GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station Review
Cons: Narrow, needs flat ground, unstable if weighted unevenly
Manufacturer: GCI Outdoor
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Boasting four fold-out shelves, the Slim-Fold Cook Station features a one-piece design and weighs just under 20 pounds. It stands approximately 32 inches tall, one of the tallest cook stations we've studied. This unit is self-contained and has a simple, easy-to-use design. It comes with several convenient extras from cup holders to paper towel and garbage bag anchors. Its stowed dimensions (35 inches long by 21 inches wide by 4 inches thick) make it portable and allow it to slide into a vehicle upright or down flat.
Stability and Strength
The Slim-Fold's steel, powder-coated X-frame comes complete with several sturdy locking braces. Stout is a good adjective here. Most camping tables have a little wobble once set up — not the Slim-Fold. Once unfolded and locked in, this table doesn't give or sway in any direction. While very impressed with this table's unparalleled sturdiness, we did find one drawback to its stiff design. Some amount of give and sway allows tables to adapt more effectively to uneven ground. The Slim-Fold's unwavering frame did cause it to be unstable on surfaces that weren't relatively flat.
Additionally, during our stability testing, the Slim-Fold tipped over fairly quickly when we placed uneven amounts of weight on one side of the table. The table's fold-out design is much wider than its base, creating a higher potential for tipping if weight is not distributed evenly throughout the table. Our favorite cook station is the Camp Chef Sherpa Table. We feel the Sherpa is far more stable than the other two cook stations we studied; however, we are very impressed with the Slim-Fold, and its steel frame crushes the competition in terms of pure strength. In fact, it's one of the two strongest tables we studied.
The Slim-Fold's monster-strong steel frame does have additional drawbacks. One of them is increased weight, and a bulkier feel when transporting and storing. Our reviewers loved the sturdiness of this cook station, but did feel it was a little more difficult to carry from car to camp and equally more difficult to position when storing it away. Despite being heavier, we felt the increased difficulty of transporting the table was minimal and is not a result of the table's stored size, but simply its weight. Heaviness aside, the table comes with an adequate handle for transporting, and when collapsed, it folds up as thin as a briefcase (or a propane camp stove, in our case).
This table's weight may be a factor for potential buyers who prefer or require a lighter cook station. However, overall our testers feel the Slim-Fold is easy enough to carry and stow, especially if you want a table of this size. Additionally, once set up, its also easy to slide, move, and reposition.
Boasting tank-like construction, the Slim-Fold is one stout hunk of metal. A powder-coated steel frame and a heat-resistant aluminum tabletop give this table the ability to outlast many of its peers. Top-quality riveting allow moving parts to withstand years of use, and a simple, folding design gives the table a turtle-like ability to protect itself when collapsed and stored. In side by side studies with other cook stations, the Slim-Fold is the clear leader when it comes to durability. Both the Camp Chef Sherpa Table and the Mountain Summit Gear Deluxe Roll Top Kitchen are well-built, but neither can compare to craftsmanship of the Slim-Fold. Steel and high density plastic will almost always outlast aluminum and fabric.
Throughout all of our testing we saw no break down in function or design, and we feel the Slim-Fold is well-crafted. After nitpicking this table for weeks, the only potential weak spots we could find are the table's four fold-out shelves. Made from reinforced plastic, we feel they could eventually show wear and tear. Overall, though, we are very confident in the longevity of this model when used properly.
Ease of Setup
For its width and height, this cook station is amazingly simple to set up and breakdown. It's one the easiest to use of all the tables we've tested, even compared to smaller backpacking tables.
The Slim-Fold opens easily, like a book, and then acquires its solid frame by snapping the bottom grill into place and locking in the tabletop and reinforcement braces. Easy-peasy.
The GCI Slim-Fold Cook Station has the heart of a backyard barbeque grill, making it a perfect slice of home for any outdoor adventure where cooking will be a priority. Whether the destination is the lakeshore, beach, woods or even a tailgate party, the Slim-Fold provides a strong cooking station with ample shelf space and convenient options that create a very usable kitchen away from home.
One of the drawbacks to this cook station is its narrow cooktop. At only 21 inches wide, it can sometimes be too small to accommodate a larger stove and fuel container at the same time. Additionally, this table's narrow design, combined with the table's very stiff frame and wide wingspan, causes it to be less stable on uneven ground or when loaded unevenly with weight.
Well-built, sturdy, large, and simple to use, are just a few adjectives that are scattered throughout our review notes for the Slim-Fold. Despite being a little narrow, we have only glowing reports about this table's design and function and feel it is very worthy of its price tag. Hooks for trash bags or utensils, cup holders, stem glass holders, and an anchor for a paper towel roll are just some of the features this table's simple, one-piece design offers. To top it off, this table is built to last. High value.
The GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station is a leader in the cook station variety of camp tables. The easy, fold-up design comes with more accessories than first meets the eye. This table will enhance any on-the-go adventure where cooking is necessary. It's incredibly durable and very strong, but prone to instability on uneven surfaces — almost a guaranteed feature of most campsites. This causes the user to be constantly mindful of weight distribution and ground placement, especially when loaded with heavier items.
— Jason Wanlass