Best Kitchen spot-- side or tailgate? Bad weather and normal.

Dave in AZ

Active member
What is the best way to set up a kitchen for popup truck camper (NOT A SLIDE-IN!)? I see a zillion pullout kitchen boxes on a pickup tailgate, but I also see a lot of side kitchens when camper has gull-wing doors, like the AluCab. I see YouTube videos of each, but not many folks give good kitchen setup reviews after actually USING the things, just the day they install...

Big issues are cooking in bad weather and rain, and blocking rear camper access while cooking.

Rear kitchens can store in pull out boxes for fast setup. But then you must have truck camper open whole time cooking, and you probably block others from getting in and out rear access. Which might be a pain in bad weather, rain and cold.

Side kitchen, say driver side, you can have fridge in truck cab and still have easy access while freeing up camper space, and not having to get in/out of camper for food. You could also leave camper door (rear tailgate) closed, allowing you to keep it warm and dry. And a thin cabinet behind a side gullwing door, for the kitchen storage, could allow you to access kitchen from outside OR inside if desired.

How kitchen is protected from rain also important. Side kitchen could have side awning, or 270 batwing. Rear could have a batwing, or some kind of sports canopy setup over rear of truck.

Looking for your best feedback and comments!
 

simple

Adventurer
I went round and round in my head on this and decided to put a trail kitchens box in the camper with the option to remove and set it outside on a picnic table. After 2 years, I have yet to take the box outside. The kitchen box and cooler fridge are both strapped to L track like a raft frame.

I either heat something easy inside or just grab the stove and put it on a picnic table and then grab the few things that I need. Same with the fridge. I ordered a slide for it and decided not to use it. It's too easy to open the door and reach in.

On your setup with a tailgate, I'd put the kitchen box and fridge near the rear and then move them to the tailgate if cooking outside. Slide out things are cool but add cost, weight and complexity.
 

Dave in AZ

Active member
Not a big fan of slideouts either. But the real question is side kitchen with awning, or rear tailgate setup. I notice that both Ronny Dahl and ASPW used side kitchens. RD now has a tailgate setup. Bit they don't get much rain in Australia. Donald at Softroading the West is up in rainy Oregon, he has a side kitchen. But I just never see many Youtubers talk about it, you're lucky if they show eating.
 

Dave in AZ

Active member
Best side kitchen discussion I've found so far, Andrew St Pierre White of 4xOverland with his most recent Troopy build. He really makes a great case for the side window kitchen.
 

pdxfrogdog

Adventurer
Doesn’t the answer mostly rely on awning coverage/placement and personal preference? Hard to imagine a right answer with all the variation in vehicle layout and capacity.
 

rruff

Explorer
Looking for your best feedback and comments!
I made my camper with the whole rear an entrance hatch that makes an awning. Nothing really slides out, but I can easily access two 70L plastic crates with cooking stuff, plus a 38Hx28Wx26d area on the other side, which has a zero gravity chair and cushion, a portable table, two portable solar panels, and TBD. If I get a fridge it will go in the back seat... I don't want to hear it at night.

I don't get rained on much, but the hatch helps with sun, too... since I usually face south. If I want, I can just cook inside since it's all portable and easily accessed in or out. I usually leave the hatch open all the time during the day, unless I take a long hike or something. I live in the west and prefer to avoid heat, cold, biting bugs, and mud. It's usually not hard to do.
 

fourfa

Observer
View attachment IMG_3016.jpeg
I went with rear kitchen. The Alu-Cab rear door gas strut and strap arrangement disassembled itself, which turned out to be a blessing. We’ve found the 180 door opening to be much preferable to the stock 90 degree limit.

We have no mitigation for rain or snow, as yet. It’s quite rare to have any when and where we go out. The bigger problem has been high winds, which none of the OP’s options would handle? Best we can do is re-orient the truck to be in the lee.

I really don’t want an awning: weight up high, more things to catch on the sides, wouldn’t help a bit with sun in the mornings and evenings when we spend time in camp. If we spent whole days parked, or did more hot summer, rainy, or snowy winter things, I’m sure I’d change my tune.

