As the world slowly starts to reopen, we explorers are finally allowed to return to the natural spaces we love the most — like National and State Parks, beaches, city parks, campgrounds, and so much more. And while you’ll probably want to get out there, set up camp, and go hiking first and foremost, you’ll eventually end up back around the fire. Once that happens, you’re also going to need somewhere to sit and kick back until it comes time to hit the hay.
Since sitting yourself down in the dirt or on a log isn’t really a great option, we suggest finding yourself a suitable camping chair. However, that’s not as simple a prospect as it might seem, as there are loads of them available — many of which are definitely not worth your hard-earned money. To make your search a bit simpler, we’ve put together the following collection of what we believe are the 15 best camping chairs for every adventure.
What To Look For In A Camp Chair
A Place To Rest
As mentioned, finding the perfect camping chair is a personal quest that requires you to figure out your hierarchy of needs. Some chairs are overbuilt and loaded with features, but they don’t travel well — making them not-so-great for backpacking. Similarly, an ultralight stool doesn’t offer a ton in the way of leaned-back relaxation. We’ve outlined some of the most important things to look for in your search below.
Weight Limit: Unless you’re a powerlifting bodybuilder, this is probably not going to be the biggest issue. However, it’s definitely still worth considering, as some chairs are built for relatively lightweight people. Not to mention, the closer you are to the upper weight limit of a chair, the higher the likelihood that said chair’s longevity will be cut short — especially if you have a habit of “plopping” down into your seat, as the added force of impact puts a greater strain on the structure of the seat.
Materials: Most camping chairs were built with wear-and-tear in mind, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re built to take a beating. Keep an eye out for reliable and durable materials like high-strength metals, high-tensile nylon, etc. A chair built from solid steel and ballistic nylon is naturally going to be more durable than something crafted from cheap polyester and low-grade aluminum. That’s just the nature of the materials.
Packability: This is going to matter much more depending upon your mode of transportation. If you’re car camping, for instance, most folding chairs won’t be too much of a burden, as they can be stashed in the back of your vehicle or on a roof rack. However, if you’re backpacking, every single ounce counts, as does the size and shape of the packed chair. Of course, stripping down a seat to its basest, most minimalist elements can also compromise the comfort it offers. It might not be a deal-breaker either way, but it’s certainly food for thought.
Reclining/Rocking: The least critical of the factors, but no less a feature worth considering, the ability to recline and/or rock might not make or break your choice of camping chair, but it certainly helps improve the argument for or against the varying options. That goes double if you’re a fan of impromptu afternoon naps or evening stargazing. The bigger impact of reclining and/or rocking mechanisms, however, is that they can sometimes add weight and bulk to these chairs, which is worth keeping in mind.
Therm-a-Rest Trekker Lounge Chair
For those that want to keep their camping loadout to an absolute minimum, the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Lounge Chair is practically heaven-sent. You see, this simple cloth device uses the brands 20″ or 25″ NeoAir mattress pads and turns them into a stadium-style seating pad. And that’s really all there is to it. Best of all, once you remove the mattress pad, the remains of the chair can collapse down small enough to stash in a pants pocket. If you’re looking for the utmost in minimalist camp seating, go no further than this ultra-pared-down chair.
REI Co-op Flash Trail Seat
If you don’t happen to own an air mattress for camping, but you still like the idea of an ultra-minimalist stadium-style camp chair, you’re not completely out of luck. Weighing a grand total of one pound and nine ounces, the REI Co-op Flash Trail Seat is built from a combination of ripstop polyester, closed-cell foam, and fiberglass (for stability and security). Plus, the whole thing can be rolled up and stored in a water bottle pocket on your backpack when necessary.
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
While not ideal for backpacking — due to its 12.1-pound weight and fairly large footprint (even when folded) — there’s no denying the unique comfort offered by the GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker camping chair. You see, at the bottom back of this chair’s frame, there’s a pair of spring-loaded pistons that allow users to literally rock back and forth like a rocking chair. It also comes equipped with a simple carry handle and cupholder for drinks, it has a 250-pound weight limit, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Alite Stonefly Chair
When you’re sitting around the campfire, you might want to enjoy a beverage or two. However, with most camp chairs, you’ll be lucky if there’s even a single cupholder. By contrast, the Alite Stonefly boasts two. And while that highlight is certainly enough to set it apart, it also features a lightweight aluminum and ripstop nylon construction (giving it a total weight of 2-pounds 12-ounces), a packable design, and grippy rubber feet for stability and security on any terrain.
Therm-a-Rest Uno Chair
Most camping chairs rely on a folding design that, while typically fairly packable, can sometimes leave much to be desired. The Therm-a-Rest Uno Chair is much more unique in that it hinges on a circular base to support its four-strut frame and low-profile fabric bucket seat. Of course, that’s hardly the only special feature. You see, when you’re done with the chair, it collapses down and stores entirely within that stable circular base — meaning it’s easy to pack, carry, and store, even when you’re limited on space.
Cliq Camping Chair
While many of the camping chairs on our list come from big-name, big-budget brands, these corporations aren’t the only ones making a name for themselves in the space. Take, for instance, the Cliq Camping Chair. Formerly called the Go Chair, this was actually a crowdsourced project from IndieGoGo that raised a whopping $1.5 million. And though that number is impressive, it’s only possible because the chair itself is exceptional — boasting an ultra-compact closed format (about the size of a water bottle), a setup that takes just five seconds, a construction of aircraft-grade aluminum that supports up to 300 lbs, and more.
