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Big Agnes Skyline UL Stool Review

Reshaping attitudes about stools on backpacking trips, the exceptional comfort, light weight, and packability of this seat make it an unexpected winner
Big Agnes Skyline UL Stool
Photo: Big Agnes
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $80 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stable even without a backrest, high seat height, comfortable, lightweight, compact packed size
Cons:  No backrest for reclining
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes
By Elizabeth Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Comfort - 35% 6
  • Size & Weight - 30% 9
  • Stability - 20% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7

Our Verdict

Big Agnes has been a well-known name in backpacking gear for years, and while we had high expectations for the quality of the Skyline UL Stool, we weren't prepared for it to blow us away as it did. The comfort is remarkable considering there is no backrest, and the tiny size and feather weight make it a great option for backpackers on the hunt for the right elevated seat that will keep their pack weight low. If reclining is a necessity for your chair enjoyment, this stool is not for you but, given its high marks in every metric and low weight of only 20 ounces, you may reconsider after you sit in this one.

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Pros Stable even without a backrest, high seat height, comfortable, lightweight, compact packed sizeDeep comfortable seat, lightweight, surprisingly stableComfortable, spacious, tall back, accessible heightExtremely lightweight, comfortable positioningPractically indestructible, weighs less than toothpaste, insulated, inexpensive
Cons No backrest for recliningTakes longer to set upExpensive, heavy, bulky, takes more time to set upPricey, smallNo backrest, requires sitting on the ground
Bottom Line Reshaping attitudes about stools on backpacking trips, the exceptional comfort, light weight, and packability of this seat make it an unexpected winnerAn excellent combination of comfort, weight, and stabilityPart backpacking chair, part car camping chair, this seat is tall, wide, and comfyThis chair offers the highest comfort of any super light model we testedA featherweight, versatile, and durable foam seat even ultralighters won't leave at home
Rating Categories Big Agnes Skyline UL Stool Big Agnes Skyline UL Big Agnes Big Six Helinox Chair Zero Therm-a-Rest Z Seat
Comfort (35%)
6
9
10
6
2
Size & Weight (30%)
9
7
3
9
10
Stability (20%)
7
8
10
7
10
Ease Of Use (15%)
7
7
6
7
8
Specs Big Agnes Skyline... Big Agnes Skyline UL Big Agnes Big Six Helinox Chair Zero Therm-a-Rest Z Seat
Main Material 70-denier Robic nylon / ripstop nylon 66 Nylon with aluminum frame Polyester with aluminum frame Polyester with aluminum frame Cross-linked Polyethylene
Measured Weight 20 oz 29 oz 51 oz 18 oz 2 oz
Legs? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Packed Size 3.25 x 3.25 x 12 in 3.5 x 4 x 17 in 5.5 x 5.5 x 21.5 in 4 x 4 x 13.5 in 13 x 2.5 x 2.5 in
Seat Height (butt to ground) 9.5 in 9.5 in 12 in 7 in 0.5 in
Seat Width (at edge) 19 in 18.5 in 21 in 18 in 16 in
Base Size (width x depth) 14.5 x 12 in 15.5 x 13.5 in 18 x 16 in 13.5 x 10 in 16 x 13
Features 4 legged stool, color-coded frame, hub-less pole design Color-coded frame, hub-less pole design Color-coded frame, hub-less pole design, head rest Slits for breathability, small hubbed pole design Clip loop

Our Analysis and Test Results

Big Agnes has reinvented the stool with the Skyline UL model. This 4-legged stool with Big Agnes' hubless pole design has a very wide base for stability while keeping the weight and bulk to the bare minimum. On our scales, it weighs in at only 20 ounces, making it one of the very lightest elevated seats we tested. Following from the wide base is a 19-inch wide, scooped seat that is comfortable enough that our testers actually preferred sitting in this stool over many chairs. Read on to learn more about why we now think you should expunge your old-fashioned notions about stools and give this model a try.

But first: Why do all milking stools have only three legs? (answer in the conclusion)

Performance Comparison


Our testers love the comfort and stability offered by this...
Our testers love the comfort and stability offered by this super-light stool for lunch breaks, reading by the river, and cooking meals at camp.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

Comfort


When picturing a camping stool, we see a tiny triangle that gets swallowed up by even modest-sized rear ends and honestly isn't a great place to sit for long. The Skyline UL Stool has shown us that a stool can be an exceedingly comfortable place to sit. The wide base and spacious scooped seat make this stool stand out even against chairs with backs.


At 9.5 inches high, this stool has one of the loftiest seat heights among the models we tested. Many people will find a seat like this that positions their butt only slightly below their hips will be more comfortable than one that has their knees and hips at more acute angles. The width of the front of the seat plays a big role in the comfort of backpacking chairs, impacting leg support and hip restriction. The Skyline stool has a 19-inch wide edge, one of the wider ones in our test, and our reviewers never felt restricted.

