Best Camping Chairs for Bad Backs (Buying Guide)
Roughly 80% of Americans experience back pain at some point in our lives. With so many of us now working in offices, without the appropriate back and lumbar support, back issues are becoming more and more prevalent. However, if you use an ergonomic seat, with the right lumbar support, support for head and neck, and which is adjustable in size, you’re far more likely to sit in the right posture and avoid worsening your back pain.
When camping, just as when sitting in the office or at home, we still need the right back support, especially for those who often experience back pain. The best camping chairs for bad backs include features like a high back, adjustable leg heights, and reinforced arms to help you get up easily and safely. Watch out though: these chairs are often heavier than traditional camping chairs, so they’re not the right option if you’re backpacking, backcountry or primitive camping.
We’ve reviewed 6 of the best camping chairs, which will offer you support, from those who just need a solid chair to encourage them to sit upright, to those who need a fully adjustable chair to give them the right support, and have their elbows and knees at the exact right angle. Read on to find the solution that’s just right for you and your back.
Best Chairs for Back Backs – Overview
1. Rhino Rack Camping Chair – Rated up to 330lb – RCC
The main feature of this camping chair, which makes it stand out from the crowd, is the high back design. Often camping chairs compromise on comfort and support, and opt for portability instead, with designs of chairs that stop at about mid-bad height. If you’re sitting in a chair that’s too low, you’re likely to slouch, which is bad for your posture and will bring you more back problems. For ideal upper-back support, the chair should be high and wide enough for your shoulder blades to rest on, which is exactly what this model by Rhino offers you.
This model also has heavy-duty solid arms. Having the right arms in your chair isn’t always necessary for the right back support, but it can help. The ideal posture is to have your elbows at a 90°-100° angle, and your wrists should be straight out, to avoid back and wrist problems. What makes this chair ideal for getting the right position for ultimate comfort and lumbar support, is that the armrests have an adjustable height.
Other features of this model include the carry bag which zips into a pillow. This is perfect for giving you head and neck support after a long day hiking or carrying your backpack. Although this is not specifically good for back support, this model also includes two integrated can holders and coolers, meaning your bevies are just a reach away from your comfortable, sturdy chair.
Also, the chair only weighs 7.2kg / 16lb and has a safety maximum weight capacity of up to 150kg / 330lb, meaning it’s heavy-duty but still transportable, ideal for car camping. When folded away, the chair is less than a meter in length making it easy to put away. This is a great size for going car camping, but we wouldn’t recommend lugging it on your hiking trip. That could cause even more problems for your back in the long run!
- High back design
- Carry bag zips into a pillow
- 2 x integrated padded can holder and cooler
- Storage pocket
- Weighs 16 pounds and folds up in its carry bag to a meter in length. Not the most portable option.
2. STRONGBACK Guru Folding Camp Chair with Lumbar Support
- Award winning, patented lumbar supportive design, improves your body posture and eases tension; supports your back which provides relief to your spine and relaxes your muscles
The previous model boasted a high back design, which is great for giving you the right posture but doesn’t always offer you the support you need if you have a bad back problem. The main thing that people with back issues need is effective lumbar support. When a chair doesn’t support your spine, your muscles have to work harder, and you’ll feel tired at the end of the day. After a while, the vertebrae in your lower back, known as your lumbar, won’t be able to maintain spinal alignment. That puts more stress on discs and joints, leading to more pain, and potentially could be the cause of your back issues, especially if you work in an office job.
The Guru camping chair by Strongback is their smaller, more compact model, for more petite customers who are 5’8” and under. They also have a larger model called the Strongback Elite folding camping chair. Consider this model if you’re taller than 5’8”. This is really important for lumbar support, as the support needs to be in the right position of your back depending on your height. To work out where you should be getting lumbar support, put your hand behind your back at about waist level. That should be the apex of the curve, where your back needs the most support. Offering different sizes of the model means you’ll get the support you need depending on your height.
What makes this chair unique is that it has frame integrated lumbar support. This means that the frame itself is bent forwards, pushing your back into the correct erect position. Strongback’s unique chair technology represents an evolution of the camp chair by adding frame-integrated lumbar support, which conforms to and supports the natural and healthy lumbar curve of your spine. Other benefits of this model include: beverage holder, a 2-year warranty, a 300-pound weight capacity, an easy to fold design, and is lightweight and easily transportable.
