The REI Co-op Camp X is a very good all-around camping chair option that's versatile, thoughtfully designed yet simple, and wins our Best Buy Award. It's made mostly of mesh but with key additions to increase its durability without compromising breathability for any hot summer day. It is also a bit smaller and several pounds lighter than many of the other models we tested, so it is easier to carry around. We love its unique cup holder, which can hold a wide variety of bottles and even coffee mugs, though it struggles a bit to stabilize skinny drinks like 12 oz glass bottles. It's a bit smaller than similar chairs, though we find it quite handy and is well-liked by our panel of testers. And with a pretty low price tag, this chair holds exceptional value across the board.
REI Co-op Camp X Review
Cons: Low back height, slightly lower seat height, cup holder not ideal for thin beverages
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Camp X is a simple, mostly-mesh folding chair that's a touch smaller than average. It comes with a carry bag that has both a shoulder strap and top grab loop and features a versatile-shaped/sized cup holder and a drop-down pocket for additional storage.
This model's seat is made with mesh and reinforced x-shaped webbing (known as REI's X-Web technology), which helps distribute weight more efficiently in the seat. This makes the chair feel a bit more supportive and stops the mesh from stretching too far over time. Made more of mesh than solid fabric allows for good ventilation on hot days and a quick dry time on wet ones. The back of the chair is lower than many other similar chairs, though most of our testers didn't mind. This makes it an easy choice for shorter folks, though even our taller testers were surprised to learn it doesn't detract from the overall comfort as much as they had feared. In fact, some particularly broad-shouldered testers appreciated this additional maneuvering space.
With that being said, this is a much more traditionally slouchy chair with a fairly upright back, which may or may not be your cup of tea. It also has a seat height of just 11.5 in, which is on the low end of this type of chair. The arms and frame are sturdy enough to be able to push yourself out of, but this added distance to move can be a break-it deal for some.
Part of the reason the Camp X is so versatile was due to its lower back, which significantly boosts its portability. It weighs just 8 lb, which is on the lighter side of chairs we tested, and much lighter than most other similar-styled chairs in this review. The Camp X is also extremely simple to pack up and carry in its storage sack. It is portable enough that carrying it without the sack is no problem for short distances.
Though the shoulder strap isn't adjustable, it is quite wide, which helps to distribute weight better. The carry bag also has a top handle for a quick grab out of the car or garage. In general, toting this relatively small but full-sized camp chair around is pretty easy.
The Camp X is made of polyester and nylon mesh fabric and a steel frame. It feels very sturdy to sit in and has a weight limit of 300 lbs. Many of the high-stress areas of the chair, like the cup holder and the corners of the fabric that are sewn around the steel frame, are reinforced with plastic trim. The carry bag is thick and reinforced, unlike some of the flimsy competition.
Impressively, the superfine mesh is not only comfortable but also durable. Backed up by REI's X-Web reinforcements and with a lower center of gravity than many other contenders, this chair is quite sturdy and tough while still being lightweight and breathable. It's not immune to the popping of a hot campfire though - but what chair is? We also found numerous complaints online of the bolts connecting the joints of the chair sheering off after several years worth of use. We didn't have this issue during our several-month testing period, but if that ever changes, we'll be sure to note it here.
Ease of Setup
Like the majority of the traditional models, this chair is easy to set up in just a matter of seconds with a simple unfolding motion. It's equally as easy to put away, requiring next to no thought. We also had no more issues than you'd anticipate using this chair in the sand. It sinks very slightly, but not so much that you'd easily notice and the feet can easily be emptied of grains before the trek home.
While in general, this chair fits back into its bag with relative ease. However, sometimes we found the large, oblong cup holder preventing the process from being so easy. Once we realized it needs to be tucked into the chair during folding to more easily slide into the storage bag, things got a lot smoother.
There are one oddly-shaped cup holder and one "drop-down" pocket for storage in the Camp X. The oddly-shaped cup holder is designed to fit a wide variety of shapes and sizes of beverage. Its tapered shape can fit mugs, one-liter water bottles, and soda cans. While we love being able to put our oversized options in easily, it doesn't offer the most secure fit for a single smaller container - like a 12oz can or bottle. The drop-down pocket conveniently velcros to the underside of the armrest, so it is stored out of the way, or un-velcros to hang vertically and could double as another cup holder (though a deep one). Either way, the pocket is easy to access and has a cinch tie to prevent your valuables from falling out.
This chair is an excellent value, which is why it is our Best Buy Award winner. For less than most others we tested, it is a shockingly versatile and portable chair that a wide variety of body types find comfortable.
The REI Camp X is a reliable and versatile seating option that's also great on a budget. It is a top performer in ease of set-up and also performs pretty well across the board. We appreciate how simple and affordable it is and recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to spend a ton of money but wants to have a reliable and versatile outdoor chair.
— Maggie Brandenburg