REI Co-op Flexlite Air Chair
Weighing a grand total of just one pound, the REI Co-op Flexlite Air Chair is one of the best ultralight camp seats for backpacking purposes. That’s furthered by the fact that it collapses down to fit into an included stuff sack that’s roughly the size of a water bottle. It also features a relatively simple setup that’s not unlike many small tents (though it should be even simpler than that), it can hold up to 250 lbs, and the seat is made from DWR nylon for extra durability and weatherproofing.
GCI Outdoor Freeform Zero Gravity Lounger
If unimpeded lounging and stargazing are on your must-have list when you head out into the great outdoors, then you may want to consider picking up the GCI Outdoor Freeform Zero Gravity Lounger. Better for leisurely camping trips than backpacking ones — thanks largely to its bulky silhouette and 20-pound weight — this folding camp chair is about as close as you can get to bringing a recliner into the woods without literally hauling your La-Z-Boy to the campsite. It also boasts a tough powder-coated steel frame, a Textilene fabric seat, a beverage and phone holder, and it even features an integrated headrest. For pure relaxation, go no further.
ALPS Mountaineering Ultimate Recliner
If hauling a 20-pound reclining camp chair out into the wilderness is just a bit too much of an ask, there’s definitely still hope to be found in the Alps Mountaineering Ultimate Recliner. At 10 lbs, it’s literally half the weight of the GCI Outdoor recliner above, it boasts a powder-coated high-strength aluminum frame, it reclines almost completely and has seven different positions, it features an integrated head/neck pillow, and it can hold up to 250 lbs in total.
If you’re lucky enough to have a significant other with which to share your outdoor adventures, you might want to cozy up to one another at the end of the day and enjoy the comfort and warmth of the campfire in tandem. And what better way to make that happen than with the Kelty Loveseat? Clocking in at 15 lbs 6 oz (roughly 7.75 lbs per person), this chair features a double steel folding frame, puncture-resistant quilted 600-denier polyester fabric, two armrests (each with its own cupholder), and an included roll for easier transportation and storage.
Helinox Chair Zero
Helinox, especially in more recent years, has been one of the most impactful and recognizable names in camping-friendly furniture. And, wouldn’t you know it, they specialize in seating solutions. As such, it’s probably harder to find a chair of theirs that we don’t like. If you’re into ounce-counting and keeping your gear as lightweight as possible, we submit to you the Chair Zero. Weighing just 1.2 pounds, this featherweight packable seat is easy to stash in even pared-down hiking backpacks — it can even slip into some water bottle pockets. It’s also extra durable thanks to a proprietary aluminum alloy frame, which is good for weights of up to 265 lbs, and it takes just moments to erect.
Helinox Swivel Camp Chair
As mentioned, Helinox is the name of the game when it comes to camp chairs. That also means they have a wide variety of styles. Take, for instance, their Swivel Camp Chair — which hinges on a pivot in its aluminum frame that lets users (you guessed it) swivel a full 360-degrees. Pair that with a durable fabric seat with breathable mesh sides, a weight limit of 265 lbs, a total weight of just 2.6 lbs, and the ability to pack down into an included stuff sack and this chair is a lot more versatile than you might expect from similarly-priced packable camping chairs.
Helinox Savanna Chair
To round out our trio of Helinox options on our list, we give you one of the brand’s newest offerings: the Savannah Chair. Sharing many similarities with its siblings — like 600D polyester fabric, breathable mesh sides, and an aluminum frame — this camping chair is a bit more premium than its brethren and is also better for taller users, as it boasts a wider seat and extended back. It’s also stronger than many of its brethren, clocking a 320-pound weight limit (most others hover around 265). Not to mention, the included stuff sack also doubles as a head pillow. All told, this chair is an exceptional step forward and bodes well for the future of Helinox and their camp chair releases.
NEMO Stargaze Camp Chair
As we’ve mentioned a number of times in this article, one of the best parts about getting out into the great outdoors is being able to appreciate all facets of nature — including the celestial expanse above our heads. And perhaps no chair is better equipped for that particular endeavor than the NEMO Stargaze Camp Chair. As the name suggests, this camp chair is designed for reclining far enough back that users will be able to appreciate the vast cosmos without unnecessary neck strain. It also boasts padded head and armrests, a water-resistant external fabric, an integrated cupholder and stash pocket, and so much more. It also has a 300-pound weight limit and weighs just 6 lbs 5 oz, making it a great addition to just about anyone’s camping loadout.
YETI Hondo Camp Chair
If you recognize the YETI name, it’s probably because of their exceptional adventure-focused coolers. As it turns out, the brand has also been turning their expertise toward other types of outdoor gear — including camp chairs. And that bodes well for those who expect their gear to perform at the highest levels. In fact, YETI built their Hondo Camp Chair to outperform pretty much every other folding seat on the market. That means it can support a whopping 500 pounds, it features the same kind of heavy-duty hinges you might find on an off-road truck, it’s reinforced with two layers of age-hardened aluminum alloy, it’s UV-proof (meaning it won’t breakdown with exposure to the sun), and — thankfully — it even has an included cupholder. Sure, it might not recline and it’s not the most compact option, but it beats out the competition in almost every other regard.
The 15 Best Camping Coolers
You may want to crack open a cold beer while you’re sitting in your new camp chair around a campfire. And there’s no better way to make that possible than by bringing along one of the best camping coolers the next time you hit the trails.
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