The camping chair world can be a very in-depth world to try and tackle. We researched over 45 models and purchased the top 13 for hands-on testing, to combat those overwhelming internet searches and shopping quests and help you find the right chair. Then, we tested in the Sierra, putting the final competitors through a series of rigorous tests to measure their competence. We selected a whole slew of models, ranging from super portable to mega comfortable to ultra-lightweight, and tested chairs chalked full of features from tons of pockets and two-seaters to chairs straight up and simple. Whether you want a chair for the ultimate outdoor nap, one to take on your next backpacking adventure or something that simply won't break the bank, we've found the chair to suit your needs.
The Best Camping Chairs
This spring, we updated our 2018 camping chair review, bringing you the best of the best in the form of 13 top-tier camping chairs. While conducting this review, we sought out chairs that excel in a variety of metrics, ranging from the most comfortable to the one that can withstand the most abuse. Fortunately, we tested several excellent products that raised our expectations of camping chairs. We wanted to find the chair most portable and durable like our other camping equipment, but we also wanted it to maintain the comfort of a standard chair without being too complicated to use. We found models that excelled across the board in all metrics, raising our expectations of camping comfort and versatility. The ALPS King Kong remains our Editors' Choice, and the Kijaro is still the Best Bang for the Buck. Our Best Buy on a Tight Budget remains the Moon Lence, and we still have two notable mentions: the Helinox Chair Zero and Kelty Low-Love Seat. We added a new Top Pick for a Beach Day Accessory, the Helinox Beach Chair and another notable mention, the ENO Lounger DL for bringing us hammock-like feels with no trees required.
Best Overall for Camping
ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
This prestigious award goes to the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong. It is the undisputed most comfortable chair and was always the first model to be occupied around a fire ring. The fabric is ever so slightly padded which makes the chair ideal for long lounging sessions. The seat itself is super roomy, and the frame is incredibly stable. The weight capacity is 800 lbs (which we tested, of course) and as a result, its reinforced fabric is very durable. Testers appreciated all of the functional storage features that the King Kong had, including two cup holders, two side pockets, and an additional small pocket behind the headrest. Set up of this chair is super simple and takes a matter of seconds - all the better, as we can spend that extra time relaxing in this monstrously comfortable chair.
However, all that comfort and added reinforcement comes at the price of several extra pounds making the King Kong the heaviest single-person model that we tested, at 13 lbs. It also has no headrest, which is less than ideal for taking an afternoon nap. But if you need a comfy chair and don't mind a bit of bulk, we highly recommend the King Kong. Camping, tailgating, fishing, you name it - if you are someone who uses a camping-specific chair regularly, we think this model will stand up to all of your needs.
Read review: ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
Best Bang for the Buck
Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair
Sometimes the Best Buy goes to a product that performs well considering its price. Other times, you find a product that performs great and is affordable. Meet the truly impressive Kijaro Dual Lock Chair, which costs just $35! This chair is super comfortable and easy to set up, and its taut fabric provides the best back support of any of the models we tested. Additionally, the back is constructed from a sturdy mesh material that makes for comfortable, well-ventilated lounging on sunny days. Testers also loved the integrated carrying strap as it made this model much more portable than the other traditional models.
Although we initially questioned its durability, we didn't notice any wear or tear during our testing process (although the yellow fabric did get quite filthy). This model also isn't nearly as light as some of the others we tested, but we appreciated the extra support that weight provided! What is most important to note is that the Kijaro is well-made, supremely comfortable, and supportive. Add to that the fact that it is one of the cheapest models we tested, and it was an obvious pick for our Best Buy Award.
Read review: Kijaro Dual Lock Chair
Top Pick for Portability
Big Agnes Helinox Chair One
Many testers worried that a portable chair would force them to sacrifice their favorite qualities: comfort, stability, and bonus features (cup holders, coolers, etc.). However, the Big Agnes Helinox Chair One did an excellent job at representing all of the perks one can have in a small and lightweight seat - comfort, stability, and durability. While not the lightest or smallest chair we tested, it weighs less than two pounds and packs up in a pouch that is only slightly larger than a 2-liter water bottle, and is therefore still extremely portable - much more so than the traditional camping specific chairs we tested!
