The Best Camping Tables of 2020
Our Favorite Table
Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table
With a name only an engineer could love, the Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table wins our Editors' Choice Award for the third year in a row. Hands down our favorite general-purpose camping table, it is the highest-scoring model we tested, and the most practical and usable table we studied. It's stable, strong, portable, and easy to setup and takedown. We love the surface area the table provides and its adjustable steel legs. Yeah, we know, the name rings industrial supplies catalog. It's not the flashiest design on the planet either, but if you're after function, you won't find a more versatile and capable model.
However, the Lifetime does come with its flaws: It's heavy, and its bright white tabletop really shows the dirt. Although incredibly strong and durable, this table has a fair amount of sway, making it a titch wobbly, but that's camping tables for ya. While this might not be the traditional camping table, its utilitarian appeal is vast and its price is right. By not judging a book by its cover, we found the best general-purpose table on the market that's good for camping and so much more.
Read review: Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table
Best Bang for Your Buck
Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum
The table might lack any wow-factor, but it's easy on the bank account and good enough to get the job done. The Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table is your best option if you're looking to save a penny or if you simply need a basic table for light-duty work. The Portal is lightweight, strong, and sturdy enough for basic use in most outdoor environments. Because it doesn't rely on a bungee system to hold its folding tabletop design in place, we feel that this model has a leg up in durability over similar models that use bungee cords which will lose their elasticity over time.
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 this table's 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 lots of camping and backyard needs without costing too much.
Read review: Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table
Best Lightweight Model
Helinox Table One
Yes, it's a bit pricey. But, if you're needing a high quality, lightweight pack table that's almost strong enough to sit on, the Helinox Table One is worth it. This table is super light, compact, and strong. Also suitable as an end table, the Helinox can often be found accompanying a camp chair for an outdoor meal or holding drinks during sunset watching 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.
This table will set you back some serious cash. The fabric top isn't suited for cooking, either, which is one of the limiting factors in this table's versatility. We give the Helinox our Top Pick for a Backcountry Pack Table Award because it boasts the quality and strength needed to withstand the rigors of more extreme outdoor use, all in a tiny, lightweight package.
Read review: Helinox Table One
Best Cook Station
Camp Chef Sherpa Table
It's not everything plus the kitchen sink, but the Camp Chef Sherpa Table is our favorite cooking station. It's smaller than the largest cook stations we examined, but this table is an organizer's dream. The Sherpa'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 system. The Sherpa sets up super fast and has a very reasonable base weight. It's a perfect 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. It's also a bit vertically challenged. At first glance, it's obviously shorter than the other cook stations we tested, and our testers felt it needed more than just one setting for height. Yet, for its extreme convenience and organization, this is our favorite cook station.
Read review: Camp Chef Sherpa Table
Why You Should Trust Us
OutdoorGearLab Review Editor Jason Wanlass, makes Utah his home. On any given day, he can be found wandering about in the nearby Rocky 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. When on foot, Jason enjoys wandering trails in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, the Tetons of Wyoming, the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, 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.
For our recent camp table testing, Jason hit the road, winding through Utah's epic mountains in the north and then through beautiful red rock country in the south, with a key stop in one of his favorite home state national parks, Bryce Canyon. Along the way, he spent countless hours testing each table to determine its overall performance.
Related: How We Tested Camping Tables
Analysis and Test Results
With such a wide variety of tables available, we selected a few of each type. We scoured hundreds of the top tables on the market and then picked the ones that combined performance, value, and interest best. 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.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Tables
While we don't score products on the price compared to the performance they offer, we realize you probably do. While specialty tables that 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 biggest bargain of the models we tested is actually the Editors' Choice Lifetime table, in our opinion. Instead of specializing in any given area, it's a utility table that can be used camping and many other scenarios, and it's built to last years of abuse. Despite its list price, it's also often sold at a steep discount at online retailers.
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.
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 them accordingly.
In the end, we found steel-framed tables to be the strongest and generally the most stable. Both the Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table and the GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station employ powder-coated, steel frames. We found these two tables to be the strongest. However, the Slim-Fold 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, backpacking variety, the Helinox Table One crushed its peers in this category. Additionally, we found the Coleman Compact Aluminum Table and the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table to virtually have the same basic design. Each is an inexpensive, light-duty table; however, of the two, we feel the Portal has design components that make it stronger and more sturdy than the Coleman.
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 that luxury is 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 tables that received our highest marks in this area are the smaller, backpacking tables like the Helinox Table One. In the cooking station category, the Mountain Summit Gear Deluxe Roll Top Kitchen is the most portable, based on its overall weight and ability to collapse for transport. For smaller, square tables, the Coleman Compact Aluminum Table and the Portal Outdoor Lightweight Aluminum Table are both relatively lightweight and fit nicely into carrying bags with shoulder straps.
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 be able 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 looked first at the company's warranty. In general, a manufacturer's backing of their product is a tell-tale sign of how durable the table is, before ever taking it out of the box. We also 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 in the outdoors, and gave them each an objective score based on our own experience. In the end, we felt the steel-framed tables excelled. The Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table and the GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station are made of more durable materials when it comes to repeated use and exposure to outdoor living. Next in line was the Camp Time Roll-A-Table.
Ease of Setup
A camping table should be a breeze to set up and take down. Overall, it should also be easy to use. In general, the reason you're outdoors is 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 ones. For example, the Lifetime 4428 Adjustable Folding Utility Table and the GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Cook Station are the two heaviest tables we studied, but they can be set up and taken down in seconds. Other tables that were a breeze to use are the Camp Chef Sherpa Table and the Trekology TAO.
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. 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.
— Jason Wanlass