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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Expensive, requires time to set-up and stow away
Despite giving the Alite Mantis our Top Pick Award during our last camping chair review, we were not thrilled with its performance this time around. In comparison to the other portable models we tested, it was less stable and comfortable than the REI Camp Stowaway Low but more stable and easier to set-up than the Therm-a-Rest Treo. The Mantis' seat was roomier feeling than the seat of the Big Agnes Helinox One, but not everyone enjoyed its permanently reclined position. Take caution in the wind with this chair as its light weight and sail-like construction will make it fly! Lastly, this chair has the second lowest seat height of any of the models we tested, which makes it more difficult to get out of, so don't bring it along for Grandpa because he might not be able to get out of it.
RELATED: Our complete review of camping chairs
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Alite Mantis is a good portable model contender but is only recommended if you want a very small and lightweight chair. It is not particularly sturdy, but it is portable and more comfortable to lounge in than the ground. It does not offer any storage for additional features, but the ground is within arm's reach. It packs down to the size of a liter water bottle and weighs less than two pounds. If you're interested in a lightweight model, we recommend checking out our Top Pick for Portability, the Big Agnes Helinox Chair One.
Testers felt that the comfort of the Mantis was average. Its bucket seat is comfortable, but it is too reclined. If you try to lean forward, it is uncomfortable for your neck. If you don't lean forward, it is uncomfortable to eat or read. The Mantis has a small frame which also decreases its stability - lateral movement or assembly on a sandy or uneven surface resulted in concerns over toppling out of the seat. Its base stand is several inches narrower than the Helinox's, a significant design concern that explains its limited stability.
The Mantis received a nearly perfect score on portability. It weighs 1 lb and 14 oz and can pack down to a size that is slightly larger than a one liter water bottle. It is a little tricky to get all of the chair's parts to fit into the included storage bag, but this skill improves with practice. Its packed size is smaller than the Helinox and slightly larger than the Treo.
The materials of this chair consist of a 210 D ripstop nylon seat and aluminum poles. There were no issues with wear or tear during our testing process and testers felt its materials seemed quite sturdy. However, the Mantis did not withstand our durability tests. One 150 lb tester stood on the chair and its horizontal aluminum frame bar snapped in half. We gave it above average scores for durability.
Ease of Set-Up
Setting up the Mantis is almost the exact same process as setting up the Helinox. Both chairs have very secure pole/chair connections with reinforced stitching. The aluminum frame has an internal bungee system that allows all of the chair's frame pieces to stay connected even when disassembled. We scored the assembly of this chair as slightly better than average.
This portable model has no additional features, however its low position does makes the ground very accessible.
We only recommend this chair for lightweight or size sensitive applications, such as backpacking or other activities that require fair amounts of walking. It was not preferred for long periods of sitting. Overall, however, we recommend our Top Pick for Portability, the Helinox, over the Mantis.
Not a single tester was interested in paying the full retail price for this limited-use item. Retailing for $120, one could buy a Coleman Oversize Quad Chair with Cooler for everyone in the family instead and still save a few bucks. It is simply not stable or comfortable enough to justify its cost.
Overall, our testers just didn't like the Alite Mantis enough to recommend it. It is too low to the ground, not comfortable enough, and very unstable. All of these qualities limited its utility; instead, we would recommend either the Helinox as a portable model or the REI Camp Stowaway Low as relatively portable, very stable, and comfortable model.
Alite Monarch Butterfly $70 (two point frame construction with rocking chair type seat)
Mayfly Chair $100 (three point frame construction)
— Laura Lingeman
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 28, 2015
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