Practical Travel Gear Top Rated Lightweight Camping Chairs
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Guide To Choosing The Best Lightweight Backpacking Chair For You
Some hiking purists are skeptical about the idea of backpacking chairs. The whole point of hiking is connecting to nature and getting away from civilization, so how does it make sense to add weight to your pack by bringing what under the circumstances might be considered a luxury piece of furniture? For many hikers though, having something comfortable to sit in around the fire after an arduous day on the trail, or even during breaks when still on the trail, makes a world of difference as they rest up and enjoy the fresh air and open skies. There are other activities, other than backpacking, where it makes sense to have the best lightweight backpacking chair for you available. Keep reading to learn about the kinds of chairs out there, why you might want one, and the specific factors you should consider when choosing one.
Major Types of Lightweight Camping Chairs
When you go looking for the best lightweight backpacking chair for you, you’re going to quickly notice that there are generally two types of chairs on the market, differentiated by their shape. Some follow a simplistic folding design, as they are shaped like the letter L as one single piece of fabric, since internal support beams activate when you lean back into the seats. These sit on the ground directly, as your own oppositional force is what creates a resting spot for your back. Some hikers and websites refer to these as ‘taco chairs’, and they are very light in weight, nor do they require any setting up. If you’re going to a festival, concert, or event that doesn’t permit off-the-ground seating, these might still be allowed. However, you’ll never truly relax in them, since some muscle engagement is necessary. Also, the lack of legs makes them far less stable than the other kind of chair.
The other style of chair is commonly called the ‘tent style’ since they have a pole construction like a tent, and when unfolded or assembled provide a fabric seat that you can sit in suspended between those poles. The level of comfort in these chairs is far superior to ‘taco’ chairs, especially if you’re sitting almost a foot off of the ground. On the other hand, the prices are far higher. Also, most of them weigh more, though there are exceptions.
Why You Might Want One
If you’ve been backpacking before, you probably were content to sit on trees, logs, rocks, and even the ground itself. Some smaller hikers can even sit on their pack itself for a while. However, is that always that comfortable? How often do you get dirty? Do you need a hand getting up? Backpacking chairs simply make things more comfortable, especially on days you might be doing something a bit more active than you’re used to, so rest is crucial. There are specific activities that make sense for these chairs, and some people who own them just love using these chairs in their own backyard, since it means that they don’t have to bother with permanent exterior furniture.
Best Chair for Bakpacking
Hiking and backpacking are why these chairs exist. If this is the case for you, then you want to look into weight, durability, versatility, and comfort specifically. Weight is the paramount factor, so look over the specs of any chair for the ‘packing size’ rather than the retail product weight. Durability matters second so that you don’t head miles into the woods only to set up camp with a busted seat that serves no purpose. Remember, tent-style chairs are more comfortable, but some taco-style chairs might even double up as sleeping pads or pillows while you sleep, saving you a lot of space and weight.
Best Chair For The Beach
It doesn’t have to be the beach itself, as you could also just be hanging out on the side of a lake or the banks of a river. These all make for distinct challenges for any kind of chair, as most of them would sink into sand or wet soil, putting you on the very ground you’re hoping not to sit on. If the sand is pretty soft, then legs are what matter. Taco-style seating all work about the same when on the sand, but you might still get covered with sand. For tent-style chairs, you’re better off with wider feet.
Best Chair for Tailgating
If you camp out of your car or are just tailgating before the big game, you might want something comfortable to sit on. Space can be rather limited in a packed vehicle, so rather than grab a folding chair or a beach chair, a backpacking chair can bridge the gap between having a seat and saving space in your vehicle. Weight isn’t such an issue for situations like these, so versatility and comfort are what you should prioritize.
Concerts And Festivals Chairs
These are sometimes the highlights of the summer season, but staying on your feet for 10 or 12 hours might turn you off. Many outdoor venues will ban actual chairs, but they might let taco-style seats through the gates. Weight is rarely an issue with taco chairs, so emphasize comfort.
How To Choose A Camping Chair
The specific cases where you might want a backpacking chair do matter, but so too do the various factors about the chairs themselves. The following are some of the things you should look for.
Several different materials are used for the fabrics in both tent- and taco-style chairs. However, if you want the best, then keep your eyes out for 210D ripstop nylon, 450D ripstop polyester, or 600D polyester. There are other good materials though. Just make sure that you have something waterproof, flame retardant, washable, and resistant to tears and shrinkage.
Ease Of Set Up
This feature simply can’t be overlooked. Many seats can be set up so simply that you barely notice you’re even doing it anymore. On the other hand, some seats might take a few minutes. If you can, get a model that you find easy to put together and pack up. The frame, as well as the pad designs, are what determine the complexity or simplicity here.
Anodized aluminum and 7000 series aluminum are common frame materials to see used, as the majority of backpacking chairs employ aluminum. This isn’t just something that manufacturers love to use. They do it because aluminum frames don’t rust. They don’t need a tone of maintenance, and they’re light in weight while also very reliable over time. The even maintain their color well under UV rays, nor do they chip or peel quickly or easily.
Whatever you do, make sure the chair is light. Weight might not matter much if you’re only taking it out of a car, but it matters greatly if you’re backpacking. It can even matter if you have to lug it over a beach or concert festival field.
Most backpacking chairs, when compact, can be carried with a single hand. However, how much room it takes up in your backpack might be what you really need to worry about, since your available volume is all you have to work with.
The stability of the chair matters greatly for good reason. First off, you won’t be able to relax that well in a chair where you are constantly steadying yourself. Secondly, if you do fall to the ground, you’re at risk of hurting yourself, and depending on where you are, you might be a long way from medical help or attention.
How To Find The Right One For You
The Internet makes it very easy to find both professional reviews and consumer reviews from individuals that have already used various makes and models. It’s also quite possible to find dozens of different chairs from various websites, as the online selection is going to be much better than you’ll find in outdoor gear stores around your community. Just make sure the shipping is free or cheap, and go with something that has a great warranty or guarantee with it, regardless if you order online or get something from a brick and mortar retailer.
No matter how many factors go into your analysis, at the end of the day, the best lightweight backpacking chair for you is the one that you are comfortable in and can actually relax in. For most people, the seat shouldn’t be overly reclined, since it means discomfort if you lean forward. Also, the frame should be rather broad in order to give you stability. If you’re actually going backpacking, then portability is definitely a concern, although as you read, there are other situations where a backpacking chair might serve you well for activities that don’t involve trekking through the wilderness. In any case, get a model using an aluminum frame, which gives you strength and durability without having to handle a lot of weight.
One last note about picking the best lightweight backpacking chair for yourself, make sure it’s easy to assemble and set up. Most of the time, you’re going to be tired when you are ready to plop down in it, and it should be likewise as simple to pack back up when it’s time to go.