Best Camping Chairs

Camping is good fun, and many people love pending time in the great outdoors amongst nature. Evenings spent sitting around your campfire talking and telling campfire stories. But nobody really likes sitting on the cold and sometimes damp ground. So, what can you do to solve this problem? The answer is to bring something portable to sit on. But items you want to use to sit on can be heavy and take up space, so if you don’t have a good camping chair, you might just bring a small ground sheet and sit on the floor.

A day spent in the warmth of the sun watching the waves lap against the shore as children splash in the surf and lovers walk hand in hand down the beach can be wonderful. Sitting on you towel under your umbrella using your cooler as a backrest can get uncomfortable after awhile, all because a camping/beach chair was just too much to carry, along with the cooler, umbrella and picnic. So, why not take some time and invest in a lightweight, portable camping chair?

There are so many options available on the market today when you want to find a portable camping chair, it can take some time to research. So, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best camping chairs to cut out the work for you, and we’ll also discuss some criteria points for evaluation to help you make your decision.

Last Updated: November 24, 2017
By Kristina Nelson:

 

To make sure we’ve given you the most recent top choices from each brands’ product line, we’ve updated this buying guide.

 

Our Top 3 Picks

Helinox Chair One
  • Helinox Chair One
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Alite Monarch
  • Alite Monarch
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Good for uneven ground
  • Price: See Here
Helinox Chair Zero
  • Helinox Chair Zero
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ideal for backpacking
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Camping chairs

 

Helinox Chair One

This is the chair that revolutionized the lightweight camping chair market. First produced in 2012 the “Chair One” has won the red dot design award and was voted the best outdoor accessory at the Munich ISPO in 2013.
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Materials: The frame is made of TH72M titanium and aluminum mix alloy giving it strength and lightness and covered with a high strength non-stretch fabric, it can easily support your weight with a maximum capacity of 145kg. Once you have assembled the chair which is easy with the elastic shock cord linking frame, the carry bag can be attached to the frame to store things, such as a camera, cell phone or flashlight.
Fabrics: You get a high-strength, non-stretch fabric with this chair. Without the extra ground sheet the chair will sink in to sand when you sit in it.
Uses: The chair is not a normal folding camp chair and needs to be assembled. Although this is easy and very quick to do if you want a folding type of chair this is not what you need. But if you want a lightweight and comfortable chair then you have found it.
Construction: The “Chair One” is incredibly light at only 890 grams and packs into a small lunch box size bag. The frame is designed to flex a small amount enabling it to mold to your body shape. When packed the carry bag has a webbing ladder and two loops making it easy to attach to a backpack of a motorbike. If you plan to use this chair in the sand then the optional ground sheet is a must to stop the legs from sinking into the sand or soft muddy ground. And if it gets cold you can use the optional duck filled seat warmer.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Strong frame
  • Adaptable to your body shape
Cons
  • Requires a ground sheet
  • Needs assembly

Alite Monarch

The Monarch is like the butterfly; it shares its name with very light and is designed to be able to travel vast distances. If you need a light chair for a long journey this might just do it.
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Materials: The chair is very light weighing only 586 grams. Its 7000 aluminum frame and 210D ripstop nylon fabric will hold up to 113kg of weight.
Fabrics: Made with a durable 210D ripstop nylon fabric, this chair is very strong. It’s also very lightweight, which is a real benefit when you need to carry your chair along.
Uses: This is a good idea to keep the weight down, by using a minimum amount of poles, but because it has only two legs don’t fall asleep in it as you will fall out the chair. And I can imagine a surprise gust of wind might just knock you off balance and send you falling backward or forwards on your face.
Construction: The chair sits on only two legs which allow you to rock back and forward like porch rocking chair, also allowing comfortable and stable seating on a sloped and uneven ground. The packed size is tiny, slightly bigger than a compact umbrella, the kind of umbrella you would put in a bag or briefcase.
Pros
  • Strong frame
  • Lightweight design
  • Rocking chair
Cons
  • Two legged chair
  • Not too stable

