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Take more with less with collapsible cookware

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Apr 2014; updated May 2023.

Tents and sleeping bags will take up space when family camping, but the little things can make getting all your stuff to the campsite difficult. We look at some collapsible items that can save you some much-needed space.

Camping gear can take up a lot of space, both storing it and the space required to get it to the campsite. We look at some collapsible solutions to save you some space.

Saving space with collapsible gear

Saving space with collapsible gear

Most family campers find themselves with a car full of camping gear, and probably a roof box and trailer too.

We certainly do.

Make it quicker and easier to set up camp

Well, this year, we're trying to reorganise and simplify things. We want to make it quicker and easier to set up camp and make it quick and easy to get to camp. Both goals are made a lot easier if you can control the amount of camping gear or at least get it quickly and easily into your car, trailer, roof box, or all three.

Big items will always take up space. This will be your tent, your sleeping bags, chairs, etc.

Small items can be a problem, too, though. For example, washing-up bowls, water carriers, and cooking bowls. Things that demand a volume of space, even though they may be light and relatively small.

Saving space with collapsible cookware

A solution to this problem is the range of collapsible items now available. We've been testing a few items to see if they are any good.

Collapsible cookware started to appear a year or two ago. They are constructed from silicon rubber that enables the items to fold up. When we first saw them, we thought that it was a great idea, but we weren't too sure about those early versions.

Well, things have moved on a bit now.

Here are a few things that we've tried.

Folding plates and bowls

The XPlate Collapsed

The XPlate Collapsed

We bought the XBowl, from Sea to Summit, a collapsible deep-sided bowl ideal for eating stews, soups, etc.

It's just over 1cm thick when collapsed and expands to a good deep bowl. It's heat resistant and even dishwasher safe.

The XPlate Expanded

The XPlate Expanded

One of our daughters has this for her Girl Guide camps and takes it on some of our picnics or day camps.

However, we still use plastic bowls for camping, even though these could save a good bit of space, as the Sea to Summit XBowl is an expensive option to kit out an entire family.

Unfortunately, after buying a Sea to Summit XBowl, we found that Easy Camp do a similar item for a fraction of the price.

Collapsible Colander, Bowl, Lid

Collaps Colander

The Outwell Collaps Colander

One of our favourite collapsible items is this bowl, colander, and lid combination from Outwell. It is better than what we have at home in the kitchen.

Using the collapsible colander

Using the collapsible colander

The bowl is large and an ideal size for family cooking. We've found it useful for all sorts of things.

Using the collapsible bowl with popcorn

Using the collapsible bowl with popcorn

The collapsible colander fits nicely inside the bowl, making the whole set a handy item for cooking proper meals at the campsite. It also comes with a big lid to keep those pesky flies off.

Taking everything, including the kitchen sink

For years we have been taking a couple of cheap plastic washing-up bowls camping.

These bowls are often seen as a circular lump underneath our trailer cover.

Despite trying to pack things inside them, they always take up too much space for what they are.

Fortunately, you can get a collapsible washing-up bowl, the Outwell Collaps Washing Bowl.

Replacing with a collapsible washing up bowl

Replacing our rigid bowls with a collapsible washing up bowl from Outwell

We now leave the plastic washing bowls at home. 

Outwell Collaps washing up bowl

Outwell Collaps washing up bowl

The washing bowl folds flat to just a few inches thick and sits folded on top of our Outwell Kitchen Storer in the trailer when travelling to a campsite.  

I think it holds about the same amount of water as one of the plastic washing bowls, maybe a bit more, and for the same price as a Sea to Summit XBowl, you get a lot for your money.

The Outwell Collaps Kitchen Sink is useful even when collapsed

The Outwell Collaps Kitchen Sink is useful even when collapsed

We've also found that the Collaps Kitchen sink works well as a flat surface that's ideal for holding things like drinks.

What about the kitchen sink draining board?

Outwell Collaps Chopping Board

Outwell Collaps Chopping Board

OK, so we don't have a draining board, but you can get a cool extra with the Outwell Collaps Washing Bowl: this chopping board with a pop-out strainer.

This board fits right over the Collaps washing bowl, so you can cover the bowl and use the pop-out strainer, which is great for washing and draining food.

If you look at our camp kitchen setup below, you can see the washing bowl can be covered, and the tap can still pour water through the drainer (which you can see under the big pot lid) just like you may have in your kitchen at home.

Using the collapsible cookware

Using the collapsible cookware


We've been using several items from the Outwell Collaps range, and they've been excellent. They certainly get the thumbs up from us as a good bit of family camping kit.

  • They've stood up well to a lot of use.
  • They've been really useful.
  • They don't take as much space to transport or to store when not camping.

It's not just us that have found the Outwell Collaps range useful, as many others have been leaving good reviews on websites like Amazon.

Here are a few more things we've since tried in the Outwell Collaps Range.

Hopefully, you've seen something here that will save you from the headache of finding space for everything when going camping.

Disclaimer: With thanks to Outwell for supplying us with their Collaps Sink and Colander for this review. All opinions are our own.