I am considering making a rear-attached tarp and pole spanning the back and side doors, fully removable so it can stow inside and low in deep storage, for the rare occasion we might need it. The pole would need to do double or triple duty somehow - shovel handle, breaker bar extension, water depth probe etc.
 

simple

Adventurer
Best side kitchen discussion I've found so far, Andrew St Pierre White of 4xOverland with his most recent Troopy build. He really makes a great case for the side window kitchen.
Looks like he has a combination of side and rear kitchen and neither can be used from the inside.
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
But I just never see many Youtubers talk about it, you're lucky if they show eating.

They are eating at the restaurant just behind the camera.

I keep my chuckbox and fridge in the back but cook at a folding table that I move around. I rarely actually carry the box to the table, but can if needed.

The extra walking keeps more odor out of the rig and allows repositioning for wind, weather, light, scenery…

I don’t have to worry about camera angle.
 

dstefan

Well-known member
Well, this is what we used to do in the first few months of having a camper.
1702673371611.jpeg
But we got the camper to have a place to get out of the bad weather after decades of tent camping, so as soon as we got basic interior build stuff done like electrical and insulation, I made a fairly minamalist cabinet and counter we could cook on standing up inside. We still use the tailgate/slide out counter/fridge slide combo, but between the set up hassle and the frequent windy/rainy/dusty shoulder season days we ending up cooking (really reheating, mostly) inside a lot. To the point we quit packing the pullout counter and recently took out the fridge slide for weight savings and went to a single burner stove.

We can still cook outside on the TG or a table if desired, or if its messy/splattery type of cooking, but we don’t, because it’s too easy inside. Having the full back of the camper open, even in marginally bad weather means we don’t feel shut away inside, but just protected. And set up take down is less than a minute cause the stove is permanently on the counter (but moveable easily).
 

Dave in AZ

Active member
O
Well, this is what we used to do in the first few months of having a camper.
View attachment 810788
But we got the camper to have a place to get out of the bad weather after decades of tent camping, so as soon as we got basic interior build stuff done like electrical and insulation, I made a fairly minamalist cabinet and counter we could cook on standing up inside. We still use the tailgate/slide out counter/fridge slide combo, but between the set up hassle and the frequent windy/rainy/dusty shoulder season days we ending up cooking (really reheating, mostly) inside a lot. To the point we quit packing the pullout counter and recently took out the fridge slide for weight savings and went to a single burner stove.

We can still cook outside on the TG or a table if desired, or if its messy/splattery type of cooking, but we don’t, because it’s too easy inside. Having the full back of the camper open, even in marginally bad weather means we don’t feel shut away inside, but just protected. And set up take down is less than a minute cause the stove is permanently on the counter (but moveable easily).
Ok dstefan, this may be the most applicable to me actually. I am getting the TuneM1, on a 6ft bed Tacoma, so basically same as OVRLND except wider up top. Your Tundra is 6" wider truckbed, but the Tune is 72" wide after it flares out, so maybe 12" wider than yours at counter height?

So I can see just doing an indoor kitchen with stoves removable if needed. Now you've got me thinking. I can fit my counter, elec kettle, and Coleman double burner all inside pretty easy.

If I make a cabinet at side gullwing door, that can also be accessed from inside, I can grab stuff easy and cook inside or out. Need to go mick this up.

Still hoping to hear more thoughts and philosophy of how and where folks like to cook in their pickup popups!
 

Bergger

Explorer
We use the side kitchen setup and have a minimal cooking set up inside our ATO Summit topper. I'm not a fan of slide outs. They are very expensive, unless you build your own, are generally quite heavy, and take up too much interior space in my opinion. We have a batwing 270 awning on the passenger side and use a light weight folding table with a camp kitchen packed in a Dewalt tough system box. It is portable, light weight and inexpensive. Our fridge is kept in cab of the truck and we also have a collapsible sink with a faucet/running water in the bed of the truck. I keep a backpacking stove and cook set inside the topper which allows us to make coffee and oatmeal in the morning if we just don't feel like going outside. It also allows for simple dinners if necessary. It' is a simple and flexible system that works for us. It also leaves us plenty of floor space inside for our two chairs to chill out in. Here is a not so great photo of the interior of the topper. Having the main kitchen out on the side of the truck allows for a nice roomy space.

topper interior.jpg
 

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