Cabela's Deluxe Camper's Kitchen Review
Of course, everything has its price, and with Cabela’s Deluxe Camper’s Kitchen, it’s the size and weight. Here are some of the vital stats:
- Assembled size: 80” high x 88” wide x 22” deep
- Packed size: 40.5” long x 26” wide x 9.5” high
- Weight: 57 lbs. (heavy!)
- Steel frame
- 1 main table, 2 side tables
- Fire-retardant melamine countertops at good working height
- 36” long flexible sink
- 2 Lantern poles
- 2 Cabinets with adjustable shelves
- Spice rack and hooks
- Very sturdy construction and well-thought out design
- No windscreen
This camping kitchen is large and ideal if you need the extra space. We like that we can put the stove on a side table and still have the taller center table for continuing meal prep. A lot of camp kitchens screw this up, but Cabela’s did it right. We don’t like that the kitchen has no windscreen or paper towel holder, and this is a heavy kitchen.
We don’t recommend it for families that are constantly on the move. It’s great for camps that you plan to stay in for a while because you can set it up and leave it. If you tend to camp in different sites every night, the weight and setup/takedown time will be a drag for one or two people. If you’re changing camps every night in a larger group and everyone is pitching in, this is a great kitchen. We like this kitchen so much that we’re thinking of cutting out the pins on one side table to make it removable. This would cut the weight, giving us a smaller kitchen with one main table and one side table which is better for a single mobile family.
Who It's For
This is a large, heavy kitchen. If you need to cook for a large group, this kitchen will give you plenty of room and hold everything you need. If you tend to stay in one place for at least a few days at a time, this is also a great kitchen.
This kitchen is probably not for you if you need to pack it in a small car, if you'll be setting up in a new spot every night, or you need to carry it any distance from your vehicle.
The Main Table/Counter
The main table is flat and large at 36” x 22”. It’s definitely larger than a standard camp kitchen’s main workspace. It’s top is made of melamine, a durable type of plastic with fire-retardant properties. Melamine is used in plates/bowls/dishes/mugs, laminate flooring, and dry erase boards. It’s smooth surface is easy to wipe clean and, best of all, you can safely cook on it with your stove without fear that it’ll burn or catch fire. The only thing that would be better than melamine would be stainless steel, but that would bump the price up a bit and possibly increase the weight.
Standard kitchen countertop height is 36”; this one comes in at 34.5”, which is just fine. That makes the main countertop perfect for chopping fruit and vegetables, making sandwiches, or prepping meat or fish. We prefer to have the height of our stove’s grill either equal to or up to 2” higher than the main countertop. This kitchen situates the stove perfectly on a lower side table. This is important because some camp kitchens intend for you to put the stove on the main countertop. We don’t like this for two reasons:
- It puts the stove up high, and possibly higher than your stove at home. Camp kitchens should be standardized to work like your home kitchen so that you can be efficient and safe.
- If you put the stove on the main countertop to cook, any continued prep you do will be at lower heights. For many people this means that you’ll have to work slightly hunched over, which makes things like slicing vegetables very uncomfortable. Try slicing vegetables at your kitchen table (while standing up) instead of your kitchen counter to see what we mean.
In all, the main countertop has a large, durable working surface at a good height that will always be available for continued meal prep.
The sink is one of this kitchen’s best features, but it’s also a little weird. It’s located under the main countertop and it is massively long, stretching from one end of the main section to the other - 36”! If you’re fishing and wheeling, you could clean a large fish in it. The sink is made from a flexible PVC material which crushes up pretty small for packing. This is better than hard sinks that take up valuable space when packed. One problem with it is that it’s not a squared-off design - the bottom is a rounded half-moon shape. This means it’ll take less water to fill than a squared-off sink, but it might be awkward to wash certain pots and pans.
The sink is not divided. A divided sink would make some tasks easier - just doing dishes may require a lot more water if you need to fill the sink to soak anything. We suspect that the undivided sink is really there to aid in cleaning fish. It’s a little big for casually washing a couple of plates and utensils, so think about how you’ll use it on your travels.
