GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Review
Cons: Rockers need maintenance, a bit stiff for some, doesn't pack small, doesn't stand up to harsh sun long-term
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 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, 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, 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 most camping chairs we've tested. 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. 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 aren't sure of the longevity of the cup holder under heavy use, as it seems to be rather awkwardly attached to the front of the frame with metal rivets. But we experienced no actual issues with it during our testing. After leaving this chair out in the hot sun of a high desert all summer, though, it became incredibly damaged and frayed without actually even being used. Its fabric and seams literally began falling apart just from sitting in the sunlight - not a great quality for a piece of outdoor furniture. To be fair, this happened under intense sunlight at 5,000 feet above sea level. If you don't plan on keeping your chair out on your patio all summer, this issue will likely be avoided.
Ease of Setup
The Freestyle has one 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.
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 as long as you keep it from sitting in direct sunlight for months on end to be promptly destroyed by UV, we still think this chair is worth it.
We were skeptical about the authentic feel and comfort of an outdoor rocking chair, but the GCI Outdoors 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 and it shouldn't be left for months in direct sun, 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