When you go camping, do you love to sit by an open fire while you enjoy the company of the great outdoors while listening to the call of the wild? Or how about setting up a lightweight backpacking chair at the water’s edge, letting the cool waves lap at your feet? Sounds amazing right!
Unfortunately, most fold up chairs have a reputation for being bulky, awkward and cumbersome. We often wish we didn’t have to pack them at all. The average outdoor seat can weigh up to 12 pounds, making your overall backpacking load a lot heavier.
On the other hand, if you do buy a thinner, flimsier option, your back aches after 20 minutes and they seem to just fall apart over time.
We’ll, now there is solution! In the last few years there have been incredible advances in material and structural design. Today you can find feather-light hiking seats that preserve strength, durability and especially comfort, while enjoying drastically reduced weight… They can even weigh as low as 20 ounces!
These are our winners for 2017!
|Helinox Chair One||1.9 lbs||320 max||Best Quality & Extremely Comfortable|
|Wildhorn Terralite||2.1 lbs||320 max||Comfortable with Terrain Safe Feet|
|Alite MayFly||1.2 lbs||250 max||Lightest Comfortable Option|
|Helinox Ground Chair||1.4 lbs||265 max||Great Structural Stability|
|Alite Monarch||1.2 lbs||250 max||Bipod for Rough Terrain|
|GCI Quick-E Seat||3.5 lbs||250 max||Good Padded Backrest|
|Coleman Woodsman||2.9 lbs||225 max||Old-School Durability|
|Travel Chair Slacker||2.2 lbs||275 max||Exceptional Value|
|Coleman Stadium Seat||1.3 lbs||250 max||Great Padding|
|Crazy Creek Hex 2.0||1.4 lbs||250 max||Well Insulated|
Related Article: Folding Backpack Beach Chairs
Top Rated Camping, Trekking & Hiking Chair Reviews
Helinox Chair One
Our undisputed winner for quality and comfort! We love the simple sleek design, the quality materials used and comfortable bucket style seat. Measuring 20 x 20 x 25 inches it’s big enough to be super comfortable but it packs down to the size of a newspaper. Just fold it up, slip it into your bag and you’re ready to go.
The Helinox only weighs 1.9 lbs and yet, it can hold a whopping 320lbs in weight!
- Open Size: 20 x 20 x 25 inches
- Packed Size: 14 x 4 x 5 inches
- Capacity: 320 lb
- Weight: 1.9 lb
- Can be used on all types of terrain
- Extremely Comfortable
- Top notch build quality
- Easy to assemble
The workmanship on this chair is impeccable. The extra strong polyester fabric is reinforced at each corner and the stitching is perfect. There’s no fraying or unravelling, even after extensive use. The legs are made from the same aluminium pole technology used in hiking poles, providing optimal stability and support for your tired body after a long hike.
To keep it light as a feather, the designers had to omit some of the “luxuries” you might be used to finding on traditional camping seats. There are no non-essentials like armrests or cup holders which add to the overall weight.
An important thing to note here is that almost all the options on the list sit really low to the ground which can make getting up a little more difficult. The Helinox is no different.
Having said that, it’s still the best lightweight folding chair on the market as far as we’re concerned. You simply can’t go wrong by adding it your standard hiking gear.
The Terralite was recently added to this list due to its popularity with our readers. It’s essentially a more affordable replica of the Helinox but doesn’t have the same brand assurance. The main reason our reader love it, besides the good value, is the rounded feet attached to each leg. This stops you from sinking into softer sand or snow. It does make it slightly heavier but may just be worth the extra ounces depending on where you’re going.
The Lightest Alite MayFly
Unwilling to compromise on portability? The Alite products are the lightest on the list. By cutting the weight of the polyester and changing the construction, they managed to reduce it to an ultra-lightweight 1.15 pounds!
It sits really low to the ground but is absolutely perfect for lounging back and enjoying a great view.
We recommend that you weigh under 250 pounds, as the lightweight materials are not quite a strong as the aforementioned models. The wide stance and slim legs works best on solid ground but this isn’t really a seat you’ll want to take with you to the beach. If you remove the optional front leg, it essentially becomes a Monarch (option #5 below) and acts a bit like a rocking chair – the perfect way to unwind after a long day of backpacking.
For backpackers that want a comfortable, ultralight hiking option that can fold up extremely small, there isn’t anything that can beat the Mayfly.
Helinox Ground Chair
The Helinox Ground Chair was designed to address a few design elements that make the larger Helinox (#1) unsuitable for some users.
The key advantage is flexibility. It’s 8 ounces lighter which makes it easier to take on longer treks. Because it rests on four ultra-durable aluminium alloy bars, which spreads the weight over a large surface area, it is incredibly stable for its size. Unfortunately you’ll need to make sure you are inside the 265 lb weight limit.
