Hands-on Gear Review

Helinox Swivel Camp Chair Review

Price:  $150 List | $111.86 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, versatile
Cons:  Expensive, heavy
Bottom line:  The Swivel's unique design and comfortable seat make for a great car camping chair.
Editors' Rating:   
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Main Material:  Polyester with alloy frame
Manufacturer Weight (oz):  40
OGL Weight (oz):  45
Manufacturer:   Big Agnes Helinox

Our Verdict

The most unique chair in our review, the Helinox Swivel Camp Chair has — you guessed it — a swivel. Originally skeptical of the usefulness of this feature, we quickly realized how great a little additional mobility was to our 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

Review by:
Lauren DeLaunay

Last Updated:
Saturday
August 26, 2017

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

Performance Comparison


Swivel Chair in the California sunshine
Swivel Chair in the California sunshine

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 that they could have been more purposefully placed. Compared to the almost entirely mesh back of the REI Flexlite or the perfectly placed vents of the TravelChair Joey, the Swivel left some breathability to be desired.

Curved poles of the Helinox make for a comfy back.
Curved poles of the Helinox make for a comfy back.

Our testers appreciate a deep seat that lets us lean back and relax, and while the Swivel's design 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 keeps us sitting up straight. This isn't necessarily a negative trait, as we often grabbed this chair for our nightly piano lessons, but it wasn't as great for kicking back and reading.

One of our favorite features of this chair was the high seat. At 12 inches off the ground, the Swivel sits higher off the ground than any other product we reviewed, making it much easier to get in and out of and helping to protect us from the elements.

Packing Size


The heaviest chair 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 45 ounces, nearly three times as heavy as the ultra lightweight Helinox Chair Zero, it would be hard to justify carrying this one too far.

Packed up and ready to go!
Packed up and ready to go!

It's easy to see where the weight comes from, though. With an entirely additional piece, the swivel, the base is much bigger than in any of 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.

Durability


We were impressed with the thick holsters on the fabric of this chair, and its sturdy legs helped give it a high durability score.

Durable holsters keep you safe in the Swivel Chair.
Durable holsters keep you safe in the Swivel Chair.

Our testers identified a major hot spot on tent style chairs: the holsters. Each chair has a tent pole-like leg assembly and a fabric chair that sits on top of the legs. All four corners of the material have a holster that keeps it in place on the poles. We appreciated the particularly thick and bulky holsters of the Swivel. Similar to the Joey, we felt confident that these holsters would stand the test of time, especially when compared to the weaker holsters of the Flexlite.

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 Swivel's signature turning design makes it a great product for other camp activities.

Band practice in the Buttermilks  featuring the Helinox Swivel
Band practice in the Buttermilks, featuring the Helinox Swivel

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 was ideal for cooking as well, letting us reach everything within arms distance without needing to crane our necks or risk tipping over. Fishing, birdwatching, and photography are all great reasons to sport the Swivel, 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.

Best Applications


As described above, this char is one of the most versatile in our review. Its heavy weight does limit how far we want to carry it, but it makes for a great cooking seat and photography station. However, when it comes to simply relaxing in a comfortable chair, we would be more prone to pick our Top Pick Award winner, the TravelChair Joey.

From left to right: TravelChair Joey  Helinox Swivel  REI Flexlite
From left to right: TravelChair Joey, Helinox Swivel, REI Flexlite

Value


At $150, 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 fishing, birdwatching, or photography-specific chair, we think you'll be happier with something that is both more comfortable and half the price, like the Joey or Flexlite.

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 eight), we would be hesitant to pick the Swivel because of its heavy weight, less comfortable design, and expensive price tag.

The Swivel showing off at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
The Swivel showing off at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Lauren DeLaunay

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Most recent review: August 26, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
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