Despite not being the absolute lightest chair we tested, with well-ventilated mesh backing, good back support, and a medium seat height, the Chair One does an outstanding job balancing front country comfort with backcountry portability. Moreover, the Chair One retained the highest level of comfort, stability, and durability among all the portable chairs in this review, earning our pick for the Best Portable Competitor in our fleet.
Read review: Big Agnes Helinox Chair One
Top Pick for a Beach Day Accessory
Big Agnes Helinox Beach Chair
Big Agnes has impressed us again with this new addition to their Helinox chair line. The Helinox Beach Chair is the chair we would have invented to take to the beach if we were that innovative. It combines impressive comfort and durability with a surprising level of portability for a chair this size. We loved that the storage sack can be easily stuffed and attached as a pillow for whatever height you need, or simply stuck on the back to not get lost. The flat legs keep you well above the sand to enjoy your beach day and make fond, comfortable memories.
This chair is quite low to the ground, however, which may pose a challenge for some folks. It also is a quite tight fit to put together, which involves a little bit of a learning curve. The price tag is also quite hefty, and if you want the all mesh version, you can expect to pay even more. If you're on the hunt for the perfect beach chair though, we feel confident that this one will make you happy for years to come.
Read review: Big Agnes Helinox Beach Chair
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
With so many portable camping chairs carrying a high price tag, we wanted to see what more affordable options were out there. Enter the Moon Lence. At first glance, it looks eerily like the Helinox Chair One, making us wonder why anyone would pay extra for the Chair One at all. We found this chair to provide a reasonable amount of comfort and portability for about half the cost of the Chair One!
While our testers really liked the Moon Lence, their biggest complaints about it were the lack of stability and lessened durability, ultimately lowering the comfort of this chair. Made with slightly less sturdy materials, the seat stretched unevenly with each successive use, and the weight rating just isn't as high as that of the Chair One. However, overall this is a pretty good chair, and with a price under $40, we feel it's hard not to keep a few in the back of the Subaru.
Read review: Moon Lence
Notable Mention for Absurd Portability
Big Agnes Helinox Chair Zero
One of the most portable chairs we tested, the Helinox Chair Zero also exhibits a good level of comfort and a surprising amount of durability! Though it couldn't quite outcompete the Chair One, as we found it to be much less stable, the low weight of just one pound makes this chair hard to ignore! Lighter than many chairs billed as "backpacking chairs", the Chair Zero is by far the most portable chair we tested.Though its smaller size added to its portability, this feature was a hit-and-miss item for our testers. The Chair Zero seems to be well-suited for smaller individuals and those who desire portability and comfort above all else. If that sounds like you, then it might just be worth shelling out a few extra bucks to have one of these hanging around!
Read review: Big Agnes Helinox Chair Zero
Notable Mention for Hammock-Like Comfort
ENO Lounger DL
As much as we love chillaxing in a hammock, there are just some places a hammock isn't feasible. Like a treeless meadow or desert. Or your living room. ENO has the solution with their new ENO Lounger DL! This unique design brings the comfort of hammock lounging to the world of chairs. Our hammock enthusiasts loved the feel of this chair and had no problem relaxing away the afternoon in its cradling comfort. Two different leg heights allow you to sit closer to the ground for the ultimate chill or at a more reasonable height to be a more functional member of the camping team.However, we felt that this design wasn't nearly as stable as many of the other chairs in this review, and might not withstand the test of time. We also were not impressed with the overly complicated leg set-up and take down, and were confused by the strangely wide and shallow cup holder that constantly threatened to dump our beverages on the ground. But if you're on the hunt for a hammock feel without the need for trees, the ENO Lounger DL might just be your dream chair.
