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For the last 7 years, our experts have put the best camping tables to the test. This review studies 14 of the most promising options in a side-by-side comparison. We studied a cross-section of tables built for everybody from RV glampers to backpackers dwelling in the best tents. If squatting in the dirt isn't your cup of tea, your camp kitchen might thrive with a new table. Field testing took us on many road trips, where we set up camp in everything from basic weekender campgrounds to National Parks. We assessed the quality and features of each table across key performance metrics to identify our top recommendations for a variety of uses and budgets.
Material: Steel and high-density polyethylene plastic | Weight: 18.1 lbs
REASONS TO BUY
Built to last
Easy setup with adjustable legs
Lots of surface area
Easy to clean
REASONS TO AVOID
Packs up large
When we compare prices to overall performance, nearly nothing compares to the Lifetime Utility Table. It's a great general-purpose design and is hands down one of the best deals on the market, earning it our top honors for the fifth year in a row. Throughout our testing, it scored high marks and is one of the more practical and usable tables we used. It's stable, strong, portable, and easy to set up and take down. We love the workable surface area it offers, and with the steel legs adjusted to their highest setting, this is the tallest table we've reviewed. Even better, this table has no X-braces, allowing plenty of room for knees and legs, making it more than just a "prep" table. The Lifetime may resemble something from an industrial supplies catalog, but what it lacks in flash, it easily makes up for in basic function, extreme durability, and cost.
The Lifetime has some serious perks but isn't perfect. It's heavy, and its bright white tabletop shows dirt, smudges, and spills. Although incredibly strong and durable, it still has a fair amount of sway. The plastic-based, injection-molded table top is also less fire- and heat-resistant than its all-metal competitors, but it's almost dent-proof and otherwise exceptionally durable. It might not bear the appearance of a traditional camping table, but its utilitarian appeal cannot be denied, and the price is right.
Material: Wood, poly-vinyl, and aluminum | Weight: 10.1 lbs
REASONS TO BUY
Wipes clean easily
REASONS TO AVOID
Leaves aluminum residue on hands
A longtime favorite for car camping and multi-day rafting trips, the Camp Time Roll-A-Table is also one of our personal favorites year after year. It sets up quickly and rolls down into a compact package, and its tabletop is constructed of wood slats fully encased in a durable poly-vinyl that is easy to wipe clean. Its aluminum legs screw into the tabletop, a unique design among roll-top models, which often have more complicated setup configurations. It's large enough for food prep, playing cards, or seating a few people for a sit-down meal, and the mesh pocket in the front is great for storing odds and ends and kitchen tools. It can also serve as a drying rack for recently washed dishes. One of our testers put this model through the wringer with several years of rafting trips, and it still has lots of life in it.
Though sturdy, the table can be wobbly due to its lack of crisscrossing support beams — although this allows you to comfortably sit at the table, too. Aluminum dust from the legs wore off on our hands when assembling, which required us to rinse off our hands after setting up and tearing down. Flaws aside, we know of several people who've utilized this table for a decade or longer. Though it's not one of the cheapest options in our test fleet, when you consider the years of potential use you may get out of it, its price tag could end up being a bargain. We feel that its packability, straightforward setup, and general usefulness are worthy enough to earn it one of the top spots in our review.
It lacks a wow factor, but if you're simply looking for a basic, portable camping table, the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum is easy on the bank account and good enough to get the job done. If you just need a basic table for light-duty work, this is your best option. The Portal is lightweight and sturdy enough for general use in most outdoor environments. It doesn't rely on a bungee system to hold its folding tabletop design in place, giving this table a leg up on its peers in terms of durability.
The Portal certainly isn't big-boned, and most of its key moving parts are made from thin plastic, leaving a large question mark on its long-term durability. It's also a little short, and the X-shaped metal braces force most adults to sit sideways instead of placing their knees under the table. These drawbacks aside, we still think that this model proves its value by sufficing for many camping and backyard needs without costing too much. If you won't use your table a lot, this one works and saves cash.
