Right out of the box, there's somewhat of a wow factor with the TAO camping table. The first thing we noticed was the flashy aqua blue aluminum tabletop. It's just cool. Most camp table manufacturers stick to more standard color schemes, so the TAO stands out in front of the rest. It's trendy, fun and stylish, but is it practical? It's a bit too heavy to take on a backpacking trip, and most car campers prefer a more substantial tabletop.
The Trekology model is too close to the height of an ottoman to not use it as such.
Stability and Strength
The TAO offers limited strength and stability. The corners of this table handled 40+ lbs of weight without tipping over, which is pretty substantial for a table of its size. If centered in the middle of the table, this model can support even more weight. Additionally, the TAO has minor natural wobble.
The cross supports on the TAO often slipped out of place. This caused the table top to stretch out of place and base of the table to lose strength and stability.
The cross braces for the legs tend to slip out of place when moving the table and during setup. When out of place, the stability of the table is completely compromised. The slippage always happened for us when the table wasn't in its stationary position. This concerns us most when using this table as a cooking surface. We wonder could occur if the table is bumped while cooking campground fajitas.
Here's a detailed view of what happens to the table's aluminum slats when the cross supports fall out of the clips.
Stability and strength aren't great reasons to purchase this model. It can support a tabletop camping stove and full pans, but we wouldn't push it much further.
As with the all of the smaller camp tables we studied, the Trekology table received its highest scores in the portability area. This table is fairly compact and light, making it easy to transport to your campsite. It also hides in the trunk of your car easier than the larger tables.
Due to its size, the Trekology model is more of a side table than an all-purpose one.
The TAO scored the lowest out of the lightweight models we tested in portability because, at 2.7 pounds, it weighs almost twice as much. It also has a packed size that is quite a bit larger. The size and weight would make many backpackers think twice. We also thought the stuff sack should have a shoulder or hand strap.
The one thing we loved about this table is the aluminum top, which allowed us to use a backpacking stove.
When compared to the larger tables, we were critical of the TAO's practicality versus cost. With a packed weight of nearly 3 pounds, it stands only 16 inches high and has a table surface area of 396 square inches. The TAO is more portable than the larger models tested, but it's too heavy for any backpacking purposes and less useful than a taller, bigger table.
Our tests showed this table to be adequately durable for its intended use. However, we do have concerns about the size and weight of the table in relation to its inherent durability risks. These risks include being accidentally stepped on, sat on, kicked, blown or crunched in a tailgate. In our opinion, the size and construction of this table won't recover as well to these types of situations. The chances of accidentally stepping into or onto a 16-inch table are greater in our opinion because it's lower to the ground. This is a concern with all of the small side tables tested.
If used for basic purposes like simple cooking or as an end table, the TAO should last a while.
After a diligent search effort, we were unable to find any warranty information offered by Trekology. The TAO is well-built, and with adequate care, it could last for many years. However, part of our durability score included how willing the manufacturer is to back up in writing what they build, which was lacking with this one.
The all-aluminum design of the TAO makes it tough and improves stability, but it also makes it prone to more scratches, especially when a budding motocross rider uses it as a footstool.
If treated kindly, we expect the first component to go south in this model to be the bungee cords that connect the tabletop slats. Elasticity tends to fade over time and use. Just consult your old headlamp or ski goggle straps that lost their snap long ago. We couldn't find any information about replacement bungee cords on the Trekology website.
Ease of Setup
Fully assembled in far less than a minute, the TAO is one of the easiest tables to set up. Expand the base, flip over the two support bars, and clip the tabletop into place. This table can be set up by one person and even with one hand. The only thing we didn't like: Often the crossbars would slip out of their grooves, causing the tabletop to snap on a little cockeyed. In our experience, this happened too often.
We liked that the manufacturer included a bungee strap that holds the table top together when folded. This allows the top to be stored much easier.
After testing and a bit of reflection, this table is stylish and eye-catching, making it fun for kids. It's size and height prevent it from being used like the bigger camp tables it resembles, but it could serve as a side table or a mini cooking surface. If space is tight in your car for your upcoming road trip, but you still want to bring a hardtop table, this is a great choice. We strongly hesitate to call this model a backpacking table, but for a 1-2 day weekender with a short few miles hike in, this table could be a fun convenience to bring along.
The Trekology model provides the option of a small table that can be cooked upon. This is one thing we didn't dare do on the fabric tops of the Helinox or the Moon Lence tables.
With sharp looks and an all-aluminum design, we feel this table has a relatively high price tag. If you're in the market for a simple camp table that can also serve as a small cooking surface, this table is perhaps worth it, though.
Measuring in at 16-inches tall, the TAO is short. Shown here, it's standing next to the ALPS Mountaineering Dining Table, the Camp Time Roll-A-Table, and a young dirt-bike rider.
There are many things we liked about this table: It's sturdy, steady, brightly colored, easy to set up or carry, and adequately priced. In the end, the only looming reservation we had was its use. It's too small to be practical for general campground use and too heavy and large for backcountry use.
The TAO (blue, right, bottom) ranked last out the three smaller tables we studied. While the scores were close, the extra weight of this model narrowed its range of application.