There seem to be two very different ways of approaching food on tour. Some of us, mindful of how much we’re saving by paying a campsite’s nominal fees rather than a hotel’s or B&B’s daily rates, accept that eating out a lot is part and parcel of going away in a caravan. OK, we may use our caravan kitchen to slap together breakfast and snacks, but we’ll let someone else take the strain for main meals. After all, isn’t that what picturesque country pubs are for?

But then there’s the alternative view. A relaxing break is exactly the time to indulge yourself with those culinary experiments you’ve been meaning to do for ages, but simply don’t get the chance to try at home.

If you’re in the latter camp, you might have found it all too easy to cram your van’s cupboards with every conceivable device and cooking aid. Take along stockpots, colanders, bowls and other unavoidably bulky items, and it won’t take long for those cupboards to become an overloaded nightmare. This is particularly true in compact vans.

One solution is to invest in the ever-expanding range of compact and collapsible cookware that’s now available for camping.

Encompassing everything from folding mugs to soup and serving bowls, storage boxes, clothes baskets, washing-up basins and even oven-ready stockpots, compact crockery and camping accessories have become massively popular over the past couple of years. 

Outwell, Coleman, Kamps, Olpro, Easycamp, Gelert and Lifeventure all make this kind of camping product. However, different companies have taken very different approaches to these products. Collapsible silicone and metal (or silicone and plastic) items have become most common, but that hasn’t prevented companies pursuing other extremely innovative solutions. This factor makes direct comparisons a little tricky. 

We discussed at length whether a Practical Caravan Test Bench feature scrutinising one silicone bowl against numerous similar products would be of that much use or interest. Instead, we’re looking at what the leading names in leisure accessories offer in terms of compact and collapsible cookware and accessories. To arrive at an overall score, we’ve considered how each firm’s products rate in terms of durability, price and usability. 

We’ve also factored in comprehensiveness. If you go down the compact/collapsible route – which may be the only option if you take your cooking seriously, but don’t have a lot of storage space, you’re likely to want all of your items to match. That’s possible if a company’s range covers all the items you’re likely to want.

With all that in mind, here are our findings. We tested the Coleman range, priced from £8.99 for a folding double wash basin to £28 for an All in One Container. We checked out the Olpro Happy Camper Range, costing from £6.99 for a Happy Taste to £8.99 for Compleat bags and Happy Cutting. We also tried Kampa’s range, priced from £5.99 for a set of three bowls to £15 for a kettle. Finally, we tested the Outwell Collaps Range, priced from £4.49 for a small bowl to £40 for a large storage box, which is the focus of this review.

Outwell was one of the first companies to launch collapsible cookware, which is why its range is currently unrivalled in terms of comprehensiveness. If you intend to go completely down the collapsible route, and want everything to match, Outwell is the best option at the moment. 

The range encompasses the usuals, such as folding mugs, serving bowls in three sizes and washing-up bowls; it also includes oven-ready stockpots, colanders, buckets, large baskets, storage boxes, lunch boxes and two sizes of kettle. 

Almost all items come in red, green, black and blue. There’s even a deluxe option — at least for bowls and chopping boards — which merges the folding silicone with plush, polished bamboo.