All pellet grills on the market focus on two key features. Versatility and convenience. That makes them great all-around grills, but you definitely wouldn’t consider them portable.
You need to have a source of electricity to plug the grill in to. Then there’s the bulky design caused by the pellet hopper.
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is billed on the GMG website as “the go-to grill for small families, campers, tailgaters & RVers”.
After cooking on the Davy Crockett several times over the last few months (and going through my fair share of problems) I’m going to be sharing all of my experiences in this hands-on review.
UPDATE: Green Mountain Grills has just updated and renamed the Davy Crockett. It’s now just called Trek and comes with thicker legs and an adjustable heat baffle to eliminate hot spots. We’ll update this post once we’ve had a chance to cook on the new model.
Green Mountain Davy Crockett Overview & First Impressions
The Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett is billed on the GMG website as “the go-to grill for small families, campers, tailgaters, RVers, or anyone who wants to cook two racks of ribs or 4-6 nice steaks or a bunch of burgers.”on the GMG website.
It is a stainless steel, pellet fed smoker/grill, and works with the GMG App via its own WiFi.
This model has been on the market for several years but has been upgraded to GMG’s “Prime” lineup with the addition of WiFi.
The unit comes equipped with a 120v power source, automotive power socket (12v), and 12v auto battery terminal clamp/cables (all included).
Accessories include a side mount rack, cover and a meat probe.
Green Mountain Grills makes wood pellets, but the Davy Crockett will work well with any wood pellet so you might as well buy in bulk.
With the capability of heating accurately between 200° and 550°F, (more about this later) the Davy Crockett does a decent job as both a smoker and a grill. On top of that, it’s packed with some surprisingly high tech features.
What I like:
- The app was easy to connect with and worked well.
- Produces a large volume of smoke at low temps.
- The pellet feeder and firebox assembly work well with no pellet bridging.
- Easy to disassemble for cleaning.
- Easy access to electronic components for replacement (if necessary).
What I don’t like:
- Wide temperature variance between LED Digital Display and actual temp.
- Wide temperature variance across the grilling surface.
- Folding legs are awkward to deploy and break down, especially with one person.
While the Davy Crockett is a lot more portable than other full-sized pellet grills, it’s still on the heavy side and a little awkward. I also found the temperature variance troublesome.
Having said that food cooked turned out delicious, and at the price point the Davy Crockett was good enough to get the nod for best budget pick in our guide to the best portable pellet smokers.
- Performs great at low temperatures
- Easy to use app
- Runs on 12V or 120AC for camping and tailgating
- New leg design is more sturdy but a little less portable
Unboxing and setting up the Davy Crockett
The grill arrived in a single, heavy box. The Davy Crockett is compact, but weighing in at almost 70 lbs, it’s no lightweight camping grill either.
Assembly was simple and straightforward, following the included instruction manual. The only tools required (a socket and a T-handle wrench) are both included in the contents.
Although the unit is small compared to other pellet grills, it’s still bulky due to the pellet feeder and a little awkward to assemble due to the folding stands.
One person can assemble the grill, but a second would be helpful whenever raising the unit from its spring mounts (legs) to the folding stand.
After attaching the leg assembly, it’s a simple task to install the lid handle and heat-proof washers.
Then 3 bolts attach the chimney and fireproof gasket to the grill housing. Finally, add the drip bucket, place the small bag of pellets (provided) in the smoke pot, and install the heat shield, drip tray, and grill grates.
Total assembly time should take no more than thirty minutes, even for those non-mechanically inclined individuals.
What’s the build quality like?
The unit is solid and well built with a few exceptions:
- The hood hinge tends to come apart. It’s simple to fix but annoying.
- The hood has some prominent grind marks around the hinges.
The unit is a solid value considering the high-quality pellet feed system. The grates and side rack are stainless steel.
The grease tray and heat shield are heavy-duty, not flimsy like cheaper grills in that price point. The meat probe included with the unit works well and is accurate.
