How To Buy Camping Chairs

There’s noth­ing quite as bliss­ful and relax­ing as kick­ing back at camp after a long day. And while stumps and rocks may do as makeshift fur­ni­ture in a pinch, they will nev­er com­pare to a great chair. Whether you prize porta­bil­i­ty or lux­u­ry, this guide will help you learn how to choose the best camp camp­ing chair for your next wilder­ness trip.

Types: There are three main types of camp chairs.

Min­i­mal: Min­i­mal camp chairs come in two main styles: fold­ing seats and stools. These are the only chairs you should ever con­sid­er tak­ing on a back­pack­ing trip.

Reg­u­lar: These are the fold­ing camp chairs that have alu­minum legs, arm rests, and seat backs. They typ­i­cal­ly come with a car­ry­ing bag with a strap. These are your go-to chairs when stay­ing at a sin­gle camp­site or if you have some extra room on a mul­ti-day riv­er trip.

Lux­u­ri­ous: Lux­u­ri­ous camp chairs are like bring­ing a reclin­er out­doors. They pro­vide max­i­mum sta­bil­i­ty and sup­port, and com­mon­ly have numer­ous fea­tures includ­ing leg rests, reclin­ing capa­bil­i­ty, and more. These can also be con­sid­ered high-end reg­u­lar camp chairs, and will turn any camp into a plush zone of relax­ation. 

Weight: Weight should be one of your pri­ma­ry decid­ing fac­tors when shop­ping for min­i­mal camp chairs. It becomes less impor­tant if you’re choos­ing reg­u­lar or lux­u­ri­ous-style chairs.

You want a min­i­mal chair (fold­ing seat or stool) to weigh less than two pounds. What’s great about the stool is that it ele­vates you off the ground—a sig­nif­i­cant advan­tage if the ground is wet or frozen—and can han­dle more weight. A stool can hold excess of 500lbs while the typ­i­cal fold­ing seat max­es out at 250.

The beau­ty of the fold­ing seat is its ver­sa­til­i­ty. Typ­i­cal­ly weigh­ing in around two pounds, fold­ing seats often do dou­ble-duty for back­pack­ers by also serv­ing as sum­mer sleep­ing pads.

Heavy on more than com­fort, reg­u­lar and lux­u­ri­ous camp chairs weigh in at 5lbs or more.

Mate­ri­als: There are a vari­ety of mate­ri­als to choose from when shop­ping for a good camp chair. Here are some to keep in mind:

The legs of good camp chairs and camp stools are typ­i­cal­ly made of alu­minum for its phe­nom­e­nal strength-to-weight ratio.

Coat­ed rip-stop nylon is the fab­ric of choice for the seat­ing mate­r­i­al in good camp chairs because of its dura­bil­i­ty, water resis­tance, and comfort.

Closed cell foam padding will not absorb water, mak­ing it prefer­able for water-based activities.

Fold­ing seats typ­i­cal­ly fea­ture car­bon fiber stays to improve rigid­i­ty in the seat back. In an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, the stays can be removed from the seat and be used as splint­ing mate­ri­als to demo­bi­lize an injury — just anoth­er attribute that make the fold­ing seat the most ver­sa­tile of the camp chairs.

Pack­a­bil­i­ty: How often and how far will you move your chair? It makes all the difference.

Camp stools and fold­ing seats are the best options if you’re pack­ing for the long haul. You can strap either direct­ly to your backpack.

Reg­u­lar-style chairs typ­i­cal­ly come with a car­ry­ing case that has a strap for eas­i­er car­ry­ing. You can bring these along on raft­ing or canoe trips no prob­lem, but you’ll want to leave them at home before hit­ting the trail.

Lux­u­ri­ous chairs should only be con­sid­ered when you’re going to stay at an easy-access area such as a state park or fes­ti­val campground.

Fea­tures: There is a wide spec­trum of fea­tures to con­sid­er when select­ing the right camp chair. Typ­i­cal­ly the fea­tures esca­late as you go up from min­i­mal to lux­u­ri­ous chairs.

Cup Hold­ers: A cup hold­er changes a nor­mal camp chair into a plush camp­ing chair. There are a cou­ple dif­fer­ent options. The light­est weight chairs will have mesh fab­ric. Reg­u­lar chairs often use the same mate­r­i­al as the chair. And lux­u­ri­ous camp chairs can have cup hold­ers as advanced as hav­ing cool­ers and coozies attached.

Arm rests: Arm­rests make a nice, but heavy, addi­tion to reg­u­lar camp chairs. But they can be a game chang­er in terms of the addi­tion­al com­fort they provide.

Extend­ed Pads: The main fea­ture of a fold­ing seat is to have an extend­ed pad. This has three func­tions. First, it pro­vides added cush­ion­ing to the reg­u­lar seat. Sec­ond, it folds out to insu­late your legs or to keep them out of the dirt and dust. And last­ly, it can be ful­ly-extend­ed and used as a sum­mer time sleep­ing pad.