Yakima Open Range Deluxe Review: A Modular Camp Kitchen Worthy of a Michelin-Star Chef

CAMPING GEAR

The Open Range Deluxe is an unfolding camp kitchen that fixes onto the Yakima modular hitch rack or stands on its own legs. So, you can cook like a pro anywhere in the backcountry.

Cooking while camping usually involves compromise. There’s never enough counter space for prep. Washing dishes is typically awkward and unpleasant. And there’s rarely easy access to the tools of the trade, like utensils, spices, and plates.

Plus, provisions are often packed away somewhere they’re hard to find and keep track of.

But now, Yakima’s Open Range Deluxe camp kitchen lets camp chefs step it up. The rotomolded plastic box has a metal side table for a stove, a bamboo table with a built-in sink and cutting board, a silverware drawer, a utensil holder, a lantern hook, and more. And when you’re packing up, nearly all the parts and pieces store inside the box.

What’s more, the kitchen sits on a quick-adjust freestanding base, or it clicks into Yakima’s modular Exo rack. Which leaves more space inside the car for other gear.

In short: The Yakima Open Range Deluxe is one of the most robust and utilitarian camp kitchen setups we’ve tested. Not only does it provide ample storage and organization opportunities, and not only does it pack down into an easily storable container, but it also fixes onto a hitch system so you don’t even have to fit it in the car.

It’s an expensive piece of gear (starting at $1,199). But it’s one that significantly upgrades any campsite you’re using it at. For car campers who wish they had a van, this kitchen will help bridge the gap.

The Exo System

In 2001, Yamika introduced the Exo hitch rack, a modular rack with a host of mix-and-match accessories. The available add-ons included an upper deck, a bike rack, spacious storage boxes, cargo racks that convert to a wagon, a ski holder, a table, and more.

The Open Range Deluxe is the latest Exo accessory.

Yakima Open Range Deluxe: Review

Yakima Open Range Deluxe; (Photo/Yakima)
(Photo/Yakima)

Packable and Portable

What’s most unique about the Open Range Deluxe is that most of the kitchen — everything but the metal table made to hold your camp stove — fits inside the locking Open Range box. That includes the wood side table with cutting board, the collapsible wash basin and drain hose, the flexible fuel hose and hanging fuel canister pouch, and Yakima’s CookOut two-burner stove.

When I got to camp, I had everything to get set up at my fingertips, all in one place. That let me assemble my kitchen in minutes.

Like all of the Exo accessories, the Open Range sits on the Yakima’s Exo’s Swing Base or Top Shelf. It clicks in place with twisting, locking knobs. The box closes with SKS latches that can also be locked.

The kitchen can be used with Yakima’s Open Range Leg Kit, a $199 base that’s sold separately. Because I like to set up camp with the option to drive to a trailhead without packing up, the leg kit was essential for me.

The Open Range’s rotomolded plastic box is the core of the system. It has a rubber door gasket that kept rain, dust, mud, and mice out. I stored the various Open Range accessories in the box for transport and at home. And when I got to camp and set up my kitchen, I loaded food into the 85L locking box where I could access it easily.

The box was also a handy spot to leave pots and pans, as well as glasses, silverware, and plates. A mesh utensil holder slid into channels at the back of the box. That’s where I stored spoons and spatulas, as well as paper towels, spices, and a lighter.

Yakima Open Range Deluxe; (Photo/Yakima)
(Photo/Yakima)

Attaching side tables to the box took seconds. The box with the two side tables is the backbone of the kitchen. Side tables attach to side rails or directly to the box.

I could choose from three positions for my work surfaces depending on if the box was on the top or bottom tier of my rack, on the Leg Kit, or somewhere else. Tables came with easily adjustable and extremely sturdy legs that compressed for storage.

When I folded down the box’s front door, I gained an additional prep surface as well as access to the box contents.

What I Loved

Cooking with the Yakima Open Range Deluxe
(Photo/Berne Broudy)

This modular kitchen is compact and utilitarian. Even when shoved into the hatch of a car instead of latched onto the Exo rack, it took up a moderate amount of space. When I was sleeping in a tent, or sleeping in the back of my truck, this kitchen gave me the comforts of cooking in a camper without taking up precious real estate inside my vehicle.

It was quick to set up and added to the overall ambiance of my backcountry adventures.

The Open Range Deluxe is also flexible; it can be personalized. And Yakima solves a lot of the challenges of camp cooking with the setup.

The bamboo countertop has a cutout for the included basin. A cutting board covers the basin hole. Or it covers the basin in the hole, leaving the sink ready for dirty dishes post-prep. The sink has a drain hose that can be positioned to empty the basin into a gray water bucket for proper disposal.

Yakima Open Range Deluxe - basin cutout; (Photo/Yakima)
(Photo/Yakima)

The plastic box is tough, and it’s easy to clean, with built-in drink holders. The metal table has a towel rack on the end that also supports a fuel canister coozie with a hook.

I’ve used a lot of other portable camp kitchens, including iKamper’s AIOKS Outdoor Kitchen System, a wheeling storage box that origamis into a low wooden table with built-in stove burners, and Sylvan Sports’ Din-o-Max Camp Kitchen.

Both cost less than half what this system does.

The Sylvan took longer to set up and pack up. The AIOKS low table with the built-in burners was dog head height, which resulted in stolen snacks and my having to sit to cook. It’s extremely cool for hibachi-style campsite dinners but wasn’t as adept for making pancakes, spaghetti, and other common campsite meals. And there was no sink.

While the AIOKS is much lighter (20 pounds versus 67.5 pounds), it didn’t fit into the trunk as well as the Open Range Deluxe, and there was no rack-mount option.

Room for Improvement

The lantern hook swung around when I had a lantern hanging from it. That made it hard to control the light. And grooves molded into the top of the box are great for drainage, but they weren’t great for balancing condiments like olive oil.

I wished for a second lantern hook both for a place to put another light and to hang a gravity water filter. I made one out of a piece of metal I had hanging around. Yakima doesn’t seem to sell spares.

Most parts and pieces of the system pack into the box for storage. But the metal stove-supporting table does not, which made me wonder: Why not make it smaller or design it to fold so everything can go inside the box? That table and its leg need to be stored in a fabric case. The stove also comes with a fabric case that keeps it from rattling and potential damage inside the box.

I almost wish this system had two boxes — one to store the countertops and stove, and one for food, plates, and other kitchen essentials, though the impact on the price would likely be too much.

Price Prohibitive?

There is no question that this camp kitchen is costly. The deluxe rings in at $1,199 plus an additional $199 for the Open Range Leg Kit. Buy the Open Range — not the Open Range Deluxe — for $749, and it includes the mesh organizer and lantern hook, but no side tables ($149 each), and no stove.

If you have a two-burner camp stove, you can save a few bucks. But this is still a kitchen for a camper with money to spend, who is seeking the convenience of a ready-made solution and not counting pennies.

Yakima Open Range Deluxe: Conclusion

Yakima Open Range Deluxe - testing
(Photo/Berne Broudy)

Packing for a trip sometimes feels like it takes longer than the trip itself. To have a kitchen in a box that I can chuck into the back of my car or truck, or clip onto my Exo rack was amazing. I never feel like I have enough counter space when I am cooking at a campsite, and this setup gave me all the space I needed.

En route to camp, the Open Range box held most parts of the system. In camp, I also used it to hold pots, pans, plates, drinkware, and food. Clipped shut, the box keeps out critters and weather. So, it was great for storing provisions away from mice and other animals.

As a wanna-be van lifer, it expanded what I was able to cook, and the vibe of my campsites too.

Check Price at REICheck Price at Amazon

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