After months of testing backpacking chairs in a wide range of environments, the Big Agnes Skyline UL always came away as comfortable, stable, and one of our favorites. It sits higher off the ground than many of its competitors, which is great for the legs after a long day of hiking. Despite being on the larger side, it remains decently lightweight. There are other chairs in this review that are more stable and versatile, but this one is by far the best combination of comfort and weight. If you're looking for a chair that you can truly bring anywhere, this Editors' Choice Award winner might just be it.
Big Agnes Skyline UL Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, lightweight, stable
Cons: Potentially less versatile
Manufacturer: Big Agnes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested a lot of great chairs this round, but found the Skyline is the best option for those heavily concerned with weight and comfort.
Comfort can mean a lot of different things, so we recruited as many friends and testers as we could to help reach a consensus on the overall comfort of each seat. The Skyline was always a crowd-pleaser. With its deep seat and nice height off the ground, this chair easily captures a high score for this category.
One of the major features of comfort is height. Getting in and out of chairs that are on or close to the ground can be a pain, especially for those with hip and knee issues. Additionally, when the knees are level with the hips, as opposed to higher than them, it's easier to be comfortable for a longer period of time. While the Skyline isn't the tallest chair we tested, it's much higher than competitors in the same price range.
Material and seat depth also contribute significantly to this chair's comfort. While many others feel flimsy and narrow, the Skyline is supportive, wide, and deep enough to truly relax in. The one characteristic missing from this seat is breathability. While some of the chairs we tested have mesh panels for airflow, this one does not.
Size, specifically weight, is a super important part of any backpacking item — especially when heading out into the wilderness. Besides weighing every product on our own scale, we also assess how well each one can pack down and fit into a pack.
The Skyline, at 29 ounces, lands about in the middle of our testing group. It's important to note, however, that we tested two distinctly different types of chairs: taco-style and tent-style. Tent-style chairs, like this one, have two parts: a cloth seat and folding poles that act as legs. Taco-style chairs, on the other hand, are one piece of folding material that sits on the ground and uses the sitter's body to keep them upright. Because tent-style chairs have more parts, they tend to be heavier, even when manufactured to be very light. Of the tent-style options in our review, however, the Skyline is noticeably on the lighter side.
One thing we like about tent-style chairs is that they typically fold into a stuff sack quite easily. Taco-style chairs, on the other hand, are often lighter but also bulkier and harder to pack. While we may be hesitant to carry anything not 100% necessary into the backcountry, at less than two pounds, we could easily be convinced to bring along the Skyline.
Before starting our testing process, we didn't understand how truly important stability would be. But after our testers sat in chair after chair, their first piece of feedback was almost always about stability. So many products try desperately to reduce their weight, and that often translates to a subpar leg design.
The Skyline, however, offers well-designed legs and receives an excellent score for stability. The overall shape is similar to many in this review, but the rear legs have a unique curve. We thought this might just be a gimmick, but, as it turns out, it serves a purpose and gets the job done admirably.
We know that this is a backpacking review, but the truth is, there are so many places small travel chairs can be used. Whether it's deep in the backcountry, at a sporting event, or at the beach, all of the chairs we tested in this review have many functions.
The Skyline gets a high score for versatility for a couple of reasons. First, its height off the ground makes it nice to use in wet or muddy climates, or in the sand at the beach. It's the perfect height to sit near the water and get your feet wet if you don't want to dive all the way in. Additionally, its stability makes it a better choice on uneven surfaces than some of the other tent-style chairs we tested. Finally, its weight increases the likelihood that you will want to bring it along anywhere you go.
On the other hand, this chair doesn't have any "bonus" features, like pockets or drink holsters, and its lack of breathability may make you look elsewhere if you're planning to spend a lot of time in hot or humid climates.
The Skyline falls right about in the middle of prices for tent-style chairs in this review. We like this seat because we find its combination of comfort and weight unmatched for such a reasonable price. If you're looking to make an investment in a quality piece of gear that you'll find countless uses for, this is a really great option.
We awarded the Big Agnes Skyline UL Editors' Choice in this review because of its remarkable combination of comfort and weight — the two categories we feel are most important when choosing a backpacking chair. It sits decently high off the ground, has great seat depth, and a weight that makes it truly possible to bring anywhere. If you're ready to up your comfort game when out adventuring, this chair is an excellent choice.
— Lauren DeLaunay