The 10 Best Backpacking Chairs

Updated April 13, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Trekking through the wilderness can be exhausting, and even the most seasoned hiker needs to sit down once in a while. These backpacking chairs are specifically designed with lightweight frames for both portability and comfort, to help you take a load off after a long day's journey. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best backpacking chair on Amazon.

10. Therm-a-Rest Uno

The innovative Therm-a-Rest Uno is stowed in a high-impact polymer disc that functions as its base, keeping it stable on muddy or sandy surfaces. The case also serves as a handy tabletop for activities like meal prep or card games.
  • just 12-inch diameter when packed
  • a little heavier than some
  • doesn't sit very far off the ground
Brand Therm-A-Rest
Model 30510
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Mountainsmith Sling Back

The one-of-a-kind Mountainsmith Sling Back is intended for those who obsess over pack weight, but still want to relax after a challenging set of switchbacks. It's a bit unusual in design, but once mastered, you'll never leave it behind at base camp.
  • stunningly light at just 5 oz
  • incredibly compact when rolled up
  • rather tricky to get into and out of
Brand Mountainsmith
Model 17-9490-65
Weight 12.3 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Petrous Tripod

Stashed in its own integrated, zippered pouch, the Petrous Tripod deploys in seconds whenever you need a rest. Its internal shock cords guide the aluminum supports smoothly into place, and the magic of geometry keeps you from wobbling on uneven ground.
  • easy to strap onto your bag
  • costs next to nothing
  • tall users may feel top-heavy
Brand Petrous
Model pending
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Helinox Ground

From a renowned designer of premium gear, the Helinox Ground is built with lightweight materials, and it accommodates a full-size adult comfortably. Its low profile mimics a recliner, offering reliable relaxation on the trail.
  • breathable mesh panels
  • 300-denier ripstop nylon body
  • a bit difficult to stand up from
Brand Helinox
Model Helinox
Weight 9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Trekology Yizi Go

The under-$50 Trekology Yizi Go dispels the notion that quality hiking gear has to cost an arm and a leg. Despite its relatively low cost, it's as comfortable as some models priced at three times as much, the only major trade-off being its above-average heft.
  • reinforced pole sockets
  • adjustable telescoping legs
  • available in multiple colors
Brand Trekology
Model pending
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Chammock Original

Borrowing from a popular minimalist sleeping design, the 9-oz Chammock Original hangs between two trees to provide one of the most useful seats around. It may not look particularly strong, but its N66 nylon actually supports up to about 250 pounds.
  • folds into the attached pocket
  • works best with a footrest
  • seams can separate a bit over time
Brand Chammock Original
Model pending
Weight 9.1 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Alite Monarch

The quirky, yet effective, Alite Monarch saves weight by having only two legs on its frame, and using the ones attached to your body to sit upright. This lets you recline to your desired angle, or rock soothingly back and forth while enjoying grand vistas.
  • ethically and sustainably crafted
  • available in six bold colors
  • less stable than four-legged styles
Brand Alite
Model Alite Designs
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Helinox Zero

The Helinox Zero is a highly refined piece of equipment, made with top-quality, bulk-minimizing components from top to bottom. While larger campers might not find it especially comfortable, with a pack weight of just 499 grams, it's many ultralight hikers' top pick.
  • sits well off the ground
  • packs down to a 14in by 4in cylinder
  • optional ground sheet adds stability
Brand Big Agnes
Model Helinox
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. HexaLite PowerLounger

Although it's not very flashy, the HexaLite PowerLounger's simple design belies its versatility. Aside from being a great place to sit, it also functions as a sleeping pad, freeing up pack space for essentials, like food and water.
  • bottom folds in for extra padding
  • trail tested and expert approved
  • also reclines for maximum relaxation
Brand Crazy Creek
Model 1049-180
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Helinox One

The Helinox One by Big Agnes is the hands-down favorite of most backcountry enthusiasts, delivering exceptional comfort and a reasonable height. In addition, this well-rounded product weighs under two pounds and is durable enough to last for years of use.
  • accommodates most body types
  • above-average 350-lb weight limit
  • excellent build quality
Brand Big Agnes
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Stop Squatting And Start Relaxing

We totally know that you could hike off into the woods like Bear Grylls and survive for days, weeks even, with only a pocket knife and a compass. Luxury? Isn’t that something for casual day hikers who never learned to minimize their gear properly? Actually, there are some pretty good reasons to pack along one or two creature comfort items for your next distance, thru, or day hike, with the backpacking chair being an excellent top choice.

