Backpacking is a trade-off between comfort and weight. The best backpacking chair may not be in the consciousness of the serious long distance backpacker who is cutting the handle off his toothbrush to save a few grams. He’s probably not going to be willing to add a pound or more for the increased comfort of a camp chair. But for backpackers covering short distances, or setting up a base camp and doing day hikes from there, these camping and backpacking chairs are a welcome option. As one comfort-seeking hiker put it, “Granted this is not for the ultralight backpackers and will probably not interest them, but for those of us who will pack things like pair a of flip flops and a pillow, this chair is worth the weight.”
Here are 6 camp chairs that will definitely add to your camping comfort, All weigh in at less than two pounds. The Therm-A-Rest chairs are especially low-weight because for the chair cushion, they utilize the backpacker’s sleeping pad, a piece of gear that’s already counted as part of the weight of the pack . Compare and contrast three different basic categories of chairs: off the ground frame with cover, closed foam, and inflated air cushion, and choose your preference.
Alite Monarch Butterfly Backpacking Chair
This comfortable, breathable, nylon sling chair balances on 2 legs and holds up to 250 pounds. The innovative design allows you to rock freely back and forth. The 2-leg design also means you can achieve stability sitting on hills or rocky terrain. One satisfied user said, “You will have to learn to balance a little to get it just right, but that’s not too difficult. I spent four hours one evening on a remote backpacking trip comfortably perched on a remote overlook. I fixed my dinner from this chair and ate in it. I even found a rock to lean against and took a nap.” Savage Camper likes the Alite Monarch Butterfly Chair
- Weight: 1.15 lbs
- Dimensions: 23” x 21.5” x 4.5”. The chair packs down to 12” x 4.5” x 4.5” and fits inside a stuff sack.
Mayfly Chair for Backpacking
The Alite Mayfly Chair is almost identical to the Monarch except that it has a removal front foot giving you a little more stability if that’s your preference. Otherwise, you can take off the front brace and convert it to the rockability of the Monarch Butterfly. The weight is 1.6 pounds.
- Dimensions: The 20” x 20” x 15” full-size chair packs down to 11.5” x 4.3” x 4.3” and fits inside a stuff sack.
Helinox Chair One
The frame of this Helinox Chair One assembles easily thanks to the elastic shock cords and poles made of TH72M aluminum, the same material used in the world’s best tents and trekking poles. Slip on the mesh seat cover and you’re ready to relax in less than 30 seconds. The chair hold up to 320 pounds. The Chair One packs down to about the size of a Sunday newspaper. A couple of options add comfort and utility: A groundsheet prevents the chair’s legs from sinking into sand or soft ground, and a seat warmer filled with duck feathers adds a layer of warmth on cold nights.
- Weight: 1.97 lbs.
- Dimensions: 20” x 20” x 25”; packs down to 14” x 4” x 5”
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 PowerLounger
This light, comfortable and compact chair works as a full recliner or you can fold up the extra length to increase the padding of the seat. The Powerlounger is tall in the back and wide enough to accommodate large frames. The chair doubles as a sleeping pad for ultra light backpacking. Flattened like it would be for a sleeping pad, the chair provides side-by-side seating for three people. Closed cell foam provides insulation and comfort without bulk. The outer shell of 210D coated ripstop nylon protects you from wet ground. The inner surface of water-resistant ripstop nylon is durable, easy to keep clean, and sealed from sand and dirt. Outdoor Gear Lab thinks this is the best overall camping chair, thanks to its comfort and versatility.
- Dimensions: 53.5” x 17.5”
- Weight: 29.8 oz
Therm-A-Rest Series of Three Backpacking Chairs
Therm-A-Rest makes a series of 3 chair kits that convert Therm-A-Rest air mattresses into lightweight camp chairs: The Compak Chair, the Trekker Chair, and the Trekker Lounge. The principle behind all three is the same. That is, a Therm-A-Rest self-inflating mattress fits into a nylon sleeve that is held in place by small poles that fit horizontally in the sleeve, top, middle and bottom. The back and bottom of the chairs are connected by side straps. Sleeping pads other than Therm-A-Rest might fit into the sleeve, but it will require some careful reading of the specs to be sure they will work. Fitting the mattress into the sleeve requires some practice and coordination.
The Therm-A-Rest series derives its high level of comfort from the fact that you’re sitting on cushion of air rather than on a foam pad or nylon cover stretched over a metal frame. A further key point of difference between the Therm-A-Rest chairs and the Alite chairs is that you are sitting on the ground rather than a few inches above it. Taking the Therm-A-Rest approach to a backpacking chair means that you are only adding the weight of the chair kit to your total backpack load since your air mattress is already a component of the basic gear you’d be packing anyway.
- Weight: 6 oz
- Dimensions: Fits any 20 inches-wide mattress
- Comes in 2 sizes, 20” and 25”
- Weight: 9.5 oz; 13 oz
- Dimensions: 20” x 42”; 25” x 50”
Therm-A-Rest Trekker Lounge Chair
Sleeve covers the entire mattress and never has to be removed. Converts easily from lounger to sleeping pad and back again. Comes in two sizes
- Weight: 18 oz; 24 oz
- Dimensions: 70” x 20”; 78” x 25”