BWCA Portaging...stay lightweight...what do you use for a table? Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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Blackdogyak
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05/04/2022 02:19PM  
If sites are maintained, many times there's a picnic table. As yhou get further out, or the sites get more primative...no picnic table.
You young guys just sit crosslegged on the ground. I know, I used to do it.
Now it's way uncomfortable.
But aside from those heavy folding or roll-up tables on amazon...what do you do for a really lightweight table for food prep and stuff?
Any ideas about making a "table" with found natural items?
 
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Speckled
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05/04/2022 02:46PM  
23 years of trips and I've never come across a picnic table. I think they're all removed. There may be a few at sites that happen to be just outside the BW, but I'd be surprised to find one inside. I now bring a lightweight pack/camp chair and just sit in it and eat.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/04/2022 02:53PM  
Yeah, OK. I'm not actually speaking about BW specifically, just in general. Many of the "primative" or "backcountry" sites in New England state's park systems have picnic tables.
I'm looking for something where I can cook and be comfortable for a period of time without being on the ground. Keep the food off the ground, etc. Super lightweight.
 
Saberboys
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05/04/2022 03:11PM  
I built one out of 1/4" luan plywood and an old Coleman suitcase stove aluminum stand.

I recently purchased an Alps Mountaineering Dash table. It is not perfect, 6 inches too short for my liking, but the tallest one that I was able to find. There is also a design flaw with the table top, though easily fixed with a small bungee cord. I got it cheap at REI during a sale.

Alps Dash Table

I also liked the Big Agnes Soul Kitchen table, but I could not justify the price.

BA Table
 
LilyPond
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05/04/2022 03:18PM  
I use a Helinox Sunset chair with the Helinox Table One. The table is the right height for the chair. If you want to cook on the table, get a hard top version or bring something rigid to put on top. Big Agnes has the Soul and the Woodchuck. All of these are mighty expensive, but there are many cheaper knockoffs on the market.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/04/2022 03:44PM  
Saberboys: "Alps Dash Table

I also liked the Big Agnes Soul Kitchen table, but I could not justify the price.

BA Table "

That looks interesting (the Dash)...only 2 pounds four ounces. Can you use a stove on it or will the fabric just melt?
 
straighthairedcurly
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05/04/2022 03:45PM  
I carry the smallest size blue tarp (hardware store cheapies). I lay it out on the ground, folded to the size I want that day. I use this to lay out all my kitchen items and ingredients for that meal. At night, it is repurposed to cover our firewood in case of a downpour.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/04/2022 03:52PM  
straighthairedcurly: "I carry the smallest size blue tarp (hardware store cheapies). I lay it out on the ground, folded to the size I want that day. I use this to lay out all my kitchen items and ingredients for that meal. At night, it is repurposed to cover our firewood in case of a downpour."

Haha...yeah, I've done exactly that. It's what I'm trying to avoid.
 
Lawnchair107
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05/04/2022 04:02PM  
Flip over your canoe to use as a table. Each BW site will have seating logs that get you off the ground.
 
PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/04/2022 04:07PM  
I've gone without, and I've gone with various kinds of packable tables. For groups, I've used a Roll-a-table. It's kind of big, but works great when the rain has kept us in a tarp playing cards etc. I like the GSI microtable when there are just a couple of us.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/04/2022 04:12PM  
Lawnchair107: "Flip over your canoe to use as a table. Each BW site will have seating logs that get you off the ground."


I've done that but with a 16' boat, it's not always easy to get it up on to the campsite.
I've looked at the Dash table and a bunch of amazon stuff. IDK...it seems like those plastic-to-aluminum connections will break at some point.

Maybe it's as simple as just bringing a small piece of 3/8" plywood and finding rocks or stumps to support it.
 
PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/04/2022 04:14PM  
Here's the roll-a-table.
It's a luxury, but very nice for a group of 4-5.
 
05/04/2022 04:15PM  
I carry a 32"x 10" piece of rigid foam insulation 1/4 inch thick, it weighs about 8oz. Rest it across your knees and you have a steady, hands-free place to put you plate, mug, cut your steak etc. You could use a thin piece of plywood or paneling or any rigid light weight material. Bottom of the canoe for cleaning fish, self-cleaning.
 
