A good table can transform a camping trip. We tested eight and chose these five options – one of which you can make yourself!
But first: 5 questions to think about before buying a camping table
Are you travelling in a sedan or 4×4?
We found the bigger the packed size, the more durable the camping table – but it’s still got to fit in the boot.
How many people are usually in your camping group?
Some tables are perfect for couples, while others are four-seaters that are best for groups.
How far are you going to carry the table?
If you’re after a beach or picnic table, a lightweight option will make you life easier, but you may have to sacrifice some durability.
What is the table made from?
The thicker the tabletop and the heavier the table, the more durable it will be. Look for blow-moulded plastic and sturdy metal legs if you’re a regular camper seeking a long-lasting option.
How stable is it?
The most stable models were ones with a larger footprint, meaning the table legs are set further apart and better reduced wobble.
1. Best for Macgyvers
The DIY Camping Table
What you’ll need:
2 x black vented crates (54 x 36cm). These also double as great food boxes for your trip. R99, makro.co.za
1 x wooden board offcut, measuring about 90 x 36cm. R100, timbercity.co.za
4 x plastic cup hooks on double-sided tape. R28, makro.co.za
1 x dowel rod, about 5cm longer than the width of your crates. R12, timbercity.co.za
Stand the crates on their sides and lay the wooden board over the top. Slide the dowel rod through the vents of the crate to create a paper-towel holder. Stick the hooks to the sides of the crates to hang cloths and mugs. For a higher table, use four crates fastened together with cable ties.
Tip: what’s great about this table is that you can pack all your food inside the crates for the road trip!
2. Best for couples camping
Kaufmann Large Aluminium Fold-Up Table
Packed size: 82 x 70cm; folds flat.
Tabletop dimensions: 70 x 60cm
Durability: The lightweight material means it could dent during rough transit.
Stability: It’s pretty stable on even surfaces, but the fused bar that joins the legs might make it wobbly on uneven ground.
Verdict: The tabletop won’t be damaged by heat, which means you can set stoves and hot pots on it, and the aluminium also makes it very lightweight. It’s easy to set up, comfortably seats two and offers enough space to prep food.
3. Best for the beach
Natural Instincts Lightweight Table
Packed size: 86 x 8cm; dismantles and packs into a bag
Tabletop dimensions: 63 x 48cm
Durability: If using in the bush, the mesh top could catch and rip on thorns, but the metal base will stand some abuse.
Stability: Even though the top looks flimsy, metal slats below it provide good support and create a firm surface. The legs can be buried in sand for extra anchoring.
Verdict: It’s too short to act as a comfy dining table, but it works well as a side table and for keeping your kit out of the sand. The two drinks holders are stable and the table folds into a neat, lightweight carry bag (like a camping chair would), making it the most portable option.
4. The Getaway Choice
Checkpoint 4Ft Blow-Moulded Table
Packed size: 63 x 61cm; folds in half and has a carry handle.
Tabletop dimensions: 122cm x 61cm, rectangular top
Durability: The hardy and thick plastic tabletop makes this the most durable option here.
Stability: Solid legs and sturdy hinges mean this table is exceptionally stable.
Verdict: It’s on the heavy side, but this makes it hard-wearing and super-stable. The thick legs are height-adjustable, the top is easy to clean and there’s more than enough surface space for a small family. All in all, we found it easy to pack and heavy-duty enough for adventure.
5. Best for summer picnics
Bush Baby Aluminium Formica Table
Packed size: 55 x 60cm; folds in half and has a carry handle.
Tabletop dimensions: 120 x 60cm
Durability: The medium-density fibreboard tabletop is not very thick, but metal struts that run from each leg to the underside of the tabletop provide some reinforcement.
Stability: The legs are not terribly stable, but there are clips to lock the hinges in place.
Verdict: The top is quite thin and the table might not be very durable, but it’s easily the cheapest and is exceptionally light and easy to pack. I also really like that the telescopic legs make it height adjustable (it’s a comfy height to eat from when sitting in camp chairs) and the wood finish is a nice touch.