The Latest Mantis vs. the Older Model
Alite informed us about the updates to the Mantis. Besides some new colors, the stuff sack was also updated with a thicker, burlier material intended to increase its durability. The design of this chair did not change as of fall 2018.
Hands-On Review of the Original Mantis
The Alite Mantis is a good portable model contender but is only recommended if you want a very small and lightweight chair. It is not particularly sturdy, but it is portable and more comfortable to lounge in than the ground. It does not offer any storage for additional features, but the ground is within arm's reach. It packs down to the size of a liter water bottle and weighs less than two pounds. If you're interested in a lightweight model, we recommend checking out our Top Pick for Portability, the Helinox Chair One.
Testers were immediately lured by the bright colors of the Mantis, but its lack of stability and comfort didn't impress us for long.
Testers felt that the comfort of the Mantis was average. Its bucket seat is comfortable, but it is too reclined. If you try to lean forward, it is uncomfortable for your neck. If you don't lean forward, it is uncomfortable to eat or read. The Mantis has a small frame which also decreases its stability - lateral movement or assembly on a sandy or uneven surface resulted in concerns over toppling out of the seat. Its base stand is several inches narrower than the Helinox's, a significant design concern that explains its limited stability.
The Mantis received a nearly perfect score on portability. It weighs 1 lb and 14 oz and can pack down to a size that is slightly larger than a one-liter water bottle. It is a little tricky to get all of the chair's parts to fit into the included storage bag, but this skill improves with practice. Its packed size is smaller than the Helinox and slightly larger than the Treo.
The smallest chairs we tested were just a little bit larger than a one-liter water bottle. Top left to right: water bottle, Treo, Chair One, Mantis. Bottom left to right: Chair Zero, Chair One, Moon Lence, REI Flex Lite, Onepack.
The materials of this chair consist of a 210 D ripstop nylon seat and aluminum poles. There were no issues with wear or tear during our testing process, and testers felt its materials seemed quite sturdy. However, the Mantis did not withstand our durability tests. One 150 lb tester stood on the chair and its horizontal aluminum frame bar snapped in half. We gave it above average scores for durability.
Ease of Set-Up
Setting up the Mantis is almost the same process as setting up the Helinox. Both chairs have very secure pole/chair connections with reinforced stitching. The aluminum frame has an internal bungee system that allows all of the chair's frame pieces to stay connected even when disassembled. We scored the assembly of this chair as slightly better than average.
The Mantis' poles inset into a reinforced pocket which keeps them snugly fastened to the chair.
This portable model has no additional features. However, its low position does make the ground very accessible.
We only recommend this chair for lightweight or size-sensitive applications, such as backpacking or other activities that require fair amounts of walking. It was not preferred for long periods of sitting. Overall, however, we recommend our Top Pick for Portability, the Helinox, over the Mantis.
Our testers think that the suspension on the Mantis is fairly comfortable, but its seat isn't quite as cozy as the Helinox.
Not a single tester was interested in paying the full retail price for this limited-use item. Retailing for $120, one could buy a Coleman Oversize Quad Chair with Cooler for everyone in the family instead and still save a few bucks. It is simply not stable or comfortable enough to justify its cost.
Overall, our testers just didn't like the Alite Mantis enough to recommend it. It is too low to the ground, not comfortable enough, and very unstable. All of these qualities limited its utility; instead, we would recommend either the Helinox as a portable model or the REI Camp Stowaway Low as relatively portable, very stable, and comfortable model.
The Mantis' side ventilation panels.