Helinox Chair Zero

Zero is a word that really does suit this chair. Helinox has taken their lightest chair the “Chair One” and managed somehow to save 400grams off the weight.
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Materials: The frame is made of a YH72M a titanium and aluminum alloy giving it strength and lightness, covered with a lightweight non-stretch fabric. According to The London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the average weight of a man in the US is 81.7kg, this chair has a maximum capacity of 120kg, even if you are heavier than the average man this chair will support you.
Fabrics: You get a lightweight stretch fabric with this chair, so it’s not as durable as some other options on our list. However, if you need a good chair that is easy to carry, then you’ll love how portable this chair is.
Uses: The Chair packs down into a small bag smaller than my kids' school lunch box. The chair is lightweight but it is not a folding chair, it fits together a bit more like a tent than a typical folding chair. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and erecting the chair is simple. The sitting position is good but low to the ground. The four legs support the chair well but if you were using this on the beach or muddy terrain the legs may sink into the ground with your weight.
Construction: The “Chair Zero” weighs and amazing 490 grams. Yes! You read it right, it weighs less than a 600ml bottle of water. You could even call this a backpack chair it is so light.
Pros
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Durable frame
  • Great design
Cons
  • Non-folding
  • Low to the ground

Odyssey Trek Ultra lounger

Odyssey Trek Ultra lounger
Odyssey Trek claim that this chair is light enough to be carried with just your little finger, I guess at 1.2kg you could. It is not the lightest camping chair available, but it gains in comforts.
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Materials: This chair is as close as you will get to your lounge chair at home from a lightweight camping chair, but that extra comfort has some drawbacks, the chair does not pack small enough to fit into a backpack, but is able to be strapped to the outside. The poles are interconnected and with practice can be assembled within a minute. If you are planning to use this on the beach or soft ground it might sink with your weight.
Fabrics: Built with aircraft grade aluminum, this char is quite sturdy and durable. It can support up to 350 pounds.
Uses: Because the size of the chair is larger than others on the market it is also able to support more with a maximum capacity of 158kg. The chair contours your body shape and with a purpose built loose rocking motion feature really does offer outdoor relaxation.
Construction: The chair has a high back which for most people will be high enough to rest your head against it. The back includes a built-in pillow for extra added comfort around the campfire after days of adventure.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • High-back chair
  • Large in size
Cons
  • Does not pack small
  • Assembling is needed

Kelty Linger High back Chair

Kelty Linger High back Chair
The Linger high back chair from Kelty has a great overall design, and is very easy to carry along with you. You’ll get an easy-to-use carrying case with this lightweight chair, which will make hauling the chair around very simple.
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Materials: The frame is aluminum and slots together easily with the carry case attaching to the frame as a storage bag for your cell phone, flash light or any other item you may need to hand. The design of this chair is very lightweight, so it should be fairly easy for you to pack and carry.
Fabrics: The seat fabric is strong with a maximum capacity of 136kg. The sides of the fabric are comprised of a durable netting allowing air to circulate so you don’t become too hot.
Uses: The chair is heavier than many others on the market and the packed size is over 50cm in length to accommodate the high back. However, it is very simple to use, and provides you with an overall comfortable design.
Construction: Unlike a lot of lightweight camping chairs, the seat height is 42cm from the ground, which is a lot higher than most and nearer to the height your chairs at home are. This makes sitting and standing from the chair easier.
Pros
  • Great design
  • Lightweight
  • Easy standing from it
  • Strong frame
Cons
  • A bit heavier than competitive models
  • Bulky packed size

Kelty Linger Low Back Chair

Kelty Linger Low Back Chair
This chair is the smaller back version of the linger high-back one. The linger low back chair also sits higher off the ground than most at 36cm, meaning that sitting and getting up should be easier.
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Materials: Comprised of a solid aluminum frame and featuring a carrying case, this chair is very easy to pack down. Made with durability in mind, the materials manufactured into this chair are made to be long-lasting.
Fabrics: The frame is aluminum and the high denier nylon fabric gives the chair a high capacity of 113.4kg. The packed size is more manageable with the longest length of 46cm.
Uses: If you want a chair that sits higher to the ground so that it is easy for you to get in and out of it, then this chair will certainly help you. You’ll be able to easily use it and relax whenever you need to.
Construction: The chair is still heavier than other chairs on the market and definitely not a backpack chair. But if you plan to throw in in the back of the car or strap it to your bike its a good strong and well-priced chair.
Pros
  • Strong frame
  • Comfortable
  • Manageable packed size
Cons
  • Heavier than competitive models
  • Low back chair

