Yakima Open Range Deluxe review: A modular camp kitchen worthy of a Michelin-starred chef
The Open Range Deluxe is a fold-out camp kitchen that attaches to the Yakima Modular Hitch Rack or stands on its own. So you can cook like a pro anywhere in the backcountry.
Cooking while camping usually involves compromises. There’s never enough counter space for prep. Washing dishes is usually clumsy and unpleasant. And there’s rarely easy access to the tools of the trade, like utensils, spices and plates.
In addition, supplies are often stored in a place where they are difficult to find and follow.
But now, Yakima Luxury Open Range the camp kitchen allows camp chefs to step it up. The rotomolded plastic box includes a metal side table for a stove, a bamboo table with an integrated sink and cutting board, a cutlery drawer, a utensil holder, a lantern hook, and more. And when you’re packing, almost all parts and pieces fit inside the box.
Additionally, the kitchen sits on a quick-adjust freestanding base or snaps into Yakima’s Exo modular rack. This leaves more space inside the car for other equipment.
In short: The Yakima Open Range Deluxe is one of the sturdiest and most utilitarian camp kitchen setups we’ve tested. Not only does it provide plenty of storage and organization, and not only does it fit in an easy-to-store container, it also attaches to a hitch system so you don’t even have to install it . in the car.
It’s an expensive piece of equipment (starting at $1,199). But it’s one that dramatically improves any campsite you use it at. For drive-in campers who wish they had a van, this kitchen will help bridge the gap.
The Exo system
In 2001, Yamika presented the Exo hitch rack, a modular rack with a multitude of accessories to combine. Available add-ons included an overhead deck, bike rack, spacious storage boxes, luggage racks that convert to a wagon, ski rack, table, and more.
The Open Range Deluxe is the latest Exo accessory.
Yakima Open Range Deluxe: Review
Packable and portable
What’s most unique about the Open Range Deluxe is that most of the kitchen – everything but the metal table designed to hold your camping stove – fits inside the lockable Open Range box. This includes the wooden side table with chopping board, collapsible sink and drain hose, flexible fuel hose and hanging fuel canister pocket, and Yakima CookOut Two Burner Stove.
When I arrived at camp, I had everything to settle in at hand, all in one place. It allowed me to assemble my kitchen in minutes.
Like all Exo accessories, the open range is found on the swivel base or top shelf of the Yakima Exo. It engages with twist and lock knobs. The box closes with SKS latches which can also be locked.
The kitchen can be used with Yakima Open Range Leg Kit, a $199 base sold separately. Because I like setting up camp with the ability to get to a trailhead without packing, the leg kit was essential for me.
The Open Range’s rotomolded plastic housing is the heart of the system. It has a rubber door seal that keeps rain, dust, mud, and mice out. I stored the various Open Range accessories in the box for transport and at home. And when I arrived at camp and set up my kitchen, I loaded food into the 85 liter lockable box where I could easily access it.
The box was also a handy place to leave pots and pans, as well as glasses, silverware, and plates. A mesh utensil holder slipped into channels in the back of the box. This is where I stowed spoons and spatulas, as well as paper towels, spices and a lighter.
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 the side rails or directly to the box.
I could choose from three positions for my work surfaces depending on whether the box was on the top or bottom tier of my rack, on the leg kit, or somewhere else. The tables come with easily adjustable and extremely sturdy legs that compress for storage.
When I folded down the front door of the box, I gained additional prep space as well as access to the contents of the box.
What I liked
This modular kitchen is compact and utilitarian. Even when shoved into a car hatch instead of latched onto the Exo rack, it took up moderate space. When I slept in a attemptedor sleeping in the back of my truck, this kitchen gave me the convenience of cooking in an RV without taking up valuable real estate inside my vehicle.
It was quick to set up and added to the overall vibe of my backcountry adventures.
The Open Range Deluxe is also flexible; it can be customized. And Yakima solves many camp cooking challenges with setup.
The bamboo countertop has a cutout for the sink included. A cutting board covers the basin hole. Or it covers the pelvis in the hole, leaving the sink ready for dirty dishes after prep. The sink has a drain hose which can be positioned to empty the basin into a bucket of gray water for proper disposal.
The plastic box is strong and easy to clean, with built-in cup holders. The metal table has a towel rack at the end that also holds a fuel canister coozie with a hook.
I have used many others portable camping kitchensincluding iKamper AIOKS Outdoor Kitchen Systema rolling storage box that origami in a wooden coffee table with built-in stove burners, and Sylvan Sports Din-o-Max Camp Kitchen.
Both cost less than half of what this system does.
The Sylvan took longer to install and pack. The AIOKS coffee table with the built-in burners was at dog’s head height which resulted in snacks being stolen and I having to sit down to cook. It’s extremely cool for hibachi-style camping dinners, but wasn’t as adept at making pancakes, spaghetti, and other common camping meals. And there was no sink.
Although the AIOKS is much lighter (20 pounds versus 67.5 pounds), it doesn’t fit in the trunk as well as the Open Range Deluxe, and there was no rackmount option.
Room for improvement
The lantern hook pivoted when I had a lantern hanging from it. This made it difficult to control the light. And the molded grooves in the top of the can are great for drainage, but they weren’t great for balancing condiments like olive oil.
I wanted a second lantern hook both to put another light on and to hang a gravity water filter. I made one out of a piece of metal I had dragged around. Yakima does not seem to sell spare parts.
Most parts and parts of the system are packed in the box for storage. But that’s not the case with the metal table that supports the stove, which made me wonder: why not scale it down or design it to bend so everything can fit inside the box? This table and its leg must be stored in a fabric case. The stove also comes with a fabric cover that prevents it from rattling and getting damaged inside the box.
I almost wish this system had two boxes – one for storing counters and the stove, and one for food, plates and other kitchen essentials, although the price impact would probably be too great.
There is no doubt that this camp kitchen is expensive. The luxury rings in at $1,199 plus an additional $199 for the Open Range leg kit. Buy it 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 dollars. But it’s still a kitchen for a camper with cash to spare, who wants the convenience of a ready-made solution without counting the pennies.
Yakima Open Range Deluxe: conclusion
Packing for a trip sometimes feels like it takes longer than the trip itself. Having a kitchen in a box that I can slide in 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 cooking at a campsite, and this setup gave me all the space I needed.
En route to camp, the Open Range box contained most of the system components. At camp I have also used it to hold pots, pans, plates, glasses and food. Clipped, the box protects against bugs and bad weather. So it was ideal for storing supplies away from mice and other animals.
As a budding van lifer it expanded what I could cook and the vibe of my campsites too.