7 of the Best Overland Camp Tables

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal’s Winter 2021 Issue.

 

When I venture into the great outdoors in search of nature’s simplicity, there are many items that I am eager to leave at home, like my laptop, cellphone, and internet connection. But one thing that I’ve come to consider essential gear in the backcountry is the humble camp table. If you doubt my enthusiasm, just ask yourself: how often do you come across a perfectly flat elevated surface in the backcountry? Occasionally, a tree stump or rock might do the trick, but when you need to prep dinner for your whole family, a solid, level surface is worth its weight in gold.

Camp tables come in a surprising array of sizes, shapes, and finishes (trust me, I dove deep on this topic). Some are large and robust, while others are compact and light-duty by design. Naturally, I wanted to test a variety of tables, many of which had unique design elements and ideal use cases.

I began by compiling a list of well-regarded tables in the outdoor space and ultimately narrowed it down to seven different models for field testing. Unfortunately, I was unable to reach a few manufacturers who had tables that I would have liked to include in this article; see more about those products at the end of the article.

 

TESTING CRITERIA, METHODOLOGY, AND PERSONAL BIAS

While many camping products on the market could be evaluated through complex scientific methodologies, camp tables are (thankfully) straightforward. Therefore, my biggest testing criterion was the ease of setup, a feat I attempted without instructions. I am happy to note that I successfully set up all of the test products without reading the included literature. Of course, some were easier to figure out than others, but that’s part of the challenge. It should be noted that I had previous experience using the Camp Time Roll-A-Table.

In addition to my setup test, I used each unit at home and in the field on multiple occasions to determine suitability for use while standing and sitting. I also tested each table for payload by placing an assortment of camping items on top, including a variety of battery banks, cooking gear, and other personal items.

While some tables seemed more sturdy and functional than others, every table in my test survived, and all are likely to have a use case that feels appropriate for the right individual. The only notable bias that I would like to point out is my shorter-than-average height of 5 feet, 7 inches. If you happen to be 6 feet tall or more, I suspect that you may be hunched over while using some of these camp tables for standing tasks.

 

Camp Chef | Camp Table, 32-inch with Legs

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Camp Chef’s table is made from heavy-duty steel that can withstand the heat of cooking using charcoal briquettes and a Dutch oven directly on its surface. Tubular legs are not adjustable; this table is best used for cooking or utility purposes.

Utah-based Camp Chef is known for its range of cooking accoutrements, from aluminum two-burner camp stoves to pellet grills and even smart smokers. But as it turns out, they also make a full range of accessories for preparing food as well as camp tables in various sizes.

This table was one of the first units I tested. I’ll admit that its name doesn’t make it sound particularly special. But upon removing it from its packaging, I immediately realized that this wasn’t your typical camp table. The extremely robust steel tabletop felt like it would outlive me. Another way to put it: it’s not the kind of thing you want to drop on your foot. The reason for its heavy-weight build quality? Heat resistance.

Camp Chef’s table can be used for Dutch-oven cooking using charcoal or wood directly on the table’s surface. And while that might sound a bit far-fetched, I had to test it out. The good news is that it really does work and improves the experience of cooking in this style. Because your heat source is elevated to a comfortable height, you no longer need to bend over or crouch down to tend to whatever meal you are cooking. Of course, this table also works just fine for more standard camp tasks, like food preparation and gear organization.

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A small metal lip runs around the edge of the table which keeps small items from rolling onto the ground and helps corral charcoal briquettes. But while it offers utility, it also prevents you from resting your arms on the edge of the table.

Its legs are removable but not adjustable unless you purchase threaded leg levelers that cost an additional $27. I found it strange that the wingnuts which secure the legs to the table have plastic pieces, a design element that I believe is just waiting to be damaged if the table gets knocked over.

I found the table’s durable matte black surface to be an excellent place to lay out tools and other heavy items, in addition to its unique ability to withstand the heat of burning charcoal. It’s also a great place to put a battery bank so that it could be elevated off of the ground at an easy-to-use height. I’m not sure if it was intended, but the pre-cut holes in the table’s included windscreen were perfect for routing device charging cables from the back of the table to its surface.

$110 | campchef.com

 

Snow Peak | Renewed Single-action Table (large)

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Founded in Japan in 1980, Snow Peak made its way to the United States in 1999. Now a well-known name in the outdoor industry, their 60-year history in outdoor equipment design feels like it has matured. They offer a wide variety of design-forward items that blend the lines of form and function. This includes products like compact backpacking stoves and complete outdoor furniture solutions that have integrated cooking, seating, and weather protection. It’s quite incredible the diversity of products that Snow Peak has created.

