Not all types of camping are the same. Some people prefer to rough it and set out for a few days in the woods or wilderness with just a backpack and the essentials. For others, car camping is the way to go.
Since you have a car, you can bring more items to your campsite and create more of a “homey” feel. Many people often pack tableware sets when they go car camping so that they aren't eating off of paper plates or with their hands during their trip.
Below we take a look at some of the best rated sets around:
- Contains everything you need to serve and eat meals while camping, including two mugs that holds 12 ounces, two 10-inch plates, two six-inch bowls and two sets of utensils.
- The set is packaged in a mesh bag, which makes for easy packing and storing. Since the mesh allows for air circulation, dishes dry easily after being used and washed at the campsite.
- Set is dishwasher safe for easy clean up once you get home.
- Dishes are made out of polyethylene, which is lightweight and food-safe.
- Only contains enough dishes for two people. If you have a larger group, you'll need to purchase additional sets.
- Utensils are made out of polystyrene and are similar in quality to disposable spoons, forks, and knives.
- Polyethylene is considerably less durable and sturdy than metal and enamel materials, meaning the set might wear out or crack more readily than dishes made of hefty materials.
- Mugs don't handle hot liquids very well and can become misshapen or melt when exposed to hot beverages.
The Coleman 2-Person Dinner set is just the right size for a couple who wants to try car camping or for a solo camper who wants a spare set of dishes.
- Made of enamel coated steel, which is supposed to be fairly durable and to resist cracks and breaking.
- The set is dishwasher safe for easy at-home cleanup.
- Utensils come in their own roll-up pouch, which makes it easy to pack them for a camping trip, keep the utensils together when camping, and store them when at home.
- Mugs can hold hot or cold liquids. However, the metal sandwiched between the enamel can become very warm to the touch when hot beverages are poured in.
- Enamel can chip easily, especially if the dishes or mugs are dropped or handled roughly during a camping trip. The chips can affect the aesthetic quality of the dishes and might affect the taste of food if they are on the side of the dishes or mug that comes into contact with food.
- The utensils have plastic handles, which makes them more flimsy and prone to breakage that forks, spoons, and knives that are made from a solid piece of metal.
The Coleman 24-Piece Enamel Dinnerware Set features enough dishes and utensils to feed four people at a campsite.
- Includes enough to serve four people, including four plates, four bowls, and four mugs, plus sip-through lids for the mugs.
- Dishes are color coded. People in your group can choose to use the dishes in their preferred color and will always know which mug, bowl or plate is theirs.
- Design and shape of the dishes are meant to save space. For instance, the bowls and mugs are each shaped like a wedge, so that they can all fit together and form a circle, which can then be stacked on top of the plates. The squared design helps make it easier to pack and store the set.
- Mugs are insulated, so you can safely pour hot liquids into them without damaging the mugs or burning your hands. The insulation also helps to keep hot drinks hot.
- Plates and bowls are on the small side. The entire set measures about 7 inches in diameter, so plates are smaller than your typical dinner plate. You might also find it weird to eat out of a wedge-shaped bowl or to drink from a wedge-shaped mug.
- It doesn't include silverware or utensils, so you should purchase those separately.
The GSI Outdoors Infinity 4 Person Compact Tableset is another four-person dinnerware set designed for car camping.
- Plates are large, 10.25 inches, and have a deep well in the center. The slightly raised sides of the plates can make it easier to eat meals in the great outdoors without having food spill off the plate or blow away.
- The mugs can handle both hot and cold liquids. The large handle on the mug helps keep your hands away from the hot surface.
- Enamel coated metal is dishwasher safe, for easier clean up at home, and is meant to resist breakage and cracks.
- Like other enamel coated dishware, these can chip if you drop them or if they get knocked against a hard surface.
- The utensils have plastic handles, which makes them flimsier that all-metal silverware.
