Camping chairs are like the bums which park in them: some are big, some small, some are built for comfort and others are minimalist and streamlined. Some have terrific upholstery while others are a bit baggy and saggy around the middle.
Everyone has a favourite type.
So having been given four completely different offerings by Gelert there was only one way to test them – head-to-head-to-head-to-head.
As luck would have it there were four of us on holiday during the test, meaning the chairs could be passed around at leisure, and with a fortnight in which to try them out it was only natural that we’d start to develop favourites while learning to hate others.
We decided the test should be based on the following criteria, with each category rated out of five marks. More by luck than judgement this meant that once all the marks were totted-up we could come up with a final percentage rating and, thus, a winner:
• Comfort – Can the user slouch, sit up straight, curl up, stretch out etc…?
• Assembly – How quick and easy is the process between bag and bum?
• Features – Everyone needs a cup holder, right?
• Packability – Is the chair portable? Will it stow away in the boot without fuss?
• Value for money – Is it worth the shekels?
Our actual final test, which was held after the fortnight was almost up and we’d all had time to test drive the chairs ourselves, saw them set out in a line before a notepad was passed between us all for the ratings. Like a 10-year-old’s birthday party we’d then all swap seats and start again. There was even cake.
If I’m totally honest about it… we looked a bit simple. It didn’t help that fellow tester Joe took it upon himself to pack the chairs away and run full-pelt around the site with each in turn. He never really explained why and we were all a bit too scared to ask. He seemed pleased with himself though.
A couple who started pitching their tent nearby even decided against it halfway through and shifted to a safer distance. They really did.
So, to the results. Let’s go from lowest-rated up. The comments were recorded during the test and the hammer ratings – as always – are based on how they made us feel on average despite the final scores.
Price – £44.99 RRP
More info: Gelert – Caldera Moon Chair
Mrs Muz – Uncomfortable, overpriced, bit pointless.
Joe – Would never buy it, even if it was the only option. Uncomfortable and expensive.
Vix – Wouldn’t buy it. Not big enough to curl up in – which seems to be the idea behind the design.
Muz – Uncomfortable cos it cuts off circulation in the back of your thighs, very expensive for what it is. Looks like it should be comfortable but it’s not.
Price: £34.99 RRP
More info: Gelert – High Back Executive
Vix – Started off hating it – it’s all wrong – not one thing or another, but can sit in many positions – cross legged, curled up etc – my favourite of the four.
Joe – First time I sat in it I fell asleep. Great for snoozing but too slouchy for anything else.
Mrs Muz – Really comfortable for lazing in, rubbish as a sit-up chair – so whether it’s right for you or not it depends on what you want to use it for.
Muz – Very comfortable and slouchy – when I use camping chairs all I want is to be comfortable and slouchy.
Price: £39.99 RRP
More info: Gelert – Castleton XL Executive
Joe – Standard folding camping chair like millions of others – equivalents can be found cheaper elsewhere.
Vix – Doesn’t justify the price. Nothing wrong with it though.
Muz – Standard fayre – dull and dependable.
Mrs Muz – Pretty standard camping chair, but the two cup holders are quite useful.
Price: £44.99 RRP
More info: Gelert – Milldale Executive
Joe – Ace. Favourite chair – buy one of these. Worth a tenner more than a standard camping chair. Adjustable features, great car packability – by far the best for car packing.
Vix – Functional but not uncomfortable.
Muz – The back is a bit too straight for me. It appears to be slightly over engineered, possibly with the clinically obese in mind. I’ve marked it down on packability because it doesn’t come with a bag, so dust and spider-free storage at home isn’t really possible.
Mrs Muz – Sturdy, and utterly brilliant if you have a bad back, more comfortable than it looks – bit stiff at first but soon loosens up. Good cup holder/book pocket/stuff pocket combo. My favourite by a mile.
There’s a standard design for the most common type of camping chair – back, seat, two arms and a cup holder – the £40 Castleton XL Executive fits that bill perfectly with a second cup holder thrown in. Pretty much run-of-the-mill, but the design works which is why it’s so popular.
Deviating slightly away from that the £35 High Back takes a more relaxed approach to life and although the design is similar to ‘standard’ it increases the comfort stakes with a more sloping back and good head support. This was the favourite chair of both Muz and Vix.
The £45 Caldera Moon Chair was, to all intents and purposes, an abject failure. Other than having no features whatsoever, its main Achilles heel was the frame which dug in to the backs of everyone’s thighs and started cutting off the blood flow. Falling asleep in it like that would likely result in amputation.
Two of the marks it was given in the features and VFM categories were sympathy points.
As victor by a long chalk, the £45 Milldale Executive was the surprising winner and the favourite of both Mrs Muz and Joe.
Even our camping neighbour – and complete stranger – Canada Jim, who we decided to ask for opinions one drunken evening during the ‘scenic’ photoshoot, chose this as his winner. He described it as a “working chair” but I was so busy telling him he was wrong that I forgot to ask what he meant by that.
Later we decided that because of its fairly upright seating position, it meant you can use it to relax if you want but then you can change position to ‘do’ stuff in it. Stuff like whittling sticks and gutting fish.
It’s a little bit over-engineered, and the fact you need to lock and unlock the legs is an example of this. The benefit of being the only chair without a carry bag means it can fold flat and it’s easy to carry thanks to a sturdy integral handle. There’s also a Velcro’d-on combined cup holder and pocket along with a paperback book-sized zippy pocket. The fact that this can be shifted to either side was a winner in itself.
NOTE: If you’re wondering about the title ‘Gelert Chair-off of Doooooom’, that was just the phrase of the holiday. We had Suntan Lotion of Doooooom, Books of Doooooom and Beer of Doooooom… among other things.