Are Napoleon BBQs any good? We tried the compact Napoleon TravelQ to find out

Haunted by hefty BBQs? Try the compact, efficient Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X instead

Napoleon TravelQ in grassy field with utensils
(Image credit: Napoleon)
Ideal Home Verdict

The Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X is one of the most convenient gas barbecues we’ve come across. Great to manoeuvre, easy to store and a breeze to set up, it's a great buy before you've even started grilling. It excelled in our at-home tests, and would suit anyone looking for a convenient and (relatively) affordable large gas BBQ.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Fantastically easy-to-store

  • +

    Very good gas grilling performance

  • +

    Family-sized cooking surface

  • +

    Simple, reliable operation

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Lacks some of the smoky flavour provided by certain competitors

  • -

    Some users may require more food prep space

Why you can trust Ideal Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

With most gas barbecues, you’re choosing one of two priorities: cooking quality or convenience. The Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X promises to deliver on both, combining lightweight components and a foldable ‘scissor cart’ base with a powerful, high-quality two-burner grill. 

We were keen to learn whether the Phantom PRO285X delivers on its best-of-both-worlds reputation. Can we really have our steak and heat it with one of the best gas BBQs

Our reviewer called in a review sample of the Phantom PRO285X to test in his garden. He assembled the barbecue as per the instruction manual, used the barbecue to cook a variety of the best BBQ faves, and stored the appliance in his garden shed. Read on to learn whether the Phantom PRO285X proved to be sumptuously gastronomical, or simply ghoulish. 

Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X product specs

Napoleon TravelQ BBQ

(Image credit: Napoleon)
  • Fuel type: propane/butane
  • Dimensions: D51 x H102 x W112 cm
  • Cooking area dimensions: 54cm x 37 cm
  • Weight: approx. 23 kg
  • Number of burners: 2
  • BTU output: 12,000

Who tested this BBQ?

Pete Wise, freelance reviewer
Pete Wise

Pete Wise is a freelance writer and product reviewer from Leeds, with food and garden articles published on the pages of Ideal Home, BBC Good Food, The Independent and many other titles. Pete tested the Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X in the only proper fashion: by using it to cook a variety of delicious foods, including wagyu burgers, jerk chicken wings, pork steaks and chargrilled peppers. He wishes that he could review barbecues year-round.

Unboxing and setting up the Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X

At first glance, the boxed Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X looks much heftier than it really is. It comes in a large box with lots of packaging – but that’s more of a reflection of the stature of the barbecue’s scissor stand, than the bulk of the BBQ itself.

We must confess, our reviewer accidentally left the Phantom PRO285X’s box out in wet weather after receiving the barbecue. Despite heavy rain, the contents remained almost perfectly dry, which is testament to the quality of the packaging.

The Napoleon TravellerQ being tested at home

(Image credit: Future)

Compared to our experiences putting together some other barbecues we’ve tested, assembling the Phantom PRO285X was an absolute breeze. The first task is attaching the two wheels to the scissor base. You’ll need to use a hammer (not included) to tap the caps onto the two ends of the axle provided. The process is simple and self-explanatory – although care should be taken when hammering on the caps. 

Another, slightly fiddlier, requirement is screwing the provided regulator hose onto the barbecue’s gas inlet, and then attaching the 27 mm regulator onto a leisure gas cylinder (sold separately). We used a 6 kg Flogas Leisure Gas Propane cylinder, purchased from B&Q, to fuel the barbecue. 

The Napoleon TravellerQ being tested at home

(Image credit: Future)

With those key jobs done, there are just a few bolts to tighten (using a spanner, not included) – and setup of the Phantom PRO285X is then complete. We reckon experienced BBQers will finish the entire assembly process in somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour.

The Napoleon TravellerQ being tested at home

(Image credit: Future)

The Phantom PRO285X’s accessories also include some clips, which you can use to secure a (sufficiently lightweight) gas canister, and the regulator hose, to the legs of the stand. This is a great option to avoid trip hazards around the barbecue.

Cooking with the Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X 

Using the Phantom PRO285X is an absolute pleasure. The controls are simple, the components are basically foolproof – and in our experience, the results are pleasingly tasty.

There’s a bit of a knack to lighting the barbecue. Basically, you hold down the ignition until you see the flames catch on the burner tubes, and then you can go ahead and choose your desired heat setting on the dial. This may take a few tries.

The Napoleon TravellerQ being tested at home

(Image credit: Future)

It’s good practice to start with a very hot setting to quickly get the barbecue up to cooking temperature, and then reduce to a lower heat to suit your chosen ingredients and cooking method. In our test sessions, it took somewhere between 5-10 minutes for the barbecue to reach its ‘smoking range’ – a sweet spot between 95-150℃, which is highlighted on the temperature gauge on the hood of the barbecue. 

