Camping tables: How to choose the right table
See also: Choosing the right gear
For family campers, a good quality camping table is an essential piece of kit.
Just like the kitchen table at home, it is the social hub of your tent – where you share meals, play games and make plans.
They come in a range of sizes, but a big table really comes into its own if the weather is bad or you are camping early or late in the season and spending more time inside.
Side tables are also useful for keeping bits and pieces off the ground and can add a little home comfort to your tent.
Getting the right table for your camping needs is important, and there are several things to consider.
What style of camping table should I get?
The size of your table will be determined by how many people will be camping, what you want to use it for and the amount of living space you have in the tent.
If your table is too big it gets in the way, or proves impossible to transport.
Too small and it won’t cater for everyone. Too heavy and you end up leaving it at home. Too light and it literally can’t stand up for itself, especially if you are eating outdoors.
Will you use it inside as well as outside the tent? Will the camping table only be used at meal times or just for sitting around?
And, does it need to take a lot of weight?
Camping tables come in several styles, but for family camping there are two very popular, basic designs; one with a completely solid table top with folding legs and one where the top is made from roll-up slats.
The latter is the easier style to transport and store, as it folds in on itself and takes up less space in the car boot.
Flat top tables are quicker to put up and can be more stable, but these take up more space in the boot and can be awkward to store at home.
Another option for dining is a folding picnic-style table, with built-in chairs. These are excellent for younger children and can be good if you are on a budget.
If you are camping with young kids, a full-size table and chairs might be too big, but you can buy specially-designed furniture for children, that is more suitable for smaller campers.
For backpackers and bicycle campers, small tables with fabric tops and light aluminium legs that fold down are great for providing a stable platform for your camping cooker.
Whichever style you decide on, look for a table that comes with its own carry bag as this will make transport much easier.
What material should I choose?
Go for good quality, lightweight materials. Bamboo is a durable material for camping table tops that has the added bonus of both looking stylish and being environmentally friendly. Bamboo tables tend to be more expensive, but should last longer.
Aluminium and laminate are lighter and cheaper, but can sometimes be flimsy and less stable.
If you want to leave your table outside for any length of time, a resin top is the best option.
But remember, a lot of camping products like this are only designed to withstand small doses of bad weather – be it extreme cold or heat, rain or even just the effects of too much direct sunlight.
No matter the material, try to pack your table away under cover when it’s not in use.
What height camping table do I need?
Get your measurements right. Table height can be critical, especially if you’re planning to match up a new table to your existing seating.
Consider adjustable legs and feet as an essential feature for a camping table. Not only will it allow you to fix the height of the table to suit the chairs you have, it can counteract any issues with ground that is not level.
How do I keep a camping table stable?
It should go without saying that stability is another crucial factor when you are choosing a camping table. You don’t want your table to tip over in the slightest gust of wind as you sit down to enjoy that carefully prepared meal.
As mentioned previously, adjustable feet can keep the table steady on uneven ground, although it’s amazing what a well-placed beer mat can achieve!. Larger feet can be a help too, especially on softer ground.
What maintenance do I need to carry out on my camping table?
Camping tables don’t need a huge amount of maintenance but there are some things you should do to that will make them last that bit longer.
Wipe down the table top surface every day during a trip and give it the top and legs good clean down at the end of every holiday.
Give it a thorough clean with disinfectant solution at the end of the season before you pack up, and again when you get the gear out in the spring.
Look out for rust around the hinges and screws and, on tables with slatted tops, keep an eye on the elastic to make sure it’s not rotting or losing its elasticity.
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