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In a hurry? If you are looking for an accessory table for camping and just want to know what our top pick is, we recommend the ALPS Mountaineering Eclipse Table.
Camping tables mean different things to different campers. We think they can be divided into three main categories: accessory tables, dining tables and cooking, sometimes also known as cooking stations or outdoor prep tables. What are accessory tables? Accessory or side tables are the shorter tables that are perfect for setting next to your chair as an end table or for setting up drinks and food. And they are what we are focusing on in this article.
While accessory tables could be used for dining, they are not intended for doing so. We do talk about our favorite camping tables for dining here. Additionally, these are not tables intended for food prep or fitted with a wash station for clean-up after the meal is over. We consider those to be camp kitchens and tell you about our favorite one here.
Our Picks for Accessory Tables for Camping:
- Top Pick: ALPS Mountaineering Eclipse Table
- Upgrade Pick: Creative Outdoor Folding Wine Table
- Budget Pick: Trekology Portable Camping Side Table
- Other Picks:
We love that this table has four versions, two of which come with built in game tops. We play chess in our family so the one with the checkerboard on top caught our eye immediately. It includes the game pieces as well. We also appreciate that the cup holders are on the second layer so they can’t spill across the game we are playing.
- Open – 27 x 27 x 26 inches
- Weight – 6 lbs
- Max Load – not specified
- 600D polyester fabric
- Cup holders on second layer
- Corner buckles to tighten tabletop
- Wish it was just a bit taller
- Cup holders hold standard size cups
This fun table comes in four colors, red, blue, orange, and teal, allowing it to match many decors. Add in the fact that it folds down to an easy carry size and it has a large table surface makes this a delightful addition to the campsite.
- Open – 29 x 29 x 24 inches
- Weight – 8.03 lbs
- Max Load – 5.5 lbs
- Four cup AND four wineglass holders
- Pocket for extra items
- UV water resistant fabric
- Too short for sitting at
- Does not hold much weight
This little budget beauty comes in more than one size and color which means the weight and dimensions will vary. We linked to the smallest/shortest one for our measurements. Note that in all cases these are only about knee high, so they are definitely an accessory table.
- Open – 15.6 x 13.6 x 12.8 inches
- Weight – 1.8 lbs
- Max Load – 30 lbs
- Comes in three sizes
- Includes a carry bag
- Difficult to move once set up
- Tabletop will pop off if not attached properly
The top layer of this table contains four drink holders and a large capacity hole in the middle for containing a bowl. The bottom layer acts as an ice bucket for keeping drinks cold. If you want a place to hold a bowl of food and keep your drinks in place, this works really well. If you are looking for a flat surface to place items on, this is probably not your best choice.
- Open – 15.75 x 15.75 x 35.43 inches
- Weight – 4.52 lbs
- Max Load – not specified
- Zippered cooler
- Tension straps to maintain table surface
- No solid surface
- Drink holders don’t fit insulated cups
This two-layer table is similar to the one above, but it does not have the hole in the middle of the top layer allowing for more surface. Although it still isn’t very large at only 20 by 20 inches. However, if you are just looking for a table on which to place your appetizers and hold your drinks, this one works well.
- Open – 20 x 20 x 24 inches
- Weight – 6.6 lbs
- Max Load – 28 lbs
- Second level for storage
- Light collapsible design
- Table surface is small
What We Looked at While Researching Accessory Tables for Camping:
The three most important factors, outside of price, we find when it comes to accessory tables are:
- Intended Use
As stated above, we believe there are three main categories of camping tables: accessory, dining, and outdoor prep tables. However, the same table can be used for various purposes. In the store, online or brick and mortar, you will most likely find the following types of tables:
The Utility Table
this one-piece table typically folds flat and is commonly available. We actually have two that we use at home when we host more people for dinner than our regular table can handle. It is a great first table to take camping as they aren’t expensive so if camping as a hobby doesn’t stick, you aren’t out a bunch of money on a specialty piece of equipment. They have a flat surface for placing things and are tall enough to sit around. In other words, they can be used for all three purposes.
