There are many scenarios in which a table, an admittedly luxurious item when backpacking, is highly useful.
– Placing a stove for stability over uneven ground.
– keeping stuff off of muddy ground
– keeping stuff off of really dusty or dirty ground (or sand at the beach
– Preventing too much heat being taken away from warmed food
– Keeping a stove from melting through snow and sinking too quickly
– A slightly raised platform to eat off of
– Placement for more even surface when preparing food using multiple pots
– In my case, putting my coffee mug in an easier to reach location.
– Place to put reading lamp or ipad while in tent.
Not strictly necessary, for sure, but very useful in a variety of situations.
Of course, when you’re talking tables, the larger the better, but that isn’t very economical, and even a very small surface can make for a more enjoyable experience. For this reason, I almost always bring a small table with me (along with a backpacking chair) when camping.
Of all the camping tables I own, the Snow Peak Ozen Solo Table is by far the smallest. It is diminutive, and yet, still useful.
The Ozen is really two aluminum slates that are held together by a wireframe loop on either end for stability and rigidity. As simple as it is, it is quite the marvel of engineering.
The table itself is about the size of a sheet of paper.
The ridges built length-wise into the slates and wire-frame acting as a ridge width-wise provide some built in protection from things falling off.
In usage, the table holds a small stove and pot, and a mug or two, which is perfect for preparing a small meal. Larger cooksets like the Trangia 27-2 or 25-2 also fit on here, as does the Optimus HE cookset. Most stoves fit on here without an issue, but those with a fuel line separating the fuel source and stove will typically not. When using the Primus OmniFuel, I try to place the table near a rock or log so I can place the fuel bottle somewhere close to the same height as the table, or maybe a little higher. The Primus stove systems make this a little easier as the fuel line is a little thinner and more flexible. The MSR multi-fuel stoves are built a little more rugged, making this a less effective setup.
Of all the cooking setups for use with this table, the Trangia 27-2 is probably my favorite. It’s smaller than the 25-2, fits completely on the table with a little space for a cup on the side, and helps prevent the alcohol stove from getting too cold, staying on the snow, helping to keep it working reasonably well.
Aluminum also feels a little safer than fabric tables, giving a little more confidence in placing warm stoves on it.
Most importantly, even though this table is a far cry from the comfortable amount of space that the Helinox table or GSI Macro table provides, the stow away size of the table is small enough to disappear inside larger backpacks and be barely noticeable. For the little bit of extra luxury it provides, the extremely compact stowaway size makes the compromise more than worth it.
Will I bring it with me on a true uber-ultralight trip? Maybe not, but on just about every other type of trip, this table is well worth it.