Backpacking is a great way to enjoy nature and get some intense exercise. But at the end of the day, you’re going to want some comfortable relaxation around a campfire. And unlike normal camping chairs, these guys need to be light enough to carry on your back for 20 miles a day!
Nature doesn’t often offer comfortable, reclining seats for weary backpackers. That’s why we searched everywhere to find the best ultralight backpacking chairs for you to take on your next adventure.
Everyone has a different idea of comfort, though, and that’s why we reviewed a variety of the best backpacking chairs. Ranging from simple seating pads to elevated chairs with back support, we’re sure you’ll find your favorite among this list.
3 of my best backpacking chairs are:
- Helinox Chair Zero (Editor’s Choice: Best Backpacking Chair)
- ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous Chair (Best Budget Backpacking Chair)
- Big Agnes Skyline UL (slightly larger, heavier alternative to Helinox Chair Zero)
- Weight: 1lb 2oz
- Packed Size: 14″ x 4″ x 4″
- Seat Width: 20.5″
- Seat Height: 8.5″
- Back Height: 16.6″
- Weight Capacity: 265lbs
The fabric is a weather-resistant mesh and the frame is made of anodized aluminum.
This camp chair revolutionised my backpacking experience. It’s pricey, sure, and that’s probably why it took so long for me to buy one. But now I look back on the years and years where I would sit on a rock for ‘comfort’ and ask myself…WHY?!
Funny story: when I bought this home the day before we left for a trip and told my wife how much I’d spent she laughed in my face! And she didn’t stop there! She continued to ridicule me while I put it together. But then she saw my expression when I sat in it. I was shocked how comfortable it was! She immediately demanded to have a go herself and…here’s the funny bit…spent the rest of the day trying to buy herself one before we left the next day!
(Luckily, a local store got one shipped to them overnight and we were able to pick it up on our way out of town).
It’s a really low chair. And when you first put it up I guess most people would be sceptical about it’s comfort, as I was. But a lot of thought and effort has been put into the design. The whole seat has a lot of give and that means you can sit with you legs straight out in front of you leaning back, or with your legs tucked in underneath with your weight quite forward.
Either way you’re well-supported and well-balanced whatever position you adopt.
It’s extremely easy to assemble and break down. There are only two components: the frame and the seat. The frame is an interlocking mechanism that’s intuitive. And the seat corners just slip over the top.
The only downside I can speak to after literally 7+ years of use is that the feet slide into soft ground. It is quite frustrating. I’ve toyed with the idea of bringing a tennis ball cut in half to overcome that. But so far I’ve just had to adjust where I’m sitting to make sure I place the feet where they won’t sink.
You should be able to pick up a Helinox Chair Zero from the following stores:
I camped and backpacked for 15 years without a camp chair because I thought it was an unnecessary luxury. Then I found this chair and I can honestly say I will never go camping or backpacking again without one. It adds weight to your back and takes up space. Sure. But the sheer comfort it brings to your outdoors experience more than makes up for that.
It’s expensive, yes. But I’m 100% confident mine will last well into its second decade of punishing use. All memory of the money I spent has long since faded from my mind. I get nothing but joy from using this excellent bit of kit.
If you’re on the fence, just get off and buy one!
The Terralite is portable and designed not to sink in soft surfaces. It holds up to 300 lbs and is made with durable mesh and aircraft-grade aluminum supports.
The Terralite chair is a bit bigger and a bit more comfortable than the Crazy Creek. At the beach it won’t sink into the sand, and you can sit in it all afternoon without your back hurting. One of the best things about it is how easy it is to get back into the bag and carry.
This is a great comfy seat for any outdoor event. I would recommend it for anyone.
Comfortable, easy to set up and pack away. This Terralite chair is great for lighter camping, beach days or festivals.
This 6.8-pound chair folds up into a compact 8 inch by 28 inch shoulder carry case. Its powder-coated steel frame and TechMesh fabric seat can hold 300 pounds. It’s a full-sized chair, which means a backrest, and the seat is elevated 4 inches off the ground.
The ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous Chair is at the top of our list of full-sized chairs for a number of reasons.
