TK | Trail Kitchens Cooking on the Road Made Easy

An example of a modular unit for vehicle with a wood finish. | Priya Hutner

Camping is one of the simple pleasures in life, and with so many places to explore the options are endless. Car camping is one of the easiest ways to camp. Some folks don’t cook while camping, but instead bring easy-to-eat, ready-made meals or search for a restaurant. Some want a hearty meal before setting off on a journey or after a hard day’s hike.

Hans Wain of TK Trail Kitchens makes car-camp cooking easier with accessible, modular, camp-kitchen units manufactured in Truckee. No more lugging huge bins of pots, pans and utensils; packing grocery bags of snacks and quick bites or finding the nearest tree stump to lean your cutting board on to prep a meal.

“ I was so tired of two Tupperware containers and bags of this and that. With this system everything stays in a compact box and folds out into a sturdy table,” says Wain, a 30-year local and outdoor enthusiast, who recognized a need in the camping industry.

TK Trail Kitchens offers a number of units for the car camper. First is the King Charles Chuck Box, an all-in-one unit, with a place for utensils, pots and plates, bowls and a storage shelf for a camp stove. The next incarnation, the Compact Camp Kitchen, includes telescoping legs for quick-and-easy setup and a counter that folds out. The TK Camp Kitchen setup provides all that, more storage and counter space. The next step up is the Camp Kitchen with a two-burner stove and wheels. The company also sells camp gear, such as nesting plates and pots and pan setups.

Hans Wain in his showroom with a modular camp kitchen unit. | Priya Hutner

TK Trail Kitchens expanded its market to modular systems for vans, Jeep Wranglers and Subarus. This has become its largest market. The van kitchen is the largest unit; you can cook inside or take the unit outside. Interlocking modular systems allow vehicle owners to choose from small and compact to a full buildout. Models include sink features, which can be hooked to a hose for pressurized water and attached to a portable hot-water heater. Some models have a slide-out shelf for top opening refrigerators. There are units with 14-gallon water tanks and sinks. The modular kitchen units fit into Sprinter-types vans, standard vans and mini-vans. Components are freestanding and mount to the floor to insure no rattling noises. It’s easy to slip a unit in with a two-burner stove, sink and storage and drive off into the sunset.

Wain showed me one of the pop-up vans he was working on. Components were placed over the wheel wells effectively utilizing space. Another big seller is the Water Boy Camp Sink with a hose and hook-up to a propane hot-water heater so campers can enjoy a hot shower no matter where they are roaming.

Wain explained that the most he’s cooked for with his units was at a three-day birthday party for 40 people. A recent National Geographic documentary showed a group of explorers on a UTV trip from the Bering Sea to Mexico; they used TK Trail Kitchens on their journey.

Before starting TK Trail Kitchens, Wain spent 20 years working in the outdoor industry designing tents, packs, ultralight back-country gear and hydro packs. When he was younger, he spent time in the Yukon and worked as a gold miner. He continues to camp and is passionate about the outdoors. His company can ship units to anyone customizing his or her van. Kitchen units can be assembled and installed in two days. | trailkitchens.com