What's in a name? In the case of the Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table — a lot of relatively boring adjectives. However, don't get hung up on its overly descriptive moniker. The Lifetime 4428 is the ideal, all-purpose camping table, winning it our Editors' Choice Award for the second straight year. Closely resembling an indoor table, it's one of the largest, sturdiest and toughest camping tables we've studied. Despite its ample size, setup is intuitive and fast, and it folds up to a thin profile with a convenient carry handle. Made to last, it's your best bet at a one-and-done camping table purchase for a decade or more — all at an incredibly reasonable price.
Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table Review
Cons: A little heavy, more difficult to carry than collapsible aluminum tables, difficult for one person to adjust leg height
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Stability and Strength
We gave this table high marks for stability. Portable tables are inherently less sturdy than a dining room table, but this one is one of the sturdiest in its class.
A big part of this is the table's powder-coated, steel legs. Few camping tables have steel legs. Without any regard for manufacturing guidelines, we wanted to see how much weight this table could support on its corner without tipping over. We stacked case after case of bottled water and finally stopped adding weight at 150 pounds. The table showed no sign of tipping. We simply got nervous over how high the stack was getting.
When we consider the steel frame and legs combined with the injection-molded plastic top, we feel, and our tests showed, that the Lifetime 4428 is very solid and stable. We had no worries cooking on it with a dual-burner stove, loaded with heavy pots, pans, and a 5-gallon jug of water. It has a tiny wobble when bumped, but it's pretty negligible. Bottom line — it securely supports all the weight you would likely ever need to load it with.
Given it's stored size and weight, we gave the Lifetime 4428 its lowest scores in portability. The table weighs about 18 pounds and only folds in half, giving it one of the larger packed sizes of the tables we examined. In the end, many of our testers would prefer the larger space of the Lifetime 4428 over the smaller packed size and weight of its peers, except when setting up far from vehicle access.
The table's stored dimensions are wide, but at the same time, quite thin. The table fits flat in the bottom of nearly any car trunk. Maybe we're crazy, but we also didn't mind the extra weight. Camping tables rarely need to travel far in hand, and for the short distance from the car to the campsite, carrying this model isn't a problem. The table is easy to transport, has adequate handles, and moves easily when set up and loaded with items. If we had our way, the only thing we would have the manufacturer add is a removable shoulder strap to allow for transportation over longer distances.
The Lifetime 4428 is built for the long haul. When we considered the injection-molded tabletop, combined with the steel legs and reinforcements, this table is one of the more durable tables on the market. While testing it, we met other people who have owned this table for more than ten years. However, we looked at more than just construction materials when it came to or durability testing. We considered the table's overall design, looked for weak points, personally used the table extensively, and looked up its manufacturer's warranty. We also set up and took down the table more than 30 times in a row to see how it would hold up to repeated use.
In the end, we were very pleased with the table's durability and gave it some of our highest marks. Not only is it well-made, but it also comes with a 2-year warranty, one of the best guarantees of all the tables studied. When compared side by side to similar tables, there really isn't anything to compare. This table is one tough cookie.
Ease of Setup
We have the stop-watch times to prove it: This table is the quickest to set up and take down of any table we tested. This earned it our highest marks for ease of set up. We do admit that there are parts of the set up that are a little annoying.
Extending the adjustable legs can be a little bit of a challenge because both locking pins have to be depressed for the legs to move. This made it a bit of a challenge for one person. However, in the end, the numbers don't lie. Despite our set-up annoyances, setting up this table is a breeze. Adjusting the height is a bit more of a task, but still simple enough, and this is a feature most competing tables don't offer at all. Only a few tables (mostly smaller backpacking tables) came close to touching this table's ease of set up.
Additionally, yes, it's old-school pin system for raising and lowering the legs is kind of a pain, but when we consider that fully extended, this table stands taller than any other table we studied, we were willing to put up with the pins and give our hunched-over spines a rest.
The most practical way to set up this table is to open it up and lay the tabletop face-down, exposing the legs. This also happens to be our only real complaint about this model. Most people who set up the table, including our testers, took this face-down approach. We were disappointed in the fact that, if set up this way, the top of the table (where we planned to place our food and other items) is required to come in contact with the ground, a rock, flooring or any other surface.
Just like a roll of paper towels, the Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table is useful in about any event, situation, or location where a portable table is needed. This table does not sit stowed away in a camping trailer, waiting to be used two or three times a year. Instead, it hangs in the garage, pantry, or storage room, ready at the helm for just about anything.
The Lifetime Utility Table is well priced. No need to pay for a fancy design, as this table doesn't have it and its price tag reflects that. Given its stability and durability alone, it's a great value. Combined with its ease of use, decent portability, and unsurpassed versatility, it's easy to justify the price of this one.
Practical can sometimes be boring, but where would we be without duct tape? You've probably used a Lifetime Utility Table at some point in your life, pointing to the fact that this table is so useful, it's found all over the place. This table is incredibly versatile and is excellent for car camping. Its solid table-top surface is sturdy and easy to clean. Its design is simple but has the added strength of steel. It's a tiny bit wobbly, a little heavy, and adjusting the legs can be a bit of a hassle. However, when price meets versatility and durability, this camping table — that's not just a camping table — is your best bet.
— Jason Wanlass