Related: The Best Backpacking Chairs of 2019
The Best Camping Chairs of 2019
|Price||Check Price at Amazon|
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|$40.00 at Amazon||$89.93 at REI|
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|$39.50 at REI||$31.47 at MooseJaw|
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|Pros||Large, comfortably padded seat, robust design, adequate storage||Carrying strap is built-in and easy to use, set-up is casual, exceptional support for your back, light weight||Head/neck support, lightweight and stable, won’t sink in sand, stuff sack converts to pillow||Comfortable, portable, well-ventilated, stable, great storage||More supportive, very durable, low profile, easy to use|
|Cons||Substantial size and weight, soaks up water||Fabric can get dirty easily, durability could be better, cup holders could be larger||Expensive, low to the ground||Low back height, lower seat height||Very low to ground, no head/neck support|
|Bottom Line||Our favorite among all contenders, this chair makes camp lounging a simple and comfy affair.||Versatile, supportive, and lightweight, this high value chair is ready for outdoor concerts, sporting events, and campsites.||Be the envy of all your friends next beach day with this comfortable, durable model from Helinox.||It's tough to complain about this versatile and portable chair, especially considering the price.||The Rendezvous is a stable supportive chair, with an exceptionally low profile and an affordable price tag!|
|Rating Categories||ALPS Mountaineering King Kong||Dual Lock Folding Chair||Big Agnes Helinox Beach Chair||REI Camp X||ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous|
|Ease Of Set Up (15%)|
|Specs||ALPS Mountaineering King Kong||Dual Lock Folding Chair||Big Agnes Helinox Beach Chair||REI Camp X||ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous|
|Weight (pounds)||13 lbs||9.5 lbs||3.3 lbs||7.2 lbs||7.1 lbs|
|Weight Capacity (pounds)||800 lbs||300 lbs||320 lbs||300 lbs||300 lbs|
|Folded Dimensions (inches)||38 x 7 x 7 in||37 x 6 x 6 in||18 x 6 x 5 in||32 x 8 x 8 in||29 x 8 x 8 in|
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 always the first model 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 pounds (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.
All that comfort and added reinforcement come at the price of several extra pounds making the King Kong the heaviest (single person) model we tested. It also has no headrest, which is less 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 only a fraction of some other options. 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 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 rather 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
Notable for Two-Person Seating
Kelty Low Loveseat
The Kelty Low Loveseat 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. If that's not enough for you, 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 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 Loveseat
Notable Mention for Rocking Comfort
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
A rocking chair that doesn't let you feel every stick, rock, and bump in the ground?? Yes, it's true - the GCI Freestyle Rocker can be set up on just about any outdoor surface and still give you a smooth, gliding ride with its spring-loaded rockers. More, it's a wide, stable chair that testers of all sizes found comfortable, stable, and easy to get in and out of. Set up in the shade or take this chair with you to your next spot with a single, easy 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 fairly upright. You can also expect to add the occasional oil to the rockers to keep it gliding smoothly and without noisy complaining. The Freestyle Rocker also only collapses in a single direction, leaving you with a large suitcase-style chair to cart along to your destination. However, if you've been dying to have a rocking chair outside, the GCI Freestyle Rocker is a solid option.
Read review: GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
Why You Should Trust Us
Teaming up to bring you this review are OutdoorGearLab contributors Maggie Brandenburg and Laura Lingeman. Both are seasoned multi-sport athletes and appreciate 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 all over the world 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 is joined by Laura, a climber, peak bagger, and ultrarunner who works in emergency services. Based out of Bishop, CA, Laura has worked as an EMT, a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, and for Inyo County Search and Rescue.
More than 50 models of the camp chair were researched during the start of this search for the very best camping chairs available. Continued market research yielded the selection of the best nine among those initial 50+ models, which we purchased and began hanging out in with our friends for multiple months. 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 bird bath? 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 tastes use them and add to our assessments. 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 not only while camping, but 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 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.
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 US lounging about on the ground, logs, stumps, and rocks. These alternatives, however, are significantly less comfortable. 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.
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, and 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 ALPS King Kong, our Editor's Choice award winner, and especially the Kijaro Dual Lock, our Best Buy Award winner.
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 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 were several chairs that we thought are exceptionally comfortable, namely the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong. The King Kong is roomy, slightly padded, and has large armrests. It is supportive but still cozy. The Kelty Low Loveseat is similarly 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. 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, models that come apart and pack up into a bag naturally scored higher than the traditional folding models in this metric.
Breaking down and folding into a surprisingly small bag, the Helinox Beach Chair is the clear winner in this category. 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, check out backpacking chairs that weigh around 2 pounds or less and can help bring comfort with you further afoot.
The ENO Lounger DL and 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. They're also reasonably light, at 4.6 and 7.7 pounds respectively.
Like most things 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. Both the Alps Mountaineering King Kong's and the Kelty Low Loveseat'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. The ALPS Rendezvous also proved itself to be impressively durable, despite having just a 300-pound capacity. Its stocky shape, sturdy design, and reinforced fabric all 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 the ability of these chairs 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 Set-Up
Ease of assembly refers 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 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 required 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 single button that must be pressed to assemble and disassemble the chair. The portable models had a more involved setup. The Helinox, ENO Lounger, and Nemo all have 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 many poles that are 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 it.
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? 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.
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 easier, you can maximize your lounging enjoyment! To find the best overall competitor in our fleet, we measured 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 & Laura Lingeman