7 Best Lightweight Chairs for Backpacking (2021)

Best Lightweight Chairs for Backpacking
 

When backpacking, you want to enjoy the wild while having a bit of comfort. However, you need to carefully consider which items to bring along to prevent your backpack from being too heavy. A backpacking chair offers some of the comfort you seek without being overly heavy or too bulky to carry.

Below is a review of the 7 best backpacking chairs on the market.


Best Backpacking Chairs – Winners

Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:


Best Overall Backpacking Chair

1. Helinox Chair Zero

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions when packed: 4 x 4 x 13.5 inches

Type: Foldable chair

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Folds into a compact and small size
  • Can support up to 265lb
  • Easy to set up
  • Offers adequate seating space and back support
  • Comfortable to sit on even for extended periods
  • Comes with carry sack
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • It can be difficult to pull the corner pockets over set covers when setting up
  • Best suited for use on level ground

The Helinox Chair Zero is designed to offer you comfort when chilling during your backpacking or camping trips while being easy to transport. It is ultralight and compact. It weighs 1.2 pounds with 4 x 4 x 13.5 inches dimensions.

The folding chair is built on an aluminum frame. The frame is made of advanced DAC aluminum alloy, which provides maximum strength while still being lightweight. It can support up to 265 pounds.

The seat and carry sack are made of durable ripstop polyester that can withstand strong UV rays and harsh weather conditions. They are machine washable.

This camping chair is easy to set up. It comes with all the parts necessary for setting it up, including a single internal bungee cord and poles. The assembled chair measures 20.5W x 19D x 25H inches and offers 8.5 inches seat height. The manufacturer offers a 5-year warranty.

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Best Backpacking Seat Cushion

2. Therm-a-Rest Lite Seat Ultralight Inflatable Seat Cushion

Weight: 4 ounces

Dimensions when packed: 6.5 x 2.5 inches

Type: Ground pad

Pros

  • Feather light
  • Self-inflating, and you can adjust firmness
  • Has an integrated bungee loop
  • Made in the USA
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 3 color options
  • Has a protection plan

Cons

  • Does not come with a storage pouch
  • The folded down size takes up a bit of packing space

The Therm-a-Rest Lite Seat inflatable seat cushion is ultralight and compact. It employs a self-inflating mechanism. You can adjust the firmness through an easy-to-adjust valve using one hand only.

The seat cushion rolls up tight in a pack using closure bungees. It is featherweight and measures 4 ounces which has almost no impact on your pack’s weight.

The inflatable cushion has a 1.5-inch thick foam that offers adequate warmth and comfort. The cover is made of polyester. The packed cushion measures 6.5 x 2.5 inches, while the inflated cushion measures 13 x 16 x 1.5 inches.

This camping cushion comes with a manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty. It is available in three color options: blue, orange, and green. The manufacturer also offers a 2-year protection plan at an extra $1.99.

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Best Budget Backpacking Chair

3. Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Chair

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions when packed: 14.2 X 4.7 inches

Type: Foldable chair

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Pack down into a small size
  • Comes with a carry bag
  • Can support up to 245 pounds
  • Easy to set up
  • Durable
  • Ergonomic, comfortable design
  • Has side pockets
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 3 color options

Cons

  • Sometimes the manufacturer does not honor warranty claims

The Moon Lence outdoor folding camp chair is ultralight, portable, and durable. The seat is made of a high-strength aluminum alloy frame and 600D oxford cloth.

The chair weighs 2 pounds and can support up to 242 pounds. It packs compactly in the carry sack to a 14.2 X 4.7 inch and takes minimal space in your backpack. The fully set up chair measures 23.6 X 25.6 X 13.8 inches.

It has a unique ergonomic design that offers great comfort for your total relaxation.  Some sections of the seating area are made of net. The net is soft, breathable, and enhances comfort. It has side pockets that can be glued onto the seat using Velcro for use as need be.

It is easy to set up and fold down. It is also easy to clean. You only have to sweep it or wipe it down with a damp, soapy cloth.

The Moon Lence outdoor backpacking chair is available in three color options: dark blue, orange, and red. The manufacturer claims to offer a lifetime warranty. There is also an option for a 2-year protection plan at an additional $1.99.

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Best Self-Inflating Backpacking Chair

4. Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair Kit

Weight: 10 ounces

Dimensions when packed: 2 inches

Type: Air Pad

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Compatible with most 20-inch sleeping mats
  • Packs away in a small roll
  • Offers adequate back support
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Needs a pad to be comfortable
  • Takes a bit of time to set up

The Therm-a-Rest Trekker chair kit enables you to turn your sleeping mat into a camping chair. The self-inflating mattress is light and weighs 10 ounces. Yet, it offers adequate cushioning whether you are sitting or lying down.

Its design incorporates ultralight nylon and fiberglass poles to enable it to pack small. The elastic sleeve edges stretch to fit self-inflating pads or Neoair. It fits most 20-inch mats. It can be used on its own but isn’t as comfortable or sturdy as when set up on a mat. It has adjustable straps to help you customize your desired level of comfort.

You can spread it out and use it as a mattress. It is 3 feet long and 16 inches wide when spread out. For additional lumbar support, you may need to slip a pillow or rolled-up jacket between at the base of your back.  It comes with a mesh bag for easy portability.

