Alite – Monarch Camp Chairs

Some of the best things you can do involve sitting down. I’ve sat watching sunrise on a deserted beach. I’ve sat and watched llamas at Macchu Pichu. And I’ve sat at the top of many mountains trying to hide my lack of breath from those nauseating fit people all around me. So I appreciate a good chair and how it can enhance my enjoyment of the outdoors.

Once in a while a chair comes along which stops people in their tracks. The 2 Monarch chairs I got 2 years ago in the US proved so popular that I was asked to bring back 6 more on my last trip, and when I took them to Glastonbury last year I lost track of the number of times people in various states of consciousness asked where they could get one.

The Alite Monarch chair is unlike any other camping chair you may have seen. For a start, it only has two legs, and instead of sitting ‘on’ it, you sit ‘in’ it. Sounds weird, and the first few times you sit in it, it is weird. But it’s surprisingly comfortable, even for long periods.

You have to use your own legs to support yourself in the Monarch. Sounds like a bit of a chore, but it’s not. You can straighten or bend your legs as you wish and you instinctively adjust your own balance point. Kids love it. As do adults – especially drunk ones for some reason. And I hereby challenge anyone sitting in a Monarch NOT to try balancing on just the chair legs themselves, which is an addictive and very funny game to play and watch.

Made from aluminium poles (a bit like tent-poles in thickness terms) and very strongly stitched coated nylon fabric, my 2-year old chairs have survived dozens of camping trips, festivals and motorcycle tours unscathed. And although they may look flimsy, I’ve seen some hefty biker types sit in them without a bother or creaking pole.

The Monarchs weigh in at 510g (180z) which is significantly less than 2 cans of coke, and they pack down to about the size of a single walking boot. Perfect for backpacking or touring. Much, much less hassle than a traditional camping chair, and much more comfortable than a stool.

And lastly, since you’re so low to the ground when you’re in a Monarch, they work brilliantly for sitting IN a tent. We took a couple to Scotland and spent a whole, very wet day sat in our tent porch off the floor and above the puddles.

SUMMARY: The Monarch chairs are brilliant. Lightweight, hard-wearing, a great talking point and fun. How many camping chairs can you say that about?! OK, so you have to import them from the US, but in my opinion, they’re worth it.

  • I considered buying this chair, as I spend a lot of time cycle (stealth) camping, but eventually went with the SlingLight. Maybe next time…

  • pob06

    Borrowed one of these from at a biker camping weekend. Excellent piece of kit (handled even my ‘ample’ frame with no issues). Superlightweight and packs down tiny – perfect for hiding in my motorcycle luggage.
    4 hammers rating only because of cost and I havent found a UK distributor yet.