People tend to obsess on the big things when overlanding and camping, such as overlanding vehicles, roof racks, roof-top-tents, awnings and so on. But it’s the little things – like finding a terrific camp sink – that really make the wilderness feel like home
There’s nothing sexy about cleaning dishes, but it can be particularly frustrating to try to wash dirty utensils and dishes when camping without an adequate dish basin to hold soapy water. A camp sink is one of the most utilitarian pieces of camping gear that will save you time and hassle. They are typically small and portable, providing a lot of bang for your cargo buck
There are a number of space-saving options nowadays, including folding and collapsable sinks. One advantage to bringing a camp sink is that you can conserver your water by using the same soapy water to clean multiple dishes, as opposed to using a constant stream of fresh water for each dish.
This article will explore some camping sinks available in the market and provide details of the benefits of using such items. Also, a simple buyer’s guide will give you tips on what to look for whenever you are shopping for a camping sink as part of your gear.
How to Choose Camping Sinks
There are many camping sinks from different manufacturers available, and knowing what to look for will save you a lot of time. Frankly, they all start to look the same after you’ve surveyed a few. The goal of camping sinks is to hold water and utensils during clean-up. The item shouldn’t take up a lot of space in your camping gear or trunk or your car. Here are some of the features to consider before making a buying decision.
It can be tempting to go for a small sink to save storage space, but you need may well need something large to fit pots. Ideally, anything with a capacity above 5 liters is an excellent camping sink for two or more individuals. There are 20-liter collapsible sinks for overland kitchens that take up very little space when not in use.
Plastic is the most popular material for manufacturing camping sinks. The material is durable, easy to clean, and easy to maintain, not to mention it is affordable. Many plastic washbasins retail for less than $15 per piece. Other manufacturers incorporate silicone or thermoplastic flexible rubber to make collapsible washbasins.
The best camping sinks are a combination of plastic and flexible material. Plastic provides a strong base for the basin and a rigid top rig to hold the basin’s structure. The flexible materials – typically rubber or a waterproof fabric – allow users to fold the basin flat after use. There are a few options for wash buckets made of fabric and steel rings. Fabric camping skinks are particularly lightweight, and they favor explorers who might want to throw them in a backpack for an overnight trip. However, there is always the risk that sharp stones and sticks can make holes in the fabric and destroy the sink, so they take a bit more care.
Ideally, it would be best to have a washbasin that has several functions other than being a basin for washing utensils. Plastic collapsible sinks can double as ice buckets, water holders, or storage containers for knick-knacks when you are on your journey. Some sinks come with side straps or plastic handles that allow you to carry them from one location to another.
Above all, a portable sink for camping should be collapsible, lightweight, and able to fit most of your large utensils and dishes. Also, the material shouldn’t stain easily. Overall, the sink should have various uses, be easy to clean, and store.
It would be best to buy a portable sink that can hold up to regular outdoor adventures. A durable camping sink will withstand the weather elements from hot arid areas to cold areas. Some sinks cannot handle the hot water, and you need to use warm water to clean oily utensils. Avoid sinks that are made of rigid plastics, as these tend to crack under pressure from being packed away and banged around camp. The camp sinks we’ve highlighted below have been well-reviewed for their sturdiness.
Since most outdoor camping sinks use synthetic materials to make them, you must verify they are safe to use. Any plastic sinks should be BPA-free and not contain any harmful materials. Manufacturers and retailers will typically declare if a product is BPA free.
Working with camp sinks requires some caution, particularly if you are dealing with hot water. Some collapsible sinks do not have a strong structure, and they pose the risk of spilling water if you aren’t careful. Look for sinks with wide sturdy bottom that aren’t too tall.
Our Picks for Best Camping Sinks
The camp sinks highlighted below are good for a range of uses, for camping with large groups out of your vehicle to highly-compact sinks that you could throw in a backpack if needed.
BEST FOR GROUPS ON THE GO
Coleman Folding Double Wash Basin
If you are looking for the best camping sink for a larger party, the Coleman Folding Double Wash Basin is a great choice. It comes with two connected sinks, one for washing and another for rinsing utensils. It is portable and folds to the size of a briefcase when you aren’t using it.
