The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

REI Co-op Flexlite Chair Review

This is a decently comfortable chair for short backcountry missions.
REI Flexlite
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $80 List | $59.95 at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, lightweight, affordable
Cons:  Lacking in stability
Manufacturer:   REI
By Lauren DeLaunay ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 7, 2020
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Size - 30% 8
  • Stability - 25% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The lightweight design and mesh back panel of the REI Flexlite make it an excellent choice for hot weather camping, though we found some of its competitors to have stronger performances in other vital metrics. The Flexlite's wobbly construction and lack of versatility left it falling short from coming away as our favorite car camping chair. Still, its weight makes it an excellent option for when the balance between comfort and weight is more important than scores in any single category.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $59.95 at REI$109.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$24.19 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$70.98 at Amazon$29.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
72
100
0
79
100
0
77
100
0
77
100
0
75
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Comfortable, lightweight, affordableComfortable, lightweight, stableInexpensive, lightweight, large dimensionsVersatile, comfortable, and lightweightInexpensive, comfortable, versatile
Cons Lacking in stabilityPotentially less versatileNot as versatile, no stadium strapsThin cushioningNot as lightweight as others in our review
Bottom Line For short stints in the backcountry, the REI Flexlite provides ample comfort at a decent cost.With an excellent combination of weight, comfort, and stability, the Skyline UL is a top-notch backpacking chair.The Camp Chair from Kelty is a simple, budget-friendly model great for nearly any adventure.The versatility of the PowerLounger makes it an excellent backpacking item.Expect comfort and versatility at an affordable price.
Rating Categories REI Co-op Flexlite Chair Big Agnes Skyline UL Kelty Camp Chair Hex 2.0 PowerLounger Weekender Seat
Comfort (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Size (30%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Stability (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Versatility (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs REI Co-op Flexlite... Big Agnes Skyline UL Kelty Camp Chair Hex 2.0 PowerLounger Weekender Seat
Main Material Nylon with aluminum frame Nylon with aluminum frame Polyester and closed-cell foam Nylon and foam Foam and nylon
Measured Weight 29 oz 29 oz 24 oz 22 oz 28 oz
Legs? Yes Yes No No No
Packed Size 4.5 x 15 in 3.5 x 17 in 19.5 x 17 x 1.5 in 5.5 x 21 in 17 x 17 x 1.5 in
Seat Height 11 in 15 in 0 in 0 in 0 in
Seat Width 20 in 21 in 17 in 17.5 in 17 in
Features Mesh recliner Color-coded frame, stuff sack Light, foldable, ground-level Ground level, fold-out lounge seat Light, foldable, ground-level

Our Analysis and Test Results

All our testers found this chair comfortable, but it's hard to use on less than solid surfaces, making it a questionable choice for the outdoor activities we love.

Performance Comparison


The Flexlite shines on a summer day.
The Flexlite shines on a summer day.

Comfort


Unlike many of the products we normally review, chairs have the unique privilege of being designed specifically for comfort. At first sit, the Flexlite was one of our favorites. A luxury item, we still can't deny the importance of a quality place to rest weary bones after a long day in the mountains, and this chair is a crowd favorite amongst our testers. We love its deep seat and mesh material that is both soft and breathable, providing a great place to relax on a hot day.

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

The seat on this chair feels deeper than most, and we love the way it allows the user to recline and relax. We never felt like we were slipping out of it, and the sides are low enough to allow for free range of arm motion. The Flexlite sits 10 inches off the ground, which is nicer than the short seat of other models in our review.

Size


Size isn't everything, but for the ounce-counting backpackers amongst us, the Flexlite could be a great choice. Tipping the scales at 29 ounces, this is a similar weight to that of our favorite taco-style chair, the ALPS Mountaineering Weekender.

The Flexlite is small and compact.
The Flexlite is small and compact.

The lightest chairs in this review are nearly 12 ounces lighter than the Flexlite. It's a decent choice when trying to walk the line between comfort and weight.

Stability


One thing that we noticed across the board as we tested this round of backpacking chairs is that as weight decreases, stability does too — and not in a good way. Our testing team added "stability" as a category as there were truly some chairs we were afraid to sit in for fear of tipping over!

A great companion for a hot summer day at the Buttermilks.
A great companion for a hot summer day at the Buttermilks.

As far as the Flexlite goes, we only enjoyed this chair until we put it on an uneven surface. While ideal for cooking or packing in the parking lot, this chair wobbles on grass and sinks quickly in the sand. The legs and feet are amongst the smallest of any of the tent-style chairs we tested, leaving us to question our sitting security. It's important to note, though, that this chair is one of the most comfortable taco-style chairs in our review, giving it a significant advantage over some of its competitors.

Versatility


Here at OutdoorGearLab, our minimalist-minded reviews always appreciate a product that performs a variety of functions. We find the Flexlite to have less practical applications than some of its closest competitors, but we still agree that it makes for a decent backpacking chair.

Showing off the cell phone compatible side pocket on the Flexlite during a day at Mono Lake.
Showing off the cell phone compatible side pocket on the Flexlite during a day at Mono Lake.

We love the side pocket on this product and are surprised that some of the other contenders don't have a similar feature. The pull tabs on the upper holsters make the Flexlite easy to disassemble, but in the end, the feet prohibited us from using this chair in many situations.

Value


This chair is reasonably priced. It's significantly more expensive than any of the taco-style chairs in this review, but it's also more comfortable.

Conclusion


We like theREI Flexlite a lot, but had a hard time finding the exact right application for it. Diving deep into the backcountry, we'd pick something more versatile, and when car camping without weight restrictions, we'd pick something more comfortable. We think the niche use for this chair lies in short backpacking missions or extended trips with a base camp, where the combination of weight and comfort are equally balanced. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this chair to our friends and believe it could easily be the best option for you, depending on where you plan to use it.

The lightweight design of the Flexlite makes it easy to bring to the beach.
The lightweight design of the Flexlite makes it easy to bring to the beach.


Lauren DeLaunay