05/04/2022 04:58PM  
I am unaware of anything commercially made that is lighter:
UL Table
 
scottiebaldwin
senior member (84)senior membersenior member
 
05/04/2022 06:13PM  
LilyPond: "I use a Helinox Sunset chair with the Helinox Table One. The table is the right height for the chair. If you want to cook on the table, get a hard top version or bring something rigid to put on top. Big Agnes has the Soul and the Woodchuck. All of these are mighty expensive, but there are many cheaper knockoffs on the market. "

+1 on this. Get the Helinox Table One Large. Once you go Helinox for chairs and tables, you never go back. Yes, they’re expensive, but they are strong as hell, are feather light, they work together perfectly. And sometimes it’s not whether you can afford to, it’s whether you can afford NOT to.

Pull the trigger on it.

 
Savage Voyageur
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05/04/2022 08:26PM  
PabloKabo: "I've gone without, and I've gone with various kinds of packable tables. For groups, I've used a Roll-a-table. It's kind of big, but works great when the rain has kept us in a tarp playing cards etc. I like the GSI microtable when there are just a couple of us. "


I have one of these tables and they work great. I just lean against a tree and set my stove on the table to cook. Not for everyone but It’s for me on solo trips.
 
deerfoot
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05/05/2022 07:34AM  
PabloKabo: "I've gone without, and I've gone with various kinds of packable tables. For groups, I've used a Roll-a-table. It's kind of big, but works great when the rain has kept us in a tarp playing cards etc. I like the GSI microtable when there are just a couple of us. "

+1 - I have exactly the same tables and use them in the same way. As an older person I need chair with a backrest and some type of table to avoid having to bend over too much.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/05/2022 07:38AM  
Savage Voyageur: "PabloKabo: "I've gone without, and I've gone with various kinds of packable tables. For groups, I've used a Roll-a-table. It's kind of big, but works great when the rain has kept us in a tarp playing cards etc. I like the GSI microtable when there are just a couple of us. "



I have one of these tables and they work great. I just lean against a tree and set my stove on the table to cook. Not for everyone but It’s for me on solo trips. "


What is that table?
 
mjmkjun
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05/05/2022 09:51AM  
the search feature came up with a couple of links I thought would be fun/informative to share:
just for fun reading: https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.thread&threadid=404712&confid=1&forumid=12

one for DIY: https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.thread&threadId=1228581&forumID=15&confID=1
 
PabloKabo
senior member (76)senior membersenior member
 
05/05/2022 11:41AM  
It's a GSI Micro Table. It's all aluminum. It comes (or came) in two sizes that I know of. I found them both at the "bargain cave" that Cabela's used to have.

The legs unfold once more than the picture shows to give the table more height. I like that it's metal, that way when I set a hot pan on it, it doesn't melt. It's easy to clean up too.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/05/2022 12:07PM  
PabloKabo: "It's a GSI Micro Table. It's all aluminum. It comes (or came) in two sizes that I know of. I found them both at the "bargain cave" that Cabela's used to have.

The legs unfold once more than the picture shows to give the table more height. I like that it's metal, that way when I set a hot pan on it, it doesn't melt. It's easy to clean up too."

Thank you.
 
Twins87
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05/05/2022 03:37PM  
We use this for cooking and prep. When we're not using the burners, we take them off and use the surface as a prep table, morning coffee table, dish washing, etc. We love it.

Voyageur Outdoor Gear stove table

We also have Helinox shorter tables that we use for individual tables by our helinox chairs. I've never cooked on them but they would work if you bring along a stable surface for the top.
 
billconner
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05/05/2022 04:52PM  
My "kitchen". Just have to have all within reach before sitting down.


 
cyclones30
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05/05/2022 06:23PM  
I don't have or use one, but I've seen pictures of a sort of hanging kitchen set/table. I'm sure it's a little bulky and of course extra weight but as long as you had a tree in camp you could hang it. Then a strap goes around the base to keep in place in wind or whatnot. Think a crazy creek style folding chair with the back against the tree trunk at waist height or whatever and the "seat" portion flat and sticking out toward you.
 
cyclones30
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05/05/2022 06:29PM  
I didn't find exactly what I'd remembered but these are close enough.

https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=forum.thread&threadId=753224&forumID=15&confID=1
 
1JimD
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05/06/2022 09:06AM  
A 5 gal pail lid, on top of a 5 gal. pail.
Elegant !