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Also Available on Amazon >>


Best Backpacking Chair with Cup Holder

5.  Big Agnes Mica Basin Armchair

Weight: 2 pounds 13 ounces

Dimensions when packed: 18 x 4 x 5 inches

Type: Foldable chair

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Premium quality
  • Easy to assemble
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Comfortable and spacious
  • Two inbuilt cup holder
  • Comes with a carry bag
  • Warranty

Cons

  • Quite pricey

The Big Agnes Mica Basin Chair is a lightweight camp chair that is strong and offers an adequate place to sit while camping. It has a premium quality build that incorporates two built-in cup holders. It is 31” wide and 19.5” deep.

It has an exclusive frame design with pre-bent poles. The aluminum frame delivers an unbeatable strength-to-weight ratio. The patented design hub-less frame is made of heavy-duty aircraft aluminum that makes it weightless and packs small. It provides exceptional sturdiness that can withstand up to 260lb.

For an easy setup, the frame and pre-bent poles are fully shock-corded and color-coded. You do not need any tool for the setup. Just pull all the pieces together.

The seat is made of ultralight nylon ripstop paired with a high-tenacity robic nylon. Both offer exceptional strength and durability. It is also UTS coated to ensure it is waterproof and can withstand mountain weather.

The Big Agnes Mica Basin Chair is also suitable for picnics, camping, or concerts. It is 100% warranted against manufacturing and material defects.

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Best Backpacking Stool

6. Hillsound BTR Stool

Weight: 2 pounds 13 ounces

Dimensions when packed: 12 inches

Type: Camping stool

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • High strength
  • Folds down into a small, compact size
  • Quite sturdy and strong
  • Removable seat
  • Can be used as a hunting or fishing stool
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • Pricier than similar products on the market

The Hillsound BTR stool is strong, sturdy, ultralight, and multifunctional. It is built with high-quality materials.

The frame is made of aerospace-grade 7001 aluminum alloy and can support up to 240lb. The legs employ the Phantomlock technology to keep them in place when they spread out. They have a telescoping and folding design. It has a simple 2-step open and closure process.

The 14” tall stool weighs 12.02 ounces. It folds down into a compact size, and you can tuck it in the side pocket of your backpack. The seat is made of 100% nylon mesh and is removable and is easy to wash. To remove the seat, simply twist the clip off the pole.

It is versatile and can be used as a fishing, hunting, or camping stool. This lightweight backpacking chair is also covered by a 2-year warranty.

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Best 2-Chair Set

7. Sportneer Portable Lightweight Folding Camping Chair

Weight: 2.15 pounds

Dimensions when packed: 12 inches

Type: Foldable chair

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy and strong
  • High load capacity
  • Easy to set up
  • High back support suitable even for tall people

Cons

  • The bottom of the seat is too low for people with knee or back issues

 

The Sportneer portable, lightweight folding camping chair is quite similar to the Big Agnes Mica Basin Chair. They come as a pack of two high-quality folding camping chairs.

The frame is made of heavy-duty aluminum, which optimizes the chair’s stability and durability. It has a load capacity of up to 350lbs. The legs are fitted with non-slip rubber grips that ensure the chair stays in place no matter how much you wiggle or squirm.

The camping chair is ultralight and compact. It folds down into a small piece that fits into the carry bag. The folded-down chair measures 14.25″ x 5.25″ and weighs 2 lbs.

The aluminum frame is shock-corded for an intuitive setup. The assembled chair has a height of 13.8” with a back height of 26”. The seat is made of 60D nylon with mesh sections that improve its breathability. It makes the seat sweatproof and more comfortable.

The bottom of the seat is a bit low. Therefore, the chair may not be suitable for people with back problems or knee problems, making it difficult to get up from a low position.

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Backpacking Chair Buying Guide

Backpacking Chairs vs Camping Chairs

Most people use the terms backpacking chairs and camping chairs synonymously. However, you need to pay attention to the weight and size of a backpacking chair.

Since you will be carrying the luggage on your back, you must choose a backpacking chair that is as light as possible and packs down small.

All backpacking chairs can be used as camping chairs, but not all camping chairs can be used as backpacking chairs. Generally, backpacking chairs are smaller, lighter, and more compact than camping chairs.

Types of Backpacking Chairs

Backpacking chairs can be classified into four main categories.

  • Foldable. Foldable backpacking chairs usually have poles that are snap together to set up or folded down for storage. They come in two parts – the frame and the seat fabric. They have a considerable height above the ground, making them suitable for people with back and knee support. They offer adequate back support. On the downside, they are pricier and heavy than other types of backpacking chairs.
  • Air Pad. Air pads are cushions, which stretch to fit into a sleeping pad. They turn your sleeping pad into a backpacking chair. They are lightweight and easy to set up. They provide adequate support and a comfortable seating surface. However, you need a compatible sleeping pad to use them. They are set up on the ground.
  • Ground pads. These are a no-fuss option for backpacking chairs. Although they are set up on the ground, they differ from air pads in that they do not require any sleeping pads to set up. They are self-contained and super lightweight. However, they do not provide adequate back support, especially if you are sitting for prolonged periods.
  • Stools. Most camping stools have a sturdy and stable design. Like the foldable chairs, they constitute a frame and seat fabric. