Written By
Published Sep. 7, 2021

The best camping chairs are as varied as individual camping experiences and budgets. While you may be able to have a stellar night camping even when sitting around the fire on the ground or a natural bench like a log, a camping chair adds an additional element of comfort and relaxation. 

Some camping chairs, though, can make the ground look luxurious. The wrong chair provides uncomfortable lumbar support, and can even numb your legs and bum after some time being seated. To help prevent you from investing in a lousy camp chair, I’ve rounded up my top picks for the best camping chairs.

Best Lightweight Camping Chair: Helinox Chair Zero

Key Features

  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Weight Capacity: 265 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20.5” x 18.9” x 25.2”

Why It Made the Cut

Comfort doesn’t have to be isolated to car camping and RVing, and that’s why the Helinox Chair Zero is ranked our best lightweight camping chair. It is a compact, durable, and comfortable chair that is light enough to bring backpacking. 

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Small and packable 
  • Comfortable for a chair its size
  • Durable and strong 

Cons 

  • Expensive 
  • Short and close to the ground

Helinox has dominated the best camping chairs for backpacking for quite some time, and for good reason. They are the most durable, comfortable, and lightest-weight camping chairs on the market. While a few competitors may be more affordable, the Helinox Chair Zero seems to be priced fairly when you consider the chair’s portability, weight, and durability. 

It is surprisingly comfortable for a chair its size. Although you will be closer to the ground than when using a standard folding chair, the seat is thoughtfully designed. Weighing in at just one pound, it is surprisingly sturdy because of the aluminum alloy frame. The chair comfortably supports campers up to 265 pounds and fits most people under six feet. Taller campers can use the chair, but it may not support their back as well. If that’s the case, look into a Helinox Sunset Chair. The Helinox offers similar qualities but is better suited to taller folks, at the expense of added weight.

Best Camping Chair for Tall People: Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair

Key Features

  • Weight: 9 pounds 8 ounces
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26” x 35.5” x 37”

Why It Made the Cut

I ranked the Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair as one of the best camping chairs for tall people because of its seat height of 20 inches. It is a comfortable chair with durable construction that helps keep tall folks from slouching around the fire.

Pros

  • Seat height of 20 inches
  • Large seat
  • Comfortable 
  • Locks open and shut 

Cons 

  • Seat height can be too tall for some people

At first glance, the Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair is a basic camp chair with two cup holders and a breathable mesh back. The stand-out feature is its tall seat height when compared to other chairs of a similar design. This can be seen as a pro and con, pending your height and body size. 

Not only does it provide a comfortable camping chair experience for tall people, but it is also easy to secure with the dual locking system. You won’t have to worry about the chair collapsing or slipping when sitting in or transporting it as it locks both open and closed. An easy carry case with a strap is also included. 

Just under 10 pounds, this camp chair is only really suitable for car camping or RVing, not backpacking. However, it does fit the bill with overall value and versatility. The Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair can be used for other ventures such as fishing, tailgating, picnicking, and even as a chair to bring to outdoor sporting events.

Best Camping Chair with Footrest: ALPS Mountaineering Escape Camp Chair

Key Features

  • Weight: 10 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 225 pounds
  • Dimensions: 32” x 26” x 41”

Why It Made the Cut

The ALPS Mountaineering Escape Chair combines portability with comfort, making it the best camping chair with a footrest. You get the best bang for your buck in adjustability, durability, portability, and overall camp comfort. 

Pros

  • Affordable 
  • Comfortable
  • Adjustable footrest 
  • More portable than zero-gravity chairs

Cons 

  • Long when packed
  • Heavy to carry long distances

While the king of patio and glamping lounge chairs may be a zero-gravity model, they are not always practical to bring on a camping trip. The ALPS Mountaineering Escape Chair combines the comfort of a footrest with portability. The result is an easy-to-transport camp chair that has a greater comfort level than a standard model. 

The ALPS Mountaineering Escape Chair has sturdy construction with a powder-coated steel frame. All of the poles that support the chair structure are crossed, so you have multiple X-shaped profiles that make it stronger and more supportive. The seat and ottoman fabric are made from durable 600-denier polyester, so it can withstand outdoor elements. 

While it is ranked as the best camping chair with a footrest, some readers may be pleased to find that the footrest is removable and adjustable. The adjustability and ability to either have or take off the footrest adds an element of versatility to the chair use. That way, you can lounge in comfort at the end of the day, or you can pull the chair up to the table for a card game or during meal prep.

Best Camping Chair with Side Table: GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Director’s Chair

Key Features

  • Weight: 11.7 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 pounds
  • Dimensions: 23.4” x 21.3” x 37.8”

Why It Made the Cut

Having a camping chair with a cup holder is a standard feature that we all expect, but sometimes having a sturdy side table serves a greater purpose when camping. GCI Outdoors constructed a director’s chair that is easy to collapse, carry, has a strong side table, and is sturdy enough to be used for years to come. 