- Cheap at $50
- Different sizes of the chair for the correct lumbar support
- Frame integrated lumbar support
- 2-year warranty
- 300-pound capacity
- Not light enough to take hiking for long periods of time
- Too much lumber support for some people, you can’t slouch
3. KingCamp Camping Chair Heavy Duty Lumbar Back Support Oversized Quad Arm Chair Padded Folding Deluxe with Cooler Armrest Cup Holder
- THE RIGHT SIZE: 23.5 x 23.5 x 41 inches. Large seat area with 600x300D Oxford Fabric and lumbar support system provide luxurious comfort
This chair features a sturdy powder-coated steel frame with 600D polyester fabric, high strength steel tubes bracket structure and metal material contact point design to evenly distribute your weight. With this heavyweight design, you’ll feel supported all over, by the luxuriously cushioned seat, a perfect way to let you relax after a long day hiking. It also has a high back, which as we have outlined, is necessary for good back support.
For those of you who think the integrated frame lumbar support of the previous model might be a bit too intense for you, and you’d rather a model with adjustable lumbar support, this chair could be the perfect option for you. Strongback’s chair is perfect for people who want to be forced to always sit in the right, upright position, but it can feel a little rigid.
Instead of being held in place with the steel frame, the lumbar support in KingCamp’s model is provided with an adjustable alignment strap, which ensures the lumbar support system stays in place on your chair, and to allow you to adjust it slightly to suit your needs and height.
Other features of this chair include: a drink holder, cooler bag and a side stash pocket, a sturdy powder-coated steel frame with 600D polyester fabric, and the durable steel frame supports weight up to 353 lbs. Another feature of this model that makes it stand out from the crowd is its portability.
The chair weight is 11.3 lbs. and the packed size only has 38 x 9 x 8 inches. This is a bit smaller and lighter than other options, so if you’re considering taking your chair on outdoor activities like a hiking trip, or there’s a walk between the parking lot and your campsite, then this might be a good option for you: to avoid putting any extra pressure on you back!
- Adjustable strap lumbar support suits different heights and support needs
- Drink holder, cooler bag and side pockets
- Compact and lightweight
- Good value for money
- No pillow or neck support option
- The fit on the carry bag is a little too tight
- The steel bars under the seat can cut off circulation to your legs if you’re more petite
4. ALPS Mountaineering King Kong Chair
- Sturdy powder-coated steel frame and 600D polyester fabric provides stability and comfort
Alps heavy duty camping chair is made of soft, cushioned fabric, that will bring comfort to your back after a long day in the great outdoors. One of the main selling points of this model for people with bad backs is that it has adjustable armrests. Having the right arms in your chair isn’t always necessary for the right back support, but it can help. The ideal position is to have your elbows at a 90°-100° angle, and your wrists should be straight out, to avoid back and wrist problems. Therefore, this chair provides you with the adjustability to get your posture just right.
One of the main selling points of this chair is its heavy-duty, high-quality materials and durability. It boasts a sturdy powder-coated steel frame with 600D polyester fabric, making this a very sturdy and reliable chair. If your back problems aren’t that bad, and you are looking for a sturdy, comfortable chair that will bring you rest after an active day, this could be a great option for you.
However, if you have really bad back issues, and you need complete support and for your back to be kept in the perfect erect position and alignment, then choose another model. This option offers some lumbar support, due to its sturdy fabric, but not enough for those with bad back issues.
This chair holds up to 800 lbs., so this is a perfect option if you need the extra weight capacity. Despite its heady duty durability, this chair is still quite compact, fits in a carry bag, and can be conveniently brought to all your events and car camping trips. However, at nearly 16 pounds, you might not want to take this chair with you if you’re backpacking. Also, the back of the chair is not very high, so you won’t get the neck and head support you need for a bad back issue.
- Heavy-duty, high-quality materials, resistant fabric: powder-coated steel frame with 600D polyester fabric
- Ergonomic chair holds up to 800 lbs
- Three color options, and carrying case
- No inbuilt lumbar support
- Doesn’t have a high back: no inbuilt neck or head support
- Quite heavy, not recommended for backpackers
5. CORE Equipment Folding Padded Hard Arm Chair
- Cozy quilted seat; padded hard arms provide extra support and comfort
This chair by Core is a much better option for you if you’re looking for a really solid, hardy camping chair. The seat and back of this chair are much more solid than the other options we have reviewed. They’re also made of a padded fill and brushed polyester fabric, to give you the ultimate comfort as you relax at your campsite. This soft-to-the-touch fabric provides comfort superior to traditional outdoor fabrics. Despite being solid, this is also a spacious seat, so it will fit any member of your camping group.
