Much of the way that "Kleenex" has replaced the word for "tissue," so has Crazy Creek dominated the chair industry. When we told our friends we were testing camp chairs, they told us countless stories of their beloved Crazy Creek chairs, from backpacking trips to outdoor concerts to summer camps of the past. We found the Original Chair to be the baseline model for the taco-style chairs of this review, receiving above-average scores in every category. In the end, we found it less comfortable than the ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat, which won our Best Buy on a Tight Budget Award, but we wouldn't hesitate to recommend this chair to a friend looking for a lifetime of sitting comfort.
Crazy Creek Original Chair Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Durable, compact, comfortable
Cons: Stiff, not as lightweight
Manufacturer: Crazy Creek
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We felt that comfort was, far and away, the most important metric in our testing, and the Weekender, therefore, edged out the Original Chair for our Best Buy Award. This seat did, however, have superior durability and a whole host of fun designs and colors, making it a solid choice for a lightweight, easy to transport backpacking chair.
Whereas most of our outdoor gear serves a distinct functionality aside from comfort, this review was unique in that the primary function of chairs is to help up your relaxing game. In this metric, we looked at both the materials and dimensions of each product to help gather evidence to support what our butts already knew: some chairs are just better than others. The Original Chair scored an average ranking in this metric because of its great size and ease of adjustment.
We were initially turned off by the stiffness of the Original Chair, but after an extended period of testing, we eventually found it supportive and kind on our backs. Like the other three taco chairs we tested, there is no breathability here, which led us to pick up a more comfortable chair like the REI Flexlite on the hottest of days.
The Original Chair has a 16-inch back height which we found to hit at just the right spot on our back. It is not as comfortable as the 20-inch back of the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 PowerLounger, but it was on par with that of the Best Buy Award-winning Weekender. The side straps are low enough to easily keep your arms outside of and we would gladly take the shorter back of this chair over the high but awkward back of the Kelty Camp Chair.
Featuring the narrowest of any of the seats, we found this to significantly reduce its comfort for any but our smallest of testers. At less than 15 inches wide, we appreciated the extra inches of the other chairs in this review.
This chair's straps are easy to reach and adjust, which we found important with a design that rests on the search for your perfect reclining angle. We find ourselves making frequent adjustments when sitting in taco style chairs; thus, being able to easily reach and maneuver the straps was necessary.
Since this is a review specifically for backpacking, our testers knew that size would be a crucial metric. Weighing in near the middle of the taco pack with only one lighter tent-style chair (the Helinox Chair Zero), the Original Chair once again earned an average score in this category.
At 26 ounces, compared to the 28 ounces of the Best Buy-winning Weekender, it was hard to argue that weight played much of a role here. We found that the most weight-conscious backpackers probably wouldn't carry a chair at all, so any of these products are better suited to shorter trips or extended ones out of a base camp. That being said, if you did want to up your comfort levels in the backcountry, you could save a couple of ounces by eliminating the pocket and extra straps of the Weekender. While we appreciated the versatility of those items, which we'll discuss in the last metric, the Original Chair may be a great fit for you if you value weight over extra features.
One thing that we found annoying about the Original Chair was that it was much too stiff to be able to roll up. Unlike the Weekender, this product would need to be fastened to the outside of a pack or carried by hand.
The Crazy Creek models excelled in this category, the PowerLounger included. Scoring higher than any other taco style chair, the manufacturer has identified a potential hot spot on their chairs and preemptively employed a solution. Whereas the Kelty quickly developed wear and tear where the support rods met the fabric, the Original Chair has extra supportive, leather-like material in exactly the right spots. Furthermore, we thought that the sturdy buckles and straps of the Original Chair demonstrated an excellent understanding of the abuse we sometimes put our outdoor gear through. Additionally, Crazy Creek's lifetime warranty makes us confident that these chairs will share countless adventures with us in the future.
One unique feature of the Original Chair was the hidden zipper on the back, allowing easy removal of the foam insert to wash the fabric. We felt happier plopping this seat down on muddy surfaces knowing that we could wash it.
We know that this is a backpacking review, but the minimalist in us appreciates when we can find one product that does the tasks of many. The Original Chair's buckles made it easy to open up and lay down on, but we're not ditching our sleeping pads anytime soon.
Our testers appreciate the pocket of the Weekender and wish that the Original Chair had one of the same. While we can imagine that this product could be used as a sleeping pad, since it is easy to release the side buckles and lay the chair flat, we doubt that this would be very comfortable.
The Original Chair has Velcro straps to keep the chair closed, but we couldn't exactly figure out why. We thought that this might be a nice feature if you wanted to strap your seat to the outside of your backpack. Carrying the seat around by the handles keeps the chair from flopping open, though, so we're not sure how much of a plus this feature is.
If you're honestly looking for a backpacking-specific chair, you may enjoy the PowerLounger, which easily doubles as a sleeping pad and whose high back is extremely comfortable. For something with a little more versatility and exceptional durability, the Original Chair is a solid competitor. We'd happily bring this product along to the park or outdoor concert, though given the option, we'd bring the Weekender instead. If you're way more concerned with ounces than pockets, or if you can't live without the many bright color options of the Original Chair, this may be a great buy.
Ringing in at $55.50, the Original Chair is more than double the price of the Weekender, though still less expensive than any of the tent style chairs in this review. Compared to the other styles that we tested, and when considering the chair's limited uses, we have a hard time believing that the price is justified. However, the increased durability of the Crazy Creek may pay for itself after you've had this chair for a decade (though we can't guarantee that you will).
Overall, we found the Original Chair to be a solid choice compared to its competitors. We appreciated its proactive durability but ultimately found that its slightly less comfortable design and limited versatility compromised its place as our favorite seat.
— Lauren DeLaunay