The Therm-a-Rest Treo is camping chic on top of being portable, as it folds down into its base stand. This didn't, however, prevent it from scoring at the bottom of the heap compared to the other models we reviewed. Therm-a-Rest markets this chair as "Big comfort in a small package." Unfortunately, we think it might be more accurately described as, "very packable, moderately comfortable, but not very useful." The Treo is so unstable that it really decreases its function. Uneven or sandy terrain will pitch you right out of this bucket seat. Try reaching for something just out of arm's reach and you might regret it (one tester did…). It is lightweight and small, but not convenient enough for us to recommend it, even as a portable chair.If you are searching for a small, lightweight chair, we recommend looking up our Top Pick for Portability, the Helinox Chair One.
Therm-a-Rest Treo Review
Cons: Unstable, not very comfortable, has six individual parts, not suitable for uneven terrain
Our Analysis and Test Results
Hands-On Review of the Treo
Overall, our testers just didn't find the Therm-a-Rest Treo comfortable enough to sit in for long periods of time and it was very unstable on its stand. That said, its light weight and small stature do make it a good portable option, and it even packs down into its own tripod base. Without any other redeeming features, however, we just couldn't recommend this chair as a good camping option. The Treo is made in the USA and comes in three colors.
Compared to the other camping chair models that we tested, the Treo received average marks for comfort. It wasn't uncomfortable, but the bucket style seat did little in terms of spine support. It forces the inhabitant's spine to curl inside of its slouched seat. Of the testers who did find the Treo to be cozy, none recommended it for activities that would require sitting for a long period of time. The lack of armrests also negatively influenced the chair's comfort rating as there was nowhere to put anything that you might have in your hands.
We gave the Treo a nearly perfect score in portability. As previously mentioned, it essentially packs inside of itself, which eliminates the need for a storage bag. Testers liked this feature because chair storage bags aren't actually that easy to keep track of when it is windy. Other models, like the Helinox and Alite Mantis, have a separate storage bag for transporting the seat and stand. If you want some seating for a scenario where space or weight are at a premium, the Treo is a decent bet. Just be careful to assemble the chair on a flat, solid surface.
The Therm-a-Rest Treo is constructed from an aluminum frame and has a nylon seat. Its materials appear to be relatively strong, but the chair is so rickety that extra movement seems to stress the joints of the seat. To assess the durability of the Treo we had one tester plop in the chair from regular standing height. This resulted in a large 'crack' sound and the discovery that the foot of one of the tripod legs had cracked off. The chair still seemed usable until it was disassembled, during which one of its thin aluminum rods was found to be broken.
Also, the chair packs inside of its tripod base which is sealed shut with a thin silicone loop that wraps around the whole capsule. This loop is by far the weakest part of the capsule, and if it breaks, then you lose all of the contents of your chair. Among the portable chairs, the REI Camp Stowaway Low was the most stable and durable option we tested and we recommend this model if you are concerned about toppling the Treo.
Ease of Set-Up
This chair has the most involved set-up because it has the most parts. In addition, the connection socket where the aluminum poles attach to the fabric sling was the least secure of all of the portable models we tested. This resulted in the two parts accidentally separating mid-set-up. With practice, the Treo could be set-up in a few minutes. This is a lot of time compared to the two-second set-up of many of the traditional chairs.
Like the rest of the portable models we tested, there were no additional features for this chair. No armrests, no cup holders, not even an umbrella. Nada.
We recommend this chair first and foremost to children as its size and fun colors/look appeal more to the younger crowd. That being said, for adults we would recommend it for times when you don't have enough space/weight to carry a full-sized camping chair or for situations where you won't be sitting a lot. We highly recommend limiting this chair's use to flat, stable surfaces.
Considering the limited use options for the Treo, we think $100 is too much to spend on this chair. The Helinox also costs $100 but was our Top Pick for Portability. If you have the budget to spend this much money on a chair and want something portable, we recommend the Helinox instead. If you have a smaller budget, check out the REI Camp Stowaway Low, which is another portable model that costs $45 and is very sturdy and comfortable.
We think the Therm-a-Rest Treo is better looking than it is functional. It could be a hit for kids or teens who want to be able to carry around their own seating, but it is ultimately too unstable, annoying to pack, and expensive to be a universally appealing model.
— Laura Lingeman