Sick of a numb bum and ready for comfort? For 8 years, we've bought and tested 30+ camping chairs to now bring you the best 12 models of 2020. Our team of lounging experts and relaxation enthusiasts spent months rigorously testing each model side-by-side. Comfort scores weighed heaviest, but we also considered other factors like ease of setup and use. We packed them into cars, carried them to family reunions, and napped in them on the beach. Whether you're on the hunt for a nap chair or sideline seat, we've found the right chair for your needs - and wallet.Related: Best Backpacking Chair of 2020
Best Camping Chair of 2020
Best Overall Camping Chair
ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
Our prestigious top honor goes to the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong. It is the most comfortable chair that we tested and remains the first model occupied by our crew around a fire. The fabric is slightly padded, making the chair ideal for long lounging sessions. The seat itself is quite roomy, and the frame incredibly stable. The listed weight capacity is 800 pounds, and as a result, its reinforced fabric is very durable. Testers appreciated all of the functional storage features, including two cup holders, two side pockets, and an additional small pocket behind the headrest. The setup of this chair is super simple and only takes a matter of seconds.
All that comfort and added reinforcement do come at a cost. With extra features come several extra pounds, making the King Kong one of the heaviest, single-person models that we tested. It also lacks a headrest, which is not ideal for taking an afternoon nap. On the other hand, for camping, tailgating, fishing, you name it - we think this model will stand up to all of your needs. If you are simply in need of a comfy chair or use a camping-specific chair regularly and don't mind a bit of bulk, we highly recommend the King Kong.
Read review: ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
Best Bang for Your Buck
REI Co-op Camp X
Despite what we would describe as a somewhat uninspiring appearance, the REI Co-op Camp X is a surprisingly versatile chair. Though it sits slightly lower and has a shorter back than similar models, this geometry doesn't detract much from its overall comfort. Fully adjustable armrests and extremely breathable mesh help make this chair an excellent experience for whoever sits in it. The Camp X is also more durable than it looks, with strategic reinforcements that support the body without creating awkward pressure points. It quickly sets up and packs up with a simple accordion fold and slides relatively painlessly back into a durable carry bag that can be carried over your shoulder or with the hand strap.
While we like fitting a big 1-liter Nalgene water bottle into the cup holder, it's not the most secure for smaller drink containers like a typical glass bottle or aluminum can. Its odd shape can also get easily caught when putting the chair back into its carry bag. The seating platform also sits a bit lower than some others, which could be an issue for taller folks. It's also not the most supportive chair, with a typical seat slouch but an upright back. Overall, we think this is an impressively versatile, comfortable, portable chair that also happens to be one of the most affordable options we tested.
Read review: REI Co-op Camp X
Best on a Tight Budget
AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair
The simple, dependable, accordion-style AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair is everything promised in the name. It has a higher back than many, with a high seat to keep you sitting up away from the ground. To help make sure your relaxation is uninterrupted, it features a small cooler built into the armrest that holds up to four drink cans at a time. It also has a cupholder in the opposite armrest and a mesh pocket for a book, magazine, or other thin items. We tested the mesh version that features two mesh strips along the back panel to help keep you cool while lounging.
Some of our shorter testers found that the high back tended to push them down into a more slouched position than they'd like, while taller testers love the added support. The seat may also be a bit narrow for some users, and we had a split of opinions among our test group, whether it was wide enough or not. Our biggest concern about this chair is its low durability. It's unlikely to be the last chair you ever buy, with a stated weight capacity of just 225 pounds and some of the most wobbly poles and joints we tested. However, it's also one of the most affordable, making it less painful to replace if you need to. Overall, the AmazonBasics chair is a great choice on a small budget.
Read review: AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair
Best for Two-Person Seating
Kelty Low Loveseat
The Kelty Low Loveseat amazes us with its incredibly comfortable two-person design. This model was very stable, with a lower seating height than most traditional camping chairs. While the feet of our shorter testers rested comfortably on the ground, Kelty also makes a version that's several inches taller. Made of durable materials, we found this chair could stand up to the trials of seating multiple people and even dogs for extended periods. After three straight years of regular use and some severe sun exposure, it's fading a bit but is still as comfortable as the first day we got it. This chair has grown on our lead tester the longer she has owned it, crediting its impressive longevity and comfort over time.
Aside from the overall size and weight, our biggest complaint was how popular it is with our friends, leaving us less time to enjoy its outstanding attributes. As a padded chair, it's less breathable on a hot day, but with light colors, we hardly noticed. For its comfort and durability, as well as its ability to seat a couple of friends, we think the Kelty is worth considering.
Read review: Kelty Low Loveseat
Best for a Beach Day Accessory
Helinox Beach Chair
Big Agnes has impressed us with this new addition to their Helinox chair line. With a surprising level of portability for a chair of its size, the Helinox Beach Chair combines impressive comfort and durability. 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.