First of all, we love lounging in these collapsible chairs. For a portable design, you can’t really get more comfort than this. The best camping chair will usually offer back support and seat elevation for the most relaxing experience.
Did we mention portable? Whether you are taking this chair to an outdoor concert, or taking it into the mountains for a weekend, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how convenient and easy-to-carry it is.
Though it’s heavy compared to other contenders, it’s made from sturdy, durable materials and is long-lasting. The TechMesh fabric is strong and flexible, molding itself to your body. The powder-coated steel frame can support even the biggest hikers and backpackers.
We also chose this chair for its affordability. Its price falls neatly in the middle of the range of products on this list.
It combines all of the important qualities in the best backpacking chairs and keeps them under a reasonable budget. You can afford to equip your whole family with these chairs and rest assured that they will last your family through years of camping or backpacking.
The Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Chair weighs just over 2 pounds. It folds up and stores in a 14 inch by 5 inch case. The frame is an aluminum alloy and can support 242 pounds. The seat fabric is a combination of Oxford cloth and breathable mesh, with a 14 inch seat elevation.
For the more frugal backpacker or camper, we recommend the Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Chair. Not the sturdiest, but by far the cheapest full-sized backpacking chair on our list.
The combination cloth and mesh construction is an added comfort to this chair. They provide ventilation and flexible contouring to your body.
The side pockets and compartments are convenient, but also contribute weight that you might find unnecessary. Still, it’s nice to have a place for snacks, books, or small camping necessities.
The biggest selling point for this chair, however, is its price. You can buy two or three of these chairs for the price of some of the others. At these prices, you can afford to replace them should they ever wear out or break down. There are also lots of colors to choose from, so every member of the group can have their own hue.
The biggest drawback is that the plastic feet are narrow, and will sink into soft ground, causing the chair to become unbalanced. It’s better to use it on harder, flatter ground to keep the legs from sinking.
The Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Chair is our recommendation if you’re on a budget.
It’s still comfortable and convenient, sacrificing a little quality and durability for an attractive price tag.
The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 is a roll-up ground chair rather than a fully framed chair. Because of its padding, it weighs 1.3 pounds, but still rolls up into a compact 4 inch by 16 inch cylinder. The chair itself is made from 210D coated waterproof ripstop nylon over high-density EVA foam for a cushioned, insulated seat.
Some outdoor folks prefer the stable versatility of a back-supporting ground chair. If you’re one of them, this might be the chair for you.
There are advantages and drawbacks to these chairs. Although they don’t keep you off the ground, they are padded and insulated to keep your backside comfortable regardless.
Additionally, the chair takes up less space, and can be used by lakes or at picnics. It’s a much friendlier option during outdoor concerts, where your elevated chair might obstruct someone else’s view.
This particular chair is padded with cored EVA foam for a mattress-like cushion. The back support straps are tight-knit nylon webbing with reinforced wing-clip connections. The back support is rated for 250 pounds.
The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair gets our vote for the most comfortable stadium seat.
The materials and quality of construction make this chair an excellent choice for backpackers who might also need a chair at the football or baseball stadium, or even for picnics. If you prefer a stadium seat instead of a full-framed chair, this is an excellent choice.
Another stadium chair, the ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat weighs 1.3 pounds and folds up into a flat 17 inch by 1.5 inch square. Its nylon Oxford fabric is durable and waterproof.
We wanted to provide options for our readers who like the stadium-style ground chairs. The ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat is a great, inexpensive alternative to the other chairs we have reviewed here.
You really aren’t sacrificing much with this lower-cost chair, either. You are still getting the same waterproof, durable value that you would expect from any of the other products on this list.
It may not be particularly lightweight, and the seat padding might not be as comfortable as other chairs, but this is a sturdy and worry-free chair that will last you a long time. And it’s cheap enough to equip each member of your family with one — in their choice of color.
The ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat is the most affordable stadium chair in this article.
Buy one for everyone in your family. Take it with you to sporting events, picnics, camping and backpacking. It’s quality, durable, and comfortable with back support, all for a low price.