- There's no case for either the dishes or utensils, so it's up to you to corral them all together and make sure none get lost.tures
The Stansport 24 Piece Enamel Camping Tableware Set is very similar to the Coleman tableware set. A big difference between the two seems to the color choice available. The Stansport set comes in blue, while the Coleman set is red.
- Made of stainless steel, which is durable and won't break. It's also easy to clean, either in the dishwasher at home or in a wash basin while camping. Stainless steel is designed to be rust-proof and long lasting.
- Comes in a compact carrying case that holds all the pieces. Dishes and utensils are secured in the case with straps. The case zips all the way around and has a hook for hanging.
- Contains only two bowls, two forks, and two spoons. That's hardly enough to serve meals to two people, let alone a larger party. If you have more than two people in your group, it might be worth considerably a different set entirely, as you'd also have to purchase plates and cups separately.
- The bowls are very small, just 4.5 inches across. They wouldn't hold much in the way of soup or cereal, and they are too small to double as a plate.
EZYKOO 7 pcs Camping Cutlery is the only set made from stainless steel. It's also the only one to come with its own sturdy carrying case.
Which Should You Choose?
Of the five options, the GSI Outdoors Infinity 4 Person Compact Tableset stands out as the clear winner.
It's flexible enough to meet the needs of a couple and to meet the needs of a four-person group. It's compact enough to stow away in your car for a camping trip, and its clever design helps minimize the risk of losing any of the pieces.
Why Use Camping Dinnerware Sets
Why should you bother to purchase and use a tableware set for camping? Having a set of dishes specifically for camping has several advantages. For one thing, a reusable dinnerware set is a lot more eco-friendly than constantly using paper plates or disposable dishes when you camp.
Even if the plates are made of paper, you can't recycle them once they're covered in food. It's also not a good idea to burn disposable dishes and cups that are made of plastic or Styrofoam.
Cost-wise, camping dinnerware sets can save you money in the long run. If you purchase a high quality, durable set one day, it can last you for many years. Paper or disposable plates can seem cheap, but the cost adds up when you have to buy them over and over.
A tableware set can also better withstand the elements compared to paper plates. A surprise rain shower can spell disaster for your dinner if you leave a set of paper plates out on the picnic table during it. Additionally, tableware that's designed for cooking is made to be sturdier than the plates and dishes you'd use at home. Most sets are made from materials that don't crack or shatter easily.
Of course, a potential drawback of using real dishes and silverware when you camp is that you do need to wash them, usually right at the campsite. But having to wash dishes is still better than having a large pile of paper or plastic dishes to throw out.
You'll want to be particularly careful not to let any food waste contaminate a river or other water source near your campsite and not to leave any food out that could attract animal visitors.
Things to Consider
Once you've come around to the idea of using a tableware set when camping, instead of dishes from home or disposable dishes, it's up to you to choose the best camping tableware set for your needs. Since you're looking to bring an entire set, I'm going to focus on features that will make sense for people who are car camping, rather features a person who's backpacking might find particularly attractive.
The most important thing to pay attention to is what's included in the set and how many people it is designed for. Often, sets are packaged for two people or a family of four. The size the set isn't necessarily a deal breaker. If you're just two people, you can still benefit from a set designed for four, since you'll have spares.
If you're a family of four and you like the features offered by a set designed for a couple, you can always buy two packages. The same holds true for larger groups or families.
One feature that's a bit less flexible are the pieces that are included in the set. Ideally, you'll want a set that will have everything you need to eat a full meal when you're camping. A set with just a mug and a plate isn't helpful, especially if you plan on making soup or oatmeal. You'd need to buy bowls separately. A set that doesn't include silverware is also less convenient unless you plan on only preparing foods that you can eat with your hands.
The materials the set is made out of can also influence its quality and usefulness. You want materials that are easy to clean, that won't break and that have a long life. Metal, some types of plastic, and enamel coated dishes are often your best bet, but each has its own set of pros and cons.
Essentially, there is no such thing as a "perfect" tableware set for camping. But with a bit of research and looking, you're likely to find one that meets your needs.