In the first place, while it’s true that some areas do indeed have natural seats, such as logs, not all areas are so blessed. There’s no guarantee, in other words, that you won’t have to sit on the ground. And if you’ve just covered a score of grueling miles, it’s likely that you aren’t going to have the energy to search for something upon which to park yourself. With a backpacking chair at the ready, you’ll be restfully seated in no time, and you won’t need to worry about the creepy crawlies skittering around on the ground.

There’s also the weather to consider. When people espouse the benefits of traveling without a backpacking chair, they offer solutions that make sense when it’s dry. But wet, muddy, or snowy ground is a reality that most hikers end up facing at some point, and it’s one that makes demands beyond comfort. If you’re already cold, you probably shouldn’t put yourself on wet ground with no insulation. You need to protect your body heat, which will be easier from a dry chair.

Think, too, that you’ll be able to eat in a comfortable position, which can greatly impact your mental state after a rough day on the trail. After you fuel up, you may want to read or play some cards with your hiking companions, activities that are less of a hassle when you’re seated comfortably. True, you can certainly do these things while seated on a stump, but have you ever really tried to sit with no back support for any length of time?

Finally, some truly amazing hikers have health challenges that make having a stable and supportive seat a must. If you have back pain, for instance, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to flop down on a cold, hard rock. Hike your own hike, as they say, and carry what you need to make you comfortable.

Backpacking Chair Design

Because backpacking requires allotting space wisely, chairs made specifically for this activity aren’t like those created for other recreations, including car camping. When you go car camping, your vehicle does most of the work of hauling your gear, meaning a chair can be larger or heavier without causing you too much extra effort. When you’re carrying everything on your back, however, you’ll definitely feel every extra ounce. That’s why backpacking chairs are usually lighter and smaller than typical camping chairs.

Backpacking chairs also use design to capitalize on available room. Many are dual-purpose, a principle that’s crucial when space is at a premium. You’ll see backpacking chairs that function as tables or sleeping pads, which means less to carry. Another popular type cleverly uses the hiking poles that backpackers generally carry. When not in use, most backpacking chairs fold, roll, or compress into an easily packable size, a feat that designers achieve by omitting any pieces that are not absolutely critical to the chair’s functionality.

For this reason, many backpacking chairs take a little getting used to — don’t be surprised if you need to get in and out of one a few times before it feels natural. Often, these chairs don’t have the same type of supports as a typical camping chair, so you can’t press down or lean on them in a typical manner. After a few uses, you should begin to feel comfortable with how to shift your weight.

And, although it’s probably at the bottom of your list of concerns, some backpacking chairs do look pretty amazing. Designers today have an abundance of ultra-functional materials at their disposal, materials that repel water, weigh little, resist tearing, breathe well, and come in tons of colors. You might find yourself looking for any excuse to pop your chair out of your pack, just to show off a little.

A Brief History Of Backpacking The Appalachian Trail

Whether you’re new to hiking or you're an old pro, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the perennially popular Appalachian Trail. Sometimes called the A.T., this trail covers 2,190 miles between Georgia and Maine, hitting a total of 14 states along the way. While it’s estimated that between 2 and 3 million people hike portions of this trail every year, the number of “2,000 milers,” or those who walk the trail in its entirety, is much smaller, between 500 and 1,200 hikers each year.

The journey of self-discovery that is walking the length of the A.T. traces its origins back to 1948, when U.S. Army veteran Earl V. Shaffer reported the first thru-hike. While this is considered an accomplishment even today, remember that Shaffer didn’t have the benefit of guidebooks, GPS, ample volunteers to keep the trail in shape, or trail angels. He certainly couldn’t rely on today’s lightweight backpacking chairs and accessories for comfort. In fact, the trail was only about 10 years old, having been flagged through the hard work of ATC Chair Myron Avery in 1936.

Since Shaffer’s first journey, more than 15,000 people have reported tackling this hike. Although the activity may seem like it’s reserved for elite athletes, the trail is open to anyone with a decent level of fitness and the will to walk, including those over the age of 60, individuals with disabilities, vegetarians and vegans, insulin-dependent diabetics, and solo female hikers. Many read Shaffer’s book, “Walking With Spring,” for inspiration.

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Last updated on April 13, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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