Moon Lence Backpacking Chair Review
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Moon Lence Backpacking Chair
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|Pros||Has pockets, inexpensive, comfortable||Deep comfortable seat, lightweight, surprisingly stable||Stable even without a backrest, high seat height, comfortable, lightweight, compact packed size||Practically indestructible, weighs less than toothpaste, insulated, inexpensive||Inexpensive, lightweight, easy setup|
|Cons||Uneven legs, longer breakdown time, lack of instructions||Takes longer to set up||No backrest for reclining||No backrest, requires sitting on the ground||Uncomfortable, narrow base|
|Bottom Line||A bargain basement backpacking chair with a wide seat and comfortable recline angle||An excellent combination of comfort, weight, and stability for your next backcountry excursion||Reshaping attitudes about stools on backpacking trips, the exceptional comfort, light weight, and packability of this seat make it an unexpected winner||A featherweight, versatile, and durable foam seat even ultralighters won't leave at home||This super simple chair is an inexpensive option when all you need is to keep yourself off of the ground|
|Rating Categories||Moon Lence Backpack...||Big Agnes Skyline UL||Big Agnes Skyline U...||Therm-a-Rest Z Seat||REI Co-op Trail Stool|
|Size and Weight (30%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Moon Lence Backpack...||Big Agnes Skyline UL||Big Agnes Skyline U...||Therm-a-Rest Z Seat||REI Co-op Trail Stool|
|Main Material||900D Oxford||Nylon with aluminum frame||70-denier Robic nylon, ripstop nylon 66||Cross-linked polyethylene||Ripstop polyester|
|Measured Weight||36 oz||29 oz||20 oz||2 oz||17 oz|
|Packed Size||14 x 6 x 5 in||3.5 x 4 x 17 in||3.25 x 3.25 x 12 in||13 x 2.5 x 2.5 in||4 x 4 x 22 in|
|Seat Height (butt to ground)||8 in||9.5 in||9.5 in||0.5 in||15 in|
|Seat Width (at edge)||21 in||18.5 in||19 in||16 in||12 in|
|Base Size (width x depth)||15 x 15 in||15.5 x 13.5 in||14.5 x 12 in||16 x 13||12 x 12 in|
|Features||Storage pocket, carry bag||Color-coded frame, hub-less pole design||4 legged stool, color-coded frame, hub-less pole design||Clip loop||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This chair has two mesh side pockets — a rarity in the category — that keep small items close at hand. The 900D oxford material is plenty durable, and the carrying case is a convenient add-on.
Overall, we enjoyed sitting in the Moon Lence, though we do have questions long term. At 21" across, it has one of the widest seats in the category, and we appreciate the Goldilocks bucket seat — deep enough to feel like you're relaxing but not so deep that it takes an inordinate amount of core strength to pull yourself up and out (having said that, the low seat height may make it more challenging for folks with knee issues to stand up).
The thick seat material on the Moon Lence has its pros and cons. In cool weather, it provides a surprising degree of wind protection for your back and butt. However, in warmer temperatures, it can get pretty sweaty. However, the sides are a much looser weave, which definitely helps with airflow. This chair also comes with a couple of side pockets. They are flexible instead of rigid, so they can't hold an open-top drink. But they are useful for holding items you want to keep close by, like sunscreen, sunglasses, a phone, or a small book.
As we continued to use this chair, the stiffness of the material seemed to work against itself. Because the seat is so low, it is sometimes difficult not to just plop down, and each successive sit stretched and stressed the fabric just a little more such that some pressure points started to emerge.
Size and Weight
For backpacking, this chair isn't going to win any ultralight awards, but it's still relatively compact. It would be a luxury item on a hiking trip, and we wouldn't opt to carry it on most overnights in addition to our regular gear. Having said that, if you primarily intend to use it in the front country, it is a super light choice compared to a full-size lawn chair.
With a packed size of 14" x 6" x 5" and weighing in at 36 ounces (including the carrying case), the Moon Lence is definitely worth bringing along for a car camping weekend. It's a great option to have on hand in the trunk of your car, and also for the city-dweller who places an absolute premium on living space — if you have a couple of friends coming over and need an extra chair or two in the living room, the Moon Lence can be that temporary, "pop-up" solution if the alternative is sitting on the floor.
The Moon Lence has a stable base but sometimes wobbly legs. The frame construction is somewhat unique in that rather than having a set of poles on each side that cross in an X and are connected by a bar in the middle, this model has a square base with legs that branch off of each corner. This provides extra stability from front to back. We found that it takes quite a bit of effort to force the chair off kilter. That is, it won't fall over (at least on flat ground) unless you are actively tipping back.
On the other hand, we also found that the legs were slightly different lengths. On flat, firm surfaces, only three of the four would touch the floor at any one time — like a wobbly restaurant table. Having said that, this inconvenience disappeared completely when we used the chair on dirt/soil because the legs could settle into the ground enough for the fourth leg to make contact. In practice, this ended up being a very minor issue.
Some users have noted that the legs can sink too deeply into soft surfaces like beach sand. People have also expressed concerns about the durability of the seams. Though we had some comfort issues noted above, we did not experience any significant stability or durability failures during testing.
Ease of Use
For the most part, this chair is easy to use; it has just a couple of details that make it a little more challenging than it needs to be. We love the zippered carrying case with a handle for easy transport. We also appreciate that the chair fits back into the case relatively easily, which isn't always the case with other models.
The aluminum leg frame is a single piece, and because of the structure of the square base, there is only one way to set it up — there's no chance of turning a leg in the wrong direction. Our struggle was with attaching the seat to the frame. It connects at four corners by fitting poles into their corresponding sleeves. It's a tight fit, so each corner also has a webbing loop to help pull tension. However, even with the loop assistance, attaching the last corner always required some extra force to flex the leg enough to fit it in the pocket. This is a good, low model for a child to sit in, but they would likely have difficulty setting it up by themselves.
In addition, when collapsing the Moon Lence, we sometimes had trouble corralling the bottom segments. Because they are so short, it can be tricky to get them all under control to wrap them together and fit them back in the carrying case. Folks with dexterity concerns may have trouble getting this chair back into its bag.
Should You Buy the Moon Lence Backpacking Chair?
This model outperforms its price point. Though it's certainly not top-of-the-line in any single metric, our experience with it tells us that it is an all-around good value. Between its moderate weight, convenient carrying case, side pockets, deep bucket seat, and side mesh, it does everything well enough to make us consider it a strong contender.
What Other Backpacking Chairs Should You Consider?
The Moon Lence is a great chair for those on a budget, but if you are looking for something lighter weight, the Helinox Chair Zero is an excellent option. For exceptional comfort and stability, the Big Agnes Big Six is the way to go, and the Big Agnes Skyline UL does the best job of balancing all of the factors — comfort, weight, stability, and ease of use — that go into creating a dynamite backpacking chair.
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