Jim
 
cyclones30
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05/06/2022 12:27PM  
1JimD: " A 5 gal pail lid, on top of a 5 gal. pail.
Elegant !


Jim"


But how do you portage a 5 gal bucket? (easily)
 
jillpine
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05/06/2022 03:23PM  
cyclones30: "1JimD: " A 5 gal pail lid, on top of a 5 gal. pail.
Elegant !



Jim"



But how do you portage a 5 gal bucket? (easily) "


With this little beauty from Mr. Cooke: 30 L quad pocket pack
 
OCDave
distinguished member(602)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/06/2022 11:22PM  
I bought something like this iclimb table from Dutchware gear a few years back. Mine had aluminum top with carbon fiber legs. It is not very big bit packs super compact and weighs nearly nothing.

Here is a video of Dutch himself doing a show and tell.

Carbon Fiber backpacking table
 
05/07/2022 07:20AM  
cyclones30: "But how do you portage a 5 gal bucket? (easily) "

Our standard packing plan calls for one 5-gallon bucket for each guy on the trip... so we often are hauling 6 buckets across the portages. Versatility at camp is the factor that outweighs the clunky portaging.

Buckets are used for: Water for filtering, food storage, fish cleaning, day-trip lunch pack, happy hour cup holder, seating, fire dousing, table base... endless uses.

HAPPY HOUR - after market handles on buckets and screw-on lids





FOOD STORAGE - not always perfect





SEATING - not too cushy, but functional





FISH CLEANING - and other camp chores





TABLE BASE - two sheets of plywood for table top and burner windscreen when cooking
 
05/07/2022 07:49AM  
Lawnchair107: "Flip over your canoe to use as a table. Each BW site will have seating logs that get you off the ground."

+1
 
05/07/2022 11:34PM  
we have a small grill with foldable legs. You can see it on the left in the photo. We put a thin flexible plastic cutting board on it if we have silverware or small stuff to put on it. Mostly we use the small blue tarp system or a piece of Tyvek on a relatively level rock though for getting everything together for a meal.
 
05/09/2022 01:33PM  


I use the GSI Outdoors Micro Table. Helps dinner from ending up on the ground;-)
 
IdealTarHeel
member (38)member
 
05/13/2022 01:09PM  
I just flip a canoe over, set it up on logs to keep it from rocking back and forth, and deal with any other challenges are they come up.
 
IdealTarHeel
member (38)member
 
05/13/2022 01:09PM  
I just flip a canoe over, set it up on logs to keep it from rocking back and forth, and deal with any other challenges are they come up.
 
Blackdogyak
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05/24/2022 05:41PM  
Well guys...here's what I came up with.
Cheap 1/4" plywood.
Four holes.
Reinforce holes with plywood "rings" on bottom.
Three coats marine varnish.
Cut four sticks on site, put them into holes, splay the sticks outwards at an angle...and it basically supports itself. I think if I were cooking my dinner I'd want to make sure it was stable....maybe tie cord around stick underneath so the top can't slide down the sticks. Or ream a hole in each stick with swiss army knife awl...and throw a peg in the leg.

14 1/2" x 26"
1 pound, 6 ounces.

Two narrow slots fit over the d-ring lashing points on my portage pack.
Cheap, effective, very lightweight.





Man, I wish it were easier to deal with pics on this website.
 
izzy052
member (24)member
 
05/24/2022 06:36PM  
Years ago there was a wooden picnic table on a campsite within the BW on a lake I'll leave unnamed. It was there for two years. No idea how it got there.
 
izzy052
member (24)member
 
05/24/2022 06:36PM  
Years ago there was a wooden picnic table on a campsite within the BW on a lake I'll leave unnamed. It was there for two years. No idea how it got there.
 
therreid
 
05/25/2022 06:55AM  
We ran into a campsite along the Isabella River with a great picnic table. But, that was 30 years ago and before the fire in that area. I am sure it is no more.
 
