The lid is outfitted with Rec Tec’s signature flared handles, which are meant to resemble the horns of a bull. If you need a better grip, there’s another handle on the top of the grill. In addition, the legs can be folded and locked into place for easy transport.

The lower shelf is sufficient for storing extra pellets or other grilling supplies. There’s no dedicated upper shelf, but the lid of the hopper is flat enough to hold utensils or dishes if necessary. Be forewarned that the configuration of the hopper might make this difficult for people of smaller stature.

The Trailblazer features a two-tone design. The lid, hopper, and base of the cart are all black in color, while the firebox has a silver cast to it. The effect is eye-catching and makes the grill appear larger than it really is.

Materials

Rec Tec uses quality stainless steel to construct its grills, and the Trailblazer is no exception. The body, grates, firepot, heat deflector, hardware, and drip pans are all made of stainless steel. This superior construction helps the unit retain its heat at any temperature.

The Trailblazer also features a ceramic igniter rod. This is an important detail, because inferior igniter rods have been known to rust out and corrode over time. This one is rated to withstand at least 100,000 lighting cycles.

Like the firepot, the cooking grates are constructed of 304 stainless steel. This is restaurant-quality steel that should last a lifetime if you care for it properly. The grates can be tough to clean if you wait too long, so we would recommend scrubbing them with a stiff wire brush while they’re still hot, then washing them as soon as possible.

Size

As we pointed out earlier, the Trailblazer is a travel-sized unit. This means that it offers a limited amount of grilling space–340 square inches in all. That could be a deal-breaker if you have a big family or plan to entertain often. In these cases, you should consider one of Rec Tec’s larger models.

If you do choose to purchase this model, it’s suitable for singles or couples. The cooking area is roomy enough to accommodate three full rib racks. The lid provides enough headroom for whole turkeys as well.

We should note that the grill weighs in at just 80 pounds. That makes it ideal for tailgating and camping excursions. Those of you who are looking specifically for a travel grill should find plenty to love about the Trailblazer.

Hopper Capacity

Considering the diminutive size of the Trailblazer, it’s impressive that the hopper can hold up to 20 pounds of wood pellets. If you’ve ever used a pellet smoker before, you’ll know that this can provide you with up to 40 hours of cooking time.

With a hopper this size, it’s important to keep an eye on the pellets in between uses. The last thing you want is for the pellets to sit in the hopper long enough to become moldy or damp. Wet pellets have an adverse effect on the grilling experience, so make sure to check the hopper regularly, especially if you haven’t used the grill in a while.

Temperature Control

For the Trailblazer, Rec Tec advertises a temperature range of 200 to 500 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. The temperature can be set in 5-degree increments, which is more precise than most of the competition. The “Smart Grill” technology helps the heat remain steady throughout the cooking process, something that inferior products can’t handle.

There’s also a LO setting, which allows you to cook at temps below 200 degrees; and a FULL setting, which boosts the temperature above 500. The LO setting gives you maximum smoke output, while the FULL option can be used for searing steaks or grilling flatbread.

Thanks to the Smart Grill’s WiFi capabilities, you can monitor the temperature from your smartphone or tablet. This is a great feature that allows you to mingle with guests while your meat cooks to perfection.

The broad temperature range allows you to use this grill for smoking, baking, roasting, and dehydrating as well as grilling. Dual meat probes help you keep an eye on your progress. There’s even an automatic shutdown feature that can be activated at the press of a button.

Assembly

All pellet grills require some assembly, but the Rec Tec Trailblazer simplifies the process. Aside from attaching the lid, there’s very little to be done. Once you’ve unpacked the box and gathered all the components, you can fire up the grill within an hour or two.

We should point out that the box may suffer damage during shipping. Check to make sure all the parts have arrived in good condition before you start to put the grill together. If there’s anything missing, contact Rec Tec’s customer service department for assistance.

Care and Maintenance

The stainless steel cooking grates don’t require seasoning, but they should be cleaned thoroughly before the first use. As we mentioned earlier, it’s also a good idea to wash them as soon as possible after cooking to prevent buildup from forming.

