Hands-on Gear Review
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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.
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!
2. First impression when sitting down: whoaa!! This thing is wobbly!
3. 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.
The Alite Mantis Chair $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: October 22, 2011
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