Show me your vehicle-mounted or quick-deploy kitchen setups

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
I am 100% about reducing the "hassle factor" and anything that contributes to making/breaking camp take longer. I've eliminated a lot of wasted effort, but one of the steps that still burns a lot of time is the setup/teardown of our kitchen. I've gone through a lot of iterations and each has been either faster, lighter, or both, than the last, but I think I can do better. I'm considering breaking my "minimize stuff outside the vehicle" rule and just mounting a small chuckbox/workstation to the rear door of the van. I've seen a few externally-mounted kitchens here (mostly on trailers), but I want more ideas!

Background:

I've got some considerations that seem to be uncommon in the van/expo crowd:
  • I don't cook inside the van. Technically I can heat water in there (see below), but between fear of fire and the general issue of smoke and fat/water vapors, I don't cook inside.
  • I don't want to have to open up the rear doors of the van to cook either. It's very #vanlife to have a kitchen built into the rear hatch area with drop-down tables on the door(s), but our lower bed goes right up to the back door and my wife likes to sleeps in. Forcing the Mrs. to enjoy the cool morning air and sunlight just so I can make coffee is a bad idea.
  • I do own and use lots of other cooking gear that is more involved to unpack/repack, but there are a lot of times when we're moving fast and I just want to be able to do some basic meal prep without a whole involved setup.

At the moment, this is my basic setup:
chuckbox3.jpg
It consists of (1) a small electronics case with one burner and all the pots/pans/tools, (2) a small file box which contains only the kettle and coffee kit, and (3) a coleman pack-a-way camp kitchen.
My key complaint with this setup is that the coleman kitchen requires a couple of minutes to setup/tear down, and it's "fiddly". Prior to assembly, the coleman is the "suitcase" plus 9 additional small parts: the main suitcase table has four lower-leg pieces that need to be slotted into the upper legs, then the table latched "open". The side-extension unfolds and origami's into a stand where two stretchers are then added to make a quasi-stable place to keep the box of kitchen tools. Finally the two-piece lantern hanger has to be assembled and strapped into place (or set aside to not get damaged/dirty). All told, I'd say this takes about 8-10 minutes to setup or take down, and success at keeping all the little pieces out of the dirt depends on either having helpers or another flat surface to work on during assembly. None of this is terrible, but it's just enough hassle that I would never consider setting up the kitchen for a quick lunch stop, for example.

I keep the coffee kit in a separate box so it can live inside the living space of the van. On trips when I'm alone, I can stow the bedding and upper bunk hardware so I feel safe enough boiling water inside. When the family is along (and usually sleeping in), I can easily grab the coffee box and jump outside the van to make the 1st cup.
coffee-in-van.jpg


Previously, I had a self-contained chuckbox and workstation in a tool box that setup on a modified folding sawhorse:
old_chuckbox.jpg

This particular unit was too big and too heavy, and the sawhorse was almost as much hassle to setup as the coleman camp kitchen. That said, it was convenient as hell, and it's got me thinking about building a smaller version of this that could be mounted to the rear door. I've run the numbers, and even though an aluminum truck box is heavier than the plastic case I'm using now, it would be overall lighter in the vehicle since I could eliminate the coleman kitchen as well. There are some down sides - loss of portability, and it forces me to work near the back of the van which isn't as well protected from sun and bad weather. (With the coleman and plastic case I can sort-of work under the awning if needed, though I still need to be careful about heat vs. the awning material.

So, do you have a camp kitchen setup on the outside of your vehicle or trailer? Do you have a different kitchen setup that's super quick to setup and tear-down? Show it off.
 

plh

Explorer
I have a similar setup as your current. Rollup Alps table, medium Ridged box with pots, pans, cutlery, cups, dishes, paper towers, baby wipes etc. Similar single burner in its own case, Food generally goes in a crate.
 

Riptide

Explorer
This was an idea that I had a few years ago, which was to hang a folding setup from my roof rack. The one pictured was a prototype; nothing too fancy, and it worked pretty well. I cut out a hole to drop in a little plastic tub for washing dishes, that could pop back out when I folded the unit back up.One feature that was really nice was that I used tent guy line adjusters on all 4 cords, which allowed me to pretty much get a level work surface, no matter how tilted the truck itself was. I think I had a little padding on the back of the unit to prevent scratching the truck up.

My next version is going to be based on the Snow Peak IGT frame, so I can take advantage of the modularity of the IGT components, like the stove or cutting boards or my sink getup. I'll also use something like Dyneema for the support cords; something with very little stretch. On my prototype, I used 550 paracord, and while it worked fine, I think I wanted something stouter when dealing with a stove flame or a boiling pot of water.