The Dining Table
These tend to be slightly higher to allow sitting with your legs underneath more comfortably. They might also have their supports arranged to allow for people to sit on all four sides of the table. Some of them come with benches, chairs, or stools which can be useful. Not all camping chairs are comfortable for the dining table. Here is where we tell you about our favorite one.
The Cooking Table
The most elaborate of the bunch, this table forms the basis of your camp kitchen. It should be made of materials that are heat resistant and can support more weight as you will probably set your portable stove on it. Other features it might include are a hook for your lantern, to cook after dark, utensil holders, and possibly a sink or wash basin. These features do increase the price and weight of the table but if you love to cook while you camp, these tables make it much more enjoyable. We tell you about our favorite one here.
The Accessory Table
Sometimes advertised as a table for tailgating, these little beauties are typically lower to the ground although many of them are comfortable enough to sit around and play games. Some of them have built in coolers or cup holders, some even have the ability clip in your wine glasses. Again, these are what we are talking about today.
Camping tables come in a wide variety of materials, all of which are at least somewhat appropriate to the outdoors, although some of them will last longer than others. While you can get an accessory table in any of these materials, we prefer to stick with a metal frame, possibly with a fabric top. Good quality canvas or polyester can last a long time if treated properly.
Portability, weight, and stability:
Accessory tables tend to be smaller which means they are easy to carry around. However, they also tend to weigh less which means they can fly away in a windstorm. And they might not be the most stable of surfaces in an outdoor setting with uneven ground. Some ways around this would be to get one with legs that tilt outward, or one with a low profile, or plan on placing something like a rock or weight down against the legs to help keep it in place.
Other Factors to Consider in Looking at Accessory Tables for Camping:
- Weight Capacity
Size and Height:
These tables are available in a variety of sizes and heights so again it helps to know what you want to do with this table. We enjoy sitting around our table with the ability to work on a puzzle book or play a game. Therefore, we looked for one tall enough to use chairs and with enough table surface for us to spread out. Other campers might just be looking for a place on which to place their drink and snacks. They might prefer a lower profile table as these will typically weigh less and pack down smaller.
How much do you plan on placing on the surface of your table? Unfortunately, many of the tables we looked at do not specify a maximum load. However, by reading reviews and the questions/answers asked about the specific tables we felt comfortable with the table we chose. We recommend you consider that intended use, again, and realistically consider how much that would weigh. Then look at reviews, possibly even post a question yourself if you are concerned about the weight capacity.
Many of the tables are fairly straightforward but there are some fun extras that come with a few of the tables. Built in cup holders are always useful. A second level for storage doesn’t hurt. We love those with storage pockets. And our favorite even comes with a game board built right in. It’s these little fun details that make shopping for an accessory table enjoyable.
Frequently Asked Questions About Accessory Tables for Camping:
Do these tables come with chairs?
Typically, an accessory table does not come with chairs. If you want a table around which to sit, you will want to keep this in mind while shopping. We found that our standard chairs work okay with the table we chose. But I do have my eyes out for something better.
Can we leave the table set up outside all the time?
While these tables are intended for outdoor use, we would not recommend leaving them outside in all weather. Because they are portable, they could blow away in strong winds. Additionally, they are considered water resistant, not waterproof.
Can we play games/write on the surface?
This will actually depend on which table you select. We have found that by tightening the straps on ours, we have enough tension in the fabric top to play games and use it as a writing surface.
While there are many types of camping tables available, when it comes to an accessory table, our choice is clear. We prefer the ALPS Mountaineering Eclipse Table for playing games, holding drinks, and as a convenient surface for setting up food. After all, it meets all our criteria for size, portability, and table surface, and provides the most value for the price. And it comes with a checkerboard on top, great for our chess games!