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Big Agnes Big Six Review

Part backpacking chair, part car camping chair, this seat is tall, wide, and comfy
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at REI
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
By Elizabeth Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2020
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Comfort - 35% 9
  • Size & Weight - 30% 3
  • Stability - 20% 10
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Big Agnes Big Six blurs the line between compact backpacking chairs and large, comfy car-camping chairs. This lead us to award it our Top Pick for Vanlifers. It has quite a few things going for it in the comfort department with its wide seat, high back, and tall butt-to-ground distance. On the other hand, this chair is heavy, and despite being significantly more compact than a car camping chair, it isn't something we recommend for your backpacking expeditions. It will also cost you a pretty penny, however, we believe it to suit some needs just right, and you may feel that Big Agnes has finally created just the chair you've been looking for.

Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


Heavy or not  the Big Six makes for the most comfortable spot to read a good book.
Heavy or not, the Big Six makes for the most comfortable spot to read a good book.

Comfort


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.

Medium-sized folks can comfortably tuck their arms inside but on warmer days  you still may wish there was somewhere else for them to go.
Medium-sized folks can comfortably tuck their arms inside but on warmer days, you still may wish there was somewhere else for them to go.

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.

If you are going to plop down in a backpacking chair with a full rack still attached  the Big Six is the one to do it in! No other chair has the size to accommodate the extra bulk nor the headrest to let you lay back and watch the next climber.
If you are going to plop down in a backpacking chair with a full rack still attached, the Big Six is the one to do it in! No other chair has the size to accommodate the extra bulk nor the headrest to let you lay back and watch the next climber.

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.

The super high back is great for reclining but makes the chair large and heavy for backpacking purposes.
The super high back is great for reclining but makes the chair large and heavy for backpacking purposes.

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.

Not to say that you should  but you can fit the chair into the side pocket on packs with extra-large side capacity.
Not to say that you should, but you can fit the chair into the side pocket on packs with extra-large side capacity.

Stability


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.

The long center bar gives the chair width  and the long bent poles offer even more space. The larger diameter poles mean you don't lose any stability with this increased size.
The long center bar gives the chair width, and the long bent poles offer even more space. The larger diameter poles mean you don't lose any stability with this increased size.

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.

The hubless design helps keep the chair stable and compact but takes a little more focus to thread the notched poles through the corresponding slots.
The hubless design helps keep the chair stable and compact but takes a little more focus to thread the notched poles through the corresponding slots.

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.

You gotta stretch that fabric over strong poles that don't bend like the poles on ultralight models.
You gotta stretch that fabric over strong poles that don't bend like the poles on ultralight models.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

A desert view can be enjoyed longer in a nice comfy chair that keeps the cactus pokers from working their way into all your clothing.
A desert view can be enjoyed longer in a nice comfy chair that keeps the cactus pokers from working their way into all your clothing.

Elizabeth Paashaus