Our final featured product is a quality chair that’s different than both full-frame chairs and stadium-style chairs. The TravelChair Slacker Chair is 2.2 pounds, folds up into a 3 inch by 24 inch cylinder, and supports 275 pounds at a height of 17 inches above the ground. It’s made from a steel frame and ripstop polyester.
The TravelChair Slacker Chair is simple and versatile, and amazingly compact when in use.
We’re reviewing it here as one a great camp chair, but honestly, I’ve seen this chair in use even by people waiting in long lines. One of the greatest advantages of this chair is that you can pop it open quickly to rest your tired legs in almost any situation, without inconveniencing anyone around you.
Even when opened up for use, it only takes up a tiny 13 inch square of real estate. It’s a perfect accessory for backpacking or when you’re stuck in large crowds, like at a parade or sporting event.
It doesn’t offer any back support, but instead encourages a forward-sitting posture. This is ideal for when you are working on your campfire and you want to take the pressure off of your knees.
With such a small footprint and so many potential uses, it’s no wonder that we included this as one of the best backpacking chairs.
The TravelChair Slacker Chair gets the award for being the most versatile chair and not exclusively for ultralight backpacking.
Without back support, it might not be the most comfortable chair after a long day of backpacking. But its many applications more than make up for this drawback. If your knees are starting to ache when you have to stand around for long periods, you should never be without this seat.
Finding the Best Backpacking Chairs
Before you go looking for a camping chair, you need to ask yourself what style chair you find most comfortable. There are three basic styles of outdoor chairs, each one with its own benefits and drawbacks:
- Full frame chairs.
- Stadium chairs.
- Camping stools.
Full Frame Chairs
Full frame chairs are perhaps the most comfortable for most backpackers. They provide wide seats, back support, and elevate your backside for ease of sitting and standing. By lifting the seat from the ground, they also insulate and protect your hindquarters from the cold, hard ground.
Although the comfort is generally unmatched, there are drawbacks to buying a full frame chair.
First, they are generally more expensive than some of the simpler options. A good full frame chair sometimes costs as much as two or three stadium chairs or camping stools. In order to make these chairs lightweight and strong, manufacturers incorporate the best (and most expensive) materials.
Second, these kinds of chairs are also bulkier and heavier than other chairs. This is an unavoidable drawback to providing such a luxurious sitting experience. Even using lightweight aluminum, a full frame chair will be substantially heavier than ground chairs.
Third, these chairs take up space when in use. Now, this isn’t necessarily a drawback when ultralight backpacking or camping, but it limits the chair’s versatility in situations like sporting events, parades, or outdoor concerts.
For ease of reading, this is the name we have chosen to apply to the style of folding, back-supporting seats that are commonly used in stadium bleachers.
A good stadium chair will offer soft, insulating padding to sit on. It should also have sturdy support straps to hold the backrest in place.
Because these chairs rest directly on the ground, there is usually no concern with frame strength. In fact, most of these chairs do not have any solid frame, and are composed entirely out of fabric and foam. Only the fabric needs to be waterproof and durable for continued use.
Without an internal frame, these chairs can be exceptionally lightweight and easy to store. Depending on the thickness of the seat padding, some of these chairs can fold or roll up into tight packages to fit into a backpack.
But because you will be sitting directly on the ground, sometimes it will be hard to find a suitable spot in wet or snowy conditions. It also makes sitting and standing up frequently difficult.
Your third option in backpacking chairs is camping stools. Because they collapse they are a portable chair but they don’t offer back support or even much width for your backside, but they can give your tired knees a rest when they need it the most.
These stools require much less material than full frame chairs, and consequently they are typically smaller, lighter, and cheaper than those chairs. In terms of weight, space, and cost, they are comparable to stadium seats.
The biggest drawback is the lack of back support. These aren’t the best camping chairs if you’re hoping to lean back and relax.
But their forward-sitting posture can be a benefit if you are just trying to sit while accomplishing some campground tasks, such as lighting a fire or folding up a tent. It’s even a great option for sitting around a fire, roasting marshmallows with your friends or family.
