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REI Camp Stowaway Low Review

Price:   $45 List | $44.50 at REI
Pros:  Stable, light, much smaller than traditional chairs, comfortable
Cons:  Too large to hike out for an overnight, very low to the ground, no arm rests
Bottom line:  The largest of the portable models we tested, it's too big to hike far with but is ideal for beach-goers.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   REI

Our Verdict

The REI Camp Stowaway Low is the most comfortable and stable portable chair we tested. That said, keep in mind that this chair weighed several pounds more than the rest of our portable models. The Stowaway is much smaller than a traditional model, but it cannot fit in a backpack and isn't quite light enough to hike for longer distances. Overall, the Stowaway has the appearance and stature of a compact model but possesses most of the comfort and durability qualities of the traditional models. If this sounds like something you might be looking for, the read on!


RELATED REVIEW: 14 of the Best Camping Chairs


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Laura Lingeman
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Monday
September 28, 2015

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Irrespective of whether or not it is more of a traditional or portable model, the Stowaway is an easy sell. It is super stable, comfortable, supportive, and only weighs 5 lbs. It has padded armrests, and while it doesn't offer any storage, your arms are conveniently only inches from the ground. The Stowaway comes in three colors.

Performance Comparison


This compact little model was much larger and heavier than the other portable models  but offered increased stability and comfort.
This compact little model was much larger and heavier than the other portable models, but offered increased stability and comfort.

Comfort


Testers gave the Stowaway 7 out of 10 points for comfort. Its seat has taught, supportive mesh fabric that keeps you cool and dry on warm summer days. Its arm bars are padded with a thick, spongy foam that is quite comfortable. The chair sits in a relaxed, but upright position and is situated just a few inches above the ground. This can make the chair hard to get out of, but does allow you to stretch your legs straight out, which is great when lounging on the beach. One critique about the Stowaway is that if you do sit with your legs straight out in front of you, your thighs press in on some of the support bars that are under the seat. Your legs do not touch these bars if your knees are bent. For testers who preferred sitting in the Stowaway with their legs straight out in front of them, this design issue caused significant discomfort.

Durability


This chair has a similarly durable construction to the REI Camp X. It is built of steel and aluminum framing with polyester and nylon mesh. The only part of the chair that showed wear during the testing process was the foam padding on the arm bars. This thick pad would get caught when collapsing the chair and eventually ripped. Some testers toyed with the idea of cutting off the padding, but in the end it was decided that the padding would be sorely missed, as there would be nowhere comfortable to rest your elbows.

The padding on the armrest got caught when closing the chair  resulting in the material tearing after a few uses.
The padding on the armrest got caught when closing the chair, resulting in the material tearing after a few uses.

Portability


This chair was more portable than any of the traditional models, but less portable than the lightweight models. The Stowaway weighs 5 lbs and 6 oz, almost three times more than our Top Pick for Portability, the Big Agnes Helinox Chair One. You would be hard pressed to fit the Stowaway in a pack to bring anywhere, but pack it in its storage bag and it can be easily carried to the beach or an outdoor concert venue.

The Therm-a-Rest Treo was the smallest camping chair that we tested. The REI Stowaway Low was the largest of the portable chairs we tested.
The Therm-a-Rest Treo was the smallest camping chair that we tested. The REI Stowaway Low was the largest of the portable chairs we tested.

Ease of Set-Up


It took less than 5 seconds to set up this chair. All that is required for assembly is to pull apart the arm bars. Collapsing the chair isn't quite as easy. The foam on the arm bars gets pinched between the joints of the chair, which keeps the chair from fully closing. This is an unfortunate design flaw that is not only inconvenient, but results in damage to the arm pads as well.

Features


This chair has no additional features.

One tester stretching the limits of the Stowaway Low.
One tester stretching the limits of the Stowaway Low.

Best Applications


Testers felt that the beach was by far the best use for this chair. It is perfect for lounging and it has so much mesh that it dries out incredibly fast. It would be good for camping, but less ideal for tailgating or other outdoor socials because it is so low to the ground. If you're looking for a full-size chair with mesh like the Stowaway's also be sure to check out the Eureka Curvy High-Back and the Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair.

Value


Testers felt like $45 was a pretty fair price for the Stowaway. This is relatively cheap compared to most of the other chairs we have tested, yet the quality of the chair is very good. The Stowaway isn't very versatile, but it is well made and comfortable and for $45, that's pretty dang reasonable.

The Stowaway has great ventilation and taut fabric that provides increased back support  a unique feature among the portable models.
The Stowaway has great ventilation and taut fabric that provides increased back support, a unique feature among the portable models.

Conclusion


We liked the Stowaway and we think you'll like it too if you're on the hunt for a relatively lightweight chair and you don't mind sitting low to the ground. It is comfortable, sturdy, reasonably priced, and perfect for lounging in the sun.
Laura Lingeman

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Most recent review: September 28, 2015
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