Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Camp Kitchen with Sink Review
You should buy this camp kitchen if you need something lightweight that assembles quickly for light-duty camp cooking. Because of it’s lightweight construction, some of the materials are a little thin - it’s not like cooking at home!
It has a decently sized sink, ample counter space, perfect counter height for most people, is lightweight, has spice racks, utility hooks, and a towel rack. The layout is good, leaving everything that you need within reach.
The major issues with this camp kitchen are that the lantern pole is a bit weak, the wire grid surfaces won’t hold a lot of weight, the paper towel holder doesn’t stick, and the kitchen doesn’t exactly fold into a suitcase shape. We found these to be minor inconveniences compared to the other features it has.
This kitchen is a great deal for the price. It’s excellent for weekend trips and should be suitable for trips up to two weeks in length. If you plan to do a lot of heavy cooking or expedition-style camping, this is not the camp kitchen for you. You’ll need spend more money on something with much heavier construction that can meet your requirements.
We highly recommend that you check and assemble your unit when you receive it. They are not well-padded for shipping and some pieces (like the side table) may end up with slightly bent parts. Make sure you set up your camp kitchen so you know how to put it together. Try your lantern out and make sure the lantern pole doesn’t bend too much. Put your stove on the side table and make sure that it’s stable and that you’re comfortable with the placement of the fuel canister. Below we’ll take at look at the things we like and dislike about this kitchen and describe a few fixes that’ll make it work better.
The Prep Area
The prep surface area is 39.4” x 19.7” and is made from moisture-resistant MDF. We’d prefer a different material, but a full metal or plastic countertop would probably add quite a bit of weight and expense to support it properly. It’s about 32” tall, which is just a couple inches shorter than most home countertops and a fine working height. It’s definitely superior to cooking on a picnic table, which is at least a couple of inches shorter. The prep area includes the sink. We wish that Coleman included an insert to cover the sink and make the flat counter surface wider, but the counter is still large enough for most camp jobs. It has a fold-up “backsplash” which we really like, since it makes the kitchen easier to use. Keep the counter clean and dry! Since it’s MDF it’ll be more prone to water damage.
Having a sink at counter height is invaluable! It really makes doing dishes quite a bit easier. The sink is a plastic dishpan about 6” deep. You can do dishes, wash fruits and vegetables, rinse your hands, or fill it with ice and cold beverages. At this price point, there is no drain hole, so you need to pop it out so that you can dump it. Some people install drain kits on these units. A drain hole would make things easier, but be aware that many campsites that aren’t “rough” don’t want you dumping dishwater right on the ground in your campsite. Directly next to the sink is a towel holder.
The backsplash has two racks for holding condiments, spices, or other cooking items. There are hooks for hanging pots, mugs, or utensils. The backsplash is genius - it makes cooking a lot easier since it expands your counterspace vertically and keeps everything within easy reach. When cooking, you’ll be using the workspace for one thing at a time and it’s easy to keep things out of the way until you need them. We’ve had a lot of rocky, uneven campsites where finding level ground was a pain. If you position your kitchen right, eggs, oranges, and onions can roll into the backsplash instead of on to the ground. Plus it makes a great windbreak to keep dust and pollen off your food and to keep plastic bags, napkins, and paper towels from blowing all over the place.
The Side Table
The side table is meant to hold your stove, and at 26” x 15” it’ll hold most camping stoves securely. The side table top is steel wire grid, so it can take some heat if necessary. The side table is definitely not for prep - without a stove the shelf is too low to be a comfortable and the metal grid is virtually useless for holding anything. Make sure to test your stove on the shelf before you take it out! Some stoves’ feet line up awkwardly with the wire grid and could make the stove tippy. If this is a problem we’d suggest a sheet of 1/4 ” plywood, or (even better!) a sheet of thin aluminum or stainless steel zip-tied to the grid. This shouldn’t add to much to the overall weight.
If you have a stove that uses the small propane canisters, they will hang off into the air. In all of Coleman’s photos they show stoves with the canister just hanging out in the air like this, unsecured. This might be okay but the canister could be easily bumped by boisterous children and cause a spill or a panic attack. Consider using a zip-tie, hose clamp, or a removable velcro strap to keep the tank secured to the table. It’s worth noting that a traditional propane tank will last a lot longer with those stoves, so consider grabbing one for longer trips instead of the small canisters.
