The 10 Best Camping Chairs
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you think that camping chairs are spartan, basic items for parking your butt outdoors, think again. These versatile seats offer much more, including cupholders, tray tables, coolers, and sun shades. Some even let you recline or enjoy the campfire or sunset side-by-side with your friends and loved ones. Below, you'll find a variety of seating options that will last for many outings to come. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 20, 2021:
The Wolftraders Laybak and OmniCore Designs MoonPhase are no longer readily available, so they've been removed from the Wiki. Instead, if you're looking for supreme comfort, we recommend the Wolftraders LayZWolf, although it doesn't fold down nearly as compactly as its shorter relative. We also added the ALPS Mountaineering Ultimate Recliner. Like everything from ALPS, their recliner offers a dependable construction and should last for many years with proper care. Despite its use of mesh, it won't sag over the long term and is highly resistant to tearing. It's also especially stable.
Keep in mind that these are distinct from backpacking chairs, which tend to sacrifice comfort in exchange for portability. The camp chairs we've recommended on this Wiki are meant for use at stationary campsites.
January 30, 2020:
Experienced campers agree: don't forget something comfortable to sit on, as it greatly increases the outdoor experience. Now, if you're looking for something light enough to carry on a wilderness adventure, we can recommend plenty of those, but they make significant sacrifices over traditional camping chairs, so for this category we focused on options that aren't designed to be carried for miles.
The Coleman Oversized Quad is relatively simple, and though it's not the most durable, with proper care it should last quite a while. If you're not keen on its somewhat slim tubing, you might consider moving up to the Alps Outdoorz King Kong, which can hold up to 800 pounds. Alternately, the Kijaro Dual Lock offers a locking mechanism that ensures not only convenience, but also increased security and comfort. The Kingcamp Moon Leisure has a similar frame to all those, but a very different support structure, and it's made specifically for those who really like to kick back and relax after a hard day outside.
Speaking of kicking back, the ALPS Mountaineering Escape lets you do so by hoisting your feet in the air, while the Alps Mountaineering Rendezvous lets you do so by putting you very close to the ground. The first is preferable for taller users, who may have trouble getting in and out of the Rendezvous. Plus, for what it's worth, plopping down suddenly on a camp chair is a good way to unduly stress its joints, even if you're dealing with a high-end model. The WolfTraders LayBak, on the other hand, lets you choose from 4 recline settings, and should accommodate nearly all users well, regardless of size.
The SwimWays Kelsyus takes the traditional frame style and adds one major and important feature: a retractable sun shade. It's a bit pricier than the average chair, but if there isn't much tree cover around -- for example, if you're visiting the beach -- it can be a lifesaver and a skin protector.
We also included two that make significant departures from the common camp chair. The OmniCore Designs MoonPhase offers two- and three-person configurations and, as such, is essentially a camp love seat or camp couch, while the Picnic Time Oniva Fusion is about as fancy (and heavy) as these things come.
Nemo Stargaze Luxury If you're okay with spending a couple hundred dollars on a camping chair, this might be the high-end model you're looking for. Its suspension-style construction is quite unlike most others, although it's too heavy to lug too far into the woods, and it is a bit of hassle to set up. Nonetheless, it's supremely comfortable. nemoequipment.com
Kicking Back In A Camping Chair
Next consider the kinds of included accessories you value in a camping chair.
Camping chairs are designed to balance the need for a lightweight and portable piece of furniture with the simple pleasure you can derive from having a comfortable seat outdoors. A great camping chair is compact enough to be easily folded up, carried, and then stored away, yet can still hold any average sized adult with ease.
Keep in mind that no camping chair is truly suitable for use during a long distance trek. If you have to hike more than a mile or so to your campsite, or if you are on an overland journey of many days (or even weeks), then your seat is going to be the ground, a stone, or a log. Even the lightest weight camp chair adds as much as five pounds to your gear, and that's simply too much added burden for your legs or back.
