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: The Best Backpacking Chairs of 2020
The Best Camping Chairs of 2020
Best Overall Camping Chair
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 has, including two cup holders, two side pockets, and an additional small pocket behind the headrest. The setup 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
REI Co-op Camp X
The REI Co-op Camp X is a surprisingly versatile chair, despite what we think are somewhat uninspiring appearances. Though it's a slightly lower chair and with a shorter back than other similar models, those don't detract much from its overall comfort. Fully adjustable armrests and extremely breathable mesh help make this chair a great experience for whoever sits in it. With strategic reinforcements that support without creating awkward pressure points, the Camp X is also more durable than it looks. It sets up and packs up easily 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 being able to fit a big 1L Nalgene into the cup holder, it's not the most secure holder of thin drinks like a typical glass bottle or aluminum can. That same odd shape can also easily get caught trying to put the unit back into its carry bag if folded carelessly. It's also a bit lower than some others, which could be an issue for some folks - though we found it quite reasonable to get Grandma back out of the chair. It's also not the most supportive chair, with a typical seat slouch but upright back. Overall though, we think this is an impressively versatile, comfortable, portable chair that also happens to be one of the least expensive options we tested.
Read review: REI Co-op Camp X
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair
The AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair is everything promised in the name. It's a basic, tried and true accordion chair that just works. It has a higher back than many, with a high seat to keep you lounging 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 4 cans at a time. It also has a cupholder in the opposite armrest, as well as a mesh pocket for a book, magazine, or other thin items. We tested the mesh version, with two strips helping to cool your back while the cooler takes care of your refreshments.
Some of our shorter testers find the high back 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' preferences and is hit-and-miss among our testers as to if it's wide enough or not. Our biggest concern about this chair is its low durability. With a capacity of just 225 pounds and some of the most wobbly poles and joints we tested, it's unlikely to be the last chair you ever buy. However, it's also one of the cheapest, making it less painful to replace if you need to. If you're ready to step up your chair game but not quite ready to quadruple your price, the AmazonBasics is a solid choice.
Read review: AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair
Best for Two-Person Seating
Kelty Low Loveseat
The Kelty Low Loveseat amazes 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, and the feet of our shorter testers rested easily 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 long amounts of time. After three straight years of regular use and some serious UV exposure, it's fading a bit but 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. Both for its ability to seat a couple of friends as well as its strong comfort and durability, the Kelty is worth considering.
Read review: Kelty Low Loveseat
Best for a Beach Day Accessory
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 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: 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 chair 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 actual seat heights we tested. A comfortably angled back helps this chair retain a cozy feeling rather than severe in its relative rigidity. All this added support and height make it among the easiest chairs to get back out of. And feel free to leave the annoying carry bag at home! This chair has an adjustable shoulder carry strap attached to the back of the chair itself. Once locked closed, it's a simple matter to hoist it up and head out without the need of a frustratingly thin storage bag.
This interesting design makes the folded package exceptionally long - just shy of 4 feet long! This is less ideal for stuffing in the trunk, though probably not a deal-breaker. It's also not particularly 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 gracile 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 let 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 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 it 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. We don't recommend leaving this chair outside in direct sunlight for long periods, as our model received substantial UV damage over the course of a summer outside. You can also expect to add the occasional oil to the rockers to keep it gliding smoothly and without noisy complaining. 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 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 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 pulls in the help of her sometimes unsuspecting friends and family to help test and judge chairs. This crowd includes children, exceptionally tall people, several dogs, grandparents, and numerous Girl Scouts, spanning the ages 12 to 80.
More than 80 models of the camp chair have been researched and considered during our neverending search for the very best camping chairs available. We've been testing the top contenders over the past eight years to bring you our latest selection of the best of this year. We purchased every chair and used them to hang out in with our friends for multiple months in a row. 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 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. 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 REI Co-op Camp X and AmazonBasics Portable, our two Best Buy Award winners. 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 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. 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 accounts 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, backpacking chairs that weigh around 2 pounds or less are where you should look.
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. The REI Stowaway Low and ALPS Rendezvous are also fairly portable, as two low profile chairs that are pretty small in comparison.
When it comes to full-sized chairs that are more portable than most, the AmazonBasics is the lightest. It weighs just 6.3 pounds, making it an easy choice to bring with to the game. The REI Camp X is the next lightest model, weighing 8 pounds. 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 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. The steel frames and 600D nylon fabric construction of the King Kong and the Kelty Loveseat 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 chairs (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 Setup
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 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 involved setup. The Helinox, ENO Lounger, and 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 the assembly of 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 many poles in an odd configuration that we found overly complicated for a camp chair. It was always a process to get it all to fit back into their storage bags and never seemed to go the way we wanted it to. These were the chairs we would leave set up to drag around to avoid having to deal with it.
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