Big Agnes has done it again with another addition to their Helinox chair line - the Helinox Beach Chair. We loved this chair and awarded it Top Pick for a Beach Day Accessory. With shockingly sturdy construction and high weight capacity, this chair practically floated on the sand and was the envy of all our friends on the beach. The chair provided a comfortable seat with head and neck support without funneling you into a tiny point as some other portable camping chairs can. While it might not be our choice for our next backpacking trip, at just over three pounds with a compact design, we had no qualms about tossing it in a tote bag headed for the beach. If you're worried, it might not be breathable enough for your hot or tropical beach, check out the all mesh version!
Big Agnes Helinox Beach Chair Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Head/neck support, lightweight and stable, won’t sink in sand, stuff sack converts to pillow
Cons: Expensive, low to the ground
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Anyone can walk into a Walmart or Target-type store these days and find tons of cheap camping chairs ready to purchase. But we wanted to find out which ones will actually suit your needs, and not just be an uncomfortable bum-holder after just a few uses. We combed through SO many chairs to find the best ones to bring to you, and the Big Agnes Helinox Beach Chair stood out from the crowd as being exceptionally comfortable and well-suited to keep you happy all day at the beach while the dog plays in the water and the kids bury your feet in the sand. Read on to find out why this chair outcompeted all the rest to become our Top Pick for a Beach Day Accessory!
The Helinox Beach scored highly in the most important category - comfort. This category is 40% of the overall score of any chair, as it's one of the most important reasons to love (or not love) any seat. The Beach sports a high back to provide head and neck support as you bask on the shore. While it doesn't have a built-in pillow, the storage sack is designed to fill that gap (literally). By filling it with an extra clothing layer or beach towel, you can then attach it via a large velcro patch to the height that's comfortable for you, and you'll be snoozing in comfort in no time. With mesh side and back panels, the Helinox Beach allows quite a bit of breathability. If you need more though, Big Agnes also makes an all mesh version of the Helinox Beach! This chair provides what we feel is an excellent balance of comfort and support. It has a wide seat that prevents that hammock feeling of being bum-funneled into a singularity like the REI Co-op Flexlite or ENO Lounger DL. The Beach also has a wide and sturdy base that isn't about to tip over when you lean out of it for another beverage or plop into it after a refreshing swim in the waves.
We had very few complaints about the comfort of this chair. While its relatively low seat height of just five inches may make getting in, and out of this chair more of a challenge than taller models, we appreciated being close to the sand on our beach day. This seat does have a relatively narrow space for your arms (do they go inside, next to your body, or outside over the edges?) which may be constricting to larger folks. The edges also aren't the best design for resting arms or elbows to read that book for an hour, as they dig in a bit uncomfortably. We also noticed that the very top of the chair has a relatively hard bar across it. While this bar is padded, very tall folks might need the extra cushion of the storage sack/pillow to really get comfy. However, notwithstanding these minor complaints, we were quite pleased with the comfort of the Helinox Beach Chair.
For as large and sturdy as this chair is, we found it fairly portable! It packs down to just 18 inches long and 5-6" diameter, which was an acceptable size to fit into a beach tote with our other lakeside accessories. This chair is a very portable weight at just 3.3 pounds. Compared to many of the other models in this review that we felt were just as or more comfortable, this chair is practically featherweight. Consider that our Editors' Choice, the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong, weighs 13 pounds!
However, we also recognize that the Beach Chair is not going to outcompete ultralight models like the Helinox Chair Zero that weighs just a pound and won our Top Pick for Best Portable Camping Chair. We also reviewed several other chairs that weigh less and are more likely to make the cut for a day hike or backpacking trip, but that's not really why we think you'd want to purchase this chair anyway. The only real complaint that we had about the Beach is that has only a hand carry strap and not an over-the-shoulder version like the ENO Lounger DL or ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous. Though with a low weight and small packed size, it wasn't a huge detriment to not have this type of strap. We were pretty impressed with the lightweight, compact portability of this highly comfortable chair from Big Agnes.
