9 Reasons Why You Need A Portable Picnic Table
Picture yourself by one of the Great Lakes, as the sun goes down and evening draws in. You’ve had a long day on the road and set up camp. Now it’s time to sit by the fire and unwind with a beer and some snacks.
You’re too exhausted for any hassle – you want to get straight to it. Luckily, a portable picnic table comes to the rescue when you don’t have the energy - a must-have for any overland rig.
This simple item is versatile with endless uses and benefits – read on to find out why they’ll be your most-loved piece of gear!
Portable Picnic Table Benefits
Here are just a few uses of this crucial item.
a. Have a seated picnic
If it’s time for a picnic and the ground is too muddy to sit on, not to worry – place some chairs around your picnic table and you’re good to go.
b. Preparing and serving food
If not a table, what else will you use to prepare food? A tree stump? I didn’t think so. Picnic tables make for convenient cooking stations. The following are the advantages of using them:
- Most provide enough space for a chopping board, stove, crockery - at the least.
- Depending on the design, you can hang storage pouches for extra utensils.
- Some have places to hook items – even more storage.
- Some have a few levels, not just the tabletop – again, storage heaven.
- Adjustable height with some designs – perfect for shorter and taller overland chefs.
- Enjoy cooking in the fresh air – even if you have an RV, you might like to prepare food outside for a change.
c. Keep items off-ground
There are many items to protect from the ground, especially in wet, muddy conditions. A few examples:
- Mugs, plates, and other cooking equipment
- Toilet paper
Your picnic table comes to the rescue for quick storage when you don’t have time to put things in their usual place.
d. First aid station
If you need to do any basic first-aid, a table gives you a flat surface to work on. You can apply band-aids or patch up wounds with less risk of infection from soil and other substances.
When you’re done using it as a cooking station, convert your table into a lantern holder to light the entrance to your tent. The ladder area for your rooftop tent must be well-lit for safety, especially if you need to come down during the night, half-awake. If you don’t want to buy extra lighting, use a simple lantern and place it on the table.
Also, it’s crucial to have a stable surface for propane lanterns. Even though you wouldn’t want to waste fuel and risk fire using a propane lantern overnight, it can have its home on your portable table when you use it.
f. Coffee table
Nobody wants to rummage around awkwardly when it’s time for the morning coffee. Instead, climb down from your rooftop tent and reach over to the coffee-making setup that awaits you. Get that coffee brewing before you can say “good morning.”
g. Laptop table
If you have work to do, a picnic table gives you an instant, outdoor office. Edit the day’s photos while taking in the fresh air. Sit in an ergonomic position – not hunched over in your car seat.
h. Fridge-freezer unloading
Have a place to put items that are too cold to hold. Unload those frozen steaks or the next round of ice-cold beers from your car fridge straight onto your table.
i. Kids’ Activities
Whether it’s arts and crafts, games, or even studying, having a workspace for them to keep themselves occupied prevents boredom when you’re staying indoors in bad weather (and when you want some peace and quiet).
2. Easy Storage
When living from your vehicle, wasting space is a no-go. These tables fold flat for convenient, slimline storage. Some even slide beneath your roof rack – perfect for aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, and using every inch of space.
Best Vehicle for Overlanding
When it comes to storage, what’s the best vehicle for Overlanding? If you’re planning to spend weeks or months on the road, you’ll need to think more about space compared to the more casual overlander.
Before we get to the storage part, here are a few things to consider when upgrading your vehicle:
- Types of terrain – on or off-road, or both
- Rooftop weight capacity
Back to storage. As well as the number of passengers, consider how much of the following you need
- Jerry cans of water
- Everyday essentials including duct tape, sunscreen, toilet paper, a pocket knife, insect repellant, etc.
- First aid kit and other medical equipment if needed.
- Stove and cooking utensils
- Clothing and footwear (winter layers can get bulky)
- Extra insulation for extreme winter conditions
- Bedding (unless stored in your rooftop tent)
- Trash bags, which will sometimes be full.
- Car fridge
- Heating equipment during winter
- A fan
- Other electronics such as laptops and cameras
- Jerry cans of fuel
- Extra vehicle fluids
- Basic vehicle tool kit and spare parts
- Vehicle recovery gear
- Spare tire
- Fire extinguisher
- Emergency blankets and other survival gear
- Bear cans
- Outdoor gear – kayaks, bikes, hiking equipment, etc.
- Outdoor furniture
- Portable shower unit
For long-term Overlanding (spending weeks or months on the road), you’ll need most of this equipment for safety and convenience, especially for travel in remote locations. So, you’ll need to think about space.
If traveling alone or with only one other passenger, you may have enough space by folding down the back seats.
