Brinkmann Trailmaster Review [Vertical Charcoal Smoker]


Vertical smokers offer a form of barbecue that’s different from any other type of backyard cooker. How does the Brinkmann Trailmaster compare? Find out all you need to know with our in-depth vertical smoker review.

brinkmann trailmaster vertical smoker review
Photo: Smoking Steve, Smoking Meat Forums

Are you considering buying the Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical Smoker? As with any big purchase, it helps to know what you are getting yourself into. As a person that enjoy the process of cooking in a smoker, and the result. I take great pride in trying out products on the market. It is incredible what you can do with the right smoker. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Main Features

Smokers are often chosen for their ability to infuse a smokey flavour into the food. It is often sought out but isn’t easy to achieve if you don’t have the right equipment. However, they need time. This is not an option if you are looking for a fast cooking option, such as what you would typically get with an open flame barbeque. Let’s look at some of the features to expect on the Brinkmann Trailmaster vertical smoker.

Vertical design

This smoker has been discontinued, so finding a unit may not be very easy, you may need to settle for a second-hand smoker. The first thing that sets it apart from other models is that it is a vertical smoker. This means that it doesn’t look like a lot of outdoor cookers.

Cooking grates

This smoker has five cooking grates inside. This gives you a lot of space to cook different dishes at the same time. The grates are all non-stick and also easy to clean when all is said and done. At the top of the chamber, you will see a meat hanger. This is easy to miss if you don’t know that you need to look for it. The hanger has several hooks, onto which you can hang meat cuts and smoke them vertically.

The lowest level in the cooking chamber has a water pan, and it is well supported so that it doesn’t fall.

Air control

It has vents at the bottom and also at the top (a chimney). This allows you to control the air that goes through the smoker, hence controlling the smoke and ultimately, how your food will taste. Smoke control also determines heat and also how long it will take to cook the food. The more smoke it loses, the longer it will take to cook.


The cooking chamber has a thermometer on the door, which helps you monitor the temperature as your food cooks.

Handles and latches

The cooking chamber door has a handle and latch, which easily opens and closes the chamber. The lock keeps it secure. When you first buy the smoker, this is one of the things that you will need to check on and make sure it is in good shape. If the door doesn’t close properly, the smoker could lose smoke and take longer than necessary to cook the food.

There is also a handle on the side of the cooking chamber. This makes it easy to move the entire unit when you need to.


It has two significant parts which are the firebox and the cooking chamber. The firebox is horizontal whilst the cooking chamber is vertical. A cube-like passage connects the two. They are both made of the same sturdy material, which is also durable and can withstand long heat hours. There is a handle fixed to open and shut the firebox.

The door on the cooking chamber is solid black, and as such, you cannot see what is inside, you will need to open it to check on progress. The thermometer on the door can help monitor progress. This can be a downside to the design. At the bottom of the cooking chamber, you will find a hole for the drip pan. This is where all the grease can flow through from the meat.

Some self-assembly is required, and you will need to make sure that you know how to do this properly. You may find some gaps in the door which will need you to do some extra insulation. This is necessary to don’t have heat and smoke escaping when you don’t want it to. This can affect the cooking process. Also, the cooking grates are non-stick and durable. They can withstand both heat and moisture. 


It is an easy smoker to use; however, the self-assembly may require some expertise. Features such as handles, make it easy to move. It is a combination grill and smoker. The downside is that there are other models on the market today that offer more functions.

Other highlights

There is an access door at the back of the cooking chamber. This way, you can fill the water pan during the cooking process. The little door also has a locking mechanism on it, which avoids it swinging open unnecessarily. Another great thing about this smoker is that it is affordable and has a large cooking capacity. 1 390 square inches to be precise.


  • The door latch can sometimes be difficult to close, and the door doesn’t always close as tight.
  • It’s been discontinued so finding replacement parts when necessary can be difficult.
  • The unit does not come assembled, and so you will need to know how to do this or get an expert.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a vertical smoker, the Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical Smoker, maybe a good buy for you, as long as you keep in mind that it has been discontinued. As such, it may be hard to service if you need to. However, it is effective in smoking meat and infusing a rich smoky flavour in it. You may need to make some modifications to the unit, to avoid heat and smoke escaping unnecessarily.

We recommend that you go for a smoker that can be fixed or repaired easily if you need to. However, this cooker is made by a company synonymous with making affordable cookers, so this may be something that you want to keep in mind. Just remember that the company no longer sells them or honours warranties. We hope this review helps you find the smoker that is right for you. Happy cooking!

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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