The Best Camping Table Review
What's the best camping table to take on your next outdoor adventure? We tested five different models to see how each one compared. Some were fully featured for a superb "glamping" experience, while others were simple and versatile. If you're tired of cooking in the dirt and squatting while you stir, then outfitting your camp kitchen with a camping table is a great luxury that does not have to break the bank. We used these tables for several months and then rated them on their Stability, Portability, Durability and Ease of Set-up. Keep reading to see which of these models were our favorites and most useful.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Camping Table
ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table Regular
Best Bang for the Buck
Camp Time Roll-A-Table
Analysis and Test Results
Depending on where and how you like to camp, you may find yourself in a rather primitive campground with no picnic tables. Now you're faced with two options: cooking on the ground or making your own cooking station from sticks and stones. Are we heathens? No! Having a table top while you're camping is useful for many different reasons, including back health and keeping dirt out of your dinner. This accessory may seem like a luxury, but we believe that if you're car camping you may as well be comfortable, and they don't take up much trunk space or put too big a hole in your wallet. When determining what table to purchase, it is important to analyze your needs so that you may line out which types to consider. The main question to ask yourself is, are you seeking a table that is better suited as a cooking station or an eating station?
Camping tables that are geared more towards a dining purpose have a simple design with shorter, and sometimes broader, table tops that are suitable for sitting down at and eating.
Dining tables found inside the home have table tops typically measuring around 30 inches high. Three of the five tables we tested have table tops measuring around 28 inches high: the Camp Time Roll-A-Table, ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table Regular, and Camp Chef Sherpa Table. The Camp Time and ALPS Mountaineering tables have a simplistic design which makes them more versatile, while the Camp Chef table is more of a hybrid table that fits into a category all its own.
Cooking stations are designed for cooking rather than eating. They are taller than a dining table and are typically more featured with ways to keep you organized while you cook, as well as storing components of your camp kitchen. Two of the tables we tested fit into this category: the fully featured Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Kitchen and the GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station. Both of these tables come with handy features geared towards cooking, such as utensil hooks and paper towel holders, and the Coleman even comes with a removable sink. The Camp Chef Sherpa Table also fits well into this category as an excellent way to organize your kitchen.
Criteria for Evaluation
Stability is a key consideration when purchasing a table for camping. There's no point in using one to cook a meal if your whole cookstove gets dumped with the slightest wobble. The most stable models are ones with a larger footprint, meaning that the table legs are set further apart to reduce wobble. The Camp Time Roll-A-Table was the least stable table we tested, due to its square design, and its footprint is on the smaller side and the most wobbly. The Camp Chef Sherpa Table had the narrowest footprint we tested, however, Camp Chef added reinforcements to the frame to accommodate an organizational compartment, which adds to this its stability.
The GCI Slim-Fold Cook Station has connected "rail legs" that were not stable on uneven ground (on each side, the bottoms of two legs are connected with a rail). There are reinforced cross rails through the middle of the frame which make it stiff and stable on flat surfaces, but the combination of rail legs and stiff stability make it wobbly on uneven camping ground. Individual legs with no attachments at the ground are a better option if you plan on setting your table up on anything but pavement.
An evenly weighted top surface also adds to the stability of the tables, or lack of. The Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Kitchen is well weighted when the table top is closed, but tends to be a bit top heavy once it is opened up. The ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table was the most stable table we tested. With a broad rectangular footprint and lightweight aluminum slatted table top, this model was the sturdiest on both uneven and man-made level ground.
Weight and folding size determine how portable a camping table is, and this might be the most important factor to consider if you have limited storage space at home and/or drive a small car.
The Camp Time Roll-A-Table was the most portable model we tested, followed closely by the ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table. Both of these tables weigh around 10 pounds, and stow into similar self-contained systems. The main difference is that the Camp Time (below, right) rolls up into itself and is carried with an attached handle, while the ALPS Mountaineering table (below, left) fits neatly into its own bag.
The GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station and the Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Kitchen were the two least portable models, because they were the heaviest and bulkiest once folded. These two models do come outfitted with more features, so with more amenities you sacrifice both weight and pack size. The GCI Outdoor table (below, left) weighed in at 19 pounds, while the Coleman table (below, right) was a whopping 31 pounds! Both of these models fold into a flat design that are on the long and broad side, and are definitely more challenging to fit in a compact car.
In the several months in which we used and abused each camping table, we did not experience any major issues with them. However, based on construction, design, and materials used, we did anticipate some durability issues with a few of the models. The ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table and GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station rated the highest in Durability, as we saw the least amount of potential failures in their designs. The Camp Time Roll-A-Table and Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Kitchen scored the lowest in this department.
Upon arrival, the Coleman model had some wire attachments that were bent during shipping and needed several adjustments throughout the duration of our testing. Due to the attachment of the legs to the table top on the Camp Time model, we felt that the bolts are at a high risk to be bent and therefore rendered useless. This table also uses vinyl to cover and seal the table top, which would also be ineffective if the material was slashed or torn.
Ease of Set-up
Although the functionality of a table top is the most important feature of a camping table, what good is one that is difficult to setup at the campsite? We tested all five of models by setting them up and repacking them five times in a row to see which were the fastest and easiest.
The Camp Chef Sherpa Table was the most complicated table during initial setup. With all the parts and pieces, our reviewers reluctantly had to consult the instructions for this one, and it had the biggest learning curve for set-up. However, once the frame is properly installed, you do not have to completely tear it down every time, which greatly cut down on time and increased the ease of set-up.
The ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table and Camp Time Roll-A-Table are the easiest, quickest and by far least complicated systems to use. The ALPS Mountaineering table takes around the 30 seconds to set-up, as did the Camp Chef once the frame was installed. The Camp Time table takes a little longer, only because the legs are fastened by screwing bolts into the table top.
GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station was also overwhelmingly easy to set up and break down, and takes about the same time as the ALPS Mountaineering table. With the GCI Outdoor station, you simply unfold everything and pop up the side tables for a little extra surface area.
Tips and Tricks
Looking to outfit your camping kitchen? Check out our article for the Ultimate Camp Kitchen, as well as a few of our other reviews when determining what to purchase. We think you'll find The Best Camping Stove, The Best Camping Cookware, and The Best Camping Coffee Makers reviews helpful in your decision making.
Already outfitted with a camping kitchen, and looking for some great ideas and recipes to put all your gear to good use? Check out the Best Camping Food and the Best Backpacking Food for some great, tasty tips on fueling your body.
Lastly, you'll want to look through the OutdoorGearLab Checklists and How To Guides to prepare for all you adventurous activities!
Having a camping table can be a luxury that is comfortable and useful for your camping meals. The tables on the market today can be affordable and reasonably portable over short distances, making it a great decision for car camping. We hope that our analyses have helped you to decide whether a camping table is right for you, as well as what type fits your camping style.
— Gentrye Houghton
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