Camp Kitchen Tables or Chuck Boxes?

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by Josh, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. After another camping trip spent digging food out of bins and bags, I've decided to step up my game. I know a lot of you guys enjoy a nice camp kitchen setup. To be clear, this is car camping, not backcountry. I've got a couple of little ones, so the remote wilderness camp will have to wait a few years.

    Is anyone using the REI/Cabelas type folding camp kitchen setups? Or are you all using wooden Chuck Boxes? I have a 3 burner Camp Chef store that we use most of the time. So a space to put the stove isn't as important as prep and storage space. I see that camp chef has their Sherpa organizer table that looks kind of neat. But it's hard to tell how well it works in practice.

    Maybe just a chuck box on the back of the truck tailgate? Though we have it with us most of the time, it would be nice to get away from having to have the truck as part of the equation.

    Finally, it's sure tempting to make a small teardrop trailer for a kitchen and solo camping rig. I could see it being really neat to back one of those into the campsite and pop the top for an instant kitchen spot.
  2. Josh, that folding camp kitchen setup looks like a glorified Erector Set and is no light weight at 34#. The table with the storage looks like a pretty good idea but everything is inside of something else and you would still have to look through those big totes to find things. In my 50+ years of camping I have found that level horizontal space is about the most precious commodity when you are cooking. Table space. For food and gear storage I use chuck boxes.

    For overnighters I built a box with removable trays and legs that fit onto the outside of the box and raise the lid to waist high. This gets the stove up where you can work on it comfortably and insures access to the contents of the box.

    The other box is bigger and more elaborate with a door at the bottom and a lid that is hinged mid point and swings up to expose another shelf, a bin with a plexiglass door and a paper towel holder. This has been in service for about 25 years now and I built it solidly enough that it has never had a problem.

    Let me know if you would like to see pics of either of these to maybe glean some ideas for which direction you would like to go. No matter what you decide it seems that a good solid fold up table is a must.

    Josh likes this.
  3. I have one of those folding Cabelas kitchens. It resides in the tent trailer and we pull it out at camp. It works well, but it is massive. We don't store food in it, but do keep it stocked with plates, cutlery, cookware and kitchen accessories. It's been to many KOA and state parks and to places like Kelly Creek.
    Josh likes this.
  4. I'd love to see pics of either! Thanks Ive.
  5. Do you know which one you have? Cabelas seems to have two different sizes (or at least prices).

    What do you use for food storage?
  6. Yes, Pictures please.
  7. The wife seems to like the Cabelas setup. I'm interested in seeing more examples of chuck boxes, maybe just for closeable food storage. Perhaps a combo of both.
  8. IMG_2382.JPG IMG_2383.JPG IMG_0835.JPG IMG_0830.JPG IMG_0837.JPG IMG_0832.JPG Here's some pics. This is in the old truck, I'm currently building the package for the new truck. Let me know if you have questions. Ive IMG_0844.JPG
    Jeff Dodd and Josh like this.
  9. Dang Ivan, that is impressive handiwork. Friends at work just returned from a trip to Oregon exalting the creation of a camp in system for their Toyota 4runner. They fold forward the back seats, have a platform on which they can place pads or mattress, and lots of room for organized storage crates beneath. I'm thinking that my Pathfinder needs some outfitting work.

    Problem is, if I'm with my girls, I need the back seats to be in use until flipped forward. That means that all my platform and supplies have to fit into the rear cargo area, allowing for easy conversion to the nights sleeping quarters if the weather conditions dictate that we need a hardier shelter for the night.
  10. Ed, there is just so much you can do with those SUV's. The problem with most of the new ones is that they have too many seats and not enough cargo room. The salesmen all say just fold down the third row if you need more cargo area but those useless 3rd row seats eat up a lot of precious storage space. Rigs like your Pathfinder only have about 80 cu ft of cargo room with all the seats folded. My van has 144 cu ft of cargo volume and swallows up a vast amount of gear without crowding stuff in.

    Probably less than 1 in 10 customers actually need a 3rd row seat, the rest just pony up a thousand bucks for it, fold it down and drive around that way till they trade it in. Not being able to delete that seat kept me out of several SUV's that I really liked during my recent car shopping. The same thing prevented me from buying an extended cab truck-no rear seat delete. Imagine a supercab truck with lockers or shelves back there instead of a tiny seat. You could store a ton of gear out of sight and even sleep on it if it was configured right.

    They have certainly taken the utility out of utility vehicles by crowding in a bunch of seats. Since when is a taxi or a bus a utility vehicle?

    Josh and Ed Call like this.
  11. That's a great box, Ive. Where do the legs go when the lid is down?

    Josh, I've seen a few aluminum kitchen dry boxes that I hope to afford some day. Mad Cow metal works makes a sweet one. I'd use mine for rafting, which is why I'd pay so much to keep gear dry. They might give you an idea, regardless.
  12. Ive, you are spot on about the fold down seats just eating up valuable storage. I have what I have...but at least I'm not driving a van! I really want a truck, but I really don't want a truck payment.
  13. I love me some minivan. Gold Town & Country FTW. We pack that thing with all sorts of crap, especially when kid-camping. But hell, dump all the seats in the floor and I can carry 4x8 sheets of plywood flat on the floor. That being said, on fishing roads I typically drive my ranger just for the clearance and tougher tires.

    Still, a whole lot nicer to retreat to the van to sleep than the canopy of the truck.
  14. Thanks Ive!
  15. I often wonder where all the van hate came from. I think it was initially started by the car testers who traditionally have an IQ of 0-60. They began bad mouthing vans when vans were just bloated bodies on a weak sedan chassis. They were slow, underpowered handled like a cement truck and were about as much fun to drive. Fast forward to today and I would venture that 90% of the people that categorically diss vans have never driven a modern version. They handle better than some sedans I could name, have tremendous power and steer crisply-certainly better than a lot of SUV's. Mine has nearly 300 hp and blows across Washington's highest passes with utter ease. For the first 2 years and 15,000 miles it has averaged an honest hand figured 23+mpg. With Michelin X-Ice tires it handles winter here on the frozen tundra effortlessly and was our preferred ride to Spokane every week of the winter for Susie's chemo. The AWD/4WD Explorer sat in the driveway most of the winter. Add to that the StowN'Go seating, lower initial price, lower insurance rates and better gas mileage, more interior room and greater utility and you have a truly versatile rig.

    People seem to be easily intimidated by other people's perception of what they should drive. There are hundreds of thousands of folks out there driving what is for them an impractical SUV that would be far better served by a van. Fortunately enough people are still buying them that they are in no danger of going away. In fact vans are having a resurgence in this country with many new models showing up and some are really skookum. In many ways some of the new compact vans are a better deal than a compact pickup because you get the same payload capacity but can configure the storage area for people, cargo or whatever and have it locked up and not have to go around behind the vehicle to access our gear.

    So Ed, at "least your're not driving a van!" but I'd be willing to bet that if you took your girls on a trip in my van you would be far more comfortable and relaxed when you got there than in your Pathfinder.

    ganglyangler likes this.
  16. I've seen quite a few homebuilt and factory teardrops that are quite nice. Pricey though.

    Sent from my little square phone thingy...
  17. Ive, no real van hate here, just messing! I have been in some cavernous vans that just take bag/box load after bag/box load and keep on going. I've seen some that have fold down bunks inside, full kitchens, four captains chairs, under floor storage and coolers.

    I just don't have a van. Just driving my less than ideal SUV, paying way too much for gas and way too little mileage. The only saving grace is that its mine!

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