When you cook grease is channeled to a bucket with an angled drip pan, which is fitted around the temperature sensor of the control box, a practical way to eliminate build up and the need to brush or scrape frequently.
The Davy Crockett is made of steel, with a 14 gauge body and 13 gauge lid, making it stronger and heavier than its competitors while still portable.
The Davy Crockett is guaranteed for 2 years, which protects against any defects in manufacturing or structure, and the company is known for its responsiveness.
My frustrating experience with the Davy Crockett
The unit I was shipped ended up having some faulty components that caused a number of problems. I want to share my full experience in case it helps anyone else who encounters the same problem but if you just want to know what the grill was like once I got it working feel free to skip ahead to the next section.
After a quick read-through of the manual and “Quick Start Guide,” I downloaded the GMG app for my Android phone and connected via the unit’s WiFi.
I prepped some chicken wings for my first test of the unit and decided to use the cooking method listed in the manual for drumsticks (but not the seasoning).
I set the grill up with 4 temperature probes from my InkBird IBT-4XS Bluetooth Thermometer, one directly above the unit’s digital readout sensor (probe A) and one each on the left (probe B), middle (C), and right side(D) of the grill.
Once the temperature hit 150°F on the unit’s readout, I expected some variance in temperature between my probes and the unit’s PID sensor (from here designated as UT for Unit Temperature) but I was startled at the vast difference.
The unit quickly ran past the 150-degree setpoint up to 205, and 217 on probe A. Probes B, C, and D were at 315, 300, and 205 degrees, respectively.
|Time on grill||UT||A||B||C||D|
The grill is supposed to remain at 150 degrees after its start-up cycle, and then the temperature can be set using the up/down arrows.
After the temperature settled somewhat, I placed a dozen wings across the grill. The grilling area is 12.5 x 17.5 and easily accommodated them. I raised the UT setpoint to 250 degrees, closed the lid, and watched the GMG app’s temperatures and my Bluetooth thermometer(s).
Again the temperature(s) ran past the setpoint as the UT read 350 degrees, and my probes (A, B, C, D) were 381, 225, 253, and 211 degrees.
For the next hour, I watched as the unit fluctuated all over the board. At this point, I removed the wings and finished them on another grill.
Green Mountain Grills Tech Support
After a few more tests, one of which the unit ran as high as 570+ degrees when set at 400, I decided to call tech support as I was convinced the circuit board was faulty.
I can report that tech support was responsive and willing to solve the issue. GMG agreed the problem was a circuit board and sent a new one out that day.
The new board arrived about three days later and replacing it was a straightforward process- two bolts, a ribbon connector, and the temp sensor connection. There is even a YouTube video, and the process took about five minutes.
Unfortunately, the new board was Dead On Arrival.
Another call to tech support, a few more tests, and another board shipped that day.
This time two boxes arrived, each with a new board. I replaced the DOA board with board #3 and…click DOA again.
To verify, I replaced it with the original board, which ran through the startup sequence perfectly except for the setpoint issues mentioned earlier.
A control board that works!
Next, I replaced that board with Board #4, and it successfully went through the start-up sequence. So I decided to repeat the chicken wing test, this time using the GMG recipe for Sweet & Spicy Honey Lime Drumsticks.
This time I set my probes (A,B,C) from left to right across the grill as you can see in the picture below.
After reaching the 150 degrees start temp I raised the temperature to 250°F. Within 10 minutes the UT was at 250°F and my probe temps had hit 279°F, 376°F, and 331°F respectively.
I placed the wings across the grill knowing the right side was much hotter.
After an hour the temps had settled down to right around 250 across the grill. I had to move the wings from left to right, and right to left as the left side was not cooking fast enough. I left them that way for the next hour.
The manual’s recipe called for 2 hours at 250 degrees, lightly sauce them, and then 15-20 minutes at 450°F to finish and crisp the wings up. I didn’t want to wait an hour for the grill temp to level out at 450 which seems to be this model’s M.O., so I put the wings back on while the UT was climbing, and climbing…
In minutes the temps were out of control, well over 500 degrees on the B & C probes. The aluminum foil on the grease tray was turning black from the honey in the sauce burning.
