There are two types of grillers: the functional griller who treats grilling as a way to break up the mundanity of indoor cooking, and the hobbyist who approaches grilling with a fervor that a functional griller simply couldn’t relate to. The functional griller doesn’t place much stock in brand loyalty, whereas the hobbyist swears by everything they use, from the grill itself to the accessories they’re working with. It’s this latter breed of that keeps grilling companies salivating—and creating products that no one on Earth has ever needed, or even wanted.
Make no mistake, grilling is big business. The alpha dog in the grilling world, Weber, grew from a local Chicago company to a multinational brand selling grills in 78 countries; it finished off 2021 with $1.98 billion in sales. Traeger, meanwhile, is another power player in the grilling space: While its numbers aren’t on par with Weber, the brand still finished off 2021 with $785.5 million in revenue, mainly selling grills that start in the high $500 range (higher-end Traeger grills can cost as much as a home mortgage). And it doesn’t just sell grills... it sells apparel. Utility apparel.
Traeger, taking a page from the Weber playbook, has fashioned itself a lifestyle brand as much as a grilling one. The approach has garnered the company an almost cult-like following—just look at its thriving Reddit community—and what good cult doesn’t offer gear for its faithful followers? With that in mind, Traeger has partnered with Dickies, of workwear fame, on a “line of clothing outfitted with innovative features for the dedicated backyard BBQer.” The pièce de résistance? A pair of “Ultimate Grilling Shorts.”
The shorts feature triple stitching and a reinforced front panel, so they should at least last you a few grilling seasons. They’re made of flexible, stain-resistant, and cooling Temp-iQ tech, which presumably comes in handy during a solid grilling sesh. The carabiner for the grilling towel is also a nice touch. A griller should always have a towel handy without having it get their belt loops all dirty and gross.
Unfortunately, that’s where the compliments make a hard stop. Make no mistake, these things are U-G-L-Y. Yes, it’s functional apparel, but why does it have to look like sex repellent? These shorts make your overworn cargo shorts from 2001 look sexy. Vanity aside, the functionality elements of these shorts seem to have been designed by someone who has never grilled for extended periods of time.
What really sets off my gimmick alarms is the amount of pockets and storage: a large cargo pocket that’s supposed to store “rubs, sauces, & cold ones” and a removable apron pocket for stashing grilling gear. No real griller wants to be working their magic with unnecessarily bulging pockets and long, dirty-ass tongs and grilling gear constantly knocking into the side of their leg. Grilling life looks nothing like a staged Father’s Day meme, which is the only time you’ll see a griller with pockets full of rubs and sauces.
In short, this is the perfect holiday gift for you, exclusively within the mind of your well-meaning but clueless aunt. Traeger is an impressive company that does offer high-quality items, but it missed the mark with these corny shorts. One of Traeger’s ambassadors is the amazingly great Ellen Bennett, whose company, Hedley & Bennett, previously collaborated with the brand on a line of aprons. One can only hope that she reads this and revives that lineup—because a solid apron, more than any other piece of apparel, is a griller’s best friend.