The Single-action table, which lies at that intersection of beauty and function, is made out of brushed aluminum and bamboo. It is a perfect example of Snow Peak’s ability to create functional camping equipment that emphasizes aesthetics.

My first experience with the Single-action table was one of wonder as I opened the tabletop and witnessed the legs magically open like a piece of origami. It is one of the heavier and larger products in this test, weighing in at 28 pounds. But it also delivers over 9 square feet of usable surface area, the most of any table that I tested. Because of its size, this table provides a comfortable place to enjoy a seated meal with up to six people. But it could just as easily be a comfortable working surface to use a laptop, play a game of cards, or examine maps while planning your next adventure. This table is best used for seated tasks as it is a little bit too low to be used comfortably while standing.

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Form meets function. The Renewed Single-action table is an excellent place to stage gear or enjoy a meal with your friends. The folding action on the legs is a bit of an engineering marvel.

Setup of the table was pretty straightforward, although without looking at the instructions, I neglected to identify and secure the locking mechanism the first time I tested it. Luckily this didn’t result in any incidents. But be warned, it needs to be set up correctly for the best stability. Because of the folding action of the legs, I would advise users to be gentle with this table. It helps if you think of it as an elegant picnic table—perfectly functional but definitely not designed for
abuse.

To address an obvious concern, this table is expensive. I don’t see this as a shortcoming or a negative point, just a reality of its complex construction and overall design. Because of its unique emphasis on aesthetics, the Single-action table isn’t ideal for everyone. However, if you are looking for a table that can work in the backcountry and still be put to use on your back patio for a barbeque, picnic at the beach, or swanky garden party, this could be the do-it-all solution.

$400 | snowpeak.com

 

Front Runner Outfitters | Pro Stainless Steel Camp Table

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This Front Runner table is a no-nonsense workhorse, and its stainless-steel surface is a convenient height for food prep or other standing tasks. Don’t let the slim profile of the Pro fool you; its build quality is solid.

South African overlanding equipment manufacturer, Front Runner Outfitters, makes many off-road vehicle accessories, from modular roof rack systems to storage containers and even auxiliary vehicle lighting. They also offer a number of durable camp tables, including their Pro stainless steel camp table.

Upon removing the Pro from its packaging, I was immediately struck by how heavy it was; it felt like a tank. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the table (pun intended), its overall design is very slim in profile, and the materials used make it stand out visually against traditional folding tables.

Its working surface is fashioned from .9-millimeter-thick stainless steel and is surrounded by a black powder-coated aluminum frame with rounded black glass-filled nylon corners. It has two pairs of square tubular legs constructed from black powder-coated aluminum to match the frame.

Setting up the Pro is about as straightforward as it gets. You simply fold down the two pairs of connected legs, making sure to push their folding hinges all the way into the locked position. Setting it up can be accomplished by one person, but I found it slightly easier to have a helper.

While it has a thin profile, slender legs, and a minimalist appearance, the Pro is heavy in the hands and was one of the most stable tables in our test group, as long as it was located on flat ground (the legs are not individually adjustable). To drive home the solid build quality of this table, although it’s not necessarily recommended, I have stood on top of it to gain access to the roof of my travel trailer, a feat that I wouldn’t attempt with any of the other tables in this test.

While you might be thinking that purchasing this table is a no-brainer, its solid build quality does come with the highest price tag in the test group. So before you muster up the cash, you’ll want to figure out if you actually need the stability and build quality that the Pro offers.

One final and unique aspect of this table that I was, unfortunately, unable to test was its ability to be integrated into Front Runner’s Slimline II roof rack system for convenient and secure storage while traveling. A specialized hardware kit that can be easily installed allows you to attach the table below the roof rack slats, just above your vehicle’s roof. And because the Pro is made from stainless steel and powder-coated aluminum, you won’t need to worry about it being exposed to the elements.

$599 | frontrunneroutfitters.com

 

Kovea | AL Bamboo One Action Table (large)

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Kovea’s table is unique in its folding design, with a beautiful tabletop to match. Adjustable legs make the AL Bamboo an ideal choice for use on uneven terrain.

I pride myself on being knowledgeable about quality outdoor gear, so I was surprised that I hadn’t previously heard about Korean outdoor gear manufacturer Kovea. But then again, they have limited product availability in North America, so it is possible that they will be a new company to many of you. They offer a wide selection of products from stoves to tents, sleeping bags, heaters, camp furniture, headlamps, and even charcoal barbeque grills.

For this test, I got my hands on their AL Bamboo One Action table, a model that strikes a great balance between form and function. At 22 pounds, the table feels solid, but thanks to its compact folded footprint, it travels well and is also relatively easy to tote around camp, especially with its included storage bag.