NebraskaDano
member (16)member
 
05/25/2022 09:18AM  
All this talk about tables makes me think about a site on LLC. I believe it is site 170. It had the Biggest table I have ever seen. It reminded me of a Knights of the Roundtable table. This thing was that big. Does anyone on here have a picture of that table? Anyways my input for bringing a table is, I don't waste space in my bag to bring one. There is always something we can makeshift into a table at every site.
 
burgydancer
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05/25/2022 11:33AM  
Table for the BWCA? What's that?
 
schweady
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05/25/2022 02:30PM  
NebraskaDano: "All this talk about tables makes me think about a site on LLC. I believe it is site 170. It had the Biggest table I have ever seen..."
We made camp on LLC's site 169 on my first-ever BW trip in 1978. Not only a huge table, but a platform (I'm assuming for pitching a tent above the nasty ground) that we called 'The Dance Floor.' So huge. Some old, faded Kodak shots somewhere...

I've come to believe that this was the Lynda Bird Johnson site from the summer of 1965. Previous post about it in this thread
 
ockycamper
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05/25/2022 04:14PM  
Lawnchair107: "Flip over your canoe to use as a table. Each BW site will have seating logs that get you off the ground."

Once we were on the Current River in Missouri. The outfitter said he rented four brand new royalex canoes to a youth group the week before. They turned over the canoes to use for a table. When the canoes came back there were pots "welded" to the bottom of the canoes.
 
BassmasterP
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05/25/2022 05:03PM  
That's what we do in floating in the Ozarks, also. In the BWCA my table magically appears between my crotch and my knees when I sit down.

P
 
LaVirginienne
senior member (53)senior membersenior member
 
06/01/2022 09:10PM  
Love my Alps Mountaineering Sidekick table. Dinner for one. Very minimal kitchen prep space but super portable and always comes in handy. After an active life off grid, I’ve learned that a table is a civilizing influence worth bringing along.
 
LaVirginienne
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06/01/2022 09:16PM  
PabloKabo: "I've gone without, and I've gone with various kinds of packable tables. For groups, I've used a Roll-a-table. It's kind of big, but works great when the rain has kept us in a tarp playing cards etc. I like the GSI microtable when there are just a couple of us. "

I have found many uses for mine over the years. Great backpacking table that creates a flat surface inches from the ground. These days I’m paddling with a Helinox chair and an Alps Mountaineering sidekick table.
 
GeneH
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06/03/2022 04:47PM  
billconner:




That's pretty much what I do. And for me, it's nice sitting low close to a small fire as I stay warm and the smoke tends to go over me most of the time.
 
Chicagored
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06/06/2022 12:39PM  
I bring a lightweight chair from REI, like a helinox. For a table, I turn a canoe upside down and use rocks underneith to stabalize it. Works great as a meal prep area. Just can't put hot stuff directly on it.
 
HowardSprague
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06/07/2022 09:33AM  
And sometimes - very often, in fact - you luck out and your site has a built-in table.
 
Saintale
member (12)member
 
06/14/2022 08:04AM  
I've thought about this problem for a long time and came up with a solution that works very well for me with minimal weight.

I bring the excellent CCS Deluxe Food Pack on every single trip I do. It's a fantastic pack and very versatile. When zipped up the top of this pack makes a fairly stable, if not flat or strong, soft platform. This pack is a natural element of a solution to the table problem.

To create a stronger, flatter table top, cut a 16" x 20" rectangle out of ¼" utility plywood. This size fits easily into the pack and causes no issues with fitment or capacity. Glue four large washers to the corners and coat the whole works with 4 layers of matte finish polyurethane, top, bottom and edges. The washers are the basis for a magnetic retaining system.

Remove the foam liner top and attach four strong magnets using short bolts and fender washers, as pictured, and return the foam to the pack cover. I used Gorilla repair tape on the exposed threads to reduce the chance of abrasion between these bolts and the fabric pack lining.

If you have lined everything up correctly, the table top will snap into place on the pack and provide a very flat, stable, and strong surface. The soft bottom of this pack conforms to the ground and it's very easy to level. I tend to remove what I need from the food pack and leave the rest in place so that the added weight makes it more stable, but it's not necessary to do so.

As an optional step, you can place thin sheets of plastic in the side panels of the pack to make it stronger, but the table is very useable and quite strong without.

On my last trip the table was extremely handy and very stable. The top clicks into place securely. You can cook on it with some kind of heat barrier (see photos of my DIY stove base/windscreen) and it serves very well as a stable prep or dining table.

Finally, note that the CCS utility roll and a pair of cheap small carabiners provide excellent utensil access. The only thing tricky to find are the magnets. I found them on Amazon, there are many variations.

I'm happy to provide more detail. If you use one of these packs, it's a great solution. Total weight is about 1lb. 8 oz. More photos are located in a .zip file in the link.