If you’re sore after a long day of backpacking, this is one of the most comfortable options available to you. It provides a lot of back support, letting you rest your weary muscles. You may not have the same weight capacity as with the Chair One, but for lighter individuals, it is a perfect choice for a stable, comfortable respite.
Like the Mayfly, the Alite Monarch is tied for being the lightest weight model on our list. In reality, they have a lot of similarities. The material is identical, and the support is similar. The difference is in the way the legs are joined together, and it makes a world of difference.
The monarch has an extremely small footprint. Just one flat patch of ground can be used to provide a solid, stable footing for the feet. This would be our first choice if we had to sit up and cook, tend to the fire, or re-pack our bag for the next leg of our trip.
GCI Quick-E Seat Camping Stool
Fold up stools really don’t get much more portable than this. They even managed to get a cup holder in there too!
This 3.5 lb tripod seat offers everything you need for a quick break from a long hike. The high quality denier polyester is durable as well as comfortable with an extra wide, padded backrest for added support. The legs are made from powder-coated steel, giving them a hard, tough finish that keeps nasty rust away.
With it’s sturdy tripod design, you can set it up almost anywhere. It deploys into seating position with one simple flick and folds up the instant you lift it by the carry strap! There’s nothing quicker.
It isn’t recommended for long periods of sitting though, but rather a quick rest until you are ready to resume your journey.
It has a handy shoulder strap but this can sometimes can be slightly awkward to carry, especially if you already have a bulky load.
Coleman Woodsman II
If you’re looking for durability on a budget, then Colemans Woodsman II is one of the best options. Featuring powder coated aluminium legs, it can support a lot of weight! (We’d consider their 225 lb weight limit fairly conservative) The construction is rock solid, and doesn’t flex or bend in any direction. This results in an extremely stable seat that can last for many years.
This durability and stability does come at the expense of portability. It won’t fold up as small as some, and it’s not quite as light. But setup is a breeze, and you’re not going to have any trouble carrying it around on short trips.
Slacker Travel Chair
By sacrificing the backrest, the cute little Slacker is the smallest and lightest of all the stools. This makes it the most portable option. Using it is simple… The folding tripod design folds out in a matter of seconds to provide a comfortable, upright place to sit. When you’re ready to go, just squeeze the legs together, wrap the included strap around it, and tie it to your bag.
Besides being very portable it is also extremely durable. It uses 600D ripstop polyester, which is among the best on the market. Even though it’s folded size is smaller than a rolled-up newspaper, the aluminium legs are much larger in diameter than most options. This prevents them from shearing, and provides a very high weight capacity. It can hold as much as 275 lb and that’s super impressive for a stool!
Coleman Stadium Seat
Though these are technically not chairs, the use of camping seats has become extremely popular due to their incredible portability. The soft padded material rolls up into a malleable shape that can easily be stuffed into your bag, or strapped to the side of your backpack. In our opinion, it’s the very best value for money on the entire list.
The Coleman’s Stadium Seat is especially great because of it’s size. Its surprisingly large and has fantastic padding along the bottom seating area. Your legs act as a counter balance, keeping your back supported. It works better than you’d expect! Of course, getting up off the ground is as hard as it can be so light the fire, pour yourself a drink and settle in comfortably with a great group of friends.
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0
The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 folds up the smallest of all the options. Anything less and you’re sitting on your butt. That’s what makes it so impressive, you’re sittin on less that half an inch of material but unless you’re sitting on rough stoney terrain, you’re actually very comfortable. It’s the EVA closed-cell foam material that makes it so well insulated and suited to outdoor use.
Fold it or roll it up, clip it onto your backpack and you’re ready to go. You can carry several at a time before you even feel the weight! The backrest is sturdy and strong, and can be adjusted to your chosen angle. The weight of your lower body perfectly counter balances the weight of your back creating surprisingly strong support.
If you’re planning a long hike and need a simple solution that’s as light as a feather and as easy to pack as possible, this would be a great choice. We wouldn’t suggest it though, if you want to sit for long periods while enjoying a timeless fireside evening with friends.
Buying Guide – How to Choose the Ultralight Right Chair for You
Let’s compare the products above by their leading features.
The Most Comfortable
There’s no point buying a super lightweight camping chair and being uncomfortable or feeling unstable.
When you’re trying to make a seating product lightweight, comfort is often one of the first things to go out the window! But there are a few options that still really excel here. Our favorite is the Helinox.
The top rated Helinox range is by far the most comfortable. It’s just the way they’re designed. If comfort is absolutely paramount, you should look no further than the Helinox Chair One. The weight capacity is fantastic and it sits highest off the ground, like a traditional camping designs.
