The Therm-a-Rest Uno is an… interesting chair. Marketed as a "festival" chair, we thought it might make for a great backpacking seat as well, so we set out to test it. What we found was a reasonably comfortable seat with excellent stability and versatility. However, in a lineup of ultralight models, this one just didn't stand out from the pack for backpacking purposes. It received decent scores overall, but we're more likely to recommend it for frontcountry than backcountry use.
Therm-a-Rest Uno Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Stable base, moderate price, decent comfort
Cons: Low to the ground, heavy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Uno has a unique design that helps it stand out amongst all the chairs we tested in this review. And while it wouldn't be our first choice for heading deep into the backcountry, it does have some redeeming qualities.
There are two major facets to each chair's comfort score, and throughout our testing process, we found models that excelled in one or both of these characteristics. The Uno has quite a comfortable seat, with a nice depth and reclining angle. It's wide with a nice back, and we found this aspect to be more comfortable than many of its competitors.
At the same time, height off the ground is a big factor in a chair's comfort score. The Uno, because of its design as a "festival" or outdoor concert seat, is very close to the ground. While this is great for that purpose, it's much less comfortable. First off, getting in and out of it is quite difficult. And while it's easy enough to stretch out one's legs, having the legs bent means sitting in a squatting position that we found uncomfortable after a short period of time.
The packed size of any item that you bring backpacking is critical — how much does it weigh, and how easily can it fit in a pack? These two questions make up our second metric. The Uno has an interesting story in this category and one that we weren't sure what to make of at first.
The Uno comes packed in a hard plastic disk, which becomes its base when assembled. It's sturdy and secure, but it's not at all malleable. It has a one-foot diameter, and the circular shape makes it difficult to pack. While it's small enough to fit even in a daypack, it's not nearly as easy to bring along as the other tent-style chairs in this review, all of which pack down into their own stuff sacks. By comparison, packing the Uno back into its plastic base can be super frustrating.
We measure each product we test on our own scales, and this chair came in at 34 ounces. While that might not seem like much, the majority of the chairs we tested for this review are under 30 ounces, with a few under 20 ounces. Crossing the two-pound mark, for most of our testing team, makes for a questionable backpacking item, though it may still be acceptable for day hikes or front-country activities like the beach or a concert.
"Stability" is a characteristic that, ideally, you don't have to consider too much. If a chair is stable, you don't give it a second thought, but when it's unstable, it's all you can think about! There are a few different factors that add to a chair's stability: height, leg size, foot diameter, and pole construction.
The Uno has a very unique construction when compared to the rest of the tent-style chairs in this review. Its legs slot into a circular base, as opposed to touching the ground directly. The fabric part of the seat is the same concept as the rest of the chairs in this class, but the base adds a whole lot of stability. While other chairs felt like they could tip over at any time, the Uno is much more secure.
After updating this review, we realized that "versatility" is a metric that may mean everything to some users and nothing to others. This category describes whether or not a chair can be used in any other way (i.e., as a sleeping pad or table), as well as whether or not it's fit for a wide variety of activities.
The Uno, as we hinted to above, can be assembled upside down to form a table as well. Truthfully, we think this is a little gimmicky because we usually want a chair and a table at the same time, not one or the other. That being said, we can't deny that its unique construction allows for multiple uses.
Likewise, this chair's stable base makes it great for use on soft surfaces like sand because it is much less likely to sink. At the same time, its low height might make you reconsider its use near water.
While three times the price of any of the taco-style chairs in this review, the Uno is one of the least expensive tent-style chairs. The more comfortable, taller chairs will set you back at least another fifty dollars, but for being this close to the ground, it's up to you to decide if you'd rather save your money and just get a taco-style seat. While this chair is versatile, we don't anticipate many times when we'd need it as a table. Bottom line: if you anticipate getting many concerts or beach days out of this chair, it's likely a great investment for the price. But if you're just getting your toes wet in the chair world, you may be just as happy with something less expensive and nearly as comfortable.
The Therm-a-Rest Uno is a unique chair and one that we're not sure how to recommend. At the end of the day, this isn't our favorite product for backpacking. It's heavier than many chairs in its class, and its low height makes it less comfortable as well. However, as a front-country seat, whether at a concert, picnic, or beach, this chair is a great contender at a pretty affordable price.
— Lauren DeLaunay