These chairs usually have a higher seat elevation than full frame chairs, making it easy and convenient to stand up and sit down. If you are in the middle of camping tasks that require frequent attention, this camping stool might be your best choice.
It also has the smallest footprint of the chair styles that we reviewed in this article. This reduced ground space has many distinct advantages if you are looking for a place to sit in a crowded area, such as a sporting event or parade. With this chair, you can sit comfortably without encroaching on your neighbors’ space.
Considerations When Choosing the Best Backpacking Chair
Now that you have thought about what style backpacking chair you prefer to sit in, we can discuss the factors to consider when choosing a great camp chair for ultralight backpacking:
- Size, weight, and portability.
- Durability and strength.
Size, Weight, and Portability
Of course, if you plan on taking these chairs backpacking, it’s important to choose a chair that won’t weigh you down. Like everything else you take with you, the chair needs to be as compact and lightweight as possible.
When you are looking at various chair options, it’s important to consider its dimensions when stored. You’ll want something that can fit into your backpack, or something with convenient external straps that you can use to affix it to the outside of your backpack.
Some of these full frame chairs have complicated anodized aluminum poles that you need to assemble and disassemble each time you use them. These poles and parts can quickly add weight to your pack as well as complicate your packing process. Find a chair that easily collapses, folds, or rolls up for ease of storage.
Durability and Strength
Good backpacking gear can be a serious investment, and if you buy a backpacking chair, you’ll want one that will last for many trips and adventures.
It’s best to check user reviews before buying a backpacking chair. This way, you can see which chairs lasted, and which ones wore out quickly. All of the chairs in this article featured positive user testimonials for durability.
It’s also a good idea to check the weight rating for these chairs. After all, you wouldn’t want it to break when you use it. Not only would you be without a chair, but you would have an awkward and broken piece of equipment to carry home afterwards. Ripstop nylon is the strongest, best choice in fabric for these seats, and will make sure that the seat material doesn’t tear when you sit down.
These concerns are less pressing with stadium chairs, which are designed to sit directly on the ground. Stadium chairs usually last long, and you don’t have to worry about breaking them with frequent use. But for framed chairs and stools, choose one with high strength aluminum or composite alloy bars to ensure it holds up over time.
In general, a full framed backpacking chair will provide you with the most comfort. These chairs offer back support and seat elevation, which allows you to comfortably recline off of the ground.
When choosing a backpacking chair, check to make sure the materials are soft and flexible to contour to your body. Foam padding will increase the weight of your chair, but will also make a huge difference for stadium chairs that rest on the ground.
Strong back support and chair posture are important factors to consider. Most backpacking chairs are great for reclining, but only a few are comfortable for reading, lighting a campfire, or any of the other tasks that you might like to do while sitting.
Of course, cost is always a consideration. Full frame chairs will be the most expensive, due to their sturdy and lightweight construction materials. ALPS offers the most options for mid-range products, and their stadium seats and camping stools are great economic alternatives to full frame chairs.
While all the best backpacking chairs are versatile to an extent, some are even more so than others. For example, some are ready to sit in straightaway which is useful for some activities. Others may fold out and can be used as a sleeping pad on the floor, or feature pockets on the side for keeping your snacks or treasures you’ve found along the trail.
Think about different occasions when you may use the chair and what could be useful features.
Among all of the great products that we tested and reviewed, we ultimately have to recommend the ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous Chair. As a full frame chair, it provides the comfortable seating experience that you want at the end of a day of backpacking. While it may be on the heavier side, it has quality materials that are both durable and long-lasting, and an affordable price tag.
If you prefer to sit comfortably on the ground, our next best recommendation is the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair. This padded, compact seat is easy to take with you everywhere you go and will provide you with a little comfort while you rest along the way.
How to Choose a Backpacking Chair?
When choosing a backpacking chair you really want to look at the weight, the packed size and the weight capacity to start with. But nothing beats going into a store to sit on some display backpacking chairs.
What Is the Lightest Backpacking Chair?
The lightest backpacking chair is the Helinox Chair Zero, weighing just 1lb 2oz. It’s also the most compact at 14″ x 4″. The OG backpacking chair and probably the G.O.A.T. as well!