Sunday, March 4, 2018

Brand name gear fail. Coleman Pack Away camp kitchen.

First things first, full disclosure, the Coleman Pack Away camp kitchen that we own was purchased probably 12 years ago. However it is ben very lightly used, and stored dry, never exposed to anything aside from normal southern humidity that, well everything around here is exposed to.

The Coleman Pack Away camp kitchen is a well designed, well thought out compactly foldable little table with just the right tack on thing a ma bobs to be really handy on a camping trip.

The entire thing folds up to roughly the size of a long laptop bag, and folds out to provide ample food prep area, with a perfect spot for your Coleman liquid fuel camp stove.

There is an adjustable height pole with hook for hanging your lantern, An upright, well goal post sort of thingy with 5 S hooks that are ideal for hanging your cooking utensils for easy access, and a mesh "shelf" under the table top for holding your camp dishware. All in all a fairly good setup for keeping the family fed on those trips where the campground picnic table is going to be occupied...

There are 2 areas where this camp kitchen fails, and does so pretty massively.

The first, and it's a pretty major flub from Coleman considering they sell WAY more propane stoves than liquid fuel these days, is that there is no suport for a propane bottle, or hose, so if you are using a propane stove, YOU will have to MacGuyver some way to support the fuel supply.

Coleman's own product photography shows the product being used with a propane stove, witht he fuel bottle just hanging off the regulator in mid air. This puts a LOT of leverage on that aluminum line. At best, this will over the long term, cause the regulator line to bend. At worst, it can cause a fuel leak while the appliance is in use, causing a fire, or potential fuel explosion. Long story short, DO NOT USE YOUR STOVE LIKE WHAT COLEMAN PICTURES!

I've talked about this in some of my videos in the past, I use a hose / bulk tank rig, and I support the hose with the legs of the table to keep pressure off the fuel regulator. 

You can see where I discuss this in my description of the Brinkmann Stainless Steel 2 burner camp stove. 

The second, and more annoying to me issue is one of quality of materials. The framing is high quality aluminum, the legs etc.... all are well made, it's the laminated MDF top pieces that are, well an incredibly poor choice of materials for any sort of durability in an outdoor envioronment.

In the case of mine, less than 3 camping trips and years of storage have resulted in tops that are badly bowed in, and in need of replacement.

Now I could just replace the unit, but let's face it. I am going to end up with EXACTLY the same problem. So instead, I am looking for inexpensive, sufficiently large plastic cutting boards that I can trim to fit, and then get busy with a router, power drill, and riveter, and modify this. I seriously doubt coleman left me with a lwide enough slot to do it internal to the frame, so I will just tack them over the outside... But I have yet to find a suitable cutting board....

In the mean time, I use it as is... but I am honestly not really thrilled iwth the quality corners that were cut...

Long story short, I do not really recommend this unless you are going into it knowing the shortcomings, and are willing to address them on your own.

Top surface replacement options could be any of a myriad of plastics, aluminum, or even if you have the funds, stainless steel.

Best of luck,