However, this chair sits relatively low to the ground, which may pose a challenge for some taller folks. It also is a bit of a challenge to put together, which involves a little bit of a learning curve. The price tag is also hefty, and you can expect to pay even more if you want the all-mesh version. If you're on the hunt for the ideal beach chair, though, we think that this model is the best choice for your days spent on the sand.
Read review: Helinox Beach Chair
Best for a Supportive Seat
Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair
For anyone sick of that sports chair slouch, the Kijaro is the model you've been waiting for. By locking open, the frame holds the seat and back fabric taut to give a firm foundation and one of the tallest seat heights that we tested. A comfortably angled back panel helps this chair retain a cozy feeling rather than a severe rigid feel. All this added support and height make it among the most natural chairs to get back out. And feel free to leave the annoying carry bag at home. This chair has an adjustable shoulder carry strap attached to the back. Once locked closed, it's a simple matter to hoist it up and head out without the need to carry an additional storage bag.
This interesting design makes the folded package exceptionally long - just shy of four feet. This length makes it less ideal for stuffing in the trunk, though probably not a deal-breaker. It's also not remarkably durable. We had issues with a broken lock mechanism and a gradual loosening of the frame of poles. That combined with some sloppy seams, oddly pliable frame joints, and a readiness to stain at the slightest hint of dirt, we're not sure this chair is up to the task of time. But it does offer some excellent support and might be precisely the type of comfort you've been missing on your outdoor excursions.
Read review: Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair
Notable Mention for Rocking Comfort
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
A rocking chair that doesn't make you feel every stick, rock, and bump in the ground? Yes, it's true, the GCI Outdoors Freestyle Rocker can be set up on just about any outdoor surface and still give a smooth, gliding ride with its spring-loaded rockers. Further, it's a wide, stable chair that testers of all sizes found comfortable, stable, and easy to get in and out. Set it up in the shade, or take this chair with you to your next hangout spot with a single, natural motion and a simple carry handle attached to the frame. This model also features a cup holder on the front of the frame and mesh backing to help keep you cool. And the relatively low price for this comfortable rocking chair doesn't hurt either.
If you're in the market for a slouchy chair to melt into on a hot day, this isn't it, as the seat and back are both a bit stiff and relatively upright. We don't recommend leaving this chair outside in direct sunlight for long periods, as our model received substantial sun damage throughout a summer sitting outdoors. You can also expect to add the occasional oil to the rockers to keep it gliding smoothly and without noisy complaining. However, the GCI Freestyle Rocker is a suitable option if you've been dying to have a rocking chair outside.
Read review: GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
Why You Should Trust Us
Teaming up to bring you this review is OutdoorGearLab contributor Maggie Brandenburg and her team of testers. She is a seasoned multi-sport athlete and appreciates gear that makes for high-quality downtime when it's time to kick back for a while in camp or the backyard. Maggie has taught workshops and guided extensively worldwide and on topics as diverse as snow camping and expedition kayaking. She has spent extended amounts of time living out of backpacks and her teardrop trailer, arrangements where packable comfort items go a long way. Maggie pulls in the help of her sometimes unsuspecting friends and family to test and judge chairs. This crowd includes children, exceptionally tall people, several dogs, grandparents, and numerous Girl Scouts, spanning the ages 12 to 80.
During our neverending search for the very best camping chairs, we've researched and considered more than 80 different models. Over the past eight years, we've been testing the top contenders to bring you our latest selection of this year's best. We purchased every chair and used them to hang out with our friends for months of use. We paid attention to details that matter in a camp chair, like how well the cup holders and pockets work. If left out in a rainstorm, does the chair drain or become an unappealing birdbath? All models saw a variety of conditions, from sandy beaches to the rock-strewn bases of climbing routes. We had our camping buddies, climbing partners, and family members with many different body types and preferences contribute their assessments as well. What came out of this is a comprehensive review that will better equip you to camp in comfort.
Related: How We Tested Camping Chairs
Analysis and Test Results
Camping chairs are a useful luxury item that can be used while camping and as additional seating for a barbecue, hanging out at the sidelines of a soccer game, on the beach, or tailgating and enjoying outdoor concerts. They should be comfortable, reasonably portable, and user-friendly. The biggest problem with your average lightweight camping stools and chairs is that they often forgo comfort as if the camping environment conditions 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.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Chairs
So why even have a camping-specific chair? Well, with regards to car camping, the honest answer is that you don't need one. There are people in campgrounds all around the world lounging about on the ground, logs, stumps, and rocks. However, these alternatives are significantly less comfortable. A proper chair makes eating significantly easier, lounging more enjoyable, and many of them even keep your adult beverages chilled and close by. 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.
Though some gear seems to display a fairly linear correlation between price and performance, we don't find this to be the case for camping chairs. Some of the best performing models cost the least, while some of the most expensive options didn't score as well as anticipated. Contenders that exemplify the highest value for the buck in this review are the REI Co-op Camp X and AmazonBasics Portable. The ALPS Mountaineering King Kong is also worth noting - though it costs more, it's an investment that pays off in its serious comfort and exceptional durability.