Visually, the One Action is beautiful, with shiny aluminum hardware and a glossy bamboo tabletop. It blurs the lines between high-end patio furniture and camping gear. In addition to testing it in the field, I found myself setting it up in my living room on quite a few occasions when I wanted a workstation by the couch.

Setting up the One Action is very easy, and as the name might imply, the single movement of opening its folded surface deploys the legs in one smooth motion. Once open, it provides an ideal amount of space for two people but could possibly accommodate four. The legs have three different length settings, a useful feature that lets you adjust the table’s height and level it on uneven ground. This table had great adjustability, and finding a perfect height that matched our camping chairs was easy.

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The table was fairly robust, and in testing, was capable of supporting heavier-weight items like a 50-pound off-grid battery. However, due to the orientation of its legs, which anchor to the table’s surface toward the middle, I would recommend locating your heaviest items directly in the center to avoid putting undue stress on the edges of the bamboo tabletop.

For me, this table has the perfect amount of surface area to perform most camp chores that might come up, from sitting down to eat a meal to working at the computer or just creating an elevated workspace off of the ground where you can organize gear. Because of its lower height (even at its highest setting), I would recommend this table for users who plan to primarily use it for seated tasks.

$250 | kovea.com, nomadicaoutfitters.com

 

GCI Outdoor | Slim-fold Cook Station

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Made specifically for use as a cook station, this offering from GCI surprised me with its strength to weight ratio. My entire kitchen setup worked perfectly with the table’s multiple surfaces.

GCI got its start by making chairs specifically for use outdoors. Naturally, their success led to the development of other products, including stools, rockers, and tables. Currently, they offer no fewer than 30 different models of camp chairs along with a variety of other products, including portable camp tables.

Their Slim-fold Cook Station (kitchen utility table, if you will) is a purpose-built solution that is, as you might assume, best put to use for cooking-related tasks. It offers surfaces at three different heights, some of which are best used for storing supplies, while others, like the top central surface, are optimal for supporting bigger items like a camp stove or full-size cutting board. This table was one of the most full-featured in my test, offering surfaces for a variety of storage and tasks as well as cup holders and utility hooks for hanging utensils or stuff sacks.

At just under 20 pounds, the Slim-fold is right in the middle of our range of test products in terms of weight. Its solid feel surprised me when I first set it up and while we used it as a camp kitchen in central Arizona. GCI says that any of its various surfaces (sides and lower section) can support 30-35 pounds, with the central aluminum tabletop (this material utilized for heat resistance) can support up to 48 pounds.

Setup was fairly straightforward, but folding the Slim-fold back up into its original stored configuration was not quite as easy and took a little bit of effort. Because it doesn’t have adjustable legs, you’ll want to make sure to locate this table on a flat piece of ground when you set it up. And because the legs are connected with flat bars that sit horizontally on the ground, you may be slightly limited with table placement if there are objects like rocks or stumps on the ground (versus legs that come to a single point which aren’t connected to one another). I also found that putting larger items onto the centrally located lower shelf was somewhat difficult due to the metal bars that cross in front and behind the table.

The Slim-fold offers a lot of thoughtful features for kitchen and camp use, and although it isn’t the perfect camp table, its bargain price point deserves serious consideration. If you are looking for a table that won’t break the bank, this might be your best bet, at least in this group of products.

$100 | gcioutdoor.com

 

Camp Time | Roll-a-table with Adjustable Legs

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The Camp Time Roll-a-table has been around since 1980, when it was first created as an alternative to the conventional steel camping tables of the time. As the story goes, it was designed specifically to be taken along in a Zodiac where it wouldn’t damage the inflatable tubes of the watercraft. Now, 40 years later, the Roll-a-table is still in production, and for good reason: it’s a great addition to any camp, on or off the water.

Let us start with the name, Roll-a-table, because it describes this piece of camp furniture perfectly. The entire tabletop is flexible and rolls up around its removable aluminum legs, providing a compact and secure package that stows easily. It is constructed from Montana-sourced tamarack slats that are enclosed in waterproof laminated fabric. And while I initially thought that it looked like a light-duty piece of camping gear, it surprised me with its 10-pound weight and 100-pound load capacity.

The setup and breakdown of this table are very straightforward and efficiently accomplished by one person. It’s adjustability makes it one of the best in the test group for both seated and standing tasks and for use on uneven ground. It has an integrated mesh bag hanging off of one side that stores its legs and cross struts. I’m partial to products with integrated storage for parts because, without them, I am bound to lose something crucial. Finally, a soft nylon handle makes carrying this table from the rig to the campsite a pleasure.

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The square tabletop and adjustable legs make this unit from Camp Time an adaptable choice for standing or seated tasks. Compact and functional, the Roll-a-Table was one of the more unique products in this test.