I lowered the temp to 300, kept the lid open, and moved the wings around for about 10 minutes to keep them from burning.
The wings came out great, but the temperature variance was a concern.
I also tested one of the GMG rib methods with the following results.
The ribs recipe said 225 for 2 hours. I set UT to 300 as I noticed the temps run at least 50 degrees low across the grill.
|Time on grill||UT||A||B||C|
At the 120 minute mark I opened the grill and wrapped the ribs in butcher paper.
After the 240 minute point I unwrapped the ribs, lightly brushed them with BBQ sauce, and raised the temp to 350 degrees for 20 minutes to finish them and caramelize the glaze. The finished product was ok, although not much smoke flavor or color. I have found this unit produces smoke best at low temps of between 150-190°F.
The grill also cooks plenty hot enough to cook burgers, chicken breasts, veggies, and chops. I cooked burgers and sausages with the UT set at 400 degrees, and they cooked very quickly.
This is great as often when tailgating you’ll be cooking hot and fast.
There is a learning curve to this unit, as I found out when my neighbor asked me to smoke a $100 Wagyu Brisket.
I used the “set it and forget it” (195°F) method starting at midnight. When I checked it at 4 a.m., the temps had been running over 300 degrees (this was on the faulty board). I was able to save it, and lesson learned – know your grill before you “Set it and forget it!”
Using the GMG App
I downloaded the free Green Mountain Grills app from the Google Play Store and followed the manual’s instructions for setup, including downloading the latest firmware version.
The app has a lot of great functions that aren’t hard to master.
There are four screens, Home, Profiles, Recipes, and Settings. You also get a timer and flashlight which all phones have anyway but this allows you to use them without closing the app.
You can choose from one of the app’s standard cooking profiles including; Tri-tip, Pulled Pork, Brisket, and Smoked Salmon, or you can add your own.
All profiles can be easily edited which is great if you prefer to set your own temperature settings.
You can connect via the unit’s WiFi, through your home network, or the cloud.
With an average rating of 3.6/5 on both the Google and Apple App Stores, the GMG App has a similar rating to the Traeger App.
Alternatives to consider
If you want more of a ‘true’ portable pellet grill, you should consider The Traveler by Country Smokers which we have also reviewed.
You get 256 square inches of cooking space and a petite 3.5lbs hopper, but everything is in a much more compact package and it’s a lot easier to pack up and go.
If you want more of a full-feature pellet grill that has been shrunk down for taking on the road and have a little more to spend, the Traeger Tailgater is also an excellent option to consider.
Should you buy the Davy Crockett?
I really wanted to like this grill.
It’s simple to operate and well constructed for the most part.
I had some malfunctions that caused me to be less of a fan after nearly three months of use. Those malfunctions were mostly caused by the faulty circuit board(s) and temp sensor which I assume won’t affect most people.
But other factors continued to cause concern.
The grill temp lag versus the constant LED readout could cause cooking problems had I not had external temp probes monitoring the cooking surface. The Davy Crockett takes a considerable amount of time for temps to level out, in my experience.
They have added calibration tools to calibrate both air temperature and probe temperatures, which I went through with the factory and there was a noticeable improvement.
I had a fire on the grease tray due to high fluctuations in temperature. I was shipped three separate replacement circuit boards, and only one of those worked.
The unit is heavy for a “portable” grill, awkward to transport, and setup. Although it has spring mount legs, the pellet feeder assembly is so heavy the unit sags to that side, so the folding legs are the only option.
I can’t recommend this unit as a home smoker/grill, nor would I be too keen on packing it out any distance to a campsite.
For tailgating, RVing or campground use, once you have gotten familiar with it, the Davy Crockett has a definite niche and should provide the user years of trouble-free BBQ.