Do you really need a camping chair when exploring the backcountry or hanging out at the beach? No, we’ve spent many days and nights plopped down on the ground with a blanket just fine. If you want a more comfortable time under the skies, though, a good camping chair can make a huge difference.
Want to stretch your legs freely while sitting around the fire? A good chair will help with that. Hate feeling the cold ground, small rocks, and various sharp debris on your rear? Having a proper chair should keep all of that from happening. Simply put, a camping chair can make slumming it in the wild outdoors just a whole lot better.
Whether you’re car camping with a group, going on a backpacking excursion, or spending a few days near the water, a good chair will be a valuable gear to bring along in your stash. Here are some of our favorite picks.
REI Co-op Flexlite Air Chair
An instant hit among backpackers when it came out this year, this collapsible chair uses an aluminum frame similar to a lightweight tent, leaving it exceptionally easy to carry on your hike. Of course, the same lightweight build (it weighs just a pound), along with the closely-positioned legs, make it a little easy to tip from side-to-side, so you’ll want to be careful when finding a spot to set this down on – the flatter, the better. Quite the comfortable camp chair, it has a wide seat with plenty of wiggle room, a relaxed semi-reclined position, and a weight capacity of up to 250 pounds.
Strictly for car campers, this folding chair collapses to a flat bundle that measures 7.2 inches thick, making it easy enough to fit in the boot of any car or the bed of a pickup, while being totally impractical to bring along whenever you’re going on foot, especially as it tips the scales at 16.5 pounds. There’s only one reason to bring a chair like this and that’s comfort, with its wide profile, unique tensioned mesh weave that eliminates pressure points, and tall backrest. Naturally, the darn thing is as durable as YETI’s roto-molded coolers, boasting sturdy cast joints, a custom over-mold locking in the seat, and a frame built using two layers of hardened aluminum alloy, allowing it to carry weights of up to 500 pounds.
The closest thing you can get to a La-Z-Boy for the backcountry, this collapsible chair’s unique design suspends the seat using two vertical poles, allowing it to “float” in mid-air like a hammock. It has legs spread wide apart to ensure stability in most terrains, while the suspended design and auto-reclining hardware lets you lounge on the darn thing as comfortably as you do in your favorite living room chair. Designed to keep your relaxed in the backcountry, it gets a water-resistant mesh, padded armrests, and an integrated cup holder, although the elaborate design does require some extra time to set up compared to your standard camp chair. For the convenience of having a rocking and reclining chair in your camp, though, the extra work should be totally worth it.
Weighing just an ounce over one pound, this camp chair changed the game when it first came out in 2016. For the first time, backpackers can carry a chair that added a mere pound to their stash while packing down to the size of a water bottle. While others have aped its lightweight design since, the Chair Zero remains a favorite among some folks, with its compact collapsed size, 265-pound capacity, and a somewhat more stable styling. Compared to REI’s Flexlite Air, the seat’s a little narrower and a little shallower, making it more suited to smaller individuals, although the stiffer seat material does feel a little better on the back.
Quite possibly one of the best value camp chairs you can get, this folding chair’s steel frame keeps it sturdy but heavy at over nine pounds, making it viable for short hikes to a basecamp, but absolutely impractical for longer expeditions. With a 24-inch width, a tall and upright backrest, and a fully cushioned seat, it’s one comfortable piece of outdoor furniture, while a cup holder, a four-can cooler pouch, and a side pocket sized to hold snacks make it a veritable one-stop shop for chilling outdoors on a warm summer afternoon. Seriously, if you’re not using this for a weekend of camping, we have no doubt you’ll enjoy plopping down on it in the backyard, too.
Designed for bigger users, this collapsible chair combines a high backrest with a wide profile, giving the taller campers among us a viable way to get comfortable in the outdoors. It keeps things light at 4.3 pounds, while supporting up to 320 pounds of load, so you can sit there with a cooler on your lap if that’s what you feel like doing on a hot summer day. Using a single internal bungee cord to assemble the poles, it’s able to set up fast, while the included carrying sack can be set up as a headrest to really double down on the comfort. Yes, we think it would be better if it had arm rests to go along with the pair of cup holders, too, but, sometimes, you just can’t have it all.
Yes, there are a few rocking chair styles available in the market. None of them, however, manage to incorporate the feel of traditional rocking chairs better than this folding model from GCI Outdoors. Spring-action shocks in the rear of the chair provide the familiar rocking motion, all while moving you back and forth in a smooth and relaxing manner on both hard and soft surfaces. At over 12 pounds, it’s not for the light-traveling backpacker, but you can’t deny just how much fun camp life can be when you’re nodding off from being gently rocked over and over.
How can you not love a chair that goes by the name “King Kong?” And it’s every bit fitting, too, with a powder-coated steel frame, 600D polyester fabric, and 13-pound frame allowing it to support loads of up to 800 pounds. Seriously, you can set down a heavy cooler filled to the brim on the seat and this thing should hold it up like a proper beast. It’s got two cup holders, two pockets, and enough room to let you sit in any position that you want, all while being very affordable for everything it brings to the table.
Designed for couples, this two-person camp chair provides enough room to let you cuddle up with someone, all while fully supporting your combined weights of up to 600 pounds. A slightly reclined back rest allows you to lean back for comfortable lounging, while large drink holders on both armrests can fit up to two water bottles each, so both occupants can curl up together on side while keeping their refreshments within easy reach. While there have been a few other brands to copy Kelty’s two-person original, we certainly haven’t found anything in them to make them a better pick.
While it’s a far cry from the rest of the entries here, we felt Snow Peak’s unique camp furniture deserved a shout out. We mean, it’s a veritable couch with adjustable backrests designed for the outdoors, giving you a proper sofa that can support three people comfortably. Even better, the sofa can be reconfigured into a futon for sleeping, two chairs and a table, and even a three-level storage shelf. With three base unit segments, four cushions, and two backrests, it’s quite the sizeable rig, so this is strictly for car camping use.