Some changes have been granted to the Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair since we last had our hands on it. Nemo has given it a wider frame, which we hope addresses our gripe about the discomfort of wider-shouldered folks using the chair. There is updated geometry to give a lower center of gravity, and the frame is now anodized and features color-coded ferrules to aid with ease of setup. Compare the updated Stargaze (left) to the model we tested (right).
We're linking to the updated Stargaze, but we can't vouch for the updates until we get our hands on it and test it ourselves. In the meantime, the review to follow is about our experience with the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Stargaze
The Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair 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.
A hammock-like swinging chair that needs no swing mount.
The Nemo Stargaze Recliner provides a swinging experience similar to that of a hammock chair, but comes with a frame rather than needing mounting hardware. While the breathable mesh, adjustable headrest, and recline features are all much appreciated, we think some important details are lacking that would make this chair live up to its name.
A fully reclining chair saves your neck for stargazing and provides a potential napping space.
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. This chair is mostly only comfortable while reclining and not very pleasant when we wanted to sit up and eat dinner or talk to our friends.
This is one area where the Stargaze shines bright. This chair conveniently breaks down and packs up into a compact storage bag with a shoulder strap that lets you take it nearly anywhere without a thought. At 7.7 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 plenty of extra space and an internal storage pocket for additional items, making transport that much easier.
The Nemo is easy to sling over your shoulder and take with you.
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 red trim on our model had become very faded.
These seams are sturdy, but pokey, stiff, and rather uncomfortable while you recline.
Ease of Set-Up
This model does have a bit of a learning curve to be able to set it up quickly. The frame breaks down into segments joined with a bungee cord, and the seat back has two 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 Stargaze Recliner fits easily back into its carry bag with plenty of room to spare. So while we don't mind the process this chair takes to set up and take down, compared to the simple, accordion-style set-up of many other models we tested, this one does take more work.
Helpful instructions make it hard to mess up the set-up of the Nemo Stargaze.
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.
Using the cupholder is dicey without spilling, and much harder for folks larger than our size 4 tester pictured here.
If you know someone who always takes a hammock on any camping trip, we think they may really enjoy the comfort, feel, and swing of the Nemo Stargaze. It's also a good fit for actual stargazing, as the recline feature stops you from having to crane your neck or lay on the ground. That being said, this product is expensive and doesn't have all-around camp chair utility. There are many other, better options out there for just lounging around camp, like the supremely comfortable ALPS King Kong, our Editors' Choice Award winner.
Somewhere between a hammock, a swing, and a chair is the Nemo Stargaze.
Retailing for $220, 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 current 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 wish it came with a footrest, but this cooler does just fine.
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.