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Alite Monarch Butterfly Review

Top Pick Award

Backpacking Chairs

  • Currently 4.2/5
Overall avg rating 4.2 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: September 2, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $48 - $80 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Innovative and cool design, comfortable, lightest and most compact chair in our review.
Cons:  Expensive, requires time to set up and stow away, not very stable.
Best Uses:  Camping, backpacking, picnics, afternoons at the park.
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 1 reviews
Manufacturer:   Alite
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ October 22, 2011  
The Alite Monarch Butterfly is the most innovative camp chair we have seen and wins our Top Pick award. It was the lightest and most compact chair we tested and had the coolest design. It lets you sit off the ground and feel like you are floating on air. We have not seen a camp chair that lets you sit off the ground that is nearly as light or compact. It did not win Editors' Choice because it is not that stable or versatile compared to the other camp chairs. Even on flat surfaces some testers had trouble getting used to it. On unstable surfaces like sand or gravel, it almost takes more work to stay balanced than is worth it. If you are looking for a really cool, light and compact chair, the Alite Monarch may be it. If you want a more versatile and stable chair, we would recommend the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 PowerLounger. The PowerLounger is faster and easier to set up, very stable, can by unfolded to be shared and doubles as a sleeping pad. Or, if you just want the best value in a camp chair, we recommend the Crazy Creek Original.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

What could be more mundane than a chair, the most basic of human furniture designs. And yet, Alite found a way to make it cool. We see a lot of gear here at OutdoorGearLab and only every once in a while does a product really turn our heads. This is one of those products. It's a great gift for your outdoorsy relative who probably has seen it all.

Novelty aside, this chair is really comfortable. It overcomes the No. 1 problem with most lightweight camp chairs: they squeeze in on your sides. Not so with the Monarch, which has a nice open mitt for your rump.

The reclining position is comfortable and lets you effortlessly rock back and forth.

The chair keeps you a foot off the ground, which no other lightweight camp chair does. This ideal for wet grass and dewy dirt. Around a campfire you can sit eye level with the people who forgot their chairs and are sitting on a rock.

This chair is limited in its applications and not nearly as versatile as other camp chairs. What it does well, it does really well. But there are a number of situations where it fails:
Sand? The chair sinks and generally leans to one side.
Hill or incline; hard to stay balanced.
Snow? Forgetaboutit.
Concerts? The person behind you may not be happy.
Use as sleeping pad or for a quick nap? Nope.

Some people may have trouble balancing in the chair. In our tests we had a few dozen different people try this chair for the first time. Their reactions were always the same:
  1. First impression when putting it together: That chair is cool!
  1. First impression when sitting down: whoaa!! This thing is wobbly!
  1. Second impression after two minutes: Okay, now I get how it works and how to balance, this is great!

So it takes some getting used to. But even then, this chair is not for everyone. You have to be in reasonably good shape. We would not recommend it to anyone with bad knees or a bad back because it takes a fairly committing and balancy move to get into it.

Other Versions
The Alite Designs Mayfly, $100, is low and comfortable - a hybrid of the Monarch and Mantis.

The Alite Mantis $120 is a bigger and more stable version of this chair. It is double the price and weight but has four points to balance on instead of the two points on the Mantis.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: September 2, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 1 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Sep 2, 2013 - 09:42pm
ilvbp · Backpacker · phx, az
Never leave home without it. This is my mantra after having left it because…well, i wanted to save some weight. No more. It is awesome. Because it has the "hammock" suspension back it is great for providing a slight stretch to your lower back. The other chairs just support your back, this chair supports your lower back as well and give you that nice stretch. Regarding use on soft surfaces…use a piece of bark or flat rock or something to spread the weight, anything will work. In Arizona we have a lot of sandy areas and i use the chair without a real problem. The chair takes some practice to master, once you do…you will love it. Sit in it…stretch your legs out and balance. Want to take a nap…stretch your legs out and tilt your head against a tree and sleep. No tree, prop up your backpack with trekking poles and lean back and sleep. No problem…at 17.6 oz it is a dream at the end of a hard day on the trail. Learn your gear, practice with the gear and maximize it use and performance.

With this chair you are also the envy of the log sitters who are saving weight.

By the way…it is easy to set up and pack away small. Set up by putting the ends into the color coordinated pockets on the fabric. To put away…pop off the fabric and roll over the alum supports and put in your pack. The low score in the review seems strange…It is very simple.

I highly recommend this chair…nothing better out there. Don't let the two points of support deter you…try it you will like it…it is fun and very relaxing.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Alite Monarch Butterfly Camp Chair
Credit: Alite Designs
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MooseJaw $47.99  -  31% off!
REI $69.95
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