You won't be able to lean back to relax on this chair because.....
You won't be able to lean back to relax on this chair because... it's a stool.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

One feature conspicuously missing from this seat is a backrest, which may be a deal-breaker if leaning back is a big part of how you relax at camp. And for many, this might be the case, but we would suggest next time you take a seat in a lightweight backpacking chair, consider how much you can relax your muscles versus how much of your core needs to stay partially engaged due to the small nature of ultralight chairs.

Not only is the Skyline UL Stool great in the backcountry, but it...
Not only is the Skyline UL Stool great in the backcountry, but it also makes a great seat for making dirtbag parking lot eggs for breakfast.
Photo: Elizabeth Paashaus

Size & Weight


Reading our thoughts on the comfort of this stool, you may be picturing an enormous platform, but in reality, the Skyline Stool is quite thrifty with its use of materials to create a spacious feeling seat.


We weighed this stool at 20 ounces, including its stuff sack, which makes it one of the very lightest tent-style chairs we tested. Its diminutive packed size is a squishable 3.25" x 3.25" x 12", making it also one of the most packable chairs in our review other than the simple ground pads. In the side pocket of a pack, it takes up about the space of a narrow plastic water bottle and, in many packs, can fit alongside a bulky Nalgene bottle. It also stuffs easily into the back pocket of most packs due to its meager and squishable size.

The lack of a backrest helps to keep this seat's packed size small...
The lack of a backrest helps to keep this seat's packed size small. The combination of the size, weight, and comfort makes our more ounce-conscious testers less wary of bringing a chair along.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

Stability


Sometimes the comfort of a chair due to it being taller is in opposition to its feeling of stability if the base is not large enough for the height. Our testers put that theory to the test with this stool since it is so high and found that even when bending over to cook on the ground, leaning to grab something from a pack, or sitting on sloped ground, the Skyline Stool feels stable.


The 14.5" x 12" base is fairly large but isn't an outlier in terms of size — yet it still ranks high for stability. We believe that the slight flex to the legs and fabric allows the chair to be forgiving of uneven ground and a bit of movement without being so flexible that you don't trust the chair to hold you.

Relaxing on some questionably level terrain, we still found the...
Relaxing on some questionably level terrain, we still found the stool to be decently stable but, as with any elevated chair, flatter terrain is better.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

At first, we wondered if we would like the directional seat design of this stool. Other stools we have tried in the past allow you to sit facing in various directions, but Big Agnes designed this one to be narrower and higher at the back and wider and lower at the front for your legs. What our testers found was that the "bum pocket" design offers the feeling of security that you find in a chair. There is never a question of sliding off the edge that one might expect in a stool without a back.

The 9" height means a little bit further lean to the ground for...
The 9" height means a little bit further lean to the ground for cooking but the stability of the stool means that you won't have to worry about tipping.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

Ease of Use


The Skyline UL Stool scores well here because of a few little features Big Agnes included that contribute to a quick and foolproof setup. The hubless poles in this chair lack the notched sections that take more time to assemble in other Big Agnes models. With the stool, the poles thread through circular holes, meaning you don't even have to open your eyes for this part. We also love that Big Agnes, again, used matching color-coded poles and receiver pockets in the fabric to reduce the number of brain cells you have to use during chair assembly. Quantum physics and camp set up at the same time is finally possible!


We mentioned before that we were somewhat apprehensive about the directional seat but that this adds to the stability of the chair. We could note that the chair would be slightly easier to use if you could sit on it in any direction, but that's not something we chose to knock any point off for.

Also mentioned previously is the tall 9.5-inch seat height that adds to comfort. This makes it easier to get in and out of and is especially helpful for folks who find it difficult to get out of the low squat required by most seats this lightweight. All things considered, there isn't much room for the Skyline Stool to be any easier to use, it's just so darn simple.

This stool is a quick setup and break down, similar to most other...
This stool is a quick setup and break down, similar to most other tent-style chairs we tested and we appreciate the color-coded poles and seat corners.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

Value


The Skyline UL Stool is a good buy for backpackers who want an ultralight seat that is highly comfortable and easy to use. If you decide that a backrest is optional after spending some time in a variety of seats in your local gear shop, consider this stool. It offers comfort at a lower price than most ultralight chairs with backs while still holding its own in the ultralight ranks at only 20 ounces.

Conclusion


As unexpected as it might be for a stool with no back to score so highly against chairs, the Skyline UL Stool is an exceptional option for backpackers. Its combination of comfort, low weight, and a small packed profile make it one of our favorite spots to park our rears. And because of its high seat, those who find smaller, lower camp chairs difficult to use will be able to get off the ground without adding pounds to their packs.

Answer to the joke: Because the cow's got the udder!

A stool with no back seems like a less likely contender to be worth...
A stool with no back seems like a less likely contender to be worth the weight in the backcountry, but you may be surprised by just how much comfort this lightweight stool can add to your hikes.
Photo: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

Elizabeth Paashaus