We did a ton of our chair testing while car camping and a fair amount of backyard barbecues with the gang. In each of these scenarios we primarily focused on long-term comfort and durability (they saw daily exposure to the wind, rain, and sun). Although we packed and moved the chairs around frequently, we usually didn't carry them for more than five or ten minutes. In addition, we wanted to make sure that they could stand up to an array of potential uses. Testers brought them climbing, hiking, to the beach, to backyard barbecues, and even to a handful of game nights.
Testing comfort sounds fairly straight forward, but it's also highly subjective and so we did our best to cast a wide net of preferences when considering every model. We sat in these chairs in the shade and in the sun. We evaluated the armrests, lumbar support, and headrests of each model. We had our friends of all sizes, heights, and ages get in and out of these chairs, lounge for hours, and even take naps. We considered the seat height and how that affects each one's comfort as well as the ability to easily get in and out of the chair. We looked at ventilation features for each model and tested them by sweating in the sun on hot days in these chairs. Chairs that a wider variety of testers found comfortable scored higher. Some models were loved by certain folks and not so much by others, and we made note of that too.
To score each model on their portability, we weighed and measured them. But we didn't stop there. We actually carted these chairs around all over the place. From tossing them in the back of the Subaru to carrying them ten minutes down the beach. While dragging these pieces of furniture around, we noted which ones had handles or carrying cases and if those features were helpful or looked good but didn't function well.
We hope that whichever option you decide to purchase lasts you for years of relaxing. However, our testing periods last just a few months. In order to pack as much wear and tear as we can into those few months, we do things you probably won't. We practically jumped into each one during our 'plop' test, repeatedly slumping suddenly as we imagine you might at the end of a long day of outdoor adventuring. We sat in them and bounced and rocked violently to see how they withstand the extra abuse. We stood in them to get a better idea of how pressure points on the fabric affect overall performance. And we piled more people and dogs into each one than they are rated to hold, to understand how each model reacts under pressure. We also left them out in the sun and the rain for weeks on end and made note of any wear and tear we observed during all this.
Ease of Set-Up
Not only did we evaluate how easily each model is to set up, but we also considered the taking down and putting away of each model. Some are super simple and straight forward. Some involved several steps and a small carrying case. Some were easy once you got the hang of it, but confusing and/or difficult at the start. So we did this a lot to get a good sense of really how much of a pain or a joy each one is.
We spent a ton of time hanging out in these chairs and dragging them to every event and location we thought we might sit at. We put each one through the wringer to find out which models are the best. Over the years, this has resulted in testing and retesting a lot of chairs. We hope that our sit-down observations help you find the right piece of furniture for your life.