Also, be forewarned that you need to remove the main countertop to use the sink. This means that everything on it needs to be put away or moved to the side tables before you can wash dishes.
Many camp kitchen sinks don’t have a drain, which means you need to lift the sink with 20 lbs. of water in it to dump it. The sink drain has a screw on attachment that takes a valve and a short hose. This is easy to route into a bucket or a grey water tank for later dumping. There are some complaints that the sink drains slowly, but you may be able to drill out the drain slightly to get a little more flow.
The Side Tables
The side tables are also have melamine tops like the main countertop. They’re pretty large at 26” x 20” long and will fit probably just about any stove. As we noted above, these side tables are perfect for your stove. The height of the side tables means that your stove’s grill height will be close to a standard kitchen, and the fire-retardant melamine surface means you won’t have any burns from stove heat. We would like it even better if one table was low and one was at the height of the main countertop, but it’s probably impossible to do that and also have the kitchen fold up neatly.
Organization and Storage
The Cabela’s Deluxe Camper’s Kitchen with Sink has a serious amount of storage and thought-out organization. Let’s start at the top and work down:
The Lantern Holders
There are two lantern holders on either side of the main table. Everyone knows how valuable these are at night. Many camp kitchens place these at one end of the kitchen which means that one end of the kitchen gets less light than the other. These are essentially positioned on either side of the middle. This means that, with two lanterns, both the main and side workspaces will have plenty of light. The lantern holders are made of very sturdy steel and will easily hold the weight of any lantern.
The Spice Rack and Utensils Hooks
Underneath the lantern holders is the spice rack, which folds out into position from the lantern poles. The shelf is almost as wide as the main countertop and has plenty of room for whatever you want - oil, plates, spices, extra pots, and so on. The spice rack has seven hooks that can be used to hold cooking implements, potholders, and probably a kitchen towel or two. We love having this shelf with hooks because it makes cooking easier by having small important items within easy reach.
The Undercounter Shelf
There is a full-length metal grid shelf that runs the full length of the main countertop. It’s made of chromed steel and the the grid spacing should be close enough to hold up to even a dutch oven if it’s placed near one of the ends. This is also the **perfect place for drying dishes, pots, and pans and means that you can probably skip bringing a dish-drying rack. Since it’s metal, you can also put hot pots and pans on it if you need to.
Cloth cabinets are great for being light and keeping dust, dirt, and pollen off your food and cooking gear. Cabinets keep things organized and make your campsite’s cooking area look neat and tidy. The Deluxe Camper’s Kitchen cabinets are very well laid out. They are 19” tall x 26” wide x 16” deep and made from 600 denier polyester. They hang from the side tables and simply collapse when packing. There is one zipper door on each that rolls all the way to one side and is secured with a velcro strap. There are five shelves altogether; you get to decide what height to put them. Besides the shelves, the cabinets don’t really have any sort of firm structure - gravity and the width of the shelves holds them in place and keeps their form.
Since these cabinets are non-breathable polyester, we think it would be a better for each to have a small vent for airflow. We’d recommend against putting wet dishes or other items in the cabinet since you could end up with mold or mildew if you always keep the cabinets closed.
Don’t expect the cabinets to be waterproof or rodent-proof. Mice will chew through anything, and these are just fabric. While the polyester might be somewhat water-resistant, it won’t keep water out in a downpour.
This camping kitchen is primarily made from melamine panels, powdercoated steel, and chromed steel. The powdercoating on the frame should last for a long time, so we wouldn’t be too concerned about rust. The steel frame makes the kitchen heavy but also more durable then others that have an aluminum frame. The scissor-action main legs make the main table very sturdy unlike some kitchens with legs that snap together independently.
Is It Weatherproof?
No. We highly recommend against leaving this unit out in wet conditions without a tarp over it. The melamine is waterproof, but what it’s bonded to isn’t. The cabinets will also let water through. We would also recommend wiping down the steel frame with a rag with a few drops of WD-40 or light oil every once in a while, particularly at the joints.
