17 Reasons Why You Need A Small Camping Table
A small camping table is among the most popular Overlanding purchases - for good reason. They solve all kinds of problems - you’ll never have to worry about putting gear on the muddy ground, or wondering where to chop the veg.
Whether you want a coffee table, a desk, or something to take fishing, this handy piece of gear is a must for any explorer. Find out below how they can help you!
Small Camping Table Types
- Plastic – the cheap option and, while they’re lightweight, they may develop mildew in wet climates. The last thing you want is for it to transfer to your tent.
- Metal – usually stainless steel or aluminum. These materials are durable and often treated for corrosion resistance. While they’re lightweight, they can better withstand gusts compared to plastic. (Aluminum is more versatile and suitable for backpacking – steel weighs more so it may not be practical, depending on the table’s size).
- Mesh or nylon – “soft top” camping tables made with these fabrics may be the most portable tables you can find. However, their usage is more limited – due to their small size, they work best as a side table. They won’t provide as much stability as metal tables, so using it as a propane lantern holder is not the safest idea. They’re also harder to clean and may develop mold or mildew.
As well as soft top tables, there are a few more designs to be aware of.
- Dining tables – these types of camp tables are larger but for small groups, a picnic-style table provides enough space to serve meals.
- Roll-up tables – they open like an accordion, with folding legs. When packed away, they roll into a cylindrical bundle, wider than flat-folding designs.
- Picnic/utility tables – smaller than dining tables, these compact, foldable tables come in various sizes and are ideal for picnics. They’re quick and easy to set up. The Eezi Awn Camp Table is an example. This style makes for a great all-rounder – no need to buy separate ones for different functions.
Small Camping Table Benefits
1. Save Space
For solo or pairs of travelers, why take up storage space with a large table? A small table is the best thing to take - it meets all your needs. You don’t need anything bigger to sit at for meals, which means you can use yours as a dinner table, along with all its other uses.
2. A Place to Socialize
A camp table is like a place to gather – a meeting point. This is especially helpful in countries that don’t allow campfires. With no fire, where will you congregate? Around your camping bucket light?
If you’re camping or Overlanding as a larger group with a few vehicles, you’ll need some kind of place to convene. Even if your table becomes a drinks holder while you stand around catching up on the day’s tales of the road, it gives your camp a focal point. It also gives you somewhere to play cards or board games.
If you do have a campfire and you need a surface to place items on, make sure you get a metal table so it won’t ignite – not all fabric styles are fire-resistant.
3. Easy to Clean
Aside from fabric tables, plenty of easy-to-clean options exist – metal or otherwise. Often, their surfaces are stain-resistant and will look as good as new with a quick wipe down. If you spill red wine or your table falls in the mud, no problem.
4. Adjustable Height
Often, camping tables are height-adjustable, making them useful for many situations. For example, they can be accessible for low chairs - basking in your sun lounger? Have the perfect table by your side for food, drinks, books, and sunscreen. It also makes them a versatile work surface for people of any height.
Adjusting your table’s height means it can work alongside any chairs – you don’t need to replace them to suit your table. Nobody needs to balance hot plates on their knees if the table is too low.
5. One-Piece Design
No parts to assemble – just one foldable piece for the ultimate convenience, and easy set-up.
Perhaps you’re not living the full-time overland lifestyle. Maybe you’re a camping enthusiast and you like to take regular trips to get away from it all. In that case, the simplicity of such a table captures the spirit of what camping is about – escaping your home comforts. Perhaps the best camping gear is the most simple.
You can attach storage pouches to many camp tables or hang additional storage using hooks, making it easier to organize utensils. Some have built-in shelving and storage sections – this saves you looking through your overland storage boxes for items you use frequently.
Their low profile makes them perfect for easy storage. You can store some tables below your roof rack for optimum use of space.
9. Helps With Packing Other Items
Their flat design helps when loading your vehicles. Suppose you need to compress some materials to make more space. You can use it to flatten everything below it. This levels things out so you can make the best use of the remaining capacity.
Essential for rooftop storage – you need to stay within your vehicle’s load capacity. Even stainless steel models can be as light as 4 kg.
Since they’re easy to carry, you can easily move them to a different area around camp. If the sun comes out and you’re in the shade, it only takes one person to move it so you can get your daily dose of vitamin D – unlike those large, clunky camping tables with chairs attached.
You can take a small camp table anywhere, thanks to their lightweight construction, and some come with carrying cases. Some have a handle attached to one of the edges – when it folds, it transforms into a case.
