If lightweight adventure is the name of your game, look no further than the Alite Mayfly. The Mayfly is comfortable, supportive, and suited to a wide variety of adventures. Combined with its astoundingly low weight and solid durability, our testing team concluded the Mayfly is an exceptional choice for backpacking. Its price is spot-on, and while not as comfortable as some of the other chairs we tested, it is incredibly well-rounded across all the metrics. After weeks of playing with this chair in Yosemite National Park, from lounging around camp to trekking far into the backcountry, we found a whole lot to love with this product.
Alite Designs Mayfly Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, versatile
Cons: Too low to ground
Manufacturer: Alite Designs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mayfly isn't quite as comfortable as some of the heavier chairs in this test or as light as some of the more versatile ones, but we are impressed with its balance of comfort and size, especially considering its wallet-friendly price.
Here at OutdoorGearLab, we often testing products that are performance-driven; but backpacking chairs are a bit different. Given that their whole purpose is to make us more comfortable, we didn't want to skimp on this category. Our expert testing team reviewed a whole host of features for this metric, including materials, cushioning, support, leg room, and stability. Our initial impression of this chair was very positive, but its low rise forced us to deduct some points.
We asked hoards of people to sit in this chair, and we noticed one big trend: everyone found it to be great… until we asked them to stand up. The Mayfly's design is a bit different than the other pole-style chairs in this review. Compared to the Heliox Chair Zero or the TravelChair Joey, both of which include four individual legs, the Mayfly has a more significant connection to the ground. This seat is supported by two long bars that run width-wise, which are significantly more stable than any other chair of this type.
The material is comfortable as well, featuring excellent mesh paneling for ventilation. The seat is decently deep and reclined, and is perfectly designed to cradle you after a long day spent on your feet. The back is high enough to provide ample support, and the seat is wide enough to allow for ample leg stretch. The problem came with the height; while the low-riding design of this chair might be contributing heavily to its increased stability, it was challenging to get in and out of. Our older friends refused to try to sit in it, and even our young, spry coworkers found it uncomfortable and cumbersome. This was a major factor detracting from the overall score of the Mayfly, whose seat was otherwise on par with the other tent-style chairs in this review.
While folding chairs serve a lot of purposes, this is a backpacking review, after all; as such, packing size is an essential metric. For this section, we looked at both weight and packed size in relation to each product's competitors to evaluate how well each chair would serve you on a long trip into the backcountry.
The Mayfly is a tent-style chair and packs down to about the same size as the REI Flexlite and is also nearly identical in weight. At 28 ounces, these two chairs are much lighter than the TravelChair Joey. In its bag, the Mayfly is smaller than the Joey, which we deemed appropriate only for front-country use. If you're concerned about weight, however, your best bet is still the Helinox Chair Zero. At only 17 ounces, this competitor is arguably similar in comfort.
Since we're testing chairs for backcountry use, durability needs to be top-notch. If we're going to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail for months on end, we don't want our seat failing us halfway through. Tent-style chairs typically have more moving parts than taco-style chairs, but we found the Mayfly to be an anomaly.
During our testing process, we were surprised at how solid this chair felt. Because of its increased contact with the ground when compared to the other tent-style chairs we reviewed, the legs much less likely to bend or snap. Additionally, the material is burly and strong, not unlike that of the Joey. There are no fragile plastic pieces, like those found on the Joey, however, which is a major plus.
Gear is expensive, and despite being massive gear junkies, we greatly appreciate it when our gear can be used in a wide variety of situations. Backpacking chairs are no different. We'd love to have just one chair for traveling, no matter the destination, and we awarded high points to chairs that we could bring anywhere.
The Mayfly received high marks for versatility. Its leg configuration performs much better on sand and soft surfaces than its legged competitors, making this an excellent choice for the beach. The weight also contributed to this high score, as it was light enough to lug into the backcountry, especially when compared to the Joey and Helinox Swivel, which were nearly twice as heavy.
The Mayfly is great for a wide variety of situations. This seat is better suited for the beach than any we tested, and its durable yet light build makes it a no-brainer for just about any trip you could dream up. However, because the seat is so low to the ground, older users or anyone who has a harder time getting up and down from the ground found it difficult to use.
Ringing in at $100, the Mayfly is on par with its competitors. The Joey is more comfortable but significantly heavier, and is priced at $75. That being said, since you're nearly sitting on the ground, you could have a taco-style chair for as low as $25. We think the Mayfly is accurately priced, but we had a hard time finding its ideal market.
As far as backpacking chairs go, the Alite Mayfly is a great middle ground. It's more comfortable than any of the taco-style chairs we tested and much lighter than most of the tent-style ones. It's durable yet very light, and all for a reasonable price. Though we couldn't quite give this chair one of our esteemed awards, this chair could be a great investment for those interested in a taco-style chair with comfort and light weight.
— Lauren DeLaunay