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Helinox Swivel Camp Chair Review

The Swivel's unique design and comfortable seat make for a great car camping chair.
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, versatile
Cons:  Expensive, heavy
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes Helinox
By Lauren DeLaunay ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 7, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 8
  • Size - 30% 4
  • Stability - 25% 9
  • Versatility - 15% 7

Our Verdict

One of the most unique chairs in our review, the Helinox Swivel Camp Chair has — you guessed it — a swivel. Initially skeptical of the usefulness of this feature, we quickly realized how fantastic a little additional mobility is for the camp enjoyment. Unfortunately, this chair is heavy and not as comfortable as some of the others we tested, but it could be a great buy for the right camper.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

We found this chair especially useful for cooking, fishing, and playing music. Its spacious seat and sturdy design make it a solid choice for any comfort enthusiast.

Performance Comparison


Enjoying the comfort of the Swivel on a sunny winter day in the Eastern Sierra
Enjoying the comfort of the Swivel on a sunny winter day in the Eastern Sierra

Comfort


We've said it once, and we'll say it again: chairs are meant to be comfortable. And while the Swivel is leagues more comfortable than sitting on the ground, and arguably more comfortable than almost any taco style chair that we tested, it is still not quite as plush as some of our top scorers.

The fabric of the Swivel is relatively comfortable, and we appreciate the mesh vents, but we do think they could be more purposefully placed. Other models in our review place them in a way that allows more breathability — the back of the REI Flexlite is almost entirely mesh, for example.

Setting up the cozy seat of the Swivel
Setting up the cozy seat of the Swivel

Our testers appreciate a deep seat that allows for leaning back and relaxing, and while the design of the Swivel has this to some degree, there's room for improvement. The seat is slightly more narrow than some of the other chairs we tested, and the high straight back forces you to sit up straight. This isn't necessarily a negative trait, as we often grabbed this chair for our nightly piano lessons, but it isn't as great for kicking back and reading.

At 12 inches off the ground, the Swivel sits higher than nearly any other product we reviewed, making it much easier to get in and out of and helping to protect you from the elements.

Size


As one of the heaviest chairs in our review, the Swivel lost major points here. While we do think that it makes for an excellent camping chair, this is a backpacking review, after all. And in that sense, this chair is entirely too heavy to bring into the backcountry. At 46 ounces, nearly three times as heavy as the ultra-lightweight Helinox Chair Zero, it's hard to justify carrying this one too far.

The Swivel packs down smaller than a taco-style chair but still larger than nearly any other tent-style folding chair.
The Swivel packs down smaller than a taco-style chair but still larger than nearly any other tent-style folding chair.

It's easy to see where the weight comes from, though. With an additional swiveling piece, the base of this chair is much bigger than the other three tent style chairs we tested. We think that its weight is pretty reasonable for what you're getting, but it still pales in comparison to the other products in this review.

Stability


Our testing team found an unfortunate trend in this review: the lighter the chair, the wobblier its construction. This applies more to tent-style chairs with poles than taco-style chairs, of course, but the Swivel upholds the rule. It is both heavy and super stable.

The Swivel's unique four-legged base and curved back provide excellent stability.
The Swivel's unique four-legged base and curved back provide excellent stability.

The broad foot base on the Swivel adds considerably to its stability. Many of the other tent-style chairs in this review have square-shaped foot and leg construction, with bars connecting the legs. The Swivel's legs stretch out in each direction, and we believe this majorly contributes to the excellent comfort and security.

Versatility


Despite being a review for backpacking, we all appreciate having one product that can serve various purposes. While not lightweight enough to take far into the backcountry, the signature turning design of the Swivel makes it a great product for other camp activities.

The Swivel is great to use in camp  but we're less likely to bring this heavy chair on long hikes.
The Swivel is great to use in camp, but we're less likely to bring this heavy chair on long hikes.

Our chief tester always grabbed this chair for playing music, and could often be found practicing on her battery-powered piano keyboard in various parking lots in the Sierra. The swivel of the Swivel (haha) is ideal for cooking as well, as it allows you to reach everything within arms distance without craning the neck or potentially tipping over. Fishing, birdwatching, and photography are all great reasons to sport this chair, as the added mobility makes a whole host of activities easier. Compared to any other chair in this review, we found ourselves reaching for the Swivel for just about any camp activity except sitting back and relaxing.

Value


This chair is a hard sell. By far the most expensive in our review, the price forces us to limit our recommendation of this product. Unless you're dead set on the swivel motion, or you're looking for a fishing, birdwatching, or photography-specific chair, we think you'll be happier with something that is both more comfortable and half the price.

Conclusion


As a specialty piece, we loved having the Swivel in our chair quiver. However, if we were only going to have one chair with us (instead of thirteen), we would be hesitant to pick this one because of its weight, less comfortable design, and expensive price tag.

The Swivel is a unique  comfortable chair that's going straight in our car camping quiver.
The Swivel is a unique, comfortable chair that's going straight in our car camping quiver.


Lauren DeLaunay