If you’re looking for a solid, durable camping chair, this could be a great option for you. Another benefit of this mode for people with back problems is the steel armrests which provide more support and make getting in and out of your seat more comfortable. For the with back issues, especially if they flare up on camping trips, this can be a really useful feature. The durable steel frame of this model also has a 300-pound weight capacity and undergoes rigorous drop testing, so you know it will stand the test of time.
Because this is a solid design of the chair, it encourages you to sit up straight and align your spine. However, it doesn’t have a circular design of the frame, or an extra belt, to offer you support specifically to the small of your back. Lumbar support needs to be in the proper place in your back: at the apex of the curve of your back, just around your waist. If it doesn’t hit you in the right place then it doesn’t help.
So, If you’re concerned that the lumbar support of the other models might not give you the right support, then you could choose this product, and give yourself the right lumbar support, DIY style. Use a pillow, a lumbar roll, or a rolled-up towel, to give you the perfect alignment of your spine.
- Padded fill and brushed polyester fabric, for ultimate comfort
- Durable steel frame with a 300-pound weight capacity
- Solid design that encourages you to sit up straight, ergonomic seat
- Portable chair, folding camping chair
- No in-built lumbar support
- No head and neck support
6. Earth Ultimate 4-Position Outdoor Chair w. New Adjustable Front Legs and Comfortable Built-in Pillow for Head Support
- NEW - Innovative Adjustable Front Legs EXTEND for Use on Uneven Ground (Up to 4”)
This is certainly not the most attractive design of camping chair we have reviewed, but it could well be king when it comes to supporting those with bad backs. Firstly, it has an adjustable leg height. This is really important when it comes to getting the right posture for those with serious back issues.
Your feet should rest on the ground with hips and knees at a 90° angle, and you should always make sure the seat doesn’t press against the back of your knees, for the ideal sitting posture. The adjustability of the height of this chair means you can configure it so your legs are at the perfect angle and height. Another benefit of these hardy legs is that you can use them on uneven or even sloping surfaces.
Another benefit of this model is that you can get 4 different back positions from it, from reclining to sitting erect. This means you can adjust it if you want to use it for relaxing and lounging, or to get your spine fully aligned for longer sitting times. Even lounging can have a positive effect on your back, as a slightly reclined position relieves pressure on the spine.
Furthermore, it comes with a built-in pillow headrest, for head and neck support as well as backrest. This is also great for upper back support, as upper-back support, the chair is high and wide enough for your shoulder blades to rest on. However, there’s no in-built lumbar support, so you might have to provide this yourself with a camping pillow or rolled-up towel.
- Adjustable leg height
- 4 different sitting back positions from it, including recliner
- Built-in pillow, for head and neck support
- High, wide back of the chair offers support to the upper back
- Carrying bag
- No inbuilt lumbar support
- Quite expensive at just under $100
- Not as foldable as other models, not as portable
For people who have long term back issues and back pain, our winner for the best camping chair is the Earth Ultimate 4-Position Outdoor Chair. This is because it offers support for neck and head, is an ergonomic design that can offer lumbar support, especially with an added pillow, and encourage you to sit in the right posture. But the two biggest selling points for this model are the adjustable legs, which allow you to keep your knees at the perfect angle, and the 4 different positions it can be configured in, which allow you to recline and relieve pressure on your spine.
Campers are sometimes scared off from camping when they’re experiencing back pain. Obviously, if you’re really suffering, then hiking and camping might not seem that tempting to you. However, there are a few things that can make camping with back pain more bearable. Consider investing in a really good inflatable mattress, or even a camping cot, to give you the right support as you sleep. A good, manageable hike can also help your posture, and realign your spine. And to relax around the campfire in the evening, choose a camping chair that offers you the support you need: and you can be just as comfortable as you are in your living room!
Bonus tip: For some simple exercises you can do at home, or in the great outdoors, to relieve back pain, take a look at this useful video!