The Best Backpacking Chair: Helinox Chair Zero
Made with four legs and using an aluminum alloy, the Helinox Chair Zero is a durable, yet lightweight backpacking chair that can fold down close to the size of your water bottle. It features a fast setup process so you can pull it out and get some good use out of it right away. Though it does require a completely flat surface, it’s reliable and supportive, handling up to 260lbs.
The Helinox Chair Zero is among the best backpacking chairs when it comes to being compact and useful for easily reaching a fire or cooking without having to get up.
The Best Backpacking Chairs for 2020 – Reviewed
Backpacking can be quite the journey, but when it’s time to sit down and relax, a good lightweight portable chair is almost a necessity so you can enjoy the outdoors in comfort.
A high-quality chair should have a good weight and size to pack easily considering you’re using it on-the-go. Unfortunately, finding that one best chair for backpacking isn’t the easiest of tasks since they’re dozens you can choose from. Not only did we narrow it down to six top-selling products later on, but we came up with a thorough buying guide to help you select the best chair for your next adventure.
- Best Backpacking Chair: Helinox Chair Zero
- Runner-up: REI Flexlite Chair
- Best 2-Legged Chair: Alite Monarch Chair
- Best Foldable Chair: Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original
- Best Camp Stool: Grand Trunk Micro Collapsible Camp Stool
- Best Pad: THERM-A-REST Z-Seat Pad
Choosing the Best Lightweight Camping Chair
Finding the right backpacking camp chair can be an easy process if you use some of the guidelines we go through below. This includes understanding the different types of chairs, features such as comfort, how long it can last, and even how well it sets up.
Types of Backpacking Chairs
Before you decide on a chair, it can benefit you to learn more about the various types of chairs for backpacking. This way, you won’t have to deal with the uncomfortable knowledge that you chose the wrong chair for your specific camping needs.
Many lightweight camp chairs are foldable due to being made with tent-like pole construction. If you’re familiar with pitching a backpacking tent, then it may not be an issue for you to assemble and break down foldable chairs. Consider though that you might have to be more particular about finding room in your pack for it.
If you aren’t looking for something that’s for long-term use, then a stool may be more in your chosen range. Most of them tend to be micro in size, so they fit comfortably in a backpack. They set up fast as well, so they’re good for if you need to rest quickly. Something you may want to keep in mind is that they aren’t the most comfortable for extended periods.
Although some of you may look for a chair to elevate yourself completely, there are some that stick more to the ground. These usually still offer some back support, the height of which depends on the specific chair but keeps you firmly on the ground. They’re another type that may work best for short rest periods on leveled, flat surfaces rather than something on a slope or hillside.
One of the most versatile types of backpacking chairs is the seat pad. It’s on the ground similar to ground-types, but there’s no back to them. Instead, it’s merely a pad you can place wherever you’re at. They may not focus too much on comfort, however, but they tend to do well at offering you something quick to stay dry and warm. They can be used with other items for extra insulation too.
For those of you who may be handy, you may want to consider trying out a DIY chair. This ensures that you have something genuinely customizable to the height and support you require, and it also may be more budget-friendly in the end. There are always how-to videos you can find to help if you’re interested.
Features to Consider in a Hiking Chair
Though these chairs for backpacking and camping may have a host of different aspects to them, there are some that are more important to keep in mind to help you choose the right chair.
How well you can carry a chair around is arguably one of the most vital features. A large part of backpacking is hauling your equipment around for hours or longer. Since you’re already carrying so much gear, having something like a chair add on unnecessary weight can slow you down.
Usually, good chairs weigh under 30oz. This way, you can hardly feel the extra load and can continue on your trek with no problems.
Another consideration is the packed size. Different types of chairs pack down in various ways, some more easily than others. If you don’t mind carrying it separately as some come with straps, then feel free to do so. Otherwise, it can help you to find something that can slip inside a pocket in your backpack or main compartment, so you don’t take up space.
We mentioned earlier how these types of chairs could help make your rest period on a hillside or in front of the campfire more enjoyable and comfortable. Many factors weigh into just how relaxed you can get.
For one thing, the height of the back can determine how much support you’ll get back there. If you need more, consider something that’s a bit higher so you can rest back easier.
Also, focus on ground elevation. Something that sits low, like 11in. or shorter can make it easier to reach for the campfire or cook without ever leaving your seat. However, if you have trouble getting up from short positions, consider something higher as to not strain yourself.
The width of the seat may be useful as well if you want a bit more wiggle room. Also, fabric like nylon tends to be comfortable for extended periods generally, but be sure to check if it’s breathable, insulated, or both.
Lastly, it’s useful to keep an eye on the weight capacity regarding comfort. If you surpass it, there’s a risk of it sinking or breaking, which can ruin the experience. So, stick to under or close to the max weight capacity for your safety.
Much of this concerns the chairs that have legs on them whether it’s four or two. You don’t want to sit down only to unintentionally rock around or have the legs slip out from under you. Usually, quality chairs are made from an aluminum alloy frame that offers good support. However, be sure to see whether or not your chair is best on flat surfaces or can sit on uneven terrain.
For all you backpackers out there, you more than likely own numerous of gear intended to last you quite some time down the road and on frequent (or infrequent) trips. So, why should your chair be any different?
As touched on previously, material like aluminum alloy is not only supportive but reliable as well. Aluminum is generally used in items that require high-strength such as everyday appliances and vehicles. When used in backpacking chairs, it helps support your weight and frequent use in various conditions.