The most spacious vehicles on the smaller end of the SUV spectrum include:
- Honda CR-V
- Honda HR-V
- Subaru Forester
- Mitsubishi Outlander
- Volkswagen Tiguan
- Chevrolet Equinox
Larger vehicles popular among overlanders include:
- Jeep Wrangler
- Toyota 4Runner
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Toyota Tacoma
- Land Rover Defender
- Ford Expedition
If you’re not planning to upgrade, consider a trailer. Calculate how much you can store in both areas. Then ensure the total weight is within your vehicle’s towing capacity.
If you’re going all out, consider trucks, or even vans (if suitable for the terrain). Plenty of storage systems are available for truck beds for optimum use of space.
3. RV Parks Without Tables
That’s right - some RV parks and campsites don’t have picnic tables. If staying in these parks is going to be a regular part of your itinerary, there’s a chance you’ll run into one without tables. Bring your own instead - problem solved.
A good picnic table is lightweight, saving those precious pounds for other gear. This is crucial for roof storage. If that’s where your table will have its home, rest assured that you’ll be within your rooftop weight limit. Some stainless steel models weigh only 4 kg.
Their size and weight make these tables extremely portable. Most types fold for optimum portability and some have carry cases.
Best GPS for Overlanding
On the topic of portability, what’s the best GPS for Overlanding?
Overlanding and off-road GPS units need to give you more information than google maps or any standard GPS apps. What features should you look for?
- Offline mode – download maps for use when there’s no connectivity.
- Storage capacity for downloaded maps
- Topographical information
- The ability to add and download map layers (i.e. Rivers, political boundaries, trails, etc).
- Waterproof – not essential for all users but you know what your needs are.
- Location - some GPS units are optimized for certain continents. For example, the Hema HX-1 Navigator displays more detail on maps in Australia.
6. Quick, Spontaneous Setup
Noticed a nice spot for lunch while you’re driving? Pull up, set up your table within seconds, and enjoy a picnic while taking in the scenery.
Perhaps it’s a hot day and you need some time to rest and cool down - pull over for a roadside ice-cream picnic with other ice-cold refreshments, straight from your camping fridge freezer.
If the rain comes, pack up just as fast and get to shelter, or move the table below your awning.
These tables are designed for outdoor use. They’re built to last, so you won’t need to replace them any time soon. Whatever conditions they’re exposed to, rest assured they’re built to handle it.
The Eezi Awn Camp Table is one example. Its frame is powder-coated for corrosion resistance.
Some picnic tables are made of aluminum or stainless steel, making them heat resistant. You can put hot drinks, plates, and stoves on top without doing any damage.
9. Use Inside Your RV
Picnic tables aren’t just for outdoors - you can use your table inside your RV. This is especially useful for smaller RVs or converted vans which don’t have built-in pedestal base-style tables.
For use exclusively indoors, the material isn’t important – it won’t need to be rust and UV-resistant. For both indoor and outdoor use, metal is the most reliable option.
Why have separate tables when you can have one for multiple uses, indoors and outdoors? It will save space for other gear.
How to Save Space
Rectangular tables may be the best choice in this instance, as they work well in narrow spaces. The same applies to tables with a foldable surface area. For indoor use, you can arrange them so that one half is attached to the wall, while the other half is used as a surface.
If the space is too small to have a table permanently set up, stow it away when you’re not using it. Fold and store it in a corner, out of the way. You could also find a way to secure it to the wall or other objects.
How to Secure Your Table
Securing your table is not just a matter of saving space – it keeps it stationary while the vehicle is moving, preventing it from getting damaged, and damaging other objects.
There are a couple of ways to secure your table:
- Straps – whether Velcro or another type of fastening, find a suitable part of your table where you can hook straps. Then, attach the other end of the straps to stationary furniture or any other suitable fixed point in your RV or van.
- Cargo net – screw eye bolts into the floor, leaving enough space between them to fit your table and any other gear you want to secure. Attach bungee cargo netting and your items won’t go flying – they may move around slightly but they’ll be held securely in place by the netting.
Keep Your Table Stable In-Motion
As you probably know, it’s illegal in many countries and regions to have passengers in the back of a moving van, RV, or any other type of mobile home. There are some exceptions - certain approved mobile homes have the correct seating, designed for use in motion.
If you have an approved vehicle, you may be wondering how to keep your table secure when people are using it while the vehicle is moving. It’s important to plan for this, as nobody wants to spill food or hot liquids.
Make sure it’s not set up too high. The shorter the legs, the more stable it will be. For tables with extendable legs, manufacturers specify how much you can safely extend the legs without needing extra support. In a moving vehicle, this measurement will not be as high.
Whether setting up your table lower is feasible depends on what you intend to use it for. As a coffee table, for example, it needn’t be as high as a dinner table.
- Use straps to secure the legs closest to the wall, against the wall, along with anti-slip leg caps.
Versatile, lightweight, quick to set up, easy to clean, heat-resistant, durable – just a few advantages of this crucial piece of gear.
When you get a portable picnic table, you’re not just getting a table. You’re solving multiple Overlanding problems at once. We didn’t even cover all their uses!