We brushed the cast iron cooking grids with avocado oil before cooking. Using this oil – or any other high-smoke-point cooking oil – will prevent foods such as burgers from sticking excessively to the cast iron grids during cooking. 

Testing the Napoleon Travel Q at home

(Image credit: Future)

During cooking, you’ll get some flames leaping up, as the juices and oils from cooking foods drip down inside the barbecue and into the drip tray. This has the pleasant effect of charring the cooking foods – but do keep an eye on the thermometer and the level of flaming. If the heat seems to be getting out of hand, open the lid and turn down the heat controls.

Whereas some barbecues struggle for heat, the Phantom PRO285X is clearly built to cook hot. Similarly to the Everdure Force BBQ, it’s quite hard to sustain a low-ish temperature with the hood down. So, you may need to BBQ with the hood open when you want to cook low-and-slow, which does mean sacrificing some of the barbecue’s smoking effect. On the plus side, you’ll never find yourself struggling to get the BBQ up to cooking temperature.

The two shelves on either side of the grill provide some room for storing foodstuffs and utensils while you cook – although it’s likely you’ll require a separate table to accommodate everything you need.

The Napoleon TravellerQ being tested at home

(Image credit: Future)

 In our testing, meats and veg cooked quickly, and the cast iron grids left a lovely griddle pattern on the food. Burgers came out really well cooked through, with attractive griddle marks left by the wavy cast iron bars of the cooking grids. Sausages were also well cooked through. Veg and thicker cuts came out thoroughly cooked and with some beautiful charring – although it’s worth noting that, in order to avoid excessive charring, a moderate heat setting should be used when cooking thicker cuts.

On the first few uses, food came out relatively neutrally cooked – as it would from an oven. It is only after a few items have been cooked when oils and juices have collected in the barbecue and its drip tray, that you start to get those rich, smoky BBQ flavours that you’re most likely craving. With this in mind, we recommend cooking strongly marinated foods at the start of your cookouts with the Phantom PRO285X, in order to ensure rich flavour from the first bite.

The Napoleon TravellerQ being tested at home

(Image credit: Future)

The Phantom PRO285X doesn’t just do quality – it also does quantity. We managed to fit 2 kg of chicken wings onto the cooking grids at once – so this two-burner BBQ really can cater for a family feast.

We recommend making use of the included warming rack, too. Propped in the lid of the barbecue, it comes in really handy for keeping cooked foods nice and hot, while you’re still grilling other items.

Cleaning, storing and moving the Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X 

Cleaning the components of the Phantom PRO285X is superlatively easy. The cooking grids are relatively light and safe to handle, and they wipe clean of detritus with less effort than comparable grills from other barbecue models. 

Reaching inside the barbecue to clean its inside surfaces and components is also remarkably handy – which is ideal for users who like to deep clean their BBQ after every use. 

The Phantom PRO285X is the height of convenience when it comes to movement, too. It’s easy to drag the BBQ around using its wheeled base, while simply allowing the other end of the stand to drag along, with no harm done. The barbecue and its components are relatively light, which makes them easy to move in and out of the house for cleaning. 

Storing the Phantom PRO285X is made simple by the barbecue’s folding stand, which puts it in stark contrast to the bulkiness of other gas BBQs such as the Broil King Monarch 320. Simply fold Phantom PRO285X’s base down and slide it into a convenient corner of the shed over the winter (although you will need to detach your propane canister first, as that needs to be stored outdoors at all times).

Is the Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X the right BBQ for me?  

The Napoleon TravelQ Phantom PRO285X is one of the most convenient gas barbecues we’ve come across. Its folding scissor stand allows for easy indoor storage over winter, and the wheel assembly on the base makes moving the BBQ around the garden a cinch. Better still, the components inside the barbecue – including the cast iron cooking grids – are unusually convenient to handle and clean. 

For buyers who prize convenience, there could hardly be a better gas barbecue than the Phantom PRO285X. And that’s not to say this BBQ doesn’t have other strong suits. In our testing, cooking performance was good – on a par with all but the most outstanding products available at a similar price. With all that said, if you’d be happy to sacrifice some of the Phantom PRO285X’s convenience and affordability, in favour of cooking performance and versatility, you might want to look at something like the Napoleon Phantom Freestyle 425 instead. 

Reviews of the Phantom PRO285X published on the Napoleon website suggest that buyers tend to be delighted with this barbecue, with the average reviewer leaving a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. In online reviews, customers praised the flexibility, portability and lightweight design of the barbecue. 

About this review, and the reviewer 

As part of our commitment to how we test products that we recommend at Ideal Home, Pete tested this BBQ at home over the course of a few weeks, using it to grill up a variety of different foods.