Read review: ENO Lounger DL
Top Pick for Two-Person Seating
Kelty Low-Love Seat
The Kelty Low-Love Seat amazed us not only with its incredible two-person design but also with its comfort during cohabitation. As a lower chair than most traditional camping chairs, the stability of the Kelty was high. Made of durable materials, we found this chair could stand up to the trials of seating multiple people for long amounts of time.Aside from the overall size and weight, our biggest complaint was how popular it was with our friends, leaving us less time to enjoy its outstanding attributes. Both for its ability to seat not one but two of us as well as its incredible comfort and durability, the Kelty well-deserves this award.
Read review: Kelty Low-Love Seat
Analysis and Test Results
Camping chairs are a useful luxury item that can be used not only while camping, but as additional seating for a barbecue, for hanging out at the sidelines of a soccer game or on the beach, or for tailgating and enjoying outdoor concerts. They should be comfortable, reasonably portable, and user-friendly. And need we mention, versatile? The biggest problem with your average lightweight camping stools and chairs is that they often forgo comfort as if the conditions of the camping environment don't necessitate lounging and taking a load off. Fortunately, we were able to test several models that offer a wide variety of features while still maintaining that golden criterion: comfort.
When choosing the best contender, we had a LOT of demands. It should be portable and durable just like all our other camping gear, but it also must maintain the comfort of a standard chair without being too complicated to use. These are pieces of equipment that regularly get thrown in and out of vehicles, dragged across campsites and parking lots, and might live in your backyard for months on end. Despite all this abuse, we still expect them to let us kick back and relax.
So why even have a camping-specific chair? Well, with regards to car camping, the honest answer is that you don't need one. In fact, there are probably millions of people in campgrounds all around the US lounging about on the unforgiving ground or sitting on the cold hard bench of a picnic table as we speak. These alternatives, however, are significantly less comfortable. Once you spend an evening outside lounging in a camping chair, you won't want to be without one again. They make eating significantly easier, lounging more enjoyable, and many of them even keep your adult beverages chilled and close-by for you. Ah, modern innovations! For other uses where sitting is the predominant activity, such as spectating at sporting events or tailgating, we feel that a good chair is more of a necessity. They make cheering on your favorite team much more pleasant and can provide valuable storage for many of your daily use items.
Are you on the hunt for a comfortable camping chair for upcoming BBQs or one that can straddle the line of camping and backpacking chair? We've added a new mix of chairs to our line-up, and they range in price from $35 to $150. We've awarded a variety of awards, such as our Best Overall or Top Pick for Portability. We've also included various Best Bang for the Buck winners, which fall accordingly on our price to value comparison chart. You'll find the chart below, which highlights each of the 13 models based on their overall performance score, compared to their list price. Contenders hovering toward the bottom right of the chart exemplify the highest value for the buck, such as the Kijaro Dual Lock and in the case of a tight budget, the Moon Lence.
Comfort was our most highly weighted metric, accounting for nearly half of the overall score. After all, deciding to buy a chair instead of sit on the ground means you probably value comfort. So don't waste your money on a chair that isn't comfortable. Factors we considered when evaluating comfort were armrests, lumbar support, a headrest, back ventilation, and overall design of the chair.
For the most part, we felt that all of the chairs were reasonably comfortable, with the portable contenders being the least so of all of the models we tested. In fact, even our lowest ranking chair in the comfort criteria is significantly more comfortable than sitting on the ground for an extended period.
There were several chairs that we thought were exceptionally comfortable, namely the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong, and Eureka Curvy High-Back. The King Kong was roomy, slightly padded, and had large armrests. It was supportive but still cozy. The Eureka has a high back, which was unique among the models that we tested. The smaller, more portable models we tested tended to achieve lower test scores for comfort. However, the smaller the person was, the less they seemed to mind these small seats. Regardless, if you want something that is compact, we would recommend our Top Pick for Portability, the Big Agnes Helinox Chair One, which is more comfortable.
This metric was the second most important rating criteria that we evaluated. It accounted for a quarter of the overall score of the product. Given the variety of ways you can use your chair, it is mandatory to choose a product you won't mind moving and transporting. Factors that affected a chair's portability were its packed size, weight, and its traveling case (if it had one). Because of their design, the portable models naturally scored higher than the traditional models in this metric.