This is yet another area where we felt the Helinox Beach shines. Constructed of sturdy DAC tent poles and 600D polyester fabric gives this chair one of the higher capacities of the chairs we tested: 320 pounds. All the seams holding this chair together are double stitched, and an extra layer of fabric protects the edges. The corners for pole insertions are padded, and all junctures and pressure points are backed up with extra stitching. The poles are strung with bungee and fit together snugly in the thick plastic joints. When we had one of our 170-pound testers plop down repeatedly on this chair, he reported that he bounced "like a trampoline" but didn't feel wobbly or worry that the chair might fail.
We didn't find any issues with the durability of this chair no matter what we did to it, where we took it, or how much sand and dirt made their way into this chair. However, with a weight capacity of 320 pounds, this chair didn't come close to the beefy 800 pound capacity of our Editors' Choice, the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong or even the 500 pound capacity of the Kelty Low Loveseat. Overall, we were quite impressed with the durability of the Helinox Beach, which scored highly in our durability tests.
Ease of Set-Up
The Beach takes a little time to set up. Though all the poles are attached with shock cord, it takes a bit to assemble them. It's possible to accidentally insert the legs into the base upside down, but your mistake becomes extremely obvious very quickly, as it's impossible to use this chair with the legs upside down. Directions and helpful hints for setting this chair up are also helpfully printed on the bottom of the seat fabric. We also greatly appreciated the side-opening stuff sack of this model. It made packing this chair back up a total breeze!
That being said, this chair is, of course, going to be more involved in setting up than any of the simple open-and-place models like the Eureka Curvy High-Back or Kijaro Dual Lock. There's a bit of a learning curve to set this chair up, as, like the other Helinox chairs we tested, it boasts a rather tight construction. With a little practice, we were able to set this chair up well under a minute every time. One important thing to note though is that this chair is not going to give you a great experience if it's set on a uneven surface - like a rocky space or large-graveled area. Big Agnes recommends using this chair on flat and forgiving surfaces - like sandy beaches, front porches, and level camping sites. At the end of the day, this chair was reasonably straightforward to set up and the extra time it took was worth the portability and comfort it gave.
The Beach doesn't have any extra pockets or cup holders, but we liked the storage-bag-turned-pillow feature. It was easy to use and lets you choose the firmness or squishiness of your headrest, as well as its placement. And if you don't want a pillow, you can also use the storage sack to keep items off the ground and safe by velcroing them to the back of the chair instead!
As the name implies, this chair is extremely well-suited to a day at the beach. It's lightweight and small enough to carry to your perfect sandy spot, won't sink or tip over like many other chairs do in sand, and will keep you comfortable and happy all day in the sun. Just don't forget the sunscreen or beach umbrella! This chair can be easily used in the backyard, on your patio, out car camping, or even to lounge in your own home. Also available in an all mesh option for ultimate breathability, the Beach is ready to keep you cool as you sip piña coladas in the sand. Don't let the name fool you into only using this chair at the beach though! But if you do, we think you'll love what it has to offer.
Retailing for around $150, this chair is an investment. If you're looking for a chair for all surfaces or one you can eat from a normal-height table in, this chair probably isn't for you. However, if you spend a lot of time enjoying life at the beach, park, or on your deck, this chair is a comfortable, durable, and portable option that we think you'll love more than that $20 grocery store behemoth. If you're looking to save some cash and don't mind carrying a little extra weight, check out the 7.1 pound ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous which is only about $45 and we think is also an excellent option for your next beach day or outdoor music festival.
With solid construction and a decent amount of portability, this highly comfortable chair is no less than we have come to expect from Helinox. Though a bit of an investment, this chair is far and away the best beach chair we tested and just might be exactly the beach day accessory you've been searching for.
— Maggie Brandenburg