Camping chairs are an enigma.
A lot of thought goes into a quality camping trip. You plan how you will spend your days, what activities you will do or nearby hikes you will try out. Thought and consideration goes into your meals and the equipment you will use to cook them. People are justifiably more than willing to invest in quality tents, sleeping bags and other bits of camping equipment. However, camping chairs are often an afterthought. Sometimes bought in a gas station on the way to the campsite and sometimes they aren't bought at all. With such high quality camping chairs on the market, it doesn't make sense to slum it out.
Minimalist Camping vs Regular Camping
We wanted to put together a quick guide that goes through the ins and outs of buying the right camping chair. When considering this, it made the most sense to break camping down to two categories - minimalist camping (backpacking etc) and regular camping (i.e. drive up to the campsite and pitch a tent).
For those two distinct forms of camping there are different priorities, needs and considerations. As a backpacker will be carrying all the equipment on their back, things like weight, packability, size and convenience are what's most important. For regular campers, the car does most of the heavy lifting so you can afford to go premium and get a much sturdier, more supportive camping chair.
Camping Chairs for the Minimalist Camper
For the minimalist camper, there is an argument to go a bit more primitive. Many people might leave their camping chair at home and get by sitting on makeshift seats, tree stumps or rocks. When you are carrying your gear on your back, a camping chair is an added weight. We agree with this to a certain extent. There is absolutely no point in getting a plush, twenty pound seat that you will have to carry by hand. Although sitting on rocks gets old, so it's nice to have something.
For minimalist campers there are two main options - a folding camping seat or a stool. Folding camping seats are different to regular camping chairs as they don't have any aluminium framing, it is all padding. You can think of it as being two cushions fixed together giving you something to sit on and lean your lower back against.
The other option, one we would recommend, is a camping stool. These stools keep you off the ground, which you will be thankful for in wet conditions. They can also be tied neatly to your backpack so they don't cause too much obstruction or annoyance. If you are going on a backpacking trip and believe a camping stool is the way to go, a good goal is to seek out a stool that weights less than 2 pounds, stable and has a nylon seat. Camping stools within this set of guidelines should be relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
Camping Chairs for Regular Camping
One of the cruelest things you can do yourself on a camping trip is try out someone else's high quality camping chair when you don't have one yourself. It is only then that you realise how low quality chairs sag down, offering little support to your back and hips. You will spend a lot of your camping trip being active so when it comes time to relax you should do it right.
Below are a few key areas to consider when buying a camping chair:
Size/Capacity - This is very important in choosing a camping chair. You want to get a model that comfortably holds your weight and offers proper support. Oversized seats are arguably the most comfortable option here. The strength of the chair also plays a role in durability and lifespan. For every piece of equipment you buy it is important to think long term. Don't just think of surviving this one camping trip, plan for years to come. Aim for capacity of 250/300 pounds minimum.
Materials - For the most part, materials are relatively straight forward. The frame can be either aluminium or steel. In recent times there has been definitely a move towards sturdier steel frame. For the seating, look for high quality polyester or ripstop nylon. Sturdy and supportive is the name of the game.
Additional Features - There a host of additional features you can look for in modern camping chairs. These include arm rests, storage pockets, built in beer holders, lumber pads to support your lower back, and breathable mesh panels to combat back sweat. You can even get recliner lounge chairs complete with foot and head rests. If you are going to be lounging, you may as well do it in style!
What are the Top Camping Chairs?
We hope you have found this short guide useful. As with anything, it pays to seek out the best quality when it comes to camping chairs. Whether it is enjoying a spot of fishing or resting your feet after a long hike, having a study camping chair is a good investment long term. Your knees, hips and back will thank you.
We have given our opinions on what to look for when choosing a camping chair. The first consideration is end-use. If you are a backpacker, where portability is key, we definitely recommend a good quality, lightweight camping stool. For all other campers, when weight isn't as big a factor, it pays to get a high quality, luxury camping chair. But what are the best camping chairs out there? Thankfully, our community came up with the answers and helped us come up with the Crua Community's Top Seven Camping Chairs. These are seven of the tried, tested and approved camping chairs. Be sure to check it out, we hope you enjoy it.