Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Good recline, sturdy flex frame, packs small, made entirely of breathable mesh
Cons: Seams stiff and pokey, fades easily in sun, poor cupholder design, narrow shoulders
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Stargaze Recliner is a uniquely designed chair that both swings and reclines. Featuring a flexible aircraft aluminum frame with a bacteria-resistant monofilament nylon mesh seat and an adjustable headrest, this chair also impressively packs into a small case you can easily carry with you.
The Stargaze Recliner provides a swinging experience similar to that of a hammock chair, but comes with a frame rather than needing mounting hardware. The newest version somewhat lowers the user's center of gravity with a curved bar in the middle to bring you closer to the ground - the new version has a seat height of just 11.5in. While the breathable mesh, adjustable headrest, and recline features are all much appreciated, we think some important details are lacking that would help this chair live up to its name.
The headrest is a fantastic idea, and making it moveable is clutch. However, our testers 5'4" and shorter found that they couldn't get the headrest low enough to be comfortable, and instead chose to go without or leave it floating above their heads. Also, the many seams running through the seat of the Stargaze Recliner have stiff threads that continued to poke us through our clothes. Two seams at the bend in the chair become stretched tight during full recline, digging into our lower backs. The padded armrests are appreciated by our shorter and average-sized testers, but taller folks found that using them brings their elbows into uncomfortable contact with the aluminum frame. And while we enjoy the hammock-like feel of this chair, some testers with wider shoulders found the top is a bit narrow to sit in for too long. Though one of the features that Nemo claims to have updated, we found it to still be rather narrow for longtime comfort. Because of its weirdly C-shaped design, this chair is mostly only comfortable while reclining (despite the awkward folds in our lower backs) and not very pleasant when we wanted to sit up and eat dinner or talk to our friends. And even then we feel it is much improved with something to prop our feet up on while we recline.
This is one area where the Stargaze shines bright. This chair conveniently breaks down and packs up into a compact storage bag with an adjustable shoulder strap that lets you take it nearly anywhere without a thought. At 7.9 pounds, it's about the middle of the group of chairs we tested and weighs less than a gallon of milk. The carry case has an internal storage pocket for a few small additional items, making transport that much easier. It also has a top loop for an easy grab with one hand.
The flexible aircraft aluminum frame is a bit alarming to watch while anyone is using this chair - it flexes a lot! But it's designed to do so, and in our experience, it works well. Though the chair is rated for 300 pounds, we piled two people totaling around 440 pounds into this chair to push it. With some overloaded violent swinging and bouncing, the Nemo Stargaze flexed a lot but suffered no damage. We also left this chair outside in the sun and rain for a couple of months, and after a few weeks, we noticed the trim on our model had become very faded though the mesh seemed to be unphased.
Ease of Setup
This model does have a bit of a learning curve to be able to set it up quickly. The frame breaks down into color-coded segments joined with a bungee cord, and the seatback has two small poles that must be removed from the headrest and similarly collapsed. Right out of the bag, these two thin frame poles are challenging to fit into the back of the headrest. After several times setting up this chair though, we found this to be much easier - not only because we were more practiced but also because the material was better broken in. The new version of this chair also has bungees that hold the back of the chair upright even when it's not in use - the previous version had a tendency to flop over and fold in half every time you got out of it.
The Stargaze Recliner is a bit awkward to roll up and fit easily back into its bag, both because of thick hems and seams in odd places and the fairly giant poles you have to stuff it in with. If the bag was just a little bit longer, you could avoid taking out the back stiffener poles, which would help make this a slightly less awkward package to roll. All in all, compared to many simple fold-and-go chairs, this one is significantly more involved to use.
Aside from the whole swinging and reclining thing, the Stargaze Recliner has a cup holder and a pocket big enough for a smartphone and then some. We appreciate both of these features but aren't sold on the utility of their locations. Both the cup holder and the pocket are on the sides of the seat, making them challenging to use while you're actually seated in the chair. Larger testers couldn't use these features at all, as they because smushed up against their legs as soon as they were seated. Even smaller users found that the cup holder tends to turn sideways and spill all over your lap and legs. So while we appreciate the effort put in by Nemo to provide convenient storage, we think the actual utility of these two features is rather lacking.
Retailing for a pretty staggering price, this is by far the most expensive chair we tested. While we hope that future improvements to this intriguing recliner chair will make it more comfortable and functional, we're not sure that this latest iteration is worth the price. If you really love hammocks and staring up at the stars, this might be just the chair for you.
We are sadly underwhelmed by this interesting recliner from Nemo. While we think the recline feature and adjustable headrest are solid concepts, the devil is in the details, and we think those are rather lacking in its current form. We hope this expensive option continues to receive improvements that will help us love it more in the future.
— Maggie Brandenburg