Pros

  • Easy, slim folding
  • Durable, breathable fabric
  • Sturdy and solid side table
  • Carrying handle

Cons 

  • Only folds flat, does not collapse to fit into a carry bag
  • A bit heavy and large for transport

The GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Director Chair won the title of the best camping chair with a side table because of its sturdy and durable table design. And it does so while being 40 percent smaller than chairs of a similar design.

The director chair design gives it a sturdy structure, and the base crossbars help keep it from sinking into the ground. The slim-fold technology allows the chair to be collapsed flat, and the table folds in with the chair. While it is easy to open and close, it only stores flat and cannot be collapsed like a smaller, standard folding chair. Once folded, it is easy to transport with a carrying handle built into the side. 

The fabric is polyester with a mesh backing to help with breathability during hot summer days. The frame utilizes a steel construction for durability and strength, but be aware that it could be prone to rust if left out in wet conditions for too long. 

Overall, this chair is one that you can trust to safely hold your drinks, food, and anything else when you set it up at camp, tailgating, backyard BBQ, or a sporting event.

Methodology

When choosing the best camping chairs to put on my list, I looked at several factors, including:

  • Comfort: There’s no point in hauling a chair out into the woods with you if it’s not going to be comfortable. All the chairs on this list were picked because they placed a premium on seated comfort. I kept an eye out for features like lumbar support, a footrest, or neck support.
  • Stability: Unless you’re in your favorite rocking chair, you don’t want to be swaying back and forth. I chose models that offered a broad base or crossbars that provide the support needed to keep you in place.
  • Durability: For a chair to hold up on the trail, it must be tough. I chose models built with rugged materials that can handle the wear and tear that often comes with rough use in a wilderness setting. I looked for durable fabrics like 600 denier polyester and rip-stop mesh materials.
  • Frame Construction: Materials vary, but better camping chairs will use aluminum alloy or steel. Aluminum is lighter, but steel tends to be stronger. I avoided chairs with cheap plastic connectors or weight-bearing fabric connections. This ensured the frame was up to the task at hand, whether that was featherweight construction for backpacking or a bulletproof build to accommodate larger folks.
  • Weight/Packed Size: I only selected chairs that were portable enough to be stuffed into a pack or take up little space in a car trunk, truck bed, or recreational vehicle.
  • Value: Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it is the best. I reviewed all these choices to ensure that they gave excellent bang for your buck. Outdoor equipment is best seen as an investment, and the long-life span of these chairs ensures they provide great value.
  • Warranty and Sustainability Ethics: Even though I selected chairs that should last a long time, things happen. If your chair fails, you want to know the company will stand behind it. I chose chairs with good warranties, built by companies with strong sustainability ethics.

Other considerations, such as the company’s reputation for reliability, were also taken into account.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Camping Chair

There are lots of factors that go into deciding what chair is right for you. Think about the following concerns before you invest in a camping chair.

Intended Use

As with any piece of camping gear, how you plan to use your camping chair is going to matter. If you’re going backpacking, you’ll need an ultralight chair. If you plan on car camping or traveling in an RV, you have a little more flexibility with size and weight requirements.

Ease of Set-Up

Don’t cut into much-needed R&R time setting up your chair. You should be able to take the chair out of the carrying case or unfold it and plop down to relax. Chairs with more features may require a bit more set-up, but if it just takes a couple extra moments to add a canopy or a footrest, it may be well worth it.

Seat Height

How high a chair sits above the ground directly affects comfort, especially if you’re tall. Too close to the ground, and your knees are bent the entire time; too high, and you almost have to jump to get on. Make sure you pick a chair with the correct height for you so it’s easy to get into and out of.

Added Features

Sure, you can hold your beverage the entire time you’re watching the fire. But having a convenient place to stash your drink while you’re making s’mores definitely makes life easier. While things like cup holders, side tables, and footrests aren’t a necessity, they sure can make your leisure time more enjoyable.

FAQs

Q: Are Helinox camping chairs worth it?

Helinox chairs revolutionized backpacking chairs and are often seen as the leader in lightweight chair design. But if you only use your Helinox chair once a year, it may be hard to justify the expense. However, Helinox makes one of the most durable, reliable, and lightweight chairs available. If you backpack often, it’s worth the added coin.

Q: What is the lightest camping chair?

It depends on how you categorize a camping chair, but the lightest weight option for a seat on the trail is the AceCamp 3940, weighing in at 1.6 ounces. The 3940 is simply a pad you sit on while you are on the ground, though. 
 
If you’re looking for a seat that will raise you off the ground, then the Helinox Chair Zero is the lightest, weighing 16 ounces. The Big Agnes Skyline UL Stool comes in close behind at 18 ounces, but it has no backrest.

Q: Are camping chairs waterproof?

In general, camp chairs are designed to be water-resistant, not necessarily waterproof. This means that most camping chairs can get wet, but they may take some time to dry. Look for coated and mesh fabrics that are designed for moisture-wicking or quick drying.

Final Thoughts

After considering several camping chair options, the Helinox Chair Zero is my selection for the overall best camping chair. The lightweight and compact design mean you never have to leave it behind when you hit the trail or the road. And the sturdy construction will survive the bumps and bruises along the way, so it will be with you for a long time.

MORE TO READ