The 304 stainless steel drip pan funnels grease runoff into a bucket that’s attached to the side of the grill. Like the rest of the components, these parts are sturdy and well-built, even if the bucket is on the small side.

The Trailblazer also comes equipped with an automated self-cleaning shutdown mode. What does this mean for the griller? In essence, it means there’s no need to manually clear the ashes from the firebox. If low maintenance ranks high on your hit parade, this could be the grill for you.

Warranty

Rec Tec offers a 2-year warranty on the Trailblazer RT-340. While some companies (such as Pit Boss and Traeger) offer longer warranties, this is still an adequate guarantee. What’s more, the customer service department is friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to help you sort out any problems you might have.

Social Proof

grilling cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped hotdogs

While composing this review, we became favorably impressed by the Trailblazer’s capabilities. However, we were curious to learn what other buyers thought. Here’s what we learned.

Customer response to the Rec Tec Trailblazer was overwhelmingly positive.

People raved about the superior construction, the precise temperature control, and the delicious results. A few people wished that the grill was larger. However, to be fair, Rec Tec does offer clear information about the dimensions.

Possible Alternatives

If you’ve decided that the Trailblazer isn’t the right fit for you, consider taking a look at one of these pellet grills instead.

#1 Pit Boss PB440D2

The grilling surface on the PB440D2 measures 485 square inches, so it can be used to accommodate a few more people at a time. It has a very small hopper compared to the Trailblazer, but the construction is durable and the warranty generous.

How they compare:

  • Build Quality: Rec Tec
  • Size: Pit Boss
  • Hopper Capacity: Rec Tec
  • Temperature Control: Rec Tec
  • Assembly: Rec Tec
  • Maintenance: Rec Tec
  • Warranty: Pit Boss

If you’d prefer a grill with a larger cooking surface, take a look at the Pit Boss PB440D2.

#2 Green Mountain Davy Crockett Pellet Grill

As travel-sized pellet grills go, Green Mountain’s Davy Crockett has quite the following. Because it weighs under 60 pounds, it can be transported easily. The folding legs are rather flimsy, but they support the grill’s weight well enough.

How they compare:

  • Build Quality: Rec Tec
  • Size: Rec Tec
  • Hopper Capacity: Rec Tec
  • Temperature Control: Rec Tec
  • Assembly: Green Mountain
  • Maintenance: Green Mountain
  • Warranty: Green Mountain

If you’re looking for a lightweight travel grill, you might consider the Green Mountain Davy Crockett model.

#3 Camp Chef PG24MZG SmokePro

This grill comes with a folding front shelf for prep and storage. With a surface area that measures 811 square inches, it’s ideal for entertaining.

How they compare:

  • Build Quality: Rec Tec
  • Size: Camp Chef
  • Hopper Capacity: Rec Tec
  • Temperature Control: Rec Tec
  • Assembly: Rec Tec
  • Maintenance: Rec Tec
  • Warranty: Camp Chef

Check out the Camp Chef SmokePro if you’d prefer extra space for food prep and storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rec Tec a reputable brand?

Absolutely. Rec Tec has earned a fine reputation, offering top-notch grills at affordable prices. In fact, I would say that many of their products are the best in their class. The Trailblazer RT-340 stands as a prime example.

I like the sound of the Trailblazer, but I need a bigger grill. Is this the only pellet grill that Rec Tec offers?

Not at all! Rec Tec has a generous lineup of pellet grills available. One of their largest units, the RT-CMG Beast, features a whopping 2,400 square inches of cooking space. Be forewarned, however, that some of these enormous grills are built to order.

Is it hard to maintain the temperature on a pellet grill?

It can be if the unit is poorly constructed. Some inferior pellet grills don’t hold their heat well, which can lead to disappointment. Fortunately, Rec Tec grills allow you to control the temperature in small increments, making it easier to get the results you want.

Final Thoughts

The Rec Tec Trailblazer RT-340 is one of the best travel-sized pellet grills on the market. The stainless steel construction is superb, the heat retention is excellent, and it requires very little maintenance. Best of all, it’s user-friendly, so you’ll want to fire it up again and again.

To make the Rec Tec Trailblazer a member of your grilling family, click here.

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