REI Co-op Flex Lite Chair

REI Co-op Flex Lite Chair
REI’s Co-op Flex Lite Chair is designed to be very lightweight, and also comes with a carrying case to make things easier for you to use. It’s also made with a very strong aluminum frame, so you’ll get a lot of durability if you decide to purchase this chair.
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Materials: Weighing only under 500 grams it is easy to carry. The packed size would easily strap to a backpack without it extending past the normal width of the pack, or likewise, it will not take up much space in the car.
Fabrics: The frame is aluminum and then seat material ripstop nylon meaning this chair is strong and durable with a maximum capacity of 113kg. The seat fabric contains breathable mesh panels which allow air to circulate and reduce the weight.
Uses: There is a mesh side pocket to store your phone, torch or any other item you want to keep to hand. Also, it’s very easy to pack this chair down or take it out whenever you are ready to use it.
Construction: The carry case does not fix to the frame and either you have to stow it some place safe in your camp or use the side pocket. If you use the side pocket for the carrying case, then your most used accessories are sitting on your lap.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Compact packed size
Cons
  • Non-fixing carry case

Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Low Chair

Alps Mountaineering Ready Lite Low Chair
This chair is heavy compare to other chairs of the same size. But it is worth a mention because of the strength of the frame, since you’ll get a lot of durability with this chair.
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Materials: Where most chairs use straight aluminum poles the ready lite low poles are curved. This increases the overall strength by reducing the number of joints.
Fabrics: The fabric is a high 420 denier ripstop polyester with a nylon mesh center to allow airflow. So, the chair is very comfortable, durable, and breathable.
Uses: The arrangement of the feet and base would reduce sinking into soft ground or sand if you were at the beach. So, if you like this feeling, this might be a good choice for you.
Construction: The chair is heavy weighing; over 1 kg. The poles attached to it are plastic and the base is cheap looking.
Pros
  • Extremely strong frame
  • Strong fabrics
  • Mesh center for airflow
Cons
  • Relatively heavy
  • Cheap-looking base

The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Camping Chairs

Materials

When you start looking at camping chairs you will notice that there are many different construction materials, all of which every manufacturer will claim that they are using the best for the purpose. Here is a rundown on the different materials used in the manufacture of camping chairs.

Pole materials

Aluminum Alloys

Many chairs have poles made from an aluminum alloy. The specifications may state aluminum but it will be an alloy of aluminum because pure aluminum would be too soft and does not have the tensile strength. Aluminum alloys are a mixture of aluminum and other metals to maximize the strength and minimize the weight. Most aircraft are made from aluminum alloys for this reason.

Depending on the other metal mixed with the aluminum is the important factor manufacturers have to decide on. Aluminum alloys are graded with a series number which tells you what other alloy is used in its manufacturing. 2000 series aluminum contains copper, 3000 series aluminum contains manganese, 4000 series aluminum contains silicon, 5000 series aluminum contains magnesium, and 7000 series aluminum contains zinc. 7000 series aluminum has the highest strengths of any aluminum alloy. The higher the series number the stronger the aluminum alloy. Lower than 4000 series stress corrosion cracking can be a problem. Higher than 7000 series is overkill for a chair and probably too costly.

TH72M Advanced Alloy

TH72M is an advanced alloy made by the Dongah Aluminum Corporation (DAC) in Korea. This alloy DAC have taken Titanium for its strength and aluminum for its lightness with some other materials to make an alloy stronger than other lightweight alloys. How have they done this is actually quite a simple idea. Standard aluminum alloys tubes or poles suffer from the problem of “stress corrosion cracking”.

To counter this problem previous alloy poles and tubes have been made with a thicker tube wall, this increases the weight but actually does nothing to increase the strength of the pole. The new TH72M alloy has overcome the problem of “stress corrosion cracking” meaning that the poles and tubes made from this material do not need to have as thick walls which reduces the weight a whilst maintaining the strength and life of the pole. On top of this TH72M is stronger and lighter than other aluminum alloys. As this is a new material you should expect to pay a premium for its use in any camp equipment you may buy.

Fabrics

Man-made synthetic fabrics are usually used as fabrics for camp chairs. The most common used are Nylon, Polyester, and Ripstop Nylon. I am sure most people have come across nylon and polyester and know them to be strong and easy to care for fabric. The main advantage of this fabric other than the strength to weight ratio is the ease of care. Both are resistant to mold growth and they don’t lose their shape when wet. However, you might see on specifications terms such as 600d Polyester and Ripstop Nylon.