Next time you want to find a picnic spot away from camp – whether in the forest or by a riverbank – you have an instant solution.
Take it to the beach – no more sand in your sandwiches. Why not take it hiking and enjoy lunch on the summit? It’s worth it in winter - nobody wants cold, wet snow making its way into their meal. Instead of looking for a suitable rock to balance things on, have a snow-free meal and a place to hold your hot drinks.
Depending on their size, stronger tables can bear up to 200 pounds, sometimes more. Aim to get one that holds at least 30 pounds. Unless using it to hold heavy items, this should be enough for everyday use.
Steel legs provide the most stability and some have an X frame for extra sturdiness. This is important if children are present, to ensure items don’t get knocked over and hurt. Setting your table up lower to the ground also reduces the chance of wobbling.
Many come with anti-slip leg caps. If not, you can add them later.
A metal camping table is designed to withstand nature at its harshest. It will last season after season. Some are treated with an extra coating, making them extra corrosion and rust-resistant.
15. Low Maintenance
Apart from cleaning, there’s not much to do to keep these tables in top condition. Hose it down once per season and clean any dirt off the frame after camping in muddy conditions.
If it’s treated with a coating, you may need to reapply it occasionally. A good quality table will come with a warranty so if any parts need replacing, you’re covered. (Check the details to confirm exactly which parts the warranty covers).
16. Spontaneous Satisfaction
An instant picnic at your fingertips when hunger pangs hit. Pullover and satisfy your appetite – don’t wait to find somewhere suitable for a large, clunky table. They’re just as easy to pack up in case you need a quick getaway.
17. Table-Free Campsites
Not every campsite has outdoor furniture. If you’re not into primitive-style camping, perhaps you want more comfort. Unless you do your research beforehand, you might turn up at your resort to find no tables and nowhere to eat your dinner. Having an ultra-convenient camping table saves the day in this situation.
- Picnic – whatever the weather, enjoy a picnic – no groundsheets needed.
- Store items off-ground – fragile items, hygiene products, electronics, and anything else you want to keep away from the dirt. Have a surface to put these items on when you’re in a hurry.
- Outdoor desk – Reply to emails and edit photos with your instant, outdoor office desk. After all, Overlanding is all about appreciating the outdoors.
- Coffee table – A convenient way to have your coffee equipment ready for that instant caffeine hit first thing in the morning. No need to pack everything up at the end of the day – keep your table outside your tent and you’ll be ready for action in no time.
- First aid – have a flat, sanitized surface to work on and reduce the risk of infection that comes with patching up wounds outdoors.
- Place items that are too hot or cold to hold – Many tables are constructed with heat-resistant materials so you can rest assured your coffee cup will do no damage. If you don’t fancy holding that frozen tub of ice cream while everyone helps themselves, you have a solution.
- Cooking and preparing food - Even the smallest side tables accommodate a chopping board and a backpacking stove – or maybe GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Pro Dual Stove, compact version – new in camping gear for 2021. For larger stoves, get a larger size table – picnic tables easily fit a dual stove, chopping board, and more. Aluminum tables are naturally heat-resistant, so you needn’t worry about causing any damage.
- Washing the dishes – some tables come with sinks. If you’re not that dedicated to having a washing-up station, just place your washing-up bucket on top for a convenient surface to work on.
- Holding tools – place your tools in easy reach if you’re working on your vehicle or any other equipment.
- Safety – Hold candles or propane lanterns on a stable surface. Use it to place any type of lantern by your rooftop tent ladder in case you need to come down during the night. Perfect if you don’t have an outdoor hook and don’t want to invest in separate lighting. If you have young children, it lets you keep unsafe items out of their reach.
- Signaling – depending on how reflective the surface is, you could use it as a signaling device in case of an emergency if you have no other ways to attract attention. (You should always have flares or other signaling methods, Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), or satellite phones or messengers when headed into the wilderness).
- Keep items in the shade – place your water bottle under the table for shade while you’re outside.
- Fishing – the perfect place to hold drinks and snacks while you wait to catch your evening meal.
- RV table – If you’re more of a full-time camper and you have an RV, van, or other campers, why not double it up for use inside? Save space and have one table for many purposes.
- Non-camping uses – they’re an invaluable piece of camping gear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them elsewhere. Use them for your backyard BBQ or to display your kid’s science project at school.
You know about the materials, designs, and benefits of camping tables. Non-fabric tables are the easiest to clean and maintain.
Ones that fold are discreet, giving you space for your other gear. This small camping table not only folds - you can fit it under your roof rack! Now, you can find one that suits your needs and will make your next trip run smoothly.