REI Co-op Flexlite Camp Dreamer Review
Cons: Difficult to assemble at first, less stable, odd pockets
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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REI Co-op Flexlite Camp Dreamer
|Price||$99.95 at REI||Check Price at REI|
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|$35.00 at REI||$31 List|
|Pros||Flexible frame, middle-ground height, lightweight, removable headrest||Fits just about anyone, comfortably padded seat, super robust, plenty of storage, simple to use||Comfortable, portable, well-ventilated, stable, great storage, easy to use, inexpensive||Easy to set up, tall angled back, supportive, high seat height, less expensive||Simple and easy to use, reasonably portable, good features, inexpensive|
|Cons||Difficult to assemble at first, less stable, odd pockets||Fairly large and heavy, holds water, not breathable||Low back height, slightly lower seat height, cup holder not ideal for thin beverages||Very tall seat, limited pockets, no locking mechanism, less supportive, long when packed||Slouchy, narrow seat, durability concerns|
|Bottom Line||Packability meets hammock-like lounging with nearly rocker-like movement in this lightweight, low-to-the-ground model||Our favorite among all contenders, this robust chair makes camp lounging a simple and comfortable affair||It's tough to complain about this versatile and portable chair, especially considering the price||A tall chair with a simple set up that's easy to use and less expensive to buy||An inexpensive chair that's easy to use and like, with an attached cooler to keep refreshments cold and at hand|
|Rating Categories||Flexlite Camp Dreamer||ALPS Mountaineering...||REI Co-op Camp X||GCI Outdoor Comfort...||Portable|
|Ease Of Setup (15%)|
|Specs||Flexlite Camp Dreamer||ALPS Mountaineering...||REI Co-op Camp X||GCI Outdoor Comfort...||Portable|
|Weight (pounds)||3.5 lb||14.1 lb||8.0 lb||8.3 lb||6.3 lb|
|Weight Capacity (pounds)||300 lbs||800 lb||300 lb||300 lbs||225 lb|
|Folded Dimensions (inches)||20" x 7" x 6"||39" x 8" x 8"||33" x 7" x 7"||45" x 7" x 5"||35" x 8" x 8"|
|Unfolded Dimensions (inches)||27" x 25" x 37"||24" x 37" x 38"||21" x 31" x 31"||25" x 35" x 37"||34" x 20" x 36"|
|Seat Height (in middle, in inches)||10.5"||15.0"||11.5"||15"||11.5"|
|Features||Vents, 2 mesh pockets, removable head rest , DWR finish||2 cup holders, 2 side pockets, storage pocket behind headrest, adjustable armrests||1 uniquely shaped cup holder, "stowable" armrest pouch, adjustable armrests||Beverage holder, small sleeve pocket||Built in 4-can cooler pouch, mesh up holder, side mesh pocket|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The REI Flexlite Camp Dreamer is a high-backed, very packable camping chair. It comes apart completely and rolls up into a relatively small stuff sack. It features two long, narrow mesh side pockets and a removable headrest.
The Camp Dreamer proved to be a polarizing chair, with some of our testers loving it and others looking elsewhere. The seat is supported on its four corners, providing a more hammock-like level of comfort. It's narrower than a typical folded camping chair, furthering that feeling of being enveloped in a pouch of material. Testers who like this chair tend to prefer a more slouched style of seat over a more rigid, supportive seat. The chair also lives up to the "Flexlite" in its name, as the poles all flex readily while you're using it. Once again, this proved divisive among our testers, down similar lines. Those who like to rock, swing, and fidget enjoy the flexibility in the Camp Dreamer's poles, while others find it "weird" and "offputting," letting them move when they prefer to be still.
This chair falls into a middle ground of seat height — the front edge is about 17 inches from the ground (sinking several inches when sat in) and the middle rests around 10.5 inches from the ground. It feels like a kind of high-backed, low chair (but not nearly as low as many others we tested) and the higher front edge of the bucket-like seat adds some height, helping it to feel like a medium-low chair. And as you'd expect, this low height, bucket-like shape, and a lack of armrests make it challenging for many folks to get out of easily.
This chair comes apart fully for transport. Bungee cords connect the poles together and the fabric pops off all four corners. Once you've removed the headrest pillow, the whole thing can be rolled up and stuffed into a small drawstring sack that weighs a little over 3 pounds. Compared to many giant chairs that simply fold shut, the Camp Dreamer seems small and lightweight. Up against the other chairs we've tested that come apart in similar ways, it's still fairly light and reasonably small, though still not something we'd take on an overnight backpacking trip. Its stuff sack also lacks a handle of any kind, which can be slightly annoying depending on how you prefer to carry it.
The Camp Dreamer is sold with a claimed capacity of 300 lb, which is pretty standard among camping chairs. It's made of DWR-treated ripstop polyester with aluminum poles, helping it to be lightweight while still fairly durable. Though the poles flex quite a bit during our stand and jump tests, they're made to do so and we never felt like they were on the verge of breaking. The bungee cord connecting them is fairly thick, but we've seen many bungee cords break down after a few seasons of regular use and sun exposure to truly trust this system long-term.
The front-to-back orientation of the center support pole of the Camp Dreamer makes it too easy to tip over sideways, while the relatively longer legs hold you higher from the ground, raising your center of gravity, making it even easier to tip. Our taller testers particularly felt this during our testing, and several times nearly fell out trying to reach things off to the side.
Ease of Setup
We've put together and tested more than our fair share of this style of chair over the years. None of them can ever be as easy as the simple accordion fold-out of classic camping chairs. However, the Camp Dreamer is perhaps the most challenging model of this style that we have ever used. Its tall back makes the poles even farther apart than many similar models, but the fabric doesn't want to stretch onto the poles. We are no strangers to the tricks involved in getting these chairs to go together, but this model proved to be exceptionally difficult, taking us a few grunt-filled minutes to get it together the first time. After leaving it set up for several days, it stretched a bit and became slightly easier, but remains challenging to put together. Rolling it up to stick it in its stuff sack, we quickly discovered that the removable headrest pillow is also just barely small enough to fit into the top-opening bag, adding further frustration as we had to very slowly inch it into the sack.
The Dreamer has two mesh pockets that are elongated slits on either side and not quite right for anything. They'll fit most smartphones and you can put a drink in them, but they're not great at actually holding onto your items while you get in and out of this chair.
The Camp Dreamer is one of the more expensive chairs we tested, but our team of testers found its unique attributes to be polarizing. We think smaller, younger bodies will appreciate this model most and may find it worth the price.
The REI Flexlite Camp Dreamer is an interesting camping chair that combines elements of hammocking, rocking, and lounging down by the campfire. It's lightweight and portable, but not ideal for all body sizes and ages. We also think a few features could benefit from tweaking before we would readily recommend this model.
— Maggie Brandenburg