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Helinox Chair Zero Review

This is a superlight chair with decent comfort but an above-average price.
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Price:  $120 List | $119.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, small packed size
Cons:  Expensive, less comfortable
Manufacturer:   Helinox
By Lauren DeLaunay ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 7, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 6
  • Size - 30% 10
  • Stability - 25% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Helinox Chair Zero stood out to our testing team before we even had it in our hands, and once we did, we barely knew we were holding it! As one of the lightest chairs in this review, even when compared to the minimalist taco-style models, the Chair Zero does have some drawbacks. It is not nearly as comfortable or sturdy as some of the other products in this review, but if you're on the fence about carrying a chair with you into the backcountry, you might want to start here. The catch? A hefty price tag that will have you thinking twice about the commitment.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

While extremely lightweight, the Chair Zero does have some downfalls, and we wouldn't be likely to use it at our next backyard picnic. That said, it is more comfortable than being on the ground and is lighter than even the taco-style chairs that we tested.

Performance Comparison


Setting up the Chair Zero for an afternoon in the Yosemite Search & Rescue site
Setting up the Chair Zero for an afternoon in the Yosemite Search & Rescue site

Comfort


The Chair Zero is more comfortable than having no chair at all, but comfort is compromised for weight. Its slick material, small feet, and shallow seat depth make it an often frustrating product to use, especially when compared to some of its super cozy competitors.

The material of this seat is thin and slippery, which made us feel unsupported and unstable. We had a hard time staying upright because of the slick fabric, and its lack of breathability leaves room for improvement. Compared to the mesh back and vents of other models, the Chair Zero is not the best choice for hot weather.

A close-up look at the Chair Zero's lightweight  breathable fabric
A close-up look at the Chair Zero's lightweight, breathable fabric

Because it's only eight inches off the ground, we had a hard time getting in and out of this seat. Compared to the height of other options, this chair is too low to sit in comfortably. That being said, for other chairs in its weight class, it has an average comfort score.

Size


Because this is a backpacking review and not a camping chairs review, size and packability are critical to our scores. And this is the one area in which the Chair Zero flies far, far past the competition. Coming in a neat, light stuff sack, the Chair Zero is easy to roll up and pack into its bag. We could easily imagine throwing this into our overnight backpack without a second thought.

The Chair Zero's lightweight poles set-up easily and take up little room.
The Chair Zero's lightweight poles set-up easily and take up little room.

At a mere 17 ounces, this is one of the very lightest options in this review — one of only two models lighter than the taco-style chairs. Lightweight tent-style chairs are considerably easier to pack than taco-style products so, despite the less comfortable design of the Zero, if we were truly counting ounces, this chair would end up high on our list.

Stability


One of the first things that our testing team noticed about each chair was its stability. Some of these seats are clearly made for outdoor, uneven surfaces, while others are not. Taco-style chairs are a more reliable bet, as their stability relies on only your body sitting in the chair. Tent-style chairs like the Zero, however, have a wide range of performances.

The Zero's legs sink into sand less than other chairs but still have a small  unstable base.
The Zero's legs sink into sand less than other chairs but still have a small, unstable base.

Unfortunately, the small legs and feet of the Chair Zero leads to a very wobbly experience. We felt a bit of nervousness about tipping over. The Zero's feet are quite small, and we had a hard time relaxing.

Versatility


Despite being a backpacking review, we always appreciate items that we can use in a variety of settings. For this section, we looked at any special features present and how each product did in a variety of settings.

Whether in grass or sand, the Chair Zero is unstable. We never fell completely over, but it was definitely a bit harder to relax in this chair than in some other products we tested. Its lack of pockets or straps lowered its versatility score as well; this chair wouldn't be our first pick unless we were counting every ounce.

With its lightweight design  the Helinox Chair Zero can go anywhere  but it might not be the most comfortable.
With its lightweight design, the Helinox Chair Zero can go anywhere, but it might not be the most comfortable.

Value


Value, in our minds, is where performance and cost meet. We want to know how much bang we get for our buck in comparison to other chairs. The Chair Zero is one of the more expensive chairs we tested, and, for the same price (or even for much less), you can get a much more comfortable seat.

Conclusion


We stand impressed by the weight of the Helinox Chair Zero, and it's certainly more comfortable than we ever expected from something barely over a pound. That being said, we lean more toward the REI Flexlite Air because of its similar performance and lower price.

The new Chair Zero has instructions on the seat for easy  fool-proof setup.
The new Chair Zero has instructions on the seat for easy, fool-proof setup.


Lauren DeLaunay