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REI Co-op Camp Stowaway Low Review

A nifty, comfortable low-to-the-ground chair that just works.
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Price:  $40 List | $39.95 at REI
Pros:  Comfortable, easily portable, not bad to get out of, simple to use, sturdy
Cons:  Very close to ground, learning curve to fold up
Manufacturer:   REI
By Laura Lingeman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Comfort - 40% 6
  • Portability - 25% 7
  • Durability - 20% 6
  • Ease of Setup - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The REI Co-op Stowaway Low is a chair that we like more than we expected to. It's a very low-to-the-ground seat that utilizes it's proximity to the earth as a footrest and drink holder while providing a comfortable partial recline. This total lack of features makes it a compact, lightweight chair to carry to an outdoor concert or picnic in the park. Despite how low it is to the ground, we're impressed by the sturdy, foam-covered armrests that make it easier to get up and out of than we'd expected - though we still don't think it's quite the right birthday gift for Grandma. If you like the low style, we think the Stowaway is a solid option that's sure to fit most budgets.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $39.95 at REI$55.99 at Amazon$39.50 at REI$99.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$39.48 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Pros Comfortable, easily portable, not bad to get out of, simple to use, sturdyFits just about anyone, comfortably padded seat, super robust, plenty of storage, simple to useComfortable, portable, well-ventilated, stable, great storage, easy to use, inexpensiveSeats two people, comfortable padded design, stable and durable, easy to set up and take down, handy cup holder plusCarrying strap is built-in and easy to use, set-up is casual, exceptional support for your back, lightweight
Cons Very close to ground, learning curve to fold upFairly large and heavy, holds water, not breathableLow back height, slightly lower seat height, cup holder not ideal for thin beveragesPoor ventilation, heavy, bulkyFabric can get dirty easily, durability could be better, cup holders could be larger
Bottom Line A nifty, comfortable low-to-the-ground chair that just works.Our favorite among all contenders, this chair makes camp lounging a simple and comfy affair.It's tough to complain about this versatile and portable chair, especially considering the price.A surprisingly comfortable and durable, though heavy, option for you and a friend (furry or otherwise)!Versatile, supportive, and lightweight, this high value chair is ready for outdoor concerts, sporting events, and campsites.
Rating Categories REI Co-op Camp Stowaway Low ALPS Mountaineering King Kong REI Co-op Camp X Kelty Low Loveseat Dual Lock Folding Chair
Comfort (40%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Portability (25%)
10
0
7
10
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6
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7
10
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4
10
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7
Durability (20%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
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6
10
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8
10
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5
Ease Of Setup (15%)
10
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7
10
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10
10
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10
10
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9
10
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9
Specs REI Co-op Camp... ALPS... REI Co-op Camp X Kelty Low Loveseat Dual Lock Folding...
Weight (pounds) 6.0 lb 14.1 lb 8.0 lb 15.5 lb 9.8 lb
Weight Capacity (pounds) 250 lb 800 lb 300 lb 500 lb 300 lb
Folded Dimensions (inches) 27 x 9 x 9 in 39 x 8 x 8 in 33 x 7 x 7 in 34 x 12 x 7 in 45 x 7 x 7 in
Unfolded Dimensions (inches) 22 x 22 x 24 in 24 x 37 x 38 in 21 x 31 x 31 in 23.5 x 44 x 31.5 in 25 x 35 x 37 in
Seat Height (inches) 5.0 in 15.0 in 11.5 in 7.0 in 15.0 in
Features Mesh back and seat center, foam-wrapped armrests 2 cup holders, 2 side pockets, storage pocket behind headrest, adjustable armrests 1 uniquely shaped cup holder, "stowable" armrest pouch, adjustable armrests Seats two, 2 insulated adjustable drink holders, adjustable armrests 2 cup holders, side pocket, carrying strap

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Stowaway Low is a near-ground, low-profile perch that sits just 5 inches off the earth. It lacks any extra features but is simple to fold up and stick in its carry bag, which features an over-the-shoulder strap and top handle.

