Big Agnes Big Six Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, spacious, tall back, accessible height
Cons: Expensive, heavy, bulky, takes more time to set up
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The biggest thing that the Big Six has going for it is… its bigness. Unlike most chairs designed to be compact and lightweight, this model is wide, tall, and even has a headrest, all qualities that make it one of the most comfortable ones we tested. We don't believe it qualifies as a true backpacking chair at 51 ounces, but being only a few ounces heavier than the next heaviest model we tested, it certainly fits in this category better than with bulky car camping chairs and is perfect for folks who can take an extra pound but prioritize a chair that packs down into small spaces.
The Big Six provides major comfort. Its wide seat feels spacious and cozy for smaller users and is more accommodating of larger users. Big Agnes uses a wide base plus bent poles to offer the largest seat possible. We also love the super high back with a headrest, something no other chair in our test has.
The height off the ground is another feature that makes the Big Six unique. A standard dining chair is 18 inches off the ground, and the Big Six measures in at 12 inches high. Our older friends and those with creaky knees find this trait desirable. It's considerably easier to get into and out of this chair than all of the shorter models we tested. Though the height is a bonus for most people, folks under 5'5" or so may find the edge of the seat digging into the backs of their knees because it is so high off the ground and the seat is so deep.
On the flip side, we do not like how high the sides are. Your arms may feel trapped in this chair because you'll either have to tuck your elbows in with you or rest your arms on a ridge of fabric that isn't soft and can dig into your flesh. Additionally, the bum-pocket doesn't put your back in the optimal position — some users noticed curving of the lower back — but it's not far off of a perfect score.
Size & Weight
Because this review is specific for backpacking, our testing team knows that every product has to be suitable for carrying long distances. The Big Six, while fairly small in folded size, is by far the heaviest chair in this review. The lightest come in at under 20 ounces, but this one, at 51 ounces, starts to feel less like a backpacking chair and more like a camping chair.
It is still significantly more compact than a camp chair in its bag at 21.5 inches long with a diameter of about 6 inches. We managed to fit it in the side pockets and strap it to the side of some backpacks, but we don't think this should be your first, or second, or even third choice if your goal is to tote it into the backcountry on your pack.
On the other hand, if you are searching for the best backpacking chair to be a compact option for travel rather than carrying on your back, the Big Six more than meets those needs, and we love it for popping it at car camping sites.
The Big Six is incredibly stable despite its height and achieves our highest score in this category. We worried that being so far off the ground would make tipping easier, but we never found that to be true.
The feet are spaced apart nicely, making a base of 18 inches by 16 inches — significantly larger than other models in this test. This base size makes it difficult to tip over in any direction, even when leaning out to pass a beer to your buddy. The frame is made of aluminum poles of a larger diameter than other backpacking seats, reducing the bendy feel you get in other, smaller chairs. When you take a load off in the Big Six, you can feel confident.
Ease of Use
Big Agnes' unique hub-less pole design allows the Big Six to pack down much smaller than models with hubs, but also requires a little extra time and focus to set up. The notch in each pole needs to be lined up and threaded through a matching hole. We aren't talking about an extra 10 minutes of set up time, more like an extra 30 seconds, but you need to pay attention and deliberately place each pole where it goes.
We like that the Big Six has instructions printed on the inside of the bag, even though the set up really doesn't require them. However, the top of the chair fabric must be attached to the poles before the bottom or you won't be able to stretch it hard enough to insert the top pieces. We found that even when setting it up according to instructions, the sheer size and strength of the materials cause the Big Six to require a little more force than others we tested. The other aspect that is a bit tough is getting the chair back in its narrow bag. If the fabric isn't wrapped just right around the chair, the rigid parts make it hard to zip the bag closed.
Another aspect we factor into ease of use is how much of a struggle it is to get into and out of the chair. With a butt-to-ground height of 12 inches, very few users will have a hard time standing back up after a long day's hike — at least not because of the chair height.
The Big Six is one of the priciest models we tested. If your priority is getting a large and comfortable chair that will support your unstable sitting habits, but that doesn't have to be uber small or light, this chair may hold excellent value for you. But if you are planning on schlepping a chair into the backcountry, we think your money would be better spent on a backpacking chair that doesn't weigh more than the pack itself.
We truly love the comfort of the Big Six and think, for the right user, it is an excellent choice. Vanlifers who want an everyday chair that isn't as monstrous as a standard camp chair will love this model because of its ability to fit into narrow nooks and crannies in the rig. Families who need to pack four or more chairs into the minivan along with the kids and all the other camp gear will also appreciate its compact size. However, for a backpacking chair, we can't really recommend bringing this one along because of its massive weight. This chair lives in an in-between space, which is why we awarded it a Top Pick for Vanlifers.
— Elizabeth Paashaus