Coleman Compact Review
Cons: A little wobbly, extra steps to set up, can't place knees underneath
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Stability and Strength
Three words came to mind the first time we used the Coleman Compact: Easy does it. This table is meant for light-duty use. Although strong and sturdy when compared to its weight and thin design, this table should be used for simple functions. It's strong for its size, and it's square designed allows the table to remain relatively steady when holding items that are not evenly distributed.
While the base frame is made from powder-coated steel, the table's biggest weakness lies in the frame's X-shaped braces. The braces are made from very thin metal and bow under pressure, which causes the table's legs to move and become unsteady. While this would only happen under higher levels of stress, it did raise a concern with us regarding the table's overall stability and strength scores.
The Coleman Compact is lightweight for its size and be carried easily from car to camp. Its large stuff sack easily accommodates the table and comes with sturdy shoulder strap. Once set up, we feel this table loses points for portability. First, the table is lightweight and the X-braces are flimsy. This combination causes a lot of instability when the table slides across uneven ground.
Additionally, care must be taken when picking the table off the ground. The aluminum slats that form the tabletop are held together by a bungee cord system. Only two ends of the four-sided table attach the table's base. If the tabletop is grabbed incorrectly, the bungee cords can stretch out of place, causing the entire top surface to lose its shape.
The Coleman Compact is supported by a one-year warranty. As long as it is used for basic light-duty purposes, we feel this table could last more than a few years, but not a lifetime. All of the table's key joints and pressure points are made from plastic or rubber, which will eventually deteriorate over time.
Ease of Setup
A few extra steps require a little more time for setting up and tearing down, earning the Coleman Compact lower points for ease of set up. This table is not difficult to put together, it simply takes a little extra time to pop everything into place. After the base is expanded, two crossbars need to be snapped into place, before the tabletop can be secured. The aluminum top is held into place by a peg-and-hole system which takes a few extra seconds to line up and push into place.
It won't hold a cast-iron Dutch oven cook set, but that's not what the Coleman Compact was designed to do. If we see this table for what it is — a cheaper, lightweight camp table — we feel it's perfectly priced and will offer value to users who use it for basic functions.
The Coleman Compact will not stand the test of time. This is most likely not the last camp table you'll ever buy. However, it will serve you well if you plan to use it for card games, picnics, basic camping functions, or as a side table at a tailgate party. This table is not heavy duty and shouldn't be used in more rigorous situations. It's cheap, good enough, and will last you at least a few years if moderately used.
— Jason Wanlass