When you head out into backcountry, you have to find the right balance between being prepared and carrying the lightest load. And camp chairs—often bulky and cumbersome—are usually the first items to be jettisoned. But there’s a new breed of lightweight, compact chair that was born for backpacking. So whether you’re trekking into the wild or just planning a summer backyard-barbecue circuit, you won’t regret taking these comfortable seats along.
Helinox Chair One ($97)
Best for: Backpacking and bike touring
Weight: 1.97 pounds with tote bag
The Helinox Chair One has won two of the most coveted awards in the outdoor industry, and for good reason. The Chair One’s poles are made from the same TH72M aluminum-based alloy found in the world’s best tents and hiking staffs. With shock-cord technology, the self-locating poles automatically pop into place. All you have to do is slip on the mesh seat cover, and you’re ready to relax. Chair One can hold more than 300 pounds, but weighs less than two. When collapsed in a bag, it’s about the size of a shoe. Helinox also makes a portable camp table from the same materials.
Alite Monarch ($70)
Best for: Backpacking and music festivals
Weight: 1.15 pounds
The Monarch is not your standard four-legged chair. In fact, it’s not a four-legged chair at all. This seat’s innovative two-leg design lets you use your center of gravity to either sit still or rock back and forth. The coolest part? It works on any terrain. At 1.5 pounds, the Monarch is a very lightweight chair, yet it can hold up to 250 pounds. We reviewed this product a few years ago and it’s still one of the best and most innovative camping chairs around.
Coleman Oversize Quad Chair with Cooler ($35)
Best for: Car camping and tailgating
Weight: 9.9 pounds
This chair has the same general design as your standard folding camp chair, but with some nice extras. Though fairly inexpensive ($35), it’s more durable than a cheap chair you might get from Walmart. While the Oversize chair is well built and functional, the feature that really sets it apart is its storage space: there’s a built-in cooler bag that can accommodate five beers and some ice. A storage flap on the other side will hold your keys, camera, snacks, and magazines.
Kelty Camp Chair ($25)
Best for: Backpacking, camping, watching a game
Weight: 1 pound
Everyone should have Kelty’s folding camp chair in their vehicle’s trunk. Simple design and versatility make this a worthy seat. Basically a sleeping pad, its closed-cell, Therm-a-Rest-style foam padding will insulate your bottom from the frozen ground. What raises the chair to furniture status, and not just that of a pad, though, are its internal composite stays (which give it structure) and its adjustable straps (which let you adjust your sitting position).
Chaheati Four-Season Heated Chair ($72)
Best for: Cold-weather camping and ice fishing
Weight: 8 pounds
This all-season chair has a built-in heater that will keep you warm during those cool spring nights. It uses a lightweight lithium-ion battery (no cords!) that can be recharged in the car as you drive. The Chaheati, which can go up to 145 degrees in less than 20 seconds, uses a single button for switching among four heat settings. The best part? Its battery lasts up to six hours, so you can spend a whole day ice fishing next winter without worrying about a frozen butt. Do keep in mind, though, that this chair is too bulky to bring on a backpacking trip.
Lafuma Futura Air Shell Zero Gravity Camp Chair ($240)
Best for: Car camping and stargazing
Weight: 17.4 pounds
This is the perfect perch to watch the sky from. All you have to do is lean back to recline, and resistance levers keep you in position. The chair’s ergonomic design and extended leg support render it the most comfortable on our list. A single-thread weave of Batyline material makes up the breathable, durable mesh. For added comfort, there’s a mattress that clips to the chair and that, along with the 3-D mesh, can be removed and washed.
Eagles Nest Outfitters Lounger Chair ($120)
Best for: Backpacking and camping
Weight: 3.37 pounds
Have you ever wanted to sit and read a book while hanging directly over a rushing backcountry stream? Then you might want to check out the Lounger. Eagles Nest, which makes some of the most popular camping hammocks on the market, has remained true to its history with the Lounger, a hanging seat you can set up just about anywhere. When teamed up with a carabiner and a strap, the Air Craft aluminum frame can hold up to 250 pounds. The adjustable angle-of-recline and dangling-footrest features let you customize whatever space you choose to occupy.
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