Three Keys to Selecting Your Next Camp Chair

A good, lightweight camping chair can make all your outdoor adventures more comfortable.

Campsite
A comfortable, reliable camp chair situated next to a fire is a great way to end a day outdoors.Pexels/Mac DeStoir

In years past, many backcountry campers and backpackers seldom considered carrying a chair along, as most models were too heavy and bulky to carry in a backpack all day long. Things have changed. Today’s camping chairs are more lightweight and packable than ever, making them a welcome addition to many faraway adventures, and for those campers who are able to drive right up to their campsites, more comfortable chairs are available since weight and packability aren’t paramount. Consider these three factors when shopping for the perfect chair for your camping style.

Weight/Packability

Helinox Chair Zero Ultralight Compact Camping Chair
Weighing in at only 1.2 pounds, this ultralight camping chair packs down smaller than a bottle of water.Helinox

If you’re planning on hauling your chair to your campsite in a backpack, weight and packability are two of the most important factors in choosing the perfect model. A chair weighing more than about two pounds adds too much weight to your pack and is typically better left at home. Chairs in the two-pound range or under should be considered, but weight alone can’t be your only rationale. A light chair that ends up 16- or 18-inches long when collapsed meets weight requirements but simply takes up too much room in your pack. It’s a delicate balancing act, but there are enough companies making lightweight camping chairs that you can find the perfect one if you’ll do some diligent searching. As a general guideline, narrow your choices down to chairs in the 1.5-pound range that are less than a foot long when closed and inside a carrying case.

Ruggedness/Capacity

Sportneer Camping Chairs, Portable Ultralight Folding Camp Chair with Carry Bag
Weighing only two pounds, this strong camp chair is made to support up to 350 pounds.Sportneer

Adding ruggedness and capacity to the criteria of lightweight and packable will lead you to a great, safe chair that is easy to carry and much more comfortable to sit on than a laid-down log. However, it will also narrow your choices down significantly, since many lightweight chairs aren’t very strongly built. Chairs with quality aluminum frames are typically the best, since aluminum is both lightweight and quite sturdy. Seating made of ripstop polyester, a very strong material, will hold up to harsh weather, UR rays and is machine washable for convenience. If you’re a heavier camper or have a heavier friend you camp with frequently, be sure and check the weight rating on any chair you are considering. Sitting on a chair that isn’t made for your weight can lead to a dangerous fall and could result in serious injury.

Car Camping

Coleman Camping Chair with Side Table | Aluminum Outdoor Chair with Flip Up Table
It won’t fit into a backpack, but this chair is extremely comfortable for campers who can drive to their campsite.Coleman

So, you don’t carry your camping stuff on your back, but instead haul it directly to your not-so-remote campsite with your vehicle. Congratulations: You have far more great options than your backcountry counterparts! If you have plenty of space to haul large chairs and don’t mind loading and unloading heavy ones, comfort should be your main criteria. Many such camping chairs have great features like footrests, the ability to recline and some attached flat table space for food, snacks, fishing tackle or other items. Cushioned backs and padded armrests are bonuses and be sure to get one with a drink holder or two in order to avoid the inevitable spills that come when you set your coffee down on a rock that’s not quite flat on top. For those who have plenty of room but don’t like loading and unloading heavy chairs, there are also plenty of very light camp chairs in this category. Just make that criteria a priority when shopping.

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