In addition to the frame material, look out for the fabric as some offer qualities like waterproof and UV ray protection.
Ease of Setup
After a long journey, it just may make you more exhausted to find a chair that takes an insane amount of time to assemble and breakdown when you’re done with it. Thankfully, many quality backpacking chairs have a secure setup system that can get you off your feet and enjoying the scenery quick. Many of these are due to being simple pads, have a roll-up feature, or even color-coded poles.
Reviews of 6 Best Backpacking Chairs
Helinox Chair Zero – Best Backpacking Chair
No one wants to fight to fit their camping chair in a bag, and with the Helinox Chair Zero, you may not have to anymore. It’s a compact ultralight camp chair, featuring an easy and quick assembly and disassembly system. Made from aluminum alloy, it has a weight capacity of 260lbs and four sturdy legs.
If you’re in need of easily reaching a fire to tend to it or cook, then this chair might benefit you as the seat sits 11in. off the ground. Because it sits so low, it may help you to adjust how you stand since some people may struggle to get up from that low.
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Sits low enough to offer a good cooking level
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Can only be used on level ground
Helinox Chair Zero may be the go-to ultralight backpacking chair for those who need to sit low enough to handle cooking while offering enough support with a durable alloy frame.
REI Flexlite Chair – Runner Up
If you’re familiar with Flexlite chairs, this REI Flexlite Chair offers 20% more support and comfort compared to previous editions of their lightweight folding chairs. With that, it supports up to 300lbs along with a broader seat area. If you’re backpacking in warmer conditions, the mesh panel may be a welcoming relief as it can provide breathability.
The aluminum frame folds down easy enough to pack it away in the stuff sack that comes with it, but some people may initially have problems with the setup unlike other chairs like the Helinox Chair Zero. In spite of that, the chair still has some additional useful features that can make camping easier such as a mesh side pocket for storage.
- Good ventilation on the back for warmer weather
- Offers a comfortable, wide seat
- Flexible enough to sit in various positions
- Tends to be difficult and time-consuming to assemble
REI Flexlite Chair can be the right chair if you’re looking for something with breathability and optimal support and room to sit comfortably in different positions.
Alite Monarch Chair – Best 2 Legged Chair
If a two-legged chair is more in your league, then you may want to consider the Alite Monarch Chair. Though it only has two legs, it isn’t a struggle to keep your balance. Also, there’s no need to be on a flat surface as this performs well on uneven terrain or even a slope. This way, you may be able to better setup in various locations and also enjoy some laidback, casual rocking.
It’s made with a breathable nylon sling if you’re looking for some extra comfort on warmer days. This also can hold up to 250lbs. For those of you who may sometimes have trouble assembling these chairs, it may help you to know that this chair is color-coded for simple, fast assembly.
- Easy to recline and maintain balance
- Compact and doesn’t take up much space
- Can sit well on uneven ground or a slope
- May have some trouble getting out of the chair
Alite Monarch Chair can be a great choice if you’re looking for a two-legged chair that can sit on hillsides or uneven terrain.
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair – Best Lighweight Folding Chair
If it’s a compact camping chair that folds easily, then the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair might be the best chair for your needs. It rolls up to a compact size, and it’s even easy to carry on your own thanks to the attached strap. This is ultra-lightweight as well, weighing 21.9oz, yet sturdy enough to withstand 250lbs.
For those in need of some insulation, this chair can provide it with its high-density cored EVA closed-cell foam. The ripstop nylon is also breathable, so there’s no worry about things getting too warm in the chair. Though some areas can get uncomfortable, there is a high back that can offer better back support if you need it.
- Rugged, long-lasting build quality
- Has an excellent high back to offer more support
- Dual-purpose chair that can act as a sleeping pad
- Can be uncomfortable around the thigh area
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair is one of the best foldable camping chairs that can double as a sleeping pad and offer both insulation and necessary breathability.
Grand Trunk Micro Collapsible Camp Stool – Best Camping Stool
The Grand Trunk Micro Collapsible Camp Stool may be a good option if you need something quick to pull out to sit and rest for a short while. It’s convenient in the sense that it takes little time to unfold it and break it back down to pack away in seconds. It weighs just over 10oz, so it doesn’t feel like you’re carrying much.
If you’re interested in something that’s multi-purpose, this small camping chair can help as it can be used to sit on or even as a nightstand while you’re sleeping. The aluminum frame provides support along with the nylon seat fabric. It may not be as comfortable as other seats like the REI Flexlite Chair, but it does well for an hour or so of rest.
- Assembly is quick and easy
- Offers extra storage for small items
- Lightweight, so it won’t add to your load
- Can be tough to sit in after a while
Grand Trunk Micro Collapsible Camp Stool is useful for a quick to assemble seat to rest on for a short time while being lightweight and compact to carry with ease.
THERM-A-REST Z-Seat Pad – Best Pad
The foam though is puncture-proof, so you can sit on different terrains without worrying about it tearing. It folds down quickly enough as well so that you can slip into a pocket in your backpack without worry and go on your way.
In some circumstances, you may not be in need of an entire seat to stay off the ground, and a pad may better suit your needs e.g. when camping in the
- Can fold down easily to store in a side pocket
- Gives you a good amount of insulation and warmth
- Good amount of waterproof qualities
- Could benefit from being larger
THERM-A-REST Z-Seat Pad may be a good choice if you need something simple to rest on to keep dry and warm while not taking up too much space in your gear.
Last update on 2020-07-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API