Performance Comparison


Being low to the ground makes for a built in foot rest!
Being low to the ground makes for a built in foot rest!

Comfort


If you're seeking a seat from which you can survey a large area, you're looking at the wrong chair. However, if you're on the hunt for a way to upgrade your lawn concert experience from a lumpy blanket, we think the Stowaway Low is a solidly comfortable option. Being just 5 inches off the ground, REI designed this chair to have a slight recline that gives the illusion of being at home with your feet up on the couch. Simple foam-covered armrests are more comfortable than we anticipated, without being in the way of you reaching for the book you set down next to your chair. Their sturdy design and forward-facing orientation also make it easier to get back up again from this ground seat. Both the fabric and the mesh (and the seams that join them) are comfortable against bare skin - which we can't say about other chairs we tested. The cleverly placed mesh also delivers a cool breeze to key areas on a summer's day, adding to its overall comfort.

Comfortable seams and foam-covered armrests make this chair a delight to sit in.
Comfortable seams and foam-covered armrests make this chair a delight to sit in.

Portability


Without long legs to pack up, this little gadget makes for a pretty small overall package. It also cuts off some excess weight, further adding to the portability of the whole thing. A wide, non-adjustable shoulder strap makes it fairly comfortable to carry, though that lack of adjustment is less pleasant than the adjustable options we tested. If a shoulder strap isn't your jam, there's also a handy handle on the top that's equally easy to use.

Not too large and not heavy  with two wide straps to help carry it.
Not too large and not heavy, with two wide straps to help carry it.

Durability


With a 250lb capacity, the Stowaway is actually on the bottom end of the range of chairs we tested, while simultaneously being adequate for the majority of users. We beat this chair up both during much use and by literally jumping in it. Through all that, we're pretty impressed with how solid and sturdy it is - certainly those short legs help it stay quite stable. The mesh dries pretty quickly - even after getting covered by some early fall snow - and we can't find anything about this chair that makes us worried it won't do the job. A few online users made notes of the fabric fraying along the edges or coming unraveled, but we didn't notice anything of the sort after our intensive testing process. REI does offer a one-year manufacturer's warranty that covers potential flaws.

Hangin out at dog level.
Hangin out at dog level.

Ease of Setup


A simple enough concept, the Stowaway joins the ranks of folding chairs. We love that REI has added little bungees on the back to stop the seatback from sliding off the bars when you put it away. Other, similar chairs lack this feature, and it makes them much more annoying to set up again. However, there's something about the frame design that makes it a bit more challenging to fold up than we had expected. It took several times of trial and error to figure out how to actually get this little job to fold up easily - pressing inward on opposite corners seems to do the trick for us. Once we made this discovery, packing up the Stowaway became much more enjoyable. Another thing we appreciate about putting this chair away is that it comes with a bag that's plenty large enough and has no extra features or spindly legs to get caught. It's, thankfully, one of the easiest models we tested to fit back into its carry bag.

This clever little bungee stops the back from sliding off the frame as you put it away.
This clever little bungee stops the back from sliding off the frame as you put it away.

Features


This chair has a mesh seat and back and foam-wrapped armrests. It relies on your proximity to the ground for beverage and book holding, keeping it a simple, fairly featureless seat.

When you're already so low to the sand  you probably won't mind digging in a little more.
When you're already so low to the sand, you probably won't mind digging in a little more.

Value


One of the least expensive options we tested, we think this chair is a pretty solid value. It may be a bit of a niche seat, with its low stature, but if it's the type of chair you're looking for, we think you'll appreciate the sheer usability and obvious thought and quality that went into making this piece of outdoor furniture.

Conclusion


Though we thought this little chair would be hard to get out of and easy to forget, we found ourselves continuing to choose it at barbecues and around campfires. It's simple and easy to use and works in all the ways we want a shorty chair to work.

Enjoy a beverage from the comfort of your Stowaway Low.
Enjoy a beverage from the comfort of your Stowaway Low.


Laura Lingeman