600D refers to the denier or fineness of the material. Denier is a measurement used to evaluate nylon, silk, polyester and other fabrics. The number refers to the weight in grams of 9000 meters of the fiber. The higher the denier number the stronger the fabric. However, you cannot use this measurement to compare different types of fabric. For example, a 600d polyester is stronger than a 450d polyester, but if you compare a 450d polyester with a 450d nylon the nylon fabric will be stronger because nylon is just a stronger fabric.

Ripstop nylon although sounding new was actually developed in 1940 to be able to replace silk parachutes with nylon. Basically, ripstop fabrics have a stronger usually thicker reinforcing thread woven at regular intervals in a cross-hatch pattern throughout the fabric. The advantage of ripstop fabrics is the high strength to weight ratio, which is why they are used so often.

Uses

Backpacking or walking

If you think you will be walking for some time before reaching the destination where you will want to have a chair to relax on, then weight and size will be of optimal concern. Just because you plan to walk or hike for a few hours doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to relax with some luxury in your camp.

The use of lightweight and strong alloys has improved the weight and pack size of many chairs, but sometimes you will be losing some comfort and stability. Often the lighter the chair the lower the chair is to the ground. This is because to reduce the weight the manufacturer has to reduce the amount of metal used, the easiest way to do this is by shortening the pole, and therefore the chair is lower to the ground. This shouldn’t be a problem unless you find it difficult to get out of a low chair.

Days at the beach

The beach may not be the place you think of that you will need a chair. For a lot of people, a towel on the sand is all they need. But for me with kids, the days of being able to lay back and sleep on the beach are gone. I have to have a constant eye on my children to check they are not about to get knocked over by a rogue wave or swimming just a little too far from the shore.

I need to be sitting up, a bit of back support is great. A chair for the beach probably doesn’t need to be as light as a chair you might use for backpacking, but remember that you can’t always pack right next to the beach and may have to walk more than a few hundred yards to get to the beach not to mention on a popular crowded beach you may have a trek across the sand to find a spot for you and your family. And all this way you may be carrying a cooler and picnic with beach umbrella, so don’t completely disregard the weight.

If you are a family like me, having some lighter items is good for distribution, My wife and I carry the cooler and picnic and the lighter items, a bag of towels, a bag of beach toys and umbrella and light chairs can be carried by the kids if they are not too heavy. But once you are on the beach, your chair needs to be able to support its self on sand.

A chair with a large footprint is best and it distributes your weight in the chair over a larger area and prevents the chair from sinking. Often a simple ground sheet attachment is all it needed, and many chairs come with these or are optional extras. Are storage pockets useful for you, do you need a pocket to hold sunblock, armrests and cup holders.

Camping and car travel

If you are journeying by car to where you are camping then the weight is probably not the main concern. Comfort and the space the chair takes in the trunk of your car will be more important.

Many of the light weight chairs use shorter pole to reduce the weight and packed size, this means they have a lower back. If weight is not such a concern, then a high back chair offers more luxury and comfort. Being able to lean back in a chair and have your back and head supported if a great way to relax around the camp fire. You may also want to use the same chairs around a camp table when eating so the sitting height should be considered as well as arm rests and storage pockets for books, flash lights and other items.

Construction

Camp chairs have come a long way from the fold up lawn chairs. Portability and easy to use has always been important along with the strength and sturdiness of the chair. This has meant that in the past you lost out on comfort to compensate for the need of portability and weight. That is no longer the case, camping chairs as with all camping equipment have advanced over the years, so that camping is no longer living rough, but more living in luxury with the beauty of nature.

Most people would only think about taking a camping furniture with them if they were using a car as transport, the added weight of a chair on your backpack was just not feasible. But with the ultra-light weight chairs now available it is an option. So before going out and making an impulse purchase, it is important to consider how and where you will be using it the most.

Other Important Factors To Consider

Traditional type chairs

Traditional type chairs are what most people are more familiar with. These are generally heavier and very strong with a lot of back support. They are designed for comfort first. In most cases this type of chair is a once piece folding chair. They are easy to open by just pulling opposite sides and in some cases can be opened with only one hand. These chairs are great for lounging around the camp and are more like your armchair at home than something that is ultra-lightweight and portable.

Some have relining options and other are rocking chairs, there is a huge choice. If weight and size are not going to be an issue for you than the traditional models are probably going to be perfect. Things to consider are the little extras, such as cup holder, side storage pockets, overall size.

