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Hands-on Gear Review
Sport-Brella Recliner Review
Cons: Uncomfortable, poorly constructed, bulky, heavy
The Sport-Brella Recliner is the perfect execution of phrase, "too much of a good thing." It has significantly more features than any of the other chairs we tested: an umbrella, a cup holder, a cooler, a storage pocket with headphone port, a storage pocket with a bottle opener, a removable footrest, and it reclines! Unfortunately, most of these features didn't work very well and the chair itself is very cheaply constructed. This product earned the lowest score in the review.
For a more sturdy alternative that still feels a bit like a recliner, be sure to check out the Eureka Curvy High-Back.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Camping Chair Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Our testers were very eager to try out the Sport-Brella Recliner; unfortunately, however, all were disappointed by its performance. There were multiple quality control issues with the materials of the chair and it is worth cautioning any users who approach the Sport-Brella's 250 lb weight limit to sit with caution. The seat is decently comfortable but is very slouchy, meaning it does not offer back support and has the tendency to make your rear end fall asleep. This chair is also limited in use because it must be carried in its carrying bag or it is a royal pain to move.
The Sport-Brella Recliner was one of the least comfortable chairs that we tested. This was due to a variety of reasons: 1) It has minimal back support which results in horrible slouching. The feel of this chair is actually similar to (but less comfortable than) the Coleman Oversize Quad Chair with Cooler. 2) The Sport-Brella does not have any mesh backing to allow for ventilation on warm days. 3) It has adjustable arm rests, but they are not dependable. You can adjust them to any height you would like, but they will always settle to a lower position. 4) Finally, the poor construction of the seat was significant enough to make any tester at least slightly uncomfortable at the thought of lounging in the Sport-Brella.
It should be no surprise that the chair with the most additional features is the largest and bulkiest model to move. This chair absolutely must be carried in its travel bag with strap, otherwise it is a nightmare to carry. Either the footrest, umbrella, or both will flop out while carrying the chair if it is not contained inside its storage bag.
The Sport-Brella Recliner has a steel frame and a 250 lb maximum weight capacity. The first hint that the Sport-Brella wasn't all we were hoping it would be came after a few weeks of use when one of the buckles holding up the footrest failed. After a month or so of testing, a tester noticed that the bottom of the chair's seat started delaminating, meaning that the fabric layers that composed the main seat bottom started separating from each other. Once this occurred, the seat of the chair started sagging significantly more than before. This resulted in noticeable stress on the seams of the chair. Despite showing early signs of poor quality, the Sport-Brella miraculously withstood the run and jump test and being stood upon without breaking! This surprised testers as the chair's seat had already delaminated and was saggy from moderate use. Regardless, the Sport-Brella's stretchy material made it more resilient and it finished our review process in one piece.
Ease of Set-Up
Fortunately, setting up this chair and deploying all of its features isn't too challenging. The chair itself is assembled the same way most of the other traditional models are set up. Setting up the umbrella requires pressing two buttons to orient the umbrella's base in the correct position, and then deployment of the umbrella. This process isn't complicated, but it is awkward since the umbrella likes to get snagged on the arm rest during the process. The detachable footrest can be lowered by unclipping the chair's buckles at the seat of the chair or completely detached by unscrewing the base of the footrest at the chair leg juncture.
The additional features of the Sport-Brella Recliner are so exhaustive that they are worth mentioning again. It can recline into three positions, has an insulated cooler than can hold three 12 oz cans, has one cup holder, an attached bottle opener and two small storage pockets. It also has an umbrella which can attach to either side of the chair, a footrest, and adjustable armrests which don't actually work. Our honest evaluation is that we would rather trade half of these bells and whistles for fewer features that worked better. A great example of this is our Editors' Choice winner, the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong, which has all of the necessities that you want in a camping chair and nothing else, plus it is extremely durable and reliable.
Considering there were serious quality issues with the seat materials and the footrest buckle, we find it hard to recommend this chair for much. However, on the off-chance that these failures were due to some quality control issues, this chair would be good for serious lounging activities like going to the beach, tailgating, or camping.
If all of the features on the Sport-Brella Recliner worked, $60 would seem like a pretty good deal. But they don't, and the chair isn't very comfortable, so we don't think it is a very good value. If you like the idea of a slouchy seat, we recommend the Coleman Quad, which costs about half as much ($35).
Sorry Sport-Brella, but you're just not durable or comfortable enough to pass our tests. Take our tester's advice and don't fall for all of the fancy features of this chair. We have discovered many more reliable and impressive models that are better candidates for your dollars and your recreation needs.
— Laura Lingeman
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