While the powdercoating on the steel should be very protective, we would not expect the melamine countertops to hold up to repeated exposure to rain. The melamine is mounted on particle board which is definitely not weather-resistant and repeated rain exposure will cause the melamine to bubble up. The steel legs have rubber caps. We’ve had other items where these types of caps collect water and cause the feet to rust. We wouldn’t expect this to happen right now with this unit, but as the rubber gets older and less pliable, it’ll be a problem if you set it up on wet ground frequently.
Things We Didn’t Like
It’s Really Heavy
Compared to other camping kitchens, this one is a porker at 57 lbs. You don’t want to have to haul this thing very far from your 4x4. It is larger than most, which gave us an idea: If you don’t need such a large kitchen, you could remove one side of it and replace the pivot pins with bolts. This would probably shave off 10-15 lbs and you could still reattach the side table again later.
No Paper Towel Holder
For some of us, paper towels are a staple of our camp kitchen, so we would like to see a paper towel holder somewhere. For easily accessible paper towels we see two possibilities:
- Pop off the top of one lantern pole and put the paper towel roll on the pole (then replace the pole)
- Attach one of those fold-up paper towel holders under the spice shelf, maybe with Gorilla Glue. This is not as convenient since the paper towels will be behind the hooks.
One thing we really like in a camp kitchen is a windbreak. A windbreak can keep pollen and dust off your food and keeps food wrappers from blowing around. A windbreak is often vital for your stove’s operation because in strong wind you’ll have difficulty lighting your stove or keeping it lit and effective. That said, we think that if you buy this kitchen you’re more likely to use it as part of a more elaborate camping setup and you’ll figure something out. Compared to smaller camp kitchens this one will probably be installed a little more permanently then the smaller ones that can be set up in 60 seconds.
You could rig a windbreak between the two lantern poles. You may want to use some caution with this. We’re not sure what it’s like in your area, but we suspect that a large enough windbreak could cause the kitchen to blow over. You may want to keep it smaller or put some holes in it to add some airflow.
Portability and Assembly
The fully assembled size of this kitchen is 80” high x 88” wide x 22” deep. The packed size is 40.5” long x 26” wide x 9.5” high, which is definitely pretty big, but also as compact as Cabela’s could get it.
The Cabela’s Deluxe Camper’s Kitchen with Sink folds up into a nice compact package and comes with it’s own bag. At 57 lbs. you’ll have to take care with where you pack it as it’ll be one of your heavier camp items. If we were on a trail and camping at a new campsite each night we probably wouldn’t use this kitchen unless we took off one side table or we were cooking with a large group. That’s because that it’s size, weight, and copious storage capacity lends itself to more longterm style camping or prepping meals for a large group. It would be great for a rockcrawling comp or trail jamboree where your camp was in one place. It would also be great for cooking meals for a few rigs that are pooling their meals on the trail.
Assembly is a little “sloppy”. Some camp kitchens have slick unfolding mechanisms where the kitchen is one unit that unfolds and snaps into place. This camp kitchen is not like that. The center and side sections come as a bare frame and you have to assemble the rest of it piece by piece. This means slotting in the lantern poles, hanging the cabinets, putting in the shelves, and so on. This is a pretty intuitive process but it’s a little time consuming. A normal person should be able to assemble this in 5-10 minutes.
We really value low assembly times on camp kitchens that we’ll have to set up every single night and disassemble every morning. We wouldn’t use this kitchen on that kind of trip because the setup time is kind of long and the unit is heavy. Remember that there are camp kitchens out there that are sub-20 lbs. and setup in under 60 seconds if you’ll be moving camp every night. Be mindful where things are when you pack them away so that you don’t poke holes in things or crush plastic parts.
The feet are not adjustable in length, so you may want to pack some slim pieces of wood to level it out on uneven ground.
Last updated: June 3, 2019