When shopping for camping gear, you likely spend a lot of time researching tents, sleeping bags and pads, camp stoves, and other essentials. And for good reason! These items have a lot to do with the functionality of camp life and your level of comfort.
But I would argue that there’s an often overlooked camping item that deserves as much research…a folding camping table.
Like any camping gear, you can find all sorts of versions of a folding camping table. And, like other gear, some of these tables are perfectly fine, some are complete trash, and some turn into the best camping accessory you’ve got.
I’ve tested and reviewed my fair share of folding camping tables over the years, including a recent one that belongs in the “complete trash” category (more on that in a bit…). After I tested that table, I decided that a folding camping table buyer’s guide was in order. So, here we are – let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- What to Look for in a Folding Camping Table
- My Favorite Folding Camping Table
- What NOT to Look for in a Folding Camping Table
What to Look for in a Folding Camping Table
Photo by Edwin Tan via iStock
Many different specs and features should be considered when you begin shopping for a folding camping table.
The Table’s Construction
First things first, let’s talk about the table’s construction…
You want a table that’s built to withstand the rigors of use in the great outdoors. Look for a table made from high-quality materials like aluminum, which is lightweight and rust-resistant, or sturdy plastics that can take a beating. A steel table offers excellent durability, too, but adds weight beyond what an aluminum or plastic option provides.
A table with reinforced legs and durable connectors is a winner, ensuring it won’t wobble like a Jenga tower when you’re setting up your camp feast. Nothing is worse than laying out your camp dinner and having it end up on the ground because you bought a flimsy table!
Sturdiness and Stability
Nobody wants their pancakes sliding off the table in the middle of breakfast, right? So, stability matters!
In addition to a table with reinforced legs, opt for a table with adjustable legs that allow you to adapt to uneven terrain. Some models come with leveling mechanisms to ensure your table stands firm, even on rocky ground, like the Tailgater Tire Table, which has hooks onto your tire for a rock-solid table surface, no matter what the terrain is like.
Don’t forget to check the weight capacity of the folding camping table you’re interested in – a sturdy table should be able to handle your cooking gear, games, and maybe even a friendly raccoon who drops by for a snack!
Ease of Setup
Setting up camp should be an adventure, not an exercise in frustration. A camping table that unfolds like a breeze is a true MVP. Look for a table with a user-friendly design and quick-release mechanisms that make for quick setup. The last thing you want is to spend half your camping trip fussing with your table, feeling like you’re in a wrestling match with a tentacle monster!
Check out the video above to see how easy it is to set up certain folding camping tables. This is the kind of quick setup that you want!
Weight and Size
Remember, space is at a premium when you’re camping – you’re carrying this table along with your other gear, so weight and size matter.
Seek out a table that strikes a balance between being lightweight enough to tote around in your vehicle or trailer and substantial enough to hold your camp essentials. The folded dimensions should allow the table to fit neatly in your rig without triggering your Tetris skills!
Photo by Anastasiia Shavshyna via iStock
Camping is all about exploring, so your table should be up for the adventure, too. Opt for a table that folds down compactly and comes with a carrying case or handles for ease of transport. Even if you don’t need to move the table that far or that often, it’s still nice to have something that makes those processes easier.
Rain or shine, your camping table should stand strong. Look for a table with weather-resistant coatings or materials that won’t crumble at the sight of a raindrop. A little drizzle shouldn’t turn your table into a soggy mess!
Functionality for Multiple Uses
Why limit your table to just holding your s’mores ingredients?
Some camping tables come with nifty features like built-in cup holders, storage shelves, or even convertible designs that transform them into a makeshift cooking station. Imagine flipping burgers on your portable kitchen – talk about camping in style!
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My Favorite Folding Camping Table
As I noted earlier, I’ve tested my fair share of folding camping tables, and one truly stands head and shoulders above the rest – the Tailgater Tire Table.
As I explain in my 12-month review video above, the Tire Table is hands-down one of my favorite camping accessories (and one that I use the most, too). Not only that, but this table is the first thing I set up when I get to camp because I use it from the first to the last moment we’re there!
So, why is this the folding camping table for me?
Well, that’s simple…
First, it ticks all the boxes of what to look for in a camp table. You can get this bad boy in steel or aluminum, both of which offer long-lasting durability and weather resistance. The Tire Table is an absolute champ in the sturdiness and stability category, too, because it hooks over your tire for maximum sturdiness and has a leg to deploy for added stability.
Of course, this table crushes the “ease of setup” metric, too. It literally takes a few seconds to get this table ready to go. Honestly, it takes longer for me to dig it out of my truck than it does to set up! And the weight and size of the table (which varies depending on the model you get…) enhance its portability.
For example, the standard steel Tire Table is 29″ L x 23″ W x 1.5″ H and weighs only 13 pounds. The large steel Tire Table is 33.5″ L x 28″ W x 1.5″ H and weighs 16 pounds. The aluminum options weigh even less – 5.5 and 8 pounds for the standard and large tables, respectively.
To top it all off, the Tire Table is perfectly sized for my needs, whether I’m camping alone or if my son is with me. It can be used for prepping food, eating meals, or playing games. It’s also ideal for setting up my Starlink and my Inergy FLEX 1500 portable power station. In other words, it’s a multifunctional table that’s durable, easy to set up and use, and affordable, too. What’s not to like?!
What NOT to Look for in a Folding Camping Table
Contrast the Tire Table with other tables I’ve tested in the past, and you can quickly see the difference between a well-designed and impeccably-built table and a crappy knock-off.
The video above explores one of the tables I tested back in the summer of 2022, and it was not a good experience, to say the least.
Not only did the table literally fall apart as I was unboxing it, but it was hard to set up, the stability factor was not there, and it had terrible build quality. And this shouldn’t surprise you, but this was a bargain-basement purchase that had many red flags that foretold of a poor experience.
A more recent test put another knock-off table under the microscope, and again, I was met with a terrible experience.
Between the sloppy welds, sharp metal edges, and being far too heavy, this table just didn’t meet the standards I outlined earlier about what to look for in a folding camping table. But, I undertook these tests to prove a point – you get what you pay for.
Not only that, but the more time you invest in researching high-quality tables, the more likely you are to find one like the Tire Table – something durable, reliable, functional, and easy to use. Sure, there might be cheaper options out there, but the whole point of having camping gear is to make camp life better!
Use this guide as a springboard for considering your specific needs and wants and how a folding camping table can meet those needs and wants. Then, do your due diligence – read reviews, watch videos, and ask questions about the tables you’re considering so you have a better shot of getting something useful and valuable. Doing so will pay dividends like my Tire Table has done for me on so many occasions!