Comfort is our most highly weighted metric, accounting for nearly half of the overall score. After all, deciding to buy a chair instead of sitting on a log or 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 the overall design of the chair.
For the most part, we feel that all of the chairs are reasonably comfortable. Even our lowest ranking chair in the comfort criteria is significantly more comfortable than sitting on the ground for an extended period.
There are several chairs that we think are exceptionally comfortable, namely the King Kong. The King Kong is roomy, slightly padded, and has large armrests. It is supportive but still cozy. Similarly, the Kelty Low Loveseat is comfortable with large padded seats but is much lower to the ground and fits two people instead of just one. We also think the Helinox Beach Chair is surprisingly comfortable, offering a high back and cozy shape that makes lounging at the beach a whole new experience.
This metric is the second most important rating criteria that we evaluated, accounting for a quarter of the product's overall score. 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, models that come apart and pack up into a bag naturally scored higher than the traditional folding models in this metric.
The Helinox Beach Chair is the clear winner in this category, breaking down and folding into a surprisingly small bag. Despite having a high back and being impressively durable, this model weighs just 3.3 pounds and is the lightest chair we tested. If that's not enough, its carrying case can also double as a pillow for lakeside napping. However, if you really want to up the game on portability, backpacking chairs that weigh around two pounds or less are where you should look.
The ENO Lounger DL and the Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury also score well in this metric because of their similar abilities to be broken down into smaller segments, stuffed into a small carrying case, and toted to the Little League game. At 4.6 and 7.7 pounds respectively, they're also reasonably light. As two low profile chairs that are pretty small in comparison, the REI Stowaway Low and ALPS Rendezvous are also reasonably portable.
When it comes to portability, the AmazonBasics is one of the lightest full-sized chairs. It weighs just 6.3 pounds, making it a natural choice to bring with to the game. Weighing in at 8.0 pounds, the REI Camp X is also a somewhat light model. It's also a bit shorter than most traditional chairs, and we always felt that bringing it with was worth it.
Like most things you spend money on, you want your chair 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 rated to hold over 500 pounds got our best durability scores. After several months of testing, the steel frames and 600-denier nylon fabric construction of the King Kong and the Kelty Loveseat didn't show any wear or tear. Their frames didn't shift or creak under load. And while their high denier fabric is not as breathable as the mesh that some of the other chairs have, it is more durable than most.
Since both of these chairs were very popular with our testers, they sustained several ember burns from being around so many campfires. Despite these small melted holes, the fabric showed no other signs of strain or wear. Despite having just a 300-pound listed capacity, the ALPS Rendezvous also proved itself to be impressively durable. Its stocky shape, sturdy design, and reinforced fabric contribute to this short chair, impressing us with its durability.
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 necessarily considering the welfare of inanimate objects. To properly test these chairs' ability to stand up to real-life abuse, we stood on them and plopped very heavily into them. We sat in them and bounced violently both up and down and in every direction we could. Some chairs barely moved. Some chairs nearly fell over. And some chairs had some creaky results that made us question how long they would last if consistently treated this way.
Ease of Setup
Ease of setup refers specifically to how hard it is to set up and take down each chair. After all, the odds of you wanting to take a chair with you anywhere are probably not as high if it's challenging to put up or take down. Fortunately, most of the chairs we tested were reasonably straightforward. Even the more complex packable chairs were a cinch once you made it through the small learning curve.
Most of the traditional models, like the ALPS King Kong and REI Camp X, only require pulling apart two opposing vertical frame pieces to be set up. The GCI Freestyle Rocker is impressively easy, pulling apart just the two sides away from each other with a large, labeled handle to pull when you're ready to fold it back up again. The most complex of the conventional models, the Kijaro Dual Lock Chair has a button that must be pressed to assemble and disassemble the chair. The portable models had a more elaborate setup. The Helinox, the ENO Lounger, and the Nemo Stargaze all have a separate frame and fabric seat that had to be assembled. It wasn't difficult, but it's more involved than assembling any of the traditional chairs.
Two chairs that we specifically wanted to call out in this category are the ENO Lounger DL and Nemo Stargaze Luxury Recliner. These chairs have several poles in an odd configuration that we found overly complicated for a camp chair. It was always a long process to get it all to fit back into their storage bags, and never seemed to go how we wanted. These were the chairs we would leave set up and drag around to avoid having to deal with disassembly and reassembly.
The luxury of having a comfortable chair while camping or lounging in your backyard can add a lot to your outdoor experience. In addition to making relaxing, eating, and drinking more comfortable, you can maximize your lounging enjoyment. To find the best overall competitor in our fleet, we rated each one's comfort level, 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.
— Maggie Brandenburg