IMG_0599.jpg
 

pith helmet

Well-known member
This was an idea that I had a few years ago, which was to hang a folding setup from my roof rack. The one pictured was a prototype; nothing too fancy, and it worked pretty well. I cut out a hole to drop in a little plastic tub for washing dishes, that could pop back out when I folded the unit back up.One feature that was really nice was that I used tent guy line adjusters on all 4 cords, which allowed me to pretty much get a level work surface, no matter how tilted the truck itself was. I think I had a little padding on the back of the unit to prevent scratching the truck up.

My next version is going to be based on the Snow Peak IGT frame, so I can take advantage of the modularity of the IGT components, like the stove or cutting boards or my sink getup. I'll also use something like Dyneema for the support cords; something with very little stretch. On my prototype, I used 550 paracord, and while it worked fine, I think I wanted something stouter when dealing with a stove flame or a boiling pot of water.

View attachment 650151
I like this.☝Since completing my rack for the jeep I’ve been kicking around some similar ideas...this one is just an idea for a sink to free up space on the small table. Not sure how it’ll end up but thinking larger and with a 1/4”-1/2” lip around the edge.
901B268E-75AC-452A-ABAD-AD46684EDAB8.jpeg
I have a chuck box I’d been using with the Jeep but it was made to stow under the bed, which I’ve since lowered. Like Herbie said, my setup is just too ‘fidgety‘ as is and I want to do it better. I am in the same situation wife wise and bed wise too. She likes to sleep in a bit and doesn’t want an espresso pot near her sleeping head. Looking forward to seeing some ideas myself.
146A4A8D-B6CE-42E4-A29B-61F1A31B1588.jpeg
 
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1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I have the smaller version of this and it will hold a big pelican securely and stable, very very quick to deploy
39226-1-main-600x653.jpg

I would either go with a pelican or other box that sets on this table to make it happen quickly
 

old_CWO

Well-known member
Camp Chef Sherpa combines the table and chuck box into a lightweight and quick to set up unit. All you do is drop the legs and it's good to go - just takes a few seconds. It wouldn't mount outside obviously, but I find mine to be pretty handy and like that it can get tossed in the truck or trailer depending on how I'm travelling. It holds a lot more than it looks and having the individual bag "drawers" is a lot better than digging through the old fashioned chuck boxes in my opinion.
 

pith helmet

Well-known member
Camp Chef Sherpa combines the table and chuck box into a lightweight and quick to set up unit. All you do is drop the legs and it's good to go - just takes a few seconds. It wouldn't mount outside obviously, but I find mine to be pretty handy and like that it can get tossed in the truck or trailer depending on how I'm travelling. It holds a lot more than it looks and having the individual bag "drawers" is a lot better than digging through the old fashioned chuck boxes in my opinion.
got any pics of your setup? i know 'google is your friend' and all, but its nice to see things in actual use in the wild.
 

old_CWO

Well-known member
got any pics of your setup? i know 'google is your friend' and all, but its nice to see things in actual use in the wild.
Sorry, no pictures. I grew up well before the Instagram culture arose so photographing everything I own or do never occurs to me!

There are more than a few photos and videos floating around the interwebs showing them in the wild. Outdoor gear lab website has a pretty spot-on review with good photos of it in action. I would say the main drawback on it is price for what it is. That being said, I have seen what looks to be an exact product on Amazon from off-shore vendors for a good bit less. There also used to be an Ozark Trail that was identical sans color difference at about 2/3 the price.
 

pith helmet

Well-known member
Sorry, no pictures. I grew up well before the Instagram culture arose so photographing everything I own or do never occurs to me!

There are more than a few photos and videos floating around the interwebs showing them in the wild. Outdoor gear lab website has a pretty spot-on review with good photos of it in action. I would say the main drawback on it is price for what it is. That being said, I have seen what looks to be an exact product on Amazon from off-shore vendors for a good bit less. There also used to be an Ozark Trail that was identical sans color difference at about 2/3 the price.
gotcha, as did i. however, this forum is my only 'social media' ever and i enjoy seeing what others are up to for inspiration....seems like a good product.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
table-rear.jpg


This isn't my final answer on the subject, but this at least adds a quicker-to-deploy table on the rear of my van for those times when I just want to make a quick meal without busting out the whole kitchen setup. I'm already carrying this table-with-leg since we use it inside the van, so when I found a spare length of the "wall" side of that RV table-mounting rail hardware, I knew JUST what to do with it.

In particular, I see this getting a lot of use when I'm out solo - I just need a flat surface to set a single burner and a beer upon...
 

Riptide

Explorer
Besides the Snow Peak frame idea hanging from my Zook, I've also got an idea for a cook surface from the side of my Aluminess box on the back of our Sprinter. It will be hinged at the bottom, fold up and latch to the Aluminess box, and might even be able to make level from side to sideusing a rope and cam cleat off a sailboat, or a hinged single table leg that can be adjusted for length. It will either be a frame that can use Snow Peak IGT components, or a simple aluminum table top. Still studying on it...
 

Mtpisgah

Member
I have an Expedtion Essentials EXO stove on the door of my AluCab CC. I love it. Quick to deploy and great temp control.
 
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