Hands-on Gear Review

TravelChair Joey Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $85 List | $34.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, study, inexpensive
Cons:  Heavy
Bottom line:  The Joey is an excellent camp chair that provides a comfortable and sturdy seat.
Editors' Rating:   
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Main Material:  Ripstop nylon with aluminum frame
OGL Weight (oz):  38
Manufacturer:   TravelChair

Our Verdict

While we had a hard time deciding which chair would come away with our Top Pick for Car Camping Award, the TravelChair Joey eventually unfolded itself as the most obvious choice. Our testers were impressed by its stability and comfort, and though not particularly lightweight, found it to be an excellent choice for nearby adventures. While the REI Flexlite was a close contender because of its significantly lighter weight, we knew that comfort was more important for car camping than weight, and so we let the Joey take home the prize.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Lauren DeLaunay

Last Updated:
Sunday
August 27, 2017

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The Joey was the most comfortable chair out of the eight in this review, and its wide, sturdy feet made it a great purchase for any environment. We would recommend this chair to any of our friends or family looking for a comfortable, portable camp chair at a very reasonable cost.

Performance Comparison


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

Comfort


It was a nice change of pace to review a luxury item, as we had the unique opportunity to be concerned with comfort as function, not in addition to it. The Joey provides an excellent place to sit and relax after a long day of adventuring.


We felt supported in the strong material of the Joey. Made of a thick canvas material, this chair stood out in serious comparison to the Helinox Chair Zero, whose flimsy material left us afraid of sitting down too forcefully. This chair has great mesh panels for ventilation that are well positioned for optimal breathability. We would be happy to snooze here in a hot summer day, as opposed to the Helinox Swivel Chair whose vent locations seemed less than ideal.

While the seat feels slightly more shallow than that of the Flexlite, the remarkable stability of this chair let us sink back and use up all the available space. The sides are slighter higher than the Flexlite's, but we felt snug and secure despite having slightly awkward arm positioning. One of our favorite qualities of this chair is the high seat. Eleven inches off the ground, we had an easy time getting in and out of this chair, as opposed to the awkward, 8-inch tall Chair Zero.

Soaking up sunshine in the Joey
Soaking up sunshine in the Joey

This was, by far, the most stable chair in our review, in particular among the tent style products. The wide feet made it nearly impossible to tip this seat over, and we could happily use it on a variety of surfaces. This feature alone helped win the Joey our Top Pick Award, and we'll talk more about its implications in the "versatility" metric below.

Packing Size


The main way that the Joey lost points in this review was in weight. At 38 ounces, this chair was still lighter than the Swivel but was heavier than every other model we tested.


As a purely backpacking item, we think this chair is too heavy. If we needed something to carry far into the backcountry, we would opt for the Flexlite, whose 29-ounce weight was comparable to any of the taco chairs we tested. However, weight did not hold us back from believing in the Joey's ability to be an excellent camp or beach chair. It folds easily, compacts to nearly the same size as any of the other tent style chairs in this review, and can fit nicely in a backpack or beach bag. And while we may not be willing to carry it for miles on end, we do think it would make an excellent piece at your local climbing area as a belay seat or spot to rest in between laps on your favorite route.

Packed up and ready to relax
Packed up and ready to relax

Durability


For this metric, we looked to the weakest point of the chair: where the fabric meets the poles. Each tent style chair in this review features corner holsters, and some are more durable than others. We were impressed by TravelChair's thoughtful construction compared to the competition.


The Joey's holsters are a very thick material, akin to plastic, and left us confident that the chair would not fail at this weak spot. The fabric is strong and durable, and we would happily invest in this well-made product, expecting adventures for years to come. We found this comparable to the holsters on the Swivel, and both chairs were awarded 7/10 in this category. We found this to be a small improvement over the less stiff holsters on the Flexlite and a significant one over the flimsy Chair Zero.

Great holsters on the Joey
Great holsters on the Joey

Versatility


When traveling, we love having products that serve more than the original purpose. We thought that the smart feet of the Joey made this one of the most versatile products we tested.


The Joey performed better on the beach than any other product in this review. It sits high off the ground, and its broad feet keep it from sinking into the sand. It was the only tent style chair in this review that passed the sand test, and we were excited to grab this one for afternoons at the lake.

This chair excelled on grass and uneven surfaces where some of its competitors, like the REI Flexlite, were impractical. We wish the Joey featured the side pocket of the Flexlite, but that's just about the only thing we would change about it. Because of its weight, the Joey could be considered too cumbersome to bring along on longer backcountry adventures, but we would pick this chair over any other in this review for any activity close to the car.

Taking a break in the Buttermilks with the Joey
Taking a break in the Buttermilks with the Joey

Best Applications


Even though this is a backpacking review, we know that these chairs can serve a variety of roles. The Joey is a great car camping chair, and is almost light enough to be used on short backpacking trips for those that are set on bringing a seat. While the Flexlite makes for a better backcountry companion, the Joey will happily accompany you to the beach, park, or cookout. For days at the crag or lake, we would include this chair in our pack above any other. However, tent style chairs are sometimes prohibited at outdoor concerts because of their height; in this case, we would recommend the very comfortable Crazy Creek PowerLounger or the less expensive ALPS Mountaineering Weekender.

The Joey's wide feet hold up well during a sunny beach day in Santa Cruz
The Joey's wide feet hold up well during a sunny beach day in Santa Cruz

Value


The Joey is the least expensive of the tent style chairs we tested for this review, and for that reason, we think it is an excellent value. It is widely versatile and very comfortable, especially when compared to its taco chair counterparts, and we would gladly recommend this to anyone looking for a well-rounded portable seat.

Conclusion


As the winner of our Top Pick for Car Camping Award, we realize we're deviating from the backpacking setting of this review. We just couldn't help but want to appreciate all of this product's great qualities, and we wouldn't be surprised if you got so attached to yours that you ended up schlepping it into the mountains. You can't put a price on comfort, and fortunately, you don't have to negotiate much with the TravelChair Joey. We're confident you'll make your friends jealous at your next picnic with this excellent buy.

Sand  rock  or grass  the Joey is an excellent choice.
Sand, rock, or grass, the Joey is an excellent choice.

Lauren DeLaunay

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Most recent review: August 27, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
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