The GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker is a surprisingly good rocking chair that you can use on just about any surface. Its wide, supportive design and tall seat height make it a fine choice for just about every body type. Though it doesn't pack down nicely and isn't our first choice for slouching into, this chair is a hit with our testers who love a good rocking chair or who like to fidget. If you'd rather not rock, but like the upright, supportive design, consider the Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair, our Best Buy Award winner.
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Review
Cons: Rockers need maintenance, a bit stiff for some, doesn't pack small
Manufacturer: GCI Outdoor
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Freestyle Rocker is a wide, supportive chair with spring-loaded shocks, a powder-coated steel frame, and ripstop polyester fabric rated for up to 250 pounds. It features a single-step set-up and take-down, as well as a carry handle to bring this 12.2-pound chair with you.
The GCI Rocker is a fairly simple design that's both supportive and wide. The fabric may be stiff by some people's reckoning, but it holds up well for many different sized folks. The mesh back provides breathability, and the 14.2-inch seat height makes getting in and out of this chair easy. Though there's no headrest, the back is tall enough and upright enough that we never felt we were overextending our necks to stay engaged with the conversation. The armrests on the GCI are a bit narrow for our liking, but they are padded and work just fine. The spring-loaded shocks provide a smooth, simple rocking motion that can be enjoyed on just about any outdoor surface. If you like a soft, slouchy chair, you might be happier with something like the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong, our Editor's Choice Award winner. But if your favorite living room chair is a wooden rocker, we think you'll like this one. GCI did a fine job preserving the virtues of a good rocker in an outdoors-ready product.
The Freestyle Rocker doesn't compress much for storage. Even less than your typical sports chair, like the ALPS King Kong or REI Camp X, the Freestyle collapses in the middle, bringing the right and left sides together, but keeping the same height and depth as when it's set up. And considering it's one of the heavier chairs we tested at 12.2 pounds, this chair is unlikely to be one you want to carry a mile from the car if you can help it.
It features a carrying handle on the frame though, preventing any need for an extra storage bag or an awkward fumbling grab. We didn't mind bringing this chair with us in the car and to events with reasonably close parking, but it isn't our first pick for long distance carrying.
The listed capacity of the GCI Freestyle is 250 pounds, which is about the minimum for any camping chair of similar style. The powder-coated steel frame and ripstop polyester fabric seem fairly durable and held up to our plop and bounce tests. Our 220-pound tester found no issues when plopping heavily into the Freestyle or bouncing in the seat. We also left this chair to sit in the sun and rain for over a month and, though it acquired some bird droppings, we found it to be no worse for the wear. The spring-loaded shocks did become a bit stiff during our testing but are meant to be oiled periodically. Once we did that, they were back to their smooth, quiet movements.
We had no issues with the durability of this chair during our multi-month testing period, though some of the seams look to us as though they may eventually fray or rip with time. We also aren't sure of the longevity of the cup holder, that we think is rather awkwardly attached to the front of the frame with metal rivets. We found this chair to be adequately durable, but it doesn't jump out at regarding longevity - not like the 800lb capacity ALPS King Kong!
Ease of Set-Up
The Freestyle has of the simplest mechanisms to set up and take down any chair. Just pushing the sides away from each other gets this seat ready for rocking, and with a handle on one side, you pull the seat up and collapse it sideways to move on to your next spot. The sturdy steel frame maintains its shape, and a fabric handle on the back allows for you to carry your Rocker much like a suitcase to wherever you want to go.
Is the fact that this outdoor chair can rock smoothly on pretty much any surface not enough for you? Well, it also includes a cup holder on the front of the frame. This out of the way placement helps you to avoid spilling your beverage while gesturing wildly telling a story. However, it's a fairly large cup holder without much support, so skinny bottles can sit a bit awkwardly. Still, we think this is better than not having a cup holder and leaving your refreshments on the ground.
If you've been searching for a rocking chair for outside, this is clearly a good choice. Our testers of all sizes found the rocking motion to be smooth even when the ground isn't. Some of our testers self-identify as "fidgeters" and enjoy the release of this rocking chair. It's also a great, supportive chair that's easy to use for folks who often have a hard time getting in or out of those slouchy sports chairs. It's not the most convenient shape or size to transport though. If that's what you're after, the relaxing Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury chair packs into a small case with a shoulder strap and provides a swinging motion and a relaxed posture.
Retailing for $65, the GCI Freestyle Rocker brings a lot to the table. We think this easy to use, supportive rocking chair is well worth what you'll spend on it, provided you're into it. And even if it's 250-pound capacity doesn't end up lasting for years and years, we still think this price is pretty reasonable. If you're searching for a better deal, the Kijaro Dual Lock provides similar support and simplicity - though isn't a rocking chair - for about $40.
We were skeptical about the authentic feel and comfort of an outdoor rocking chair, but the Freestyle Rocker came as a pleasant surprise. Sure, it's part gimmick, but we can't deny that we enjoyed sitting in it. The rocking mechanisms need a little oil from time to time, but we are quite impressed with the smooth ride this chair provides. We think this rocking chair is a good blend of comfort, convenience, and simplicity - and all for a pretty reasonable price!
— Maggie Brandenburg