The AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair is a straightforward chair that's enjoyable to use and inexpensive to boot, earning it our award for Best Buy on a Tight Budget. It's your standard chair but with a not-so-standard cooler built right into the armrest. It's not too heavy and packs up into its travel bag with relative ease. With a taller seat back and high seat, it offers versatile comfort. It's still pretty slouchy, like most camping chairs, and the seat is a bit narrow for some. It's also not the strongest or most rugged chair we tested, with just a 225 lb capacity and only average durability. But it's easy to love and keeps up to four drinks chilled by your elbow - and for a price that's hard to beat. We tested the mesh version, which provides appreciated ventilation on hot days.
AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair Review
Cons: Slouchy, narrow seat, durability concerns
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair is a single chair that's on the smaller side with just a 225 lb capacity. It features a single mesh pocket on one side, a mesh cup holder, and a mini cooler in the armrest that fits up to four 12 oz cans. It also comes with a travel case that can easily be slung over your shoulder and taken to the park.
AmazonBasics offers a few versions of this chair and we chose to test the mesh iteration. It has two long mesh panels running down either side of your spine to facilitate airflow. We like having this extra air along our backs on hot days - especially considering the chair only comes in just a few colors that are all dark and warm up under the sun.
It's a fairly straightforward chair aside from that, with reasonable comfort. It's made of similar canvas-feeling material to many other chairs we tested. The armrests are not adjustable and provide solid support while the wide base keeps you stable while you relax. This chair does have a taller back than many, that's slightly curved upward to touch more of your back while you sit in it. Our taller testers appreciate this added height very much.
However, our shorter testers aren't as big of fans of the tall back. Those same smaller-stature testers also think the front of the seat is a bit high for their shorter legs as well (15 inches along the front edge), where taller testers do not share those complaints. Instead, some of them felt the seat could stand to be a bit wider. Amazon does offer a padded XL version of this chair (that we did not test), that could alleviate some of these concerns. All in all, though, the AmazonBasics brings slightly above-average comfort to the table - or rather, the campsite.
Weighing 6.3 pounds, the AmazonBasics is one of the lightest models of its kind that we tested. It packs into a familiar-looking shoulder bag with a drawstring top. This neat package is 35" long and 8" diameter, which again is about average size for this style of chair. It's fairly easy to toss in the trunk on your way out camping for the weekend and isn't terrible to throw over your shoulder and carry a few blocks to the park for a picnic.
It's also a pretty average size all set up. And though its carry bag doesn't have an adjustable strap, the single simple strap it does have is totally adequate. And it's light enough that this is one chair we don't mind walking with for a while.
This is definitely the metric in which this chair is the least impressive. It has a capacity of just 225 pounds, making it one of the lowest capacities of any chair we tested. Several other chairs double or even triple this capacity and even numerous smaller models boast more impressive abilities. It's made of polyester fabric, nylon mesh, and steel legs.
Upon inspection, it doesn't look as impressive as most of the other chairs we tested. Several seams are a bit sloppy and many have just a single row of large stitches instead of double rows. The travel bag is particularly thin, with weak seams that we definitely worry about their ability to withstand years of abuse. That being said, we stood and jumped in this chair, plopped into it heavily, and tossed it around on concrete without any part of it actually failing.
While the AmazonBasics didn't break during our several months of rigorous testing, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention the many online complaints about the lack of durability we found from other users online. We read plenty of testimonies, including the plastic feet breaking to rivets joining legs together or to the feet sheering off, leg poles straight up breaking, armrests ripping off, travel case tears, fabric stretching and sagging, and even the whole seat tearing off.
Again, we experienced none of these things during our testing, but the space in the joints of this chair, the amount it flexes and bends when you bounce in it or push off the armrests, and its overall quality don't give us faith that it's going to finally be the last camping chair you'll ever need to purchase. It tough to expect longevity in this price range.
Ease of Setup
As an accordion-style chair, the AmazonBasics is a no brainer to set up and pack up. It folds out in a couple of seconds. The cooler hanging off the left armrest is a bit odd to pack up into the carry case but no biggie. Once it's pushed down into the bag, the whole thing fits with relative ease. Like most chairs, this one loads from the top down, into a drawstring bag with a slit running several inches down the side to make it easier to fit.
And like most chairs that look like this one does, you can set it up just about anywhere. It doesn't sink super far into sand or wet grass and works easily in most campgrounds. The plastic feet do tend to pick up dirt and sand, so you may find yourself needing to dump them out before carting home a little bit of your beach day.
The AmazonBasics' most striking feature is the cooler built into the left armrest. It comes open with two connected zippers down the sides and a single strip of velcro on the front. It fits four standard 12-ounce cans - less if you want to put ice in there with them.
This chair also has a cup holder in the right armrest that can fit up to an average shape 20-ounce tumbler but isn't large enough for most 1L water bottles. Attached to the right edge of the seat is a single mesh pocket that's a great spot for your phone, a book, or even a magazine - or just to store the travel case.
Though it's not as fancy as many other chairs we tested, we like the AmazonBasics much more than the average cheap version at the grocery store in the summer. It's far from our least favorite chair we tested yet comes with one of the lowest prices of the bunch. It's also not necessarily going to last you for the rest of your life, but we think it's a solid value for what you get - and you can buy a small fleet of these chairs for less than the price of some other models we tested.
The AmazonBasics is a pretty decent chair with a nifty cooler built right in. It's comfortable, with a taller back and higher seat, and very easy to use. It's one of the lightest chairs of its kind, making it more enjoyable to take with you anywhere. It's not the most durable option and has a fairly low weight capacity, but for its usability and the convenience of having your refreshments close at hand, it offers a pretty solid value. And if it does break, it hurts a lot less to replace.
— Maggie Brandenburg