Material: Nylon, aluminum, and steel | Weight: 5.1 lbs
REASONS TO BUY
Heat resistant tabletop
Easy to assemble
Strong, sturdy, and rugged
REASONS TO AVOID
Houston, there is no problem. The Nemo Moonlander is our favorite mini table because of its sleek design and incredible performance in all of our metrics. The manufacturer went to great extents to create a well-built table that is sturdy, strong, and very easy to use. Its dual-height settings are nearly effortless to achieve. Its low elevation is perfect for ground-level activities like picnicking or a day at the beach. Opening the table automatically deploys hinged, fin-style legs, which hold it about 4 inches from the ground. On the underside of the Moonlander are four legs that can be detached and twist-locked into place if more height is needed. Its 19 x 15-inch nylon tabletop is heat-resistant and is rated to support 100 pounds. Additionally, we love the stylish carrying case and the shape of the table, which gives ode to early NASA spacecraft. From top to bottom, only the best materials were used to create the Moonlander. It was built to last — and it has the price tag to prove it.
In addition to being a little pricey for its size, we also feel the Moonlander could be just a little taller. Additionally, we also struggled a little to find a broad-scale application for the table because it's too heavy for backpacking or other backcountry adventures and too small for anything more than simple activities. However, if you think you might need a very sturdy, cool-looking mini table, the Moonlander should be one of your serious considerations.
Material: Aluminum and 600-denier fabric | Weight: 10.8 lbs
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to set up
REASONS TO AVOID
A little short
Tired of fumbling through plastic storage totes or make-shift containers for the spatula or pancake mix? The Camp Chef Sherpa Table is designed to keep your camping kitchen organized in one place. One of the most unique cooking station tables we've ever reviewed, the Sherpa is an organizer's dream — complete with color-coded storage totes that can be individually labeled. Think of the Sherpa as a portable kitchen cupboard system. It's smaller than the largest cook stations we examined, but its denier fabric design is lightweight and sturdy. This table's stand-out feature is its colorful, separate storage totes. They fit perfectly into the table's interior and allow users to organize, pack, and carry nearly all of their cooking supplies in one enclosed system. We even had enough space to store our stove. One of the totes is an insulated cooler that doubles as a washbasin and can keep iced drinks cold for about one day. The Sherpa sets up super fast and has a very reasonable base weight. It's an ideal table for keeping everything you need in one place and for cooking up grub for a medium to small-sized camp.
While this model has plenty of storage space, it doesn't boast a large workspace. After our cooking stove was in place, we had little to no space to prepare food or place cooking utensils. It's also a bit vertically challenged. It's shorter than the other cook stations we tested, and our testers felt it needed more than just one height setting. Yet, for its overall convenience and organization, this is our favorite cook station.
Material: Aluminum and polyester | Weight: 1.5 lbs
REASONS TO BUY
Surprisingly high weight capacity
Compact and lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Not suitable for cooking
If you need a high-quality, lightweight pack table, the Helinox Table One is worth the high price. This table is super light, compact, and strong. Also suitable as an end table, the Helinox can accompany a camp chair for an outdoor meal or hold drinks during sunset at the beach. For short weekend forays into the backcountry, river trips, and lunch hikes to a scenic spot, this table is easy to stow or lash to the outside of your pack to bring some convenience to your experience.
Again, this table will set you back some serious cash. The fabric top isn't suitable for cooking, either, which is one of the limiting factors in this table's versatility. Still, we recognize the Table One for its backcountry prowess, boasting the quality and strength needed to withstand the rigors of more extreme outdoor use, all in a tiny, lightweight package.
