It’s amazing how quickly a campsite picnic table can get cluttered with food, bowls and other odds and ends to the point that there’s no room to prepare food, much less cook it or eat it.
But the Kelty Basecamp Kitchen will free up space on the table and help you get things organized. Plus, this portable set of tabletops and storage platforms gives you a designated place, away from the picnic table, to prepare and cook food. As you’re making breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can store all the things you need for cooking—pots, pans, utensils, spices—so they are easily accessible and not taking up space elsewhere in camp.
The Basecamp Kitchen is pretty easy to haul around, as it breaks down to fit into a rectangular bag that measures about 2 feet by 1 foot and weighs just under 18 pounds. The bulk of the Basecamp Kitchen is a single aluminum structure with several joints with hinges so it can collapse. There are also three removable tabletops that are made of aluminum slats that fold up for storage. The Kitchen also includes a collapsible fabric pantry and a removable windscreen. The whole thing can be put together in less than 5 minutes; you don’t have to screw anything together, and no tools are required. Once constructed, it’s stable and seems pretty tip-proof.
The central tabletop of the unit is designed to hold cooking stoves, and we found that a two-burner stove fit perfectly here. Because our stove already had a windscreen, we didn’t have to use the one that comes with the Basecamp Kitchen, but it would come in handy if you were to use single-burner stoves that do not have integrated screens. This metal-slat tabletop, like the other two, snaps into place easily and holds more than enough weight. Also, its smooth, metal surface is easy to wipe clean.
As for the other tabletops, the small solid one to the left of the central tabletop makes a good place to put salt, pepper and spices while cooking. It also has three small hooks from which we hung utensils and rags. The larger tabletop to the far right of the Kitchen is where we sliced, diced, and otherwise prepared food for cooking, and it has two extension rods that can hold the Kelty Binto storage containers (sold separately), or you could hang a towel on them. The final metal-slat surface sits below the stove platform, and this is where we placed the fuel bottle for our stove. This is also where we kept our coffee press and coffee mugs, and Kelty smartly put netting across the back of the platform to prevent things from getting shoved onto the ground.
On the far right of the Kitchen, beneath the tabletop, is the place to attach the pantry via Velcro-type straps. We used this space to store bowls, plates and a few food items like crackers and peanut butter, which didn’t need to sit in a cooler. You could also place Binto containers in this space. While the pantry can be zipped closed, we chose not to leave food in it overnight. First, we were typically camping in areas with black bears, so we placed all our food in bear-proof canisters and in our vehicles at night. Second, an animal could probably chew through the fabric anyway. Still, the storage bin was a good place to put things during the hours when we were cooking, eating and hanging out in camp.
There’s not much about the Basecamp Kitchen that we’d criticize. But one tester did mention that since the tabletop on the right has slats, it allows moisture and food particles to fall onto the top of the storage bin. Maybe this tabletop should be a solid surface. On the other hand, if the tabletop weren’t collapsible, it would be much more bulky when stored. It’s a toss-up, really.
The Basecamp Kitchen might at first seem like a luxury, but it serves a real purpose in helping to keep things organized and clean. And it’s nice to be able to cook in a space that’s not crowded or being used for a half dozen other purposes. If you’re often frustrated with a lack of space to cook, this product is worth a look.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $159.95
For more information: www.kelty.com