One of the things that makes a camping road trip more comfortable is the right gear to make sure you can relax properly in the evenings. When you’ve been on the go all day – driving or riding, hiking, sight-seeing, and the rest, having the evenings to switch off are important to makes sure you can make the most of the following day. After years of road trip camping by car and motorcycle (read my tips here), there is one piece of kit we once considered a luxury but now consider a necessity – a chair. And now we have a table, too.
You really don’t want lots of gear when road trip camping. When you’re setting up for one night at a time, two at the most, you don’t need all the bumf that you might take for a week-long camping holiday. And when you’re camping with limited luggage space, every piece of gear you choose to pack has to be there for a very good reason. Having a chair to sit in is world’s apart from sitting on the floor. Even with a small tent for shelter, being able to sit up, with your legs bent and your back supported, is central to camping comfort.
It took us a long time to take the plunge and actually buy our Helinox chairs. They’re not cheap. After probably several years of seeing other people using these small and lightweight chairs at events and on random campsites we were on, we decided we could no longer manage the jealousy. Camping chairs can be surprisingly bulky, but the Helinox chairs are small, lightweight, and easy to carry. We each have a Helinox Chair One, and we now don’t go car or motorcycle camping without them.
Towards the end of last season, Helinox got in touch to see if I wanted to turn my two chairs into a full dining set with the addition of the matching table – the Helinox Table One. Having got a lot of use out of our chairs (and persuading a friend to buy one of his own from Adventure Bike Shop at the Overland Event last September), and knowing how good quality the chairs are, I didn’t hesitate.
I received the Helinox Table One with the Table One Hard Top, which in short is the perfect height against the chairs, is nice and sturdy, is easy to “build”, and is lightweight and small to carry.
Okay, for a longer version of that very short review-in-a-sentence…
I’m told it’s is the “world’s first” ultra-lightweight packable low-level camping table. Without the hard top (the other version is a mesh style top with a couple of cup holders built in) it comes in at 690g, or with the hard top it’s 960g, and either way it packs into a bag 41cm x 11cm. It is certainly portable and practical – it fits in the roll pack we use for motorcycle road trips, and for car camping it’s a no brainer to add to the pile of things in the boot. It has aluminium legs and the same self-locating shock cord technology for you get on the chairs (similar to dome tent poles but without the bend…), making it very easy to assemble and put away again. The foldable solid tabletop, which sits at 39cm above the floor and will hold up to 50kg (that’s a lot of tea…), provides a very stable surface that I’m happy to prepare dinner on. It really is a solid, robust and very useful addition to my camp gear.
At £120, the Helinox Table One is more expensive than the Chair One (around £90 depending on which one you go for), and there’s no denying that is a hefty price tag for a table. As someone who tries to do camping on the “good value” side of money spent, I probably wouldn’t have bought one despite knowing how useful it would be. Having said that, we did get the chairs, and we wouldn’t be without them now, so I guess cost is relative in a lot of ways.
The biggest benefit for me has to be the fact I can keep things off the ground, and have a good and flat surface on which to make tea, prepare meals, set up an iPad to watch a film, and generally put stuff inside and outside the tent. I love camping, but grass is damp and camping fields are uneven, and so by its very nature, a table is an incredibly useful thing. Having the Helinox Table One has certainly not been as revolutionary to our set up as when we got the chairs, but completing our dining set does make our evenings and mornings more pleasant.
I can’t deny it, while the Helinox Table One is probably a little expensive for my usual camping budget, it is a lovely piece of kit that does its job very well indeed, and I rather enjoy having it. I’m not sure whether admitting that when I go road tripping I now take chairs and a table makes you see my adventures as far too comfortable, but I think the style and design of this low and lightweight dining set means I’m still being authentic… an expensive addition to my camping set up but one I’m very glad I have.
With thanks to Helinox for sending me their Table One Hard Top for my road trip camping adventures. The chairs were not part of the gift, we already have and love those.