Before we start testing, we research the latest models released over the past year. We then purchase the most intriguing models, using our experience to decide which models would best fill out our review line-up. Then, our review team hit the road, winding through mountains and beautiful red rock country. On several occasions, our lead tester incorporated the assistance of other campground veterans in the tests and assessments. Along the way, he spent scores of hours testing each table to determine its overall performance. To test each model's ability to support weight, we added unbalanced weights to their corners until the point of failure. We cooked several meals on all models that would support two-burner camping stoves and assessed the give and wobble in each table's legs. From specific tests to all-around use, we got to know these tables very well to provide in-depth performance assessments.
Our camping table testing is divided across four rating metrics:
Stability and Strength (30% of overall score weighting)
Portability (30% weighting)
Durability (20% weighting)
Ease of Setup (20% weighting)
Our camp table connoisseur, Jason Wanlass, makes Utah his home, where he has year-round access to a variety of outdoor settings and activities. On any given day, he can be found wandering about in the nearby mountains. An avid hiker and backpacker, he also spends a lot of time on the road and enjoys finding unique, out-of-the-way weekend campground spots in Utah or its neighboring states. When on foot, Jason enjoys wandering trails in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, the Tetons of Wyoming, the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, or the Grand Canyon. Cruising up to campsites regularly, either in public campgrounds or BLM land, Jason has more than 20 years of camping experience. Having a vast working knowledge of camping gear, he applied it to this review of camping tables and cooking stations.
Analysis and Test Results
We narrowed our test metrics down to four vital assessments; stability and strength, portability, durability, and ease of setup. Of these four metrics, we weighted the first two the heaviest, which means scores in these two areas had a greater impact on the table's overall score. After all, we feel a camp table needs to be stable and strong, and it needs to be portable. We recommend that you focus on the metrics you find most important, though, to lead you to the right product for your needs.
We realize cost is a key decision-making factor for most folks making gear decisions. While specialty tables can offer extremely low weight or systematic organization and features, expect to pay more. But if you just want a surface for cooking and eating upon, you can save a great deal of cash. The best bargain of the models we tested is the Lifetime Adjustable model. Instead of specializing in any given area, it's a utility table that can be used for camping, cookouts, and many other social gatherings, and it's built to withstand years of abuse while ringing up for a very fair price.
Should you want something that takes up less packed space and is more portable, the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum table impresses with its performance per dollar spent. It lacks the utility of the do-it-all Lifetime table, but most campers just need some kind of surface to cook or eat upon, and the Portal table suffices with an inexpensive price tag. Among camping tables, one typical tradeoff for a lower price tag is long-term durability. This applies to the Portal model, as well as many of the low-priced products we tested. Still, if you won't be using your table frequently and don't abuse it, bargain products like the Portal get the job done without spending money on a larger, sturdier table.
Stability and Strength
At its core, a table's purpose is to hold things. Therefore stability and strength should be major components of any table. A table should be able to support a reasonable amount of weight and do so without tipping, twisting, or bowing.
Our stability and strength scoring accounts for 30 percent of each table's overall score. We conducted several tests, including adding weight incrementally to the same corner of each table until it began to tip. We also examined each table's construction and the materials used to create it. We studied its pressure points, design, and sturdiness. Then we conducted tests to determine how much sway the table had and scored each accordingly.
We found steel-framed tables to be the strongest and generally the most stable. Our favorite, the Lifetime 4428 Adjustable, mixes a heavy-duty steel frame with a lightweight injection-molded tabletop, giving it incredible strength at a slightly lower weight. All-metal tables like the REI Co-op Camp Prep Table and the Mountain Summit Gear Heavy-Duty Roll-Top offer a bit more style along with their strength. Both scored high marks in this area; however, both come with a larger price tag than the Lifetime, which is every bit as robust. The GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station also employs a powder-coated, steel frame. However, it didn't receive as high of marks for stability. Its fold-out design creates a base that is much more narrow than its width, creating a potentially top-heavy design, depending on the weight of the items it is holding.
