Best Backpacking Chairs: Enjoy Hours of Comfortable Lounging
Enjoy a few moments of rest after a long day backpacking with these ultralight chairs
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON October 13, 2019
There comes a time during any backpacking trip that you want to sit down and take in the scenery or just stop for a quick snack. It can be uncomfortable sitting on the rocks, and you may break some of your supplies if you sit on your backpack. Our guide below reviews some of the most comfortable backpacking chairs that could be very helpful on your next trip.
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Benefits of Backpacking Chairs
- Back support. Some people might consider backpacking chairs a non-essential luxury item. However, for people who suffer from back pain but still want to enjoy the outdoors, backpacking chairs are indispensable. With the freedom to rest anywhere, whether kayaking down the coast or scrambling up a mountain, a lot more of the wilderness is suddenly open to you.
- Focus. There’s nothing like taking time to relax out in nature—it reminds you why you do this in the first place. Whether you’re reading a book, checking out your map for tomorrow, or chopping veggies, camp chairs help you enjoy the sights and sounds of the beautiful place you worked so hard to reach.
- Versatility. You don’t have to be in the backcountry to enjoy your backpacking chair. They’re also extremely useful for outdoor festivals, sporting events, or just enjoying your backyard or front porch. You can never be sure when there will be enough seating, so it’s always nice to have a backup plan.
Types of Backpacking Chairs
The simplest form of backpacking comfort, seat pads function similarly to sleeping pads by placing an insulated layer between you and the ground. This helps conserve body heat and keep sharp things from digging into you, but it doesn’t come with any back support.
Ground chairs consist of two hinged panels held together by straps and buckles. When you sit on one panel and lean back against the other, the straps tighten, giving you firm back support. They’re easily portable and are the lightest chairs available, but you’re still sitting on the ground.
Lightweight folding stools are easy to fit into a backpack and comfy for sitting around a fire. Frames tend to be made of light, sturdy materials, with seats stretched between them. Unfortunately, this convenience sacrifices back support.
These have the most complex frames, with tent-like structures set up to support large chairs. Folding chairs are the most comfortable option for camping, and can even boast amenities like cupholders. However, they’re also the heaviest and take up a lot of space.
Crazy Creek was founded in 1987 by two Outward Bound instructors who wanted to build a better way for their guides and students to rest. They built their chair in an attic in Red Lodge, Montana, where the company is still headquartered today. It is most famous for lightweight products like The Chair.
Founded in 2009, Helinox aims to reinvent what lightweight, portable furniture can be. Using aluminum poles manufactured by South Korean aluminum experts DAC, Helinox builds everything from tables and cots to rockers and even swivel chairs. One of its top-selling products is the Helinox Swivel Chair.
Backpacking Chair Pricing
- Under $25: This range includes bare-bones products like stools and ground chairs. Some child-size folding chairs can also be found for less than $25.
- $25 to $50: Higher-quality ground chairs and ground coverings tend to fall within this price range. More roomy folding chairs start to appear for under $50.
- $50 to $75: Large folding chairs and other heavier gear can be bought in this price range. At the upper end of this range, extra-luxurious items like wide camping couches start to appear.
- Over $75: Spending this much gets you durable, long-lasting chairs and loveseats, some of which could easily be used as indoor furniture.
Not a must-have feature, but for some people, staying off the ground is the most important reason to bring a chair along. Aluminum frames make chairs more comfortable, but less portable. They’re a better choice if you plan to use them closer to civilization, though some frames are light enough to bring on the trail.
Lots of camp chairs, even backpacking chairs, come with cupholders in the arms. If you want a chair with a cupholder, decide what you plan to be drinking on the trail—there’s nothing worse than a slot that doesn’t fit your favorite thermos.
Some larger, more expensive camp chairs feature adjustable backs. Not only does this make them more comfortable, but it also lets them double as cots.
Camp chairs that are made for backpacking sometimes come with compression sacks that ensure they take up as little space as possible. This can be a good sign that a chair is trail-ready.
- Weight Limit. Backpacking chairs can be pretty durable, but they’re also not built to the standards of indoor furniture. If you put too much weight on them, you risk damaging the frame. Make sure to check how much weight a chair can handle before you buy it.
Best Backpacking Chair Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Buy a hammock for your backpacking trip if you plan on going into the woods. You will have a comfortable place to sleep and a place to rest when you want to relax next to the campfire.
- Clear the rocks and pebbles from the sitting area before setting up a backpacking chair. It will be more stable on a level surface.
- Do not store the chair next to sharp objects in your backpack that may rip the fabric. Store it in a side pocket so that it can remain crease-free, protected from damage, and easily accessible.
- Store the backpacking chair in your car, so that it can be within reach during outdoor events that you may attend.
Q: Can I get a good night’s sleep on a backpacking chair?
A: Typically, no. You’ll probably wake up with a backache and a stiff neck. Sleeping in one position can strain your lower back. Moreover, if the chair is low and your knees are higher than your pelvic area, you will have poor blood flow to your legs. It also won’t be as warm as sleeping in a sleeping bag.
Q: Can I use a sleeping pad as a backpacking chair?
A: If you fold the sleeping pad in half, it can be comfortable to sit on even on rough terrain. However, a sleeping pad is difficult to carry around and more suited for car camping trips.
Q: Is there a difference between a backpacking and camping chair?
A: Many camping chairs are too large for backpacking. Most only fold one way, and the majority of the structure is made up of wood or steel and heavy-duty material for comfort, so it can get heavy.
Our top pick is the Helinox Camping Chair. It provides plenty of space and is durable enough for a frequent backpacker.
A more affordable but comfortable option is our value pick, the MARCHWAY Folding Chair.