Green Mountain Davy Crockett
Green Mountain Davy Crockett
Green Mountain describes their small portable Davy Crockett smoker as the Ultimate Tailgater Pellet Grill. There's a lot to like about Davy Crockett and a few negative issues that must be pointed out, but given the lack of choices for compact portable pellet smokers, Davy Crockett rises to the top of a very short list.
Regarding portability, it's difficult, and not recommended, for one person to try and move DC. Two people are required, with one on each side to lift the smoker then fold up the steel tube legs which function as a handle. The design works, but is slightly awkward. Bulky and weighing almost 60 pounds, many people will find it hard to carry without help, even in the folded position.
Traeger's PTG (Portable Tailgate Grill) weighs less and can be carried like a briefcase, BUT the cook surface is much smaller and it has an inferior, out-of-date, Lo-Med-Hi controller. Davy Crockett uses a version of Green Mountain's sophisticated digital thermostatic controller with a dual readout LED display to accommodate the included meat thermometer. Green Mountain also includes adaptors to provide power from a wall outlet, car cigarette lighter, or car battery: items that are often optional. There are a couple other "portable" models on the market that are bigger, heavier and more expensive even though some still use the old three position controllers like the PTG.
By design Davy Crockett is small. The primary cook surface is approximately 12" deep x 16" wide. The gable or triangular shaped hood is about 7" tall at the highest point. Of course this is an asset for someone who wants small capacity. The compact size is also ideal for apartment and condo dwellers with space considerations.
Temperature across the cook surface is uneven. Although the fire pot is located at the center of the smoke box, temps on the left side are higher than the right, creating two slightly different heat zones. We quickly adapted to this, and it turned out not to be a big problem. For example: with fish fillets – thick side on the left, thin tail on the right. For chicken pieces - breasts on the left, thighs on the right and so on. At low slow temps we turned ribs and butts around periodically. Results were good, but even heat would be an obvious improvement.
Green Mountain refers to their two piece drip pan as Open Flame Technology. It consists of one large drip pan with a grid of small holes and a smaller heat shield on top with a corresponding grid of holes. The heat shield slides left to right. When the holes line up, one can see the flame in the firepot. This is meant to expose meat to a searing open flame. We've seen variations on this idea from other pellet manufacturers. It sounds good on paper, but generally doesn't do much. Pellet firepots are small and the flames generated are not powerful enough to make much difference at the grate surface. We grilled burgers at the highest temp setting of 550⁰ and tried the heat shield open and closed. There was no appreciable difference, but 550⁰ is pretty hot for a pellet smoker and we were able to get a little brown crust on the meat surface in both positions. Of course we swapped burgers from left to right while cooking in consideration of the hot left side.
Some owners expressed alarm to see smoke backing up into the pellet hopper. We found leaving the chimney damper wide open helped. In fact, we recommend leaving it wide open when cooking, and shutting it down only when not in use to protect the smoke box from the elements.
Vague assembly instructions with blurry photographs weren't much of a problem because the DC is packaged almost fully assembled. Only the heat diffuser and drip pan configuration forced us to call customer service for clarification. The heat diffuser has a lip bent downward which goes on the left side. The drip pan has a notch on the left that fits around the temperature sensor coming from the control box and a lip on the right that rests on a ledge, setting the pan at an angle to channel grease into the grease bucket. The heat shield that goes on top has a small handle which belongs on the right side.
After several uses, the controller malfunctioned. It began shutting down shortly after start up and the LED displayed the error message "FAL". The instructions recommend re-starting, then contacting Technical Service if the error persists. We called Tech Service and ended up getting a new controller. Green Mountain controllers have a very good reputation, so we don't believe this is a chronic problem. If it does happen, the good news is Green Mountain's warranty covers defects in workmanship and materials for two years and the controller is a breeze to replace: just two mounting screws and two wire connections.
Despite the warts, we recommend Davy Crockett. The internal meat thermometer is useful and convenient and if you want to take DC on the road, you don't have to buy an additional power inverter. If there is a better compact, portable pellet smoker with digital control in this price range, we haven't seen it. In addition to The AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold medal, Davy Crockett won the 2013 VESTA Award for "Barbecues, Other Fuels".
Green Mountain provided a demo for this review.
$349 Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), actual price may vary.
219 square inches ( about 10 burgers )
Manufacturer claims that all or practically all of this device is made in the USA
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.