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REI Co-op Flexlite Chair Review

This is a decently comfortable chair for short backcountry missions.
REI Flexlite
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Price:  $60 List | $44.89 at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, lightweight, affordable
Cons:  Lacking in stability
Manufacturer:   REI
By Lauren DeLaunay ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 7, 2020
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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.

Updated Since Testing

The Flexlite has been revamped since we last lounged around in it. Check out the details below.

March 2020


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Updates to the Flexlite


Check out the latest Flexlite below in the first photo. The model we tested is pictured last.

REI Flexlite

With this update, REI has switched the materials, no longer using the see-through mesh for the chair fabric. The ripstop nylon has been replaced by bluesign-approved ripstop polyester. They've shaved one ounce off the weight, and the seat has been redesigned slightly with the intention of eliminating tension zones and providing more comfort. It also appears the stash pocket has been eliminated. Since we haven't tested the redesigned chair yet, we can't vouch for any of the updates, and the review to follow pertains only to the previous model. We are, however, linking to the updated Flexlite, since the old model is no longer offered.

Hands-On Review of the Flexlite


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.

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