The importance of a good summer camp chair can’t be understated. You need it in the woods, at music festivals, and for backyard barbecues. To help you choose the best one, I spent the past couple weeks throwing back beers with my butt planted in various chair models. Here are my five favorites for 2016.
Helinox Beach Chair ($150)
Best For: Hanging out by the water
This chair is just as comfortable as its larger competitors but packs down to half the size and weighs just three pounds. Helinox designed the legs to flare out so they won’t sink into sand. The seat is low (10.6 inches off the ground), making it more difficult to get in and out, but it was totally planted once I was seated.
Evrgrn Campfire Rocker ($60)
Best For: Rooftop barbecues
Evrgrn designed a gorgeous mobile rocking chair that sets up in minutes and lets you sway while drinking beer. But be warned: This chair is tiny and not suited for all rockers. One tester with a 32-inch waist felt pressure on his hips as soon as he sat down. Also, testers found that the chair had to be on a solid, level platform to work. Rocking in gravel or dirt was nearly impossible.
Alite Calpine Chair ($100)
Best For: Design geeks
This chair’s three-leg design gives it a modern look that stands out at musical festivals. I also appreciated the 15-inch seat height, which made for easy ins and outs. The chair was a little less stable than many of the others and harder to assemble, but it still came together in less than a minute. “This looks so beautiful that I would leave it out on the patio, but I wouldn’t take it rafting,” one tester said.
REI Stowaway Low Chair ($45)
Best For: Drinking beer
All testers who sat in this tiny chair were surprised by how comfortable it was. The wide platform was stable, and the arm rests coaxed me into the right position. It also sat well on all kinds of uneven terrain. The low seat height was the only drawback. “Once I got in this chair, I would ask people to give me my beers for the rest of the night because I wouldn’t be getting up,” one tester said.
Coleman Comfortsmart InterLock Suspension Chair ($50)
Best For: Car camping
This is the Cadillac of camp chairs. Like the car, the Comfortsmart is about as plush as seats come, with a giant 22-inch seating area, high back, and bungee-cord suspension. If you’re tall or have weak knees and don’t like to crouch, this is the chair for you. Of course, all that comfort comes at a price. This chair is heavy and huge. “[The carrying case] is bigger than any tent I own,” one tester said when he first saw the Comfortsmart. Relegate this chair to your backyard or trunk.