The Lantern Holder
It has a handy lantern holder which is really useful when you get into camp late and still need to cook, and it’s also nice to always have that high place to keep your lantern at night. Unfortunately, Coleman skimped on materials here and made it lighter than it should be. A lighter electric lantern would be okay, but we wouldn’t feel comfortable hanging a kerosene lantern (or another heavy lantern) from it since we don’t want to burn to death when the lantern pole snaps. Rather than use the included paper towel holder, you can easily slide your paper towels on here instead. We’ve heard of people hanging speakers on these, but in a campground with lots of people this is a good way to be murdered in your sleep. Trust us: other campers won’t appreciate your music as much as you.
The Undercounter Shelf
Underneath the prep surface area is a full length metal grid shelf. It is not heavy duty, so if you have a cast iron dutch oven that you want to stick on the shelf, you’ll want to put it on the ends or find another place for it. Other than than, it’s a quick storage space for larger pots and pans and dishes that need to dry. Since it’s metal, you could put a hot pan on it if you needed to (with some caution).
The Produce Basket
On the side of the kitchen is cloth “produce basket” (Coleman’s words). We have no idea who’s sticking produce into it, but it’s great for holding miscellaneous stuff - plastic wrap, aluminum foil, plastic bags, and so on. It also works as decent trash receptacle. It’s a little to big to fit a standard grocery store plastic bag, but it’ll fit a 10 gallon trash bag just fine. Use some binder clips to secure the trash bag to the legs. This will keep it from blowing out in the wind and the bag won’t stay erect in the basket without the clips anyway. You could also use it as a dish drying rack, but we like using the bottom shelf for that.
Next to the sink is also a little towel holder. We like that there are a bunch of these little details that actually make it feel like a kitchen!
The Paper Towel Holder
Coleman includes a paper towel holder that sticks on the backsplash with suction cups. The suction cups are unfortunately useless and will not hold. You have three options:
- Screw paper towel holder to the backsplash.
- Spear the suction cups with the included hooks and hang it from the backsplash.
- Put the paper towels on the lantern pole.
This unit is mostly constructed from aluminum with a some steel for the side table and undercounter shelf. The aluminum is great since it’s lightweight and doesn’t rust like steel. The steel components are chromed so they should last awhile without corroding. If you keep all the components cleaned and maybe lightly oiled (especially at the welded joints on the steel grids and any hinging points) this camp kitchen will last a long time.
Portability and Assembly
The whole unit is quite light and portable for what it includes at about 25 lbs. There are complaints that it’s too heavy and equal complaints that it’s too light. We’ll take this to mean that it’s just right. Most people should be able to carry it fairly easily by its carrying handle. It folds up to 39.5” x 20” x 7” which is pretty compact considering all the extras it need to fit. Annoyingly, the side table and sink don’t fold into the kitchen in collapsed mode, which means it’s not a neat “suitcase”. They stick out on one side, so while one side of the kitchen looks like a neat rectangle, the other side has the collapsed side table and sink showing. It’s kind of irritating, but we understand that some design compromises had to be made to fit everything together and make it lightweight.
There aren’t any packing instructions included with it, so it’s up to you to fit the components together when you pack it up. All of its parts will fit inside it, but some of the components will be loose. You mostly need to be a little creative to fit everything the first time. The long lantern holder can be broken down and placed beside the legs. The small baskets can be place in the sink. The shelf also needs to be packed with the legs.
No tools are required to put it together. It unfolds and you pop a couple of things into their holes. After the first time, most people should expect that setup will take about 5 minutes or less. The legs will not adjust to fit uneven ground, so you may want to bring some thin pieces of wood to level it out.
When You Get It
Put it together and make sure everything fits correctly! There are lots of reports of people getting damaged camp kitchens. Coleman could have packed this a little better. A big, lightweight camp kitchen is like a frisbee to UPS, so make sure yours is easy to put together and not bent anywhere.
Should You Buy It?
We think this is a great kitchen with a sink for the price. It has a few minor problems, but fixing them would mostly make it heavier. It’s the perfect size for couples and small families that need more space than a picnic table to prepare meals. Because it’s so light, it needs to be cared for properly, but we’d expect one of these Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Camp Kitchens to last a long time.
Last updated: June 3, 2019