Editor’s Note: Read this and other stories in the April issue of Woodall’s Campground Management, now going out to 14,000 RV parks and campgrounds across North America.

The "V Bench" from Fireside Furniture

In many ways, the furniture and accessories that spruce up a campground and individual campsites can help make a camping experience complete.

So, insiders suggest that park operators not be too shortsighted in selecting this important equipment.

The latest trends in picnic tables, benches and other campground equipment, say the manufacturers of these key campground components, can be wood, recycled plastic, steel, traditional or “classic” and even artistic.

R.J. Thomas Manufacturing Co.’s products provide a few examples, from steel-framed tables with colorful recycled plastic tops to a diverse array of bike rack designs, according to Marketing Manager Bob Simonsen.

“The most popular bicycle racks are still the traditional designs,” Simonsen said, “the ones that sit on the ground and provide a hoop for the bike tire. These are the least expensive, very durable and people still recognize them for what they are.”

Simonsen sees a “definite trend,” however, toward more variety of colors for tables, which lately tend to feature more colorful recycled plastic lumber and thermoplastic-coated steel components. “Both materials have the advantage of being very durable outside,” he added.

Gerber Manufacturing of Madison, Wis., offers tables with wood tops and benches as well as recycled materials. President Chuck Gerber noted that the recycled-content products are growing in popularity despite their higher cost.

“The weather doesn’t bother it,” Gerber said of the durable, maintenance-free plastic lumber made from recycled milk jugs. “Food won’t soak into it; it’s easy to clean and it always looks nice.”

Other manufacturers focus on classic, tried-and-true designs for their campground products, including Leo Helsen, owner and president of Fireside Furniture LLC, Ravenna, Mich. Helsen’s company fashions ponderosa pine into precut, predrilled kits that are shipped throughout much of the U.S. Its product line includes campfire benches as well as picnic tables.

Allen Smith, president of Chadwick Mfg. Ltd., Chadwick, Ill., likes to stick with products that have worked well in the past, including an “old favorite” picnic table frame that the company has offered for nearly 40 years.

The Pioneer Grill from The Perfect Campfire Grill

Newer products for campground owners and campers include a 63-inch-wide fire pit that features both a grill and a pot hanger, from Frosty’s Park Equipment, Morristown, Tenn. Jamestown Advanced Products of Jamestown, N.Y., recently introduced its new Fire View Ring, which Sales Manager Robb Jones says was designed to meet U.S. Forest Service standards for accessibility, allowing individuals with disabilities to cook more easily while enjoying a few of the fire.

Campground owners and guests may be seeing more visitors arriving with their own portable grills, as business continues to grow for The Perfect Campfire Grill, Ortonville, Mich. President Jeffrey Walker started manufacturing portable grills in 2005 and offers three different models for campers who want to take their grill along on their travels.