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Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Review

Rigorous daily use isn't this table's gig, but it can hold its own in basic situations and compares well against similar lightweight models
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $43 List | $43.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, relatively strong, metal
Cons:  A little wobbly, can't place knees underneath
Manufacturer:   Portal Outdoor
By Jason Wanlass ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 14, 2020
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Stability and Strength - 30% 6
  • Portability - 30% 7
  • Durability - 20% 6
  • Ease of Setup - 20% 6

Our Verdict

What it lacks in innovative design, it makes up for with functionality, earning the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table our Best Buy Award. The market is flooded with aluminum tables with the Portal's same basic design; however, a few basic features — like a heavier base and a hinged tabletop — allow the Portal to be stronger and sturdier than similarly designed tables that share the same price tag. In short, you'll get what you pay for: A decent, light-duty table that will last you a few years or more if you treat it well.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you're headed to the beach, park, tailgate party, or campground, the aluminum Portal table is a great addition to your adventure, as long as you don't need it for anything heavy-duty. This table is great for a game of poker, lunch, holding accessories or condiments, or serving as a water station.

Performance Comparison


The Portal is great for light-duty work. We enjoyed using its metal table surface as a base for our camp stove.
The Portal is great for light-duty work. We enjoyed using its metal table surface as a base for our camp stove.

Stability and Strength


The Portal's powder-coated metal legs are relatively heavy, making for a solid base. Combine this with its frame braces and chain-style, hinged tabletop, the result is a table that is surprisingly more stable than its dainty, thin appearance leads you to believe. Overall, it performed a little above-average in our stability and strength tests. It's strong and it's square designed allows the table to remain relatively steady when it's load weight is not evenly distributed.


The Portal's key weakness comes from its X-braces. They are thin and very pliable  which gives the overall table a certain degree of wobble or sway. This is more noticeable when the table is loaded to its weight capacity.
The Portal's key weakness comes from its X-braces. They are thin and very pliable, which gives the overall table a certain degree of wobble or sway. This is more noticeable when the table is loaded to its weight capacity.

We were disappointed in the thinness of table's X-supports. They are somewhat flimsy and tend to bow when we applied pressure to the table in any direction. This results the potential for quite a bit of sway, especially when the Portal is holding heavier loads. Additionally, the table's top has four plastic dowels on each corner. Dowels on one side slide into circular receivers on the table's base, while the remaining two dowels only clip into C-shaped receivers. This is designed to make the table easier to set up.

The circular receiver for the dowel placement during setup.
Lining up the tabletop to secure to the dowels of the table's legs.

Portability


A generous storage bag and full-length shoulder strap make the Portal easy to transport. Weighing in a just under nine pounds, this table is very lightweight for its finished size, making it easy to grab and go. However, once set up, this table is a bit trickier to move around.


While quite sturdy for its thin design, the Portal's X-braces tend to bow under pressure, which causes its legs move out of place when the table is slid across the ground, loaded. Additionally, only two sides of the tabletop attach to the base frame, which causes the top to bow out of place if the table is accidentally lifted from the non-attached sides. This can be quite unfortunate if the table is loaded with your long-awaited picnic lunch.

The tabletop only attaches to two sides of the table. We found this mildly problematic when the table was loaded and we accidentally picked it up by the wrong ends. If moving after it's already set up  be sure to lift from the correct ends of the table.
The tabletop only attaches to two sides of the table. We found this mildly problematic when the table was loaded and we accidentally picked it up by the wrong ends. If moving after it's already set up, be sure to lift from the correct ends of the table.

Durability


We were disappointed in our efforts to find specific warranty information on the Portal. Overall, when we weighed the table's price tag against its overall quality, we still gave it respectable durability scores, and we feel it held up nicely against our less-than-kind treatment.


This table's chained  side-hinged system is superior at holding connecting table slats together than the cheaper bungee cord systems. This results in a slightly sturdier table  and an easier to manage table top.
This table's chained, side-hinged system is superior at holding connecting table slats together than the cheaper bungee cord systems. This results in a slightly sturdier table, and an easier to manage table top.

Despite being very basic and thin, this table is relatively well-made. It's not built to last a lifetime, but if treated as a lightweight table, we feel it could last several years. The Portal's major durability drawbacks are found in its moving pieces — all of the table's key joints or connections are made from plastic.

All of the Portal's moving joints are connected to plastic. Over time  we feel this will lower this table's durability.
The Portal's base expands into place easily  but there are a few extra steps that follow which slow down the set up and tear down processes.

Ease of Setup


There's a difference between easy and fast. The Portal is relatively simple to set up, but when compared to other tables we've tested, it doesn't pop into place quickly. This table requires a few extra steps to deploy. These steps are easy enough, though.


As with all tables with the same design as the Portal  the X-supports prevent nearly any adult from placing their knees under the table. This prevents a true "belly up to the bar" feeling and forces users to sit sideways or to face the table but do more leaning forward than they would prefer.
As with all tables with the same design as the Portal, the X-supports prevent nearly any adult from placing their knees under the table. This prevents a true "belly up to the bar" feeling and forces users to sit sideways or to face the table but do more leaning forward than they would prefer.

Value


When compared to similarly designed tables, the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table certainly measures up in durability, quality, and function. However, this table is not made for heavy, rigorous use. Provided it's used for basic camping or outdoor adventures, we feel this table offers a lot of value for its modest price tag.

If used for basic  light-duty activities  the Portal is durable enough to last more than just a few years. We don't feel it will last a lifetime  but considering its price tag  it's still a great value.
If used for basic, light-duty activities, the Portal is durable enough to last more than just a few years. We don't feel it will last a lifetime, but considering its price tag, it's still a great value.

Conclusion


Cheap, aluminum-top camp tables are a dime a dozen. Most employ similar designs, features, and materials. When compared to this subcategory of camping tables, we feel the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table stands a little above its peers. It has a heavier, sturdier base, and it uses a solid, side-hinge system to attach the aluminum table slats together. This system is superior to the standard bungee cord system that most tables use. If you need n inexpensive, basic table to perform simple outdoor functions for a few years, this is a great option.


Jason Wanlass