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(The Gear Loop) - The simple fact is that camping without a table is hectic business. Sure, putting stuff on the ground is always an option, but there are issues with this, not least your mate putting his size 10 boots in your dinner.

Then there’s the lack of any central point to put "stuff"- from phones to packs of cards, wallets, GPS units - having somewhere to place it all is essential to prevent loss and general confusion. 

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Finally, and arguably most importantly, having the focal point of a table gives friends and family alike somewhere to congregate, eat, discuss the day and plan adventures for the next. In short, the camping table is an essential. 

With that in mind, we’ve collated some of the best (and our favourite) camping tables, all selected for their versatility, ease of use, portability and, in some cases, the ability to transform into numerous surfaces that you can dot around the campsite.

The best camping tables

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Quechua Low Folding Camping Table MH100

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For

  • Low-cost
  • Effective
  • Low hassle to erect

Against

  • Low table height

This super-simple, chair-like table has several high points to boast about. It’s astonishingly wallet-friendly, packs down to the size of a small camping chair and pops up in a flash.

That said, it’s not full height. At 32cm, it’s more of a coffee table in terms of stature, but in a field, that’s much better than nothing, and at 2.5kg it won’t weigh you down too much - albeit not a hiking model by any means.

It’ll hold up to 30kg on the 52 x 58cm table top, which is plenty for a dinner for two.

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Coleman 6 in 1 Camping Table

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For

  • Six in one
  • Packs small
  • Super-flexible

Against

  • Quite a faff to setup

What’s better than one camping table? Two camping tables - or so Coleman think. The considerable flex of the six-in-one camping table could be yours, and it’s not as daft as you might expect. 

Essentially two companion tables with telescopic legs, the two small tables can be clipped together to make one large table, and also lowered to create side tables or shorter tables for kids etc. 

To pack away, the legs fold into the rear of the tops, which then nest together in a handy package weighing in at 5.8kg. 

Whether on the campsite or for BBQs and garden parties at home, this duo will fit the bill - a genuine investment in outdoor table top goodness.

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Outwell Dawson Picnic Table

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For

  • Portable pub picnic table
  • Easy to set up
  • Seats four

Against

  • Pretty sizeable

Pub picnic tables are great, not only because they’re in a pub, but also because they are versatile eating and drinking devices.

Now you can take the joy of a pub-style picnic table with you anywhere thanks to the Outwell Dawson Picnic Table.

Weighing in at a considerable 10.6 kg, this is firmly a car-camping affair, but as it seats four and throws a large bamboo tabletop into the mix. Above all, that weight isn’t too bad compared to four individual chairs and a table.

It’s also much easier to erect and pack away, folding down like a Transformer into a compact case for transport. 

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Helinox Table One Hard Top

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For

  • Superlight
  • Robust
  • Practical

Against

  • Fairly pricey

The simple fact about camping tables is that many of them are nothing of the sort. Heavy, chunky, hilariously poor to transport, most are an absolute nightmare to move around - the very opposite of what's required for a camping trip.

The Helinox Table One Hard top takes aim right at the heart of this paradox - a table that will seat four and hold 50kg, but weighs 1.59 kg... 960 grams if you go for the small rather than the large version.

It packs down pretty well too - maybe not enough to take it hiking, but almost, and at 50cm in stature for the large model, we’re talking a decent, normal-height table for very little weight indeed. 

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Snow Peak Ozen Solo Table

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For

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Cooking platform and food prep area combined

Against

  • Very low and very small

The Snow Peak Ozen Solo Table is an ingenious beast, a genuine backpacking table in the truest sense. Packing down into a paperback-sized package and weighing a mere 270 grams, this is a practical companion for a trekking or trail adventure where a touch of luxury is needed - or where sand in your sandwiches isn’t. 

As you’d imagine at that size, this isn't a full dining table, more of a raised tray, but there are a variety of design points that raise it far above the sort of thing you eat dinner on in front of the TV.

There’s the fact that its entirely metal construction (aluminium alloy top, stainless steel legs) means you can cook directly on it, aided by a lip that helps lock a gas cartridge in place, as well as 28 x 20cm of surface area to luxuriate on.

In short, it may be small, but it’s mighty handy for keeping your food off the floor, a simple fact that will be appreciated on longer treks and camping trips.

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What to look for in a camping table

Needless to say, your lovely distressed kitchen table isn’t a very portable beast, and the same goes for the larger camping tables. 

They’re great for groups and families to spread out on, but roughly as portable as a sack of coal. 

Smaller, lighter tables are far easier to tote around, but are inherently flimsier, less stable, and potentially the source of dinner-spillage in their own right. 

In summary, if you’re car-camping, go for something robust and weighty - yet foldable - that’ll weather the years (and juice spillages) with aplomb. 

If you’re on the move, then only the lightest and smallest table will serve.

Writing by Mark Mayne. Editing by Leon Poultney.