We were excited to see the reliable and affordable camping equipment company Kelty join the competition for camping chairs; unfortunately, this product fell short of our expectations. While we enjoyed the comfortable material, and relatively light weight of this seat, its awkward dimensions and lack of useful features left us looking for more. Though it is the second least expensive chair in this review, we ultimately can't recommend it over the much more comfortable and slightly cheaper ALPS Mountaineering Weekender.
Kelty Camp Chair Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight
Cons: Uncomfortable, no versatility or durability
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Our testing indicated that despite an attractive price tag and weight, the location of the straps on this chair makes it uncomfortable and awkward to use. Compared to the three other taco style chairs in this review, the Kelty was our least favorite, especially compared to the similarly priced Weekender.
The Camp Chair initially held appeal for its soft fabric and medium cushioning. Its demise, however, lied in the location of the side straps. We realize that even the best taco chair isn't super comfortable, but the Kelty was significantly less so than its competitors.
Compared to the unique Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 PowerLounger or the classic Crazy Creek Original Chair, the medium amount of padding on the Kelty made for a nice seat, especially on hard, tough ground. Additionally, like all four taco chairs, it lacks the breathability of some of the tent-style chairs in this review.
Our first glance at this chair had us excited to test out its tall back and wide seat. What we found, however, is that while a taller back is more comfortable, like the one found on the PowerLounger, the Kelty's 19-inch back was offset by its awkwardly high side straps. The straps force us to keep our arms constricted to the inside of the chair, leaving us feeling cramped. The Weekender, in contrast, has a shorter back at only 16 inches, but the straps sit lower on the chair, letting us keep our arms free to move around, play music, read a book, or eat.
Additionally, the high straps of the Kelty left us unable to loosen the straps without adjusting our seat. Since these taco chairs require finding the perfect adjustment depending on the angle of the ground, you're sitting on, being able to make minute alterations is crucial. The high straps of this chair put the buckles in our armpits, forcing us to sit up, loosen the straps, and then sit back to see if we had loosened it enough. This was an annoying feature not found in any other taco chair in this review, including the PowerLounger which had the highest back of any we tested.
We did appreciate that the Kelty had the second widest seat of the four taco chairs in this review, but in the end, this was not enough to counter the discomfort of the higher straps.
The Kelty was the lightest of the four taco chairs in our review, but only by a few ounces. The range was only seven ounces, between 21 and 28, and surprisingly overlapped with two of the tent style chairs. The Helinox Camp Zero weighed in at an astonishing 17 ounces, lighter than any taco style seat, and the great REI Flexlite was close, at 29 ounces.
While it may seem to be an advantage that the Kelty is ounces lighter than its closest competitors, we can probably attribute this to a lack of additional features, which we considered a problem. Whereas the Crazy Creek models have extra protection around the usual wear points (where the support rods rub against the fabric), the Kelty has none. Additionally, this chair lacks the pocket and extra buckles of the Weekender. If weight is your only concern, this product may be fitting, but we have a hunch that if you're counting ounces that deliberately, a "backpacking" chair may not be the product for you in the first place.
This chair rolls up easily but has no way to keep it that way. And while it would be possible to roll up and stuff in your pack, it was not designed with this method of transportation in mind.
We were a little suspect about the Kelty's durability after reading dozens of online reviews, and after testing it ourselves, we can see why. The fabric chair is supported with internal support rods, like the rest of the taco chairs in this review, yet the Kelty has no extra padding where the rods meet the fabric, making it easily susceptible to ripping. For this reason, we've docked this product major points in the durability category.
Compared to the sturdy material added to the wear points of the Crazy Creek and Alps Mountaineering models in this review, we were quick to notice the lack of reinforcement on the Kelty chair. After one afternoon of parking lot grilling, we began to see visible signs of wear and tear on the seat.
Additionally, we were impressed by the hidden zipper of the Crazy Creek Original Chair which allows for easy washing; the Kelty had no such thing. We were, however, pleased with the straps and buckles of the Kelty which seemed to be on par with to its competitors.
We always appreciate products that can be used for a wide range of activities, but the Kelty Camp Chair serves just one purpose. It will keep your bottom dry on wet grass and give your back something to rest on, but the usefulness train stops there. Taco chairs are not are go-to seats for the beach or snow camping, as we prefer to be elevated for both. This style chair is perfect for outdoor concerts, but we found this seat too uncomfortable to warrant bringing along.
The lack of storage pocket, like the one found on the Weekender, makes it just another item to carry to the picnic. The lack of buckles on the side straps makes it difficult to lay it flat, though it's not impossible to do so. And we definitely won't be suggesting using your Kelty Camp Chair as a replacement to your sleeping pad anytime soon. Overall, this chair is just as versatile as the Original Chair, though both received low scores in this category.
Taco style chairs, in general, are handy seats to bring along or keep in your car. Their lack of setup makes them easy to grab and use; we like to keep one for car camping (in addition to a more comfortable, full-size camping chair) so that we have a seat to lend to a friend who is always forgetting theirs. Useful for concerts or a quick backrest in the backcountry, the Kelty is as basic as it gets. Unfortunately, its uncomfortable design would make us question using it at all, even when faced with a chair-less alternative.
At $30, the Kelty is the second cheapest chair in this review, second to the $25 ALPS Mountaineering Weekender. Normally, this would be a great selling point, but when you consider how much more comfortable, versatile, and durable the Weekender is, we can't recommend the Kelty for much of anything.
The Kelty ultimately did not receive an award from our reviewers due to its uncomfortable design, lack of proactive durability, and low versatility score. Hardly more comfortable than leaning against a rock, we would instead suggest looking to our Best Buy Winner, the Weekender, which is both cheaper and more comfortable.
— Lauren DeLaunay