The basin dimensions are ample space for washing camping dishes and utensils. It is made of plastic, and it comes with panels that attach to rigid rods to form the seperate basins. This might be overkill for a couple of people, but for groups of three or larger, or if you dirty a lot of dishes in campe, it will do the trick.
- Volume: 22.8 liters
- Size: 20.4 Inches (L), 6.5 Inches (H) x 10.5 inches
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Construction: Plastic
Wakeman Outdoors Collapsible Multiuse Wash Bin
Wakeman Outdoors Collapsible Multiuse Wash Bin is a good choice if you’re looking for a cheap but functional collapsible camp sink. The lightweight sink holds up to 10 liters of water and is available in five colors. The sink is durable, and can withstand the rigors of camp life. It folds down to about 2 in high, which makes it easy to store.
The design incorporates a plastic base and rim for supports and silicone for the remaining parts. You can use it as a washbasin, an ice bucket, or a storage container for knick-knacks when you are off-roading.
- Volume: 10 liters
- Size: 14.75 x 10.75 x 5 inches
- Weight: .7 lbs
- Construction: Plastic/Rubber
UST FlexWare Collapsible Sink
The UST Flexware Collapsible camping sink has a capacity of 8.5 liters, and it comes with dual handles so it can double as a basket. It is made of a plastic base and rim, while the sides are flexible thermoplastic rubber. The sink dimensions are 15 x 11.4 x 5.9 inches, and it folds down flat for easy storage.
The handles on this sink make it useful beyond just washing dishes, such as fetching water or firewood. These are smaller than some other camp sinks in this list, but they collapse to just 1.5 inches thick, so you might consider getting two of them, one for washing and one for rinsing.
- Volume: 8.5 liters
- Size: 15 x 11.4 x 5.9 inches
- Weight: 1.2 lbs
- Construction: Plastic/Rubber
Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink
The Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink is an ultralight camp sink from a highly respected camping gear manufacturer. The sink comes in three sizes: 5, 10, and 20 liters. We’d recommend getting the larger size as it is more versatile, and they are so light and compact, you’ll hardly notice the weight or size difference. When you are done with it, the camp sink folds down into a storage pouch. It’s light and compact enough to easily fit in a backpack. It is made of 70 Denier fabrics with a PU coating, the sort of material one might find in a piece of outerwear.
The bright yellow color of the portable sink makes it easy to locate when you need it. While it’s made with sturdy fabric, it IS fabric, so you’ll need to be cautious about setting it on sharp objects (more so perhaps than the plastic/rubber kitchen sinks.)
- Volume: 20 liters
- Size: 15 x 10 inches
- Weight: 6.6 oz
- Construction: Denier fabric
EVERYTHING AND THE KITCHEN SINK
Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Portable Kitchen
The Coleman Pack-Away Deluxe Portable Kitchen is far more than just a sink. It’s a fold-out table kitchen system that provides a platform for preparing, cooking, and cleaning up after meals. We own one and love it. The sink is integrated into the table, which is convenient for washing up, as the table and wire racks provide a working space and a place to dry wet dishes.
The obvious downside with this table is its size and weight and it’s not something you want to be putting up and down frequently. If you are planning to camp at one location for multiple days, love to prepare complex meals, or are camping with a large party, this portable kitchen can come in really handy. If you’re looking to lighten your load while over challenging off-road terrain or have limited cargo capacity, this is probably overkill.
- Overall Size: 73.3 x 19.7 x 79 inches
- Weight: 36.5 pounds
- Construction: Aluminum/plastic
Let That Sink In
There is nothing particularly fancy about the collapsible sinks on the list, but they will come in handy when you are exploring. You can expect to pay no more than $25 for a durable and functional outdoor sink. Expect to pay more if you opt for sinks with a stand and a structure that resembles your kitchen sink at all.
The more elaborate sinks may be a good choice if you will be camped out in one spot for a number of days and what the convenience of having decent kitchen infrastructure. There are many sinks available for overland kitchens, and we hope this article helps cut through some of the noise. While a sink isn’t the fanciest piece of gear, a good one can be a real asset in camp.