Next is the Alite range. They are a pretty cool sit-back-and-relax option with great bucket seat support but sit a little lower to the ground than the Helinox.
The Stools aren’t really our favorite choice for comfort. However, because they sit higher, they are actually well suited if you want to stand up regularly without the strain of elevating yourself out of a lower seat. This could be for fishing or perhaps light work around camp.
As far as the ground “seats” go, you would be surprised at how comfortable they can be, even though you’re sitting on the ground. The Coleman Stadium seat has better padding but the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 folds up smaller, is pretty water resistant and great for simple camping trips or long hikes.
The Lightest Options
This list specifically looks at lightweight options. You won’t really find traditional camping chairs here. Rather, cleverly designed folding seats that are really light and fold up into a tiny bag or have their own carry strap attached.
You shouldn’t necessarily just pick up the lightest option on our list though. Beyond a certain point, the light weight starts to come at the expense of other features like strength and stability. We’ve broken all of the options down into several key groups.
If you’re already struggling to carry a heavy backpack, adding more weight isn’t necessarily a good option. The two lightest options on our list are the Alite models. Both the Mayfly and the Monarch clock in at only 1.2 pounds! Despite this ultra-low weight, they still offer a ton of support! Which should you choose? The Mayfly has an extra removable beam along the bottom for more stability making it the perfect way to kick back and relax with absolute stability. On the other hand, the Monarch has two contact points to the ground and allows for a comfortable rocking motion.
Strongest Weight Capacity and Build
Of all the chairs we reviewed, the Helinox One can hold the most weight… a whopping 320 lbs. If this isn’t enough, you should check out the Alps Mountaineering Chair for a Heavy Person.
Furthermore, Helinox is well known for their quality and have been making long lasting products with durable frames and materials for years. In fact, you’ll find several knock-offs that look exactly the same. (Even the coloring) But don’t be fooled. There’s a reason they cost a little more than the average.
The 600D Polyester is incredibly strong and will not let you down, even after years of use.
The Wildhorn has the same design but the added foot pads will help you hold that weight on any surface without sinking into the sand or snow.
The Coleman Woodsman II is a great option. It just feels super stable. Not only do you sit high off the ground, but the back support helps you maintain proper posture while you whip up a quick dinner over the camp fire.
Most Portable on a Hike
Besides the weight of the item, we need to know that it can easily be taken on a long trek into the wilderness. Some seats fold into a small carry bag which can be attached to your backpack while others need to be carried separately by a shoulder strap. Either way, you’ll find the best selection for your kind of hiking right here.
What makes a chair portable? It’s highly circumstantial. Fortunately, one of these choices will perform well in almost any circumstance. To just grab-and-go, the GCI Quick E Seat is very convenient.
Both the GCI Quick-E Seat and the Travel Slacker Stools are pretty easy to carry due to their carry straps but on the other hand, the Helinox, Terralite and Alite ranges fold up into convenient bags which attach really easily to your backpack. Which do you prefer?
For those of you who just don’t have the space for the rigid metal poles used in most camp chairs, the best option is a soft seating pad. Both the Coleman Stadium Seat and the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 are great options. The Coleman is the cheap and cheerful alternative, while the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 has a few extra features. Thanks to the insulation, it’s more comfortable to use on hot or cold ground. The adjustable back rest provides some extra support as well, which is something you don’t see often in this form factor.
No matter what option you choose, rolling them up and attaching them to the side of your backpack is easy! This saves space for things that matter most, letting you make the most of your outdoor adventure.
In today’s modern economy, not all of us have the time or resources to spend week after week outside. Sometimes, our budget limits what kind of gear we can afford. Just because you have a low budget doesn’t mean you have to make compromises. All of our top choices have affordable alternatives.
The Travel Slacker is the most affordable option for those who value strength and portability. It sets up in a matter of seconds and uses an aluminium frame to keep things light. But you still get one highly versatile product that can be used in most kinds of environments.
The Coleman Stadium Seat is ultra-affordable and is great value for money.
Anyone of the options on the list is worth buying and will leave you very satisfied. They also won’t add much to your gear haul and weigh pretty much the same as a flask of water.
Make sure you are buying a chair that suits your weight. You should be significantly under the maximum capacity. This will ensure longevity of the material and you won’t begin seeing small stretches in the fabric and tension bends on the frame.
We are always happy to hear you comments.
Some More “Next-Level” Camping Chairs
So we all know about the standard, fold-up camping options that serve their purpose and serve it well, but we also found some that are seriously next level!
Prefer Some Space for Two
If a single seat is not good enough for you, and you’d prefer an option that has your partner sharing the same seat, check out our great review on the best double seater camping chairs.