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At its highest setting, the Roll-a-table felt a little bit wobbly, so I generally do not completely extend the legs when using it. If you need the extra height, the wiggly characteristic can be mitigated by locating it against a solid object like a tree or bumper or by lashing it to a second Roll-a-table (although I’m not sure how realistic it is to expect that someone will purchase two). Camp Time also suggests wiggling the legs down into sand for additional stability if the option exists.

The minimal packed footprint of the Roll-a-table may be one of its best qualities, and for travelers that are short on space in their vehicles, this is one of the best options in our group of test products. It packs up small enough to fit behind a seat, in a narrow gear compartment, or could just as readily be lashed to a roof rack or other exterior mounting point. Its adjustability and minimal weight are also appealing qualities. Finally, the Roll-a-table is the only table in our test group offered in multiple colors, Blue or Jade Green.

$121 | camptime.com

 

Alps Mountaineering | Utility Table

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Many of the most well-known outdoor gear brands seem to be synonymous with high price tags, but Alps Mountaineering is a refreshing exception. And even though their camping gear is generally more affordable than their competitors, they don’t skimp on performance or quality. In fact, quite the opposite. Their products come with a limited lifetime warranty and a promise to exceed customer expectations.

Alps Mountaineering is the smallest and lightest product in the test group with their Utility table, a featherweight dual-surface camp table that weighs in at a scant 8 pounds, 10 ounces. Even though it is constructed from lightweight aluminum, the table is strong enough to support just about any camping equipment that you would likely use in the field, including stoves, off-grid batteries, food, or tools.

I’ve loaded this table up with literally all of the tools that I carry in my travel trailer, and it supported the whole collection with ease. And while I wouldn’t recommend trying it, I think it’s worth mentioning that in testing, I was also able to support my entire body weight, approximately 145 pounds, on the table’s frame (without the tabletops attached). Basically, this table hits
way above its weight class.

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The Alps Mountaineering Utility table is simple yet functional, in a featherweight package. The aluminum frame creates a surprisingly strong piece of camp furniture.

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Setting up the table is very intuitive. Its folding tubular frame, which looks similar to a tray table, expands to form a solid platform for attaching the tabletops. The two removable tabletops are made from aluminum and snap onto the tubular frame of the table via plastic clips.

The slats are connected with elastic shock cords, making them flexible and foldable.

Because of its height and smaller surface area, this table is best put to use as a cooking station or for organizing gear and smaller items from your camp kit. Its two-level design and side table fit my cooking setup perfectly, with room for a two-burner stove, a 1-gallon propane tank, and a camp utensil roll. The side surface can be folded down if the extra space is not needed for the task at hand. This camp table is also a bargain at $130.

Although I didn’t experience any durability issues during my testing, I am slightly concerned with the plastic clips that connect the tabletops to the frame. Longer-term testing will ultimately deliver a verdict on their performance. Despite the table’s light-weight construction, it has survived weeks of traveling in the bed of my pickup truck across the Western United States and being tossed around at campsites. I must say, I am thoroughly impressed with how it has held up for such a lightweight product.

$200 | alpsmountaineering.com

 

Additional Considerations

Mountain Summit Gear has a Heavy-duty Roll-top Table (Large) with a maximum capacity of 70 pounds; it sets up in under one minute and is made from a combination of lightweight aluminum and steel. Weighing in at just over 15 pounds, this table has a 47- by 28-inch surface.

$100 | mountainsummitgear.com

 

Kingcamp offers Adjustable-height Folding Bamboo tables that combine function with beauty. The KC3928 has a 39.4- by 28.3-inch surface that provides enough space for four people to enjoy a meal together, yet it folds down nicely for travel. The adjustable legs have three different height settings which make leveling the table on uneven ground possible, a feature that many overlanders will appreciate in the field.

$150 | kingcampoutdoors.com

 

Helinox The Tactical Field Office is an interesting and unique travel table combined with a 15-liter cargo bag. The whole kit only weighs 5 pounds thanks to an aluminum frame which can be separated from the cargo bag for an even lighter-weight setup. A variety of accessories help users further customize the cargo bag for carrying items like computers or camera equipment.
$200 | helinox.com

 

Lifetime For those of you who prefer more affordable alternatives to specialized camping equipment, folding plastic tables from Lifetime will give you a solid surface to work or cook on while also helping you save money for your next big adventure. Their 4-foot Adjustable Fold-in-half model offers a 48- by 24-inch surface, has three adjustable height settings, and comes with a two-year warranty.
$70 | lifetime.com

Matt is a paragliding pilot and adventure seeker living full-time in a 25-foot Airstream travel trailer pulled by a Ram 2500. His love of the outdoors has driven him to explore remote destinations across North and South America in search of the most aesthetic peaks and beautiful flying sites. IG: @m.b.swartz