Weighing just a pound, the Big Agnes Helinox Chair Zero and the 1.94 pound Helinox Chair One were the only competitors to earn a perfect 10 out of 10 in this metric. They also packed down into some of the smallest pouches of any of the chairs we tested. To no one's surprise, the Kelty Low-Love Seat was the least portable chair. As this monster lounger seats two, we weren't too upset about it. The Editor's Choice winner, the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong was the next heaviest chair we reviewed. However, what this chair lacked in portability, it made up for in luxurious comfort and incredible durability. Depending on how portable you want your life to be, this category may mean more or less to you.
Like anything you spend money on, you want it to be durable. Most of the chairs we tested seemed to be quite durable, meaning that testers felt they would be able to get multiple seasons of regular use out of a product. Wear and tear on the fabric and features and flimsiness of the frame were the most important specs that we monitored.
It should be no surprise that the only chairs that can hold over 500 lbs got our best scores on durability (9/10). Both the Alps Mountaineering King Kong's and the Kelty Low-Love Seat's steel frames and 600D nylon fabric construction didn't show any wear or tear after several months of testing. Their frames don't shift or creak under load. Though their high denier fabric is not as breathable as the mesh that some of the other chairs have, it is made to last a long time. Due to the increased demand for both these chair (from testers), they sustained many ember burns from being around so many campfires. Despite these small melted holes, the fabric showed no other signs of strain or wear.
However, not everyone treats their camp furniture with the same amount of care and respect as one might hope. Kids and pets are notorious for not thinking about the welfare of inanimate objects before anything else. To properly test the ability of these chairs to stand up to real life abuse, we stood on them and plopped very heavily into them. Some chairs barely moved. Some chairs nearly fell over! And some chairs had some very creaky results that made us question how long they would last if consistently treated this way. Each chair's findings are documented in their individual review.
Ease of Set-Up
Ease of assembly referred specifically to how hard it is to set up and take down each chair. After all, if the chair is a pain in the butt to put up or take down, the odds of you wanting to take it anywhere are probably not as high. Fortunately, most of the chairs we tested were fairly straightforward to set up and take down. Even the more complex portable chairs were a cinch once you made it through the small learning curve.
Most of the traditional models only required pulling apart two opposing vertical frame pieces to be set up. The most complex of the conventional models, the Kijaro Dual Lock Chair, has a single button that must be pressed to assemble and disassemble the chair. The portable models had a more involved setup. The Helinoxes, Moon Lence, Flex Lite and ENO all had a separate frame and fabric seat that had to be assembled. It wasn't difficult, but it was certainly more involved than the assembly of any of the traditional chairs.
One chair that we specifically wanted to call out in this category is the ENO Lounger DL. This chair had so many poles that were so large and thick and in such an odd configuration, that we dreaded setting up and taking this chair down. It was always a process to get it all to fit back into the storage bag and never seemed to go the way we wanted it to. It was the chair we would leave set up to drag around, just to avoid having to deal with.
Although we did not rate the chairs according to their features, we have included this section to describe the bells and whistles some of these chairs have. Want a seat with an adjustable pillow? Then skim through our reviews to narrow down which models have this feature. Want a chair that has a cup holder big enough for your favorite mug? Then add that to the list of specs to check out too. You can even purchase a chair for you and your best friend, beau, or dog.
The luxury of having a comfortable chair while camping or lounging in your backyard can add to your outdoor experience. In addition to making relaxing, eating, and drinking easier, you can maximize your lounging enjoyment - like holding your drink and keeping it cool at the same time! To find the best overall competitor in our fleet, we measured each one's comfort level (which we consider to be key), along with size, portability, durability, and ease of use. Whether you're car camping, lounging around the campfire, or sunbathing after a dip in the deep blue, the best model for you will ultimately depend on your lifestyle. We hope that we've been able to offer enough information in shopping for a new chair that will accommodate the adventures you go on. If you're still left in the dark, check out our Buying Advice article to find the model that best fits your needs.
— Maggie Brandenburg & Laura Lingeman