Among the smaller variety, the Helinox Table One crushed its peers in this category. Additionally, we found the Coleman Compact and the Portal Outdoor Lightweight to have the same basic design. Each is an inexpensive, light-duty table; however, of the two, we feel the Portal is slightly stronger and more sturdy than the Coleman. Overall, we were most impressed with the Nemo Moonlander for its amazing stability and strength despite its small size. The Moonlander is extremely tough and is made with top-grade materials.
A table is often considered a luxury item in the outdoors, and luxury shouldn't be arduous or inconvenient. After all, camping has its own set of innate challenges, so what is the point of adding a bit of luxury if it's more trouble than the comfort it provides?
While spending time outdoors, be it camping, traveling, or tailgating, one key component a camping table should possess is portability. Weighing in at 30 percent of each table's overall score, we believe portability is equally important to stability and strength. Simply put, a camping table should be reasonably lightweight, easy to carry, simple to move or reposition, and compact.
The table that received our highest marks in this area is the small backpacking-focused Helinox Table One. In the cooking station category, the Mountain Summit Gear Deluxe is the most portable, based on its overall weight and ability to collapse for transport. For smaller, square tables, the Coleman Compact and the Portal Aluminum tables are both relatively lightweight and fit nicely into carrying bags with shoulder straps. Of the heavier models, we feel the Lifetime is easier to transport than many of the steel-framed models we tested. This is accomplished by it being well-balanced when stowed, making it easier to carry with a single, well-placed handle. Additionally, among the smaller tables we tested, the Nemo Moonlander comes with a stylish storage case with an adjustable shoulder strap.
Given the nature of how and where camping tables are used, they should be durable. Outdoor living, whether it be in a stadium parking lot, a picnic at the beach, or multiple days in the woods, comes with more inherent challenges. We expected the tables we examined to withstand repeated use in these more challenging environments, and if we didn't feel they measured up, we made sure to adjust their scores accordingly. This metric weighed in at 20 percent of each table's overall score.
In this category, we put each table through the wringer by deploying and stowing each at least a dozen times while examining them for even the slightest bit of wear and tear.
Additionally, we scrutinized every inch of each table, used them repeatedly outside, and gave them each an objective score based on our own experience. In the end, we felt the steel-framed tables excelled once again. The Lifetime 4428 has one of the more durable designs of any camping table on the market, especially when considering its price. Additionally, REI Co-op Camp Prep Table and the GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station are made of durable materials ready for repeated use and exposure to outdoor living. Next in line is the Camp Time Roll-A-Table, which employs a mixture of metal, wood, and vinyl to achieve high scores in this metric. We are also extremely impressed with the top-to-bottom quality of the Nemo Moonlander. It is built to last a lifetime of adventures.
Ease of Setup
A camping table should be a breeze to set up and break down. Overall, it should also be easy to use. In general, you're outdoors to have fun and relax, not to spend time reading instructions and counting and organizing a parts list. We expected the tables we used to be set and stowed in less than one minute — preferably in seconds. We also expected each table to be deployed by one person.
Of all the different tables we looked at, we were surprised to discover that the easiest to use were not always the smallest and lightest options. For example, the Lifetime 4428 is one of our larger and heavier models; however, it sets up and tears down in just seconds. Along with the Lifetime, the REI Camp Prep and GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold are three of the heaviest tables we studied, but they can be set up and taken down in under a minute. Other tables that were a breeze to use are the Camp Chef Sherpa Table and the Trekology TAO. The ground-level elevation of the Nemo Moonlander also sets up in seconds. Built-in, hinged legs pop into place upon opening and provide about 4 inches of clearance from the ground.
Throughout our review, we didn't give these tables any leeway. Regardless of price or brand, we held all to high standards, and we were not afraid to score them according to their performance. We researched everything we would want to know if we were buying these tables for ourselves, and we did our best to score them on plain old performance. There are many different types of camping tables, and one size does not fit all. We hope this review provides you with the necessary insight to find the best table for your outdoor adventures.
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