Lightweight type camping chairs

Lightweight is not always lightweight. Many manufacturers class their camp chairs as lightweight when really they are almost as heavy as the traditional type. The chairs reviewed in my opinion are all true lightweight chairs.

Lightweight models need to be engineered and designed carefully to minimize the weight, this means that some features of the traditional type chairs have to be removed or modified. Most lightweight chairs are comfortable, they in the most part lack armrests and cup holders but many have a storage pocket of some kind.

The area where the manufacturers make the most savings in weight is with the use of lightweight metal alloys and fabrics. The use of less metal tubing also reduces the weight. This is done by reducing the seat height from the ground, which may make sitting in and getting out of the chair more difficult. The height of the back of the chair is also reduced to conserve on the weight of the metal poles. As you look closer at many of the options out there, the biggest difference in most, is not all of the lightweight chairs are folding chairs, but more similar to a tent , meaning that the poles need to be fixed into a shape and the fabric attached to this frame.

In reality it is easier than it sounds to set up one of these chairs. Because less metal poles are used the stability of the chair is affected. If you throw yourself into one of these chairs expect the chair to tip and throw you off the back. But after mentioning all those downsides, lightweight chairs are well made, comfortable, and most important light and take up little space when packed.

FAQ

Q: If I want a very lightweight chair, will that affect the features I can get with my chair?

Typically, the more lightweight the chair you purchase, the fewer features you’ll find on the chair. Many brands will remove certain features to make their chairs more lightweight. So, if you know there are certain features you really want with your chair, you’ll need to think about getting those specific features if you are searching for a lightweight chair.

Q: What do I need to know about setting up my camping chair?

Most of the camping chairs we’ve provided for you on our list are very easy to set up. However, if you go off our list and purchase something else, you’ll want to make sure you pay attention to the reviews on that product. You don’t want to wind up with something that’s hard to use. If set-up is a concern, then make sure you pick a camping chair that’s rated and reviewed to have a simple set-up.

Q: Do I need to pay attention to the size of my camping chair’s seat?

Yes, you do. If you wind up with a camping chair that has a small seat and you are a larger person, this is going to cause problems for you. So, make sure you pay attention to the size of the seat. Most smaller people don’t mind seats that are smaller, but if you want room to move or know you need that extra support because you are a larger person, then make sure you purchase a chair with a decent seat size.

Q: What do I need to consider about camping chairs if I have back problems?

If you have back problems, you want to make sure you purchase a comfortable camping chair with a lot of support and stability. Also, some camping chairs are designed to sit up higher and provide higher back support, so these are all things you should pay attention to if you want to make sure your chair can comfortably support your back.

Q: What are the most important qualities to look for in a good camping chair?

Comfort, durability, and portability. It the chair isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to want to use it. Also, if you plan to be carrying the chair and you find that it is too heavy or too hard to pack up and carry, again, you won’t be likely to use it. Durability is another important factor because you want to get the most bang for your buck and make sure your chair will last you for a while.

Q: Is a good idea to purchase a camping chair with ripstop fabric?

Yes. Ripstop fabric is very durable and also will help prevent tears and abrasions in the chair. So, you’ll get a lot more strength out of a chair that has ripstop fabric in it, since the chair will last you much longer. So, if you want something that will last you for some time, then consider ripstop fabrics.

So there you have it. Just about everything you need to know about buying a lightweight camping chair. Shop about and if possible try them out, set them up in the store and have a sit for a few minutes. Do you find it comfortable? Or is part of the frame pushing against you? Are you happy with the seat height? Or is it too low or high? What about the angle of the sitting position, some chairs have a very upright position, some are designed for a more lay back lounging position. Are armrests important? Does it have storage pockets? Do you need storage pockets? Pick up the packed chair, is it light enough? It the size OK to fit in your pack or car? All of these are things only you know.

I hope the information here is helpful and you find your perfect outdoor throne as king of the outdoors.

 

Sources

  1. John Ellings, Best Camping Chairs of 2017 , Informational Camping Website, Apr 14, 2017
  2. MyWildEarth, The 10 Best Lightweight Backpacking Chairs of 2017, Informational Camping Website, May 11, 2017
  3. Lauren DeLaunay, The Best Backpacking Camp Chairs of 2017 , Informational Camping Website, Aug 26, 2017
  4. Kalee Thompson, The Best Portable Camp Chairs, Informational Camping Website, Aug 10, 2017