Knowing that you will likely only use a camping chair where your camp site is close to your vehicle (or to a home, cabin, and so forth) liberates you from worrying too much about the chair's weight. Even most of the heaviest camping chairs weigh in at less than twenty pounds, so they can easily be moved across shorter distances. Instead, consider first in which position you will be most comfortably seated given both your preferences and your hobbies.
If you are a fisherman, hunter, or wildlife watcher, you will likely want a camping chair that allows you to sit upright. This standard seated position allows for better control of a fishing rod, safe and steady aim of a rifle, or the best control of your camera and/or binoculars. For the camper more interested in reading a book, chatting with friends, or sipping a glass of wine, a recliner style of camping chair is the ideal choice. These chairs, which often even have footrests, maximize comfort and are perfect for relaxing.
Next consider the kinds of included accessories you value in a camping chair. Many camping chairs have built in cup holders, and these are a welcome feature indeed, as chances are good that you won't have a table around on which to rest a beverage. However, some camping chairs have built in tables that make for convenient eating, reading, or even work surfaces. Also consider an option with an umbrella or sunshade if your campsites tend to be outside of the timber line or if you will use your camping chair at the beach or on the pool deck.
And keep in mind that just because a piece of furniture is called a "camping" chair doesn't mean it can't be used in the dorm room, the basement, or even in the living room until a more permanent seating accommodation can be found. As these chairs readily fold flat, they make excellent temporary seating for use when you have guests or relatives visiting.
Other Great Accessories For Comfortable Camping
If you are using a camping chair, then likely you are going for a camping trip on which you can bring plenty of gear and supplies without much concern for weight. So go ahead and get some gear that will make the experience as pleasant as can be.
Any great camping trip requires plenty of fine food and good drink.
Any great camping trip requires plenty of fine food and good drink. That means that you will need a good cooler in which to store your rations. Many modern coolers can keep ice frozen for more than 24 hours even in warm temperatures. Spend the money to get a cooler of decent quality and you can be assured of having fresh, safe foods for several days. (Just note that your cooler may attract animals, so look for a locking option and always place any food a good distance away from your tent or keep it secured in your cabin.)
Camping stoves are so compact and lightweight that they can even be brought along on long hikes or climbs. Portable grills, on the other hand, are a luxury relegated to the car camping trip (or to a day spent at the beach or in the park). Many such grills use charcoal quite efficiently, requiring you to carry relatively little fuel to enjoy grilled burgers, sausages. and more.
If you are a hunter, make sure you consider the right choice of hunting blind at the same time as you get a camping chair. Many blinds are too small or too specifically shaped to accommodate some larger camping chairs, so be certain your chair will fit the size and design of your blind. Buying these items in tandem is a good move.
The History Of The Portable Chair
Compact, folding chairs are a ubiquitous feature of modern life, filling everything from school auditoriums to crowded conference rooms to the closet of your own home. However the folding chair is far from a new invention. In fact, archaeologists have found examples of folding chairs that date back many thousands of years and that hail from myriad parts of the globe.
The chairs from this region and era used a simple design featuring two sets of crossed supports connected with wooden posts on the bottom and a strip of fabric on their tops.
Multiple examples of folding chairs have been discovered in parts of Scandinavia and Northern Europe that date to a period often called the Nordic Bronze Age which lasted from roughly 1700 through 500 BCE. The chairs from this region and era used a simple design featuring two sets of crossed supports connected with wooden posts on the bottom and a strip of fabric on their tops. They look not unlike many camping chairs seen today, save for the lack of a backrest.
The Greeks and Romans too had folding chairs, and they were a common sight in the tents of officers in military camps, which the Romans called Castrum and which they in particular set up with extreme attention to detail.
In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, folding chairs were primarily used by members of the clergy who could conduct liturgical services anywhere by the virtue of the seat's portability.
The first approximation of the modern camping chair was developed in 1855 by a British man named Joseph B. Fenby. He patented his chair in 1877 and by the end of the century, production of this "butterfly" style of folding chair was occurring in Europe, America, and beyond.