Bring on the summer of staycations.

By Betsy Cribb
Updated May 28, 2020
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Pitiphat Kanjanamukda

We’re spending more time at home than ever, and now, with school winding down and the days getting longer, the backyard is quickly becoming our go-to destination. With timeless outdoor wicker furniture and laidback Adirondack chairs, porches and patios become comfortable extensions of the living room. Add some kid-friendly lawn games and you’ve got a veritable outdoor playroom. There’s one game, though, that can really dial up the vacation vibes and bring the whole family together for some friendly competition: ping pong.

From canceled trips to limited interaction with friends and extended family, this summer is going to be like no other, so if ever there were a year to invest in your at-home outdoor entertainment options, this is it! We’re officially dubbing 2020 the Year of the Outdoor Ping Pong Table. Here’s what to consider as you shop.

First things first: All ping pong tables are not created equal, so yes, you do need to buy an outdoor-specific table. Indoor tables may warp when exposed to direct sunlight and moisture, even if left outside for just a short period of time. So while you may be able to find an indoor ping pong table that’s less expensive than its outdoor counterpart, the savings won’t be worth it in the long run if you plan to play primarily outside.

Dick's Sporting Goods

Second, think about your family’s specific needs. If you want a ping pong table that lives in the backyard year-round and caters to players of all ages, it’s likely worth the extra investment for something that’s especially sturdy and weather-proof, like this aluminum-top Prince Odyssey All-Weather Table Tennis Table. (Most tables like this one fall in the $500-700 range; this one rings in at $699.) For an option that comes with a little less sticker shock and takes up about half the space of a standard table, there’s the Prince Half Pint Table Tennis Table for $130. It comes in four colors, plus it’s portable so you can stow it away in the garage when you’re not using it. That said, it's probably not one you'd want to leave outside for long stretches of time.

Not sold on buying a table? Consider this: Ping pong just might be the perfect game for the times. Given the space and lack of contact between players, it’s a pretty solid option as far as social distancing-friendly sports go, especially if you keep hand sanitizer and wipes on deck to disinfect paddles and balls between matches. Game, set, sanitize!

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