CCS Food Pack Table Modification
 
BassmasterP
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
06/14/2022 10:05AM  
Best solution I've seen, yet. Our food pack is a very old BWJ pack that we have been meaning to replace for years now. It has no cinches on the sides and only one handle on the very top. Its our heaviest pack (for the 1st 5 days of a 10 day trip) and it feels like you're carrying a bag of water as everything sinks to the bottom dues to the basic design. We don't bring cold food so we don't need insulation and we don't believe bears to be a problem in Quetico, so we don't require a rigid barrel - but this post has me believing a fairly rigid pack would make for a great table. Thanks for the great idea. I could even envision 2 hinged boards and 2 lightweight legs to further extend the length of the table off to the side of the pack. Oh the possibilities...
 
OldGuide2
member (42)member
 
06/21/2022 01:20PM  
Your table comes with your gear and requires nothing else: it is called a canoe. Brace it with logs or a rock and bingo, instant table. I run a wood canvas Old Town so use an empty pack or piece of clothing for a hot pad to protect the finish from pots just off the fire. Bringing a table just means something else to carry.
 
BassmasterP
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
06/21/2022 01:40PM  
OldGuide2: "Your table comes with your gear and requires nothing else: it is called a canoe. Brace it with logs or a rock and bingo, instant table. I run a wood canvas Old Town so use an empty pack or piece of clothing for a hot pad to protect the finish from pots just off the fire. Bringing a table just means something else to carry. "

We've used a canoe before, but it's hardly ideal. Our canoes really leave the water as we are out fishing whenever there's daylight, it seems. Plus, we like to keep a lot of gear in our canoes such as tackle, fishing rods, chairs, rain suit, etc. A canoe, for us, is probably the least convenient option.

Until that last post that suggested a light wooden panel on top of a rigid sided pack, I never thought we would even consider hauling a table. On all of our past trips I might have said, "Your table comes with your campsite, it's called a rock". We have favored quite a few campsites over the years because they came with a huge flat top Boulder or two. Our favorite being on Wicksteed.
 
Bamthor
senior member (53)senior membersenior member
 
06/22/2022 07:57AM  
I use this one because it holds my spork and comes with a shot glass for my bourbon.
I can adjust the height as needed based on the site.
I can put it on a slope and level it so when I want coffee in the morning I can roll over in my hammock and fire it up while I enjoy the view. I love hanging out over the edge of the water so these are usually steep spots. And it holds a cribbage table with cards no problem. It also packs extremely small and is pretty.

https://hammockgear.com/schwarze-biene-best-buddy-table/?sku=&gclid=CjwKCAjw-8qVBhANEiwAfjXLrmp-DuprtIT_XohCDs-iDUAsn1bKBugYr-LOkZz81yzI1QYxR5w0iBoCb3kQAvD_BwE

 
BassmasterP
senior member (99)senior membersenior member
 
06/22/2022 08:21AM  
Bamthor: "I use this one because it holds my spork and comes with a shot glass for my bourbon.
I can adjust the height as needed based on the site.
I can put it on a slope and level it so when I want coffee in the morning I can roll over in my hammock and fire it up while I enjoy the view. I love hanging out over the edge of the water so these are usually steep spots. And it holds a cribbage table with cards no problem. It also packs extremely small and is pretty.

https://hammockgear.com/schwarze-biene-best-buddy-table/?sku=&gclid=CjwKCAjw-8qVBhANEiwAfjXLrmp-DuprtIT_XohCDs-iDUAsn1bKBugYr-LOkZz81yzI1QYxR5w0iBoCb3kQAvD_BwE


"


That is an interesting little table but, quite frankly, I'm surprised you find enough dirt in Quetico to make it feasible. I don't even carry stakes with my hammock anymore because there's no where for them to go. I always use roots, tree trunks, rocks, etc to tie out my tarp.

Funny though, I do the same with regards to my hang spot and having coffee at the ready! The bourbon shot glasses could be a plus, but I just use my 16 oz coffee mug to hold my preferred 3 finger nightcap.

Cheers,

!$BR

BR!$

 
ockycamper
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06/22/2022 08:24AM  
Is it supported by that one spike/leg? We have camped in several sites that are rocky and would be difficult to get that leg far enough into the ground to make it stable
 
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