How to Choose a Camping Chair

Spending time with friends outdoors is easier when you don’t have to convince anyone to sit on the ground.   Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan from Unsplash.

Spending time with friends outdoors is easier when you don’t have to convince anyone to sit on the ground. Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan from Unsplash.

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t used a chair, but ironically, this is usually one of the last items people think to bring on their outdoor adventures. 

Camping chairs are useful for an array of activities, and there are designs for all types of outdoor pursuits. If you’re heading to the park, hanging out on the beach, backpacking for 3 days, rafting the Grand Canyon for 15+ days, watching an outdoor concert, or tailgating the big game, chances are, you’ll want to pack a chair. 

We’ll walk you through questions to ask yourself when choosing a chair, certain features you’ll want, and what to watch out for. For more information on camping chairs, see our story on the 5 Best Camping Chairs.


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how to Pick the camp chair for you

The chair for you can be found with one question: where will be sitting most often? My answer is mixed; I want a chair that is lightweight and packable enough to take on multi-day rafting trips, but also comfortable enough to kick back and relax in back at the truck after a day of backcountry skiing. 


My highest priorities are going to be weight, packability, and construction. My mom, however, wants a sturdy chair that she can take with her to the lake or out to her greenhouses, without breaking the bank. Her highest priorities are going to be construction, budget, and comfort.  

You may want to concentrate on just one aspect (budget, for instance), or you may have a mixture of criteria, like my mom and I do. 

campchairs

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get an idea of what kind of camp chair is for you:

1. How often will you be using this chair?

If it’s often, you may want to invest a little more or look for one with extra features that you’ll appreciate. (Adding an attachable footrest, like the Alps Mountaineering Escape Chair with Footrest, is great, we’re just saying!)

Testing different models of camp chairs for our    Best Camping Chair story   .   Photo courtesy the author.

Testing different models of camp chairs for our Best Camping Chair story. Photo courtesy the author.

2. What types of terrain will you be using this chair on?

If you’ll be at the beach a lot, look for chairs with wide foot pads or bars, so that they won’t sink in the sand (like the GCI Outdoor Everywhere Chair.) If you’re planning to be on rocky ground in the backcountry, look for a wide construction that allows for versatility, like the Travelchair Joey. If you’re planning to split your time in the chair between the park and your local amphitheatre, look for a chair designed for comfort, but low enough to not disturb concert goers behind you (like our Lightweight option in our Best Camping Chairs story, the Alite Mayfly).

 

3. What’s your budget?

There are certainly more expensive options out there, but you don’t have to break the bank. We found the majority of collapsible chairs to be in the $20-$40 range.

 
The   Helinox Zero Chair    is our lightweight chair option.   Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash.

The Helinox Zero Chair is our lightweight chair option. Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash.

4. Are you looking for a camp chair for taller people? Camp chair for a bad back? An extra cushioned camp chair?

Take these “upgrades” into consideration. If you’re 6’6” and need lumbar support, you may be able to find a combination of great construction, great back support, and built for tall people, like the Strongback Elite.

 

5. Are you looking for a Minimalist Camp Chair? Looking for a Two Seat Camp Chair?

We found a few specialty options with great reviews, like the REI Trail Stool for the minimalists, or Kelty’s Discovery Low Love Seat when you want room for friends. If you think a stool is a little too minimalist for you, but you know you want something as light as possible, consider the Lightweight Backpacking pick in our Best Camping Chairs story, the Helinox Zero Chair. Keep your eyes out for designs that stray from the norm - they might be just the ticket!

Testing a camp chair in the desert after a long day on the water .  Photo courtesy author.

Testing a camp chair in the desert after a long day on the water. Photo courtesy author.


Camping Chairs: When, Where, and How to Use ‘Em. 

If you’re car camping, RVing, or heading to the lake for the day, then a folding collapsible chair (like our Overall Pick) might be perfect for you. Weight most likely won’t be an issue in these circumstances, and the plush additions (built-in cooler, cup holders, foot rests, etc.) can be just the ticket for a relaxing evening at the campground. But for backpackers, weight is a big deal. 

Our Backpacking Pick is lightweight, folds down to a slim tube, and is easy to stow and set up. It’s smaller than what you may want for car camping, but is low enough to bring to an outdoor concert venue without blocking your neighbors behind you. 

You may enjoy a specialty chair, like our Rocking Chair Pick in our Best Camping Chairs Story, or a portable loveseat.

If you’re looking for a chair that can offer strength and sturdiness as well as comfort, see our Heavy Duty pick.


What to look for in a camp chair?

To choose the Best Camp Chairs from dozens of options out there for our Best Camping Chairs story, we developed criteria:

  • packability

  • weight

  • construction quality

  • versatility

  • affordability

  • easy to transport

  • comfortable

  • durable


To see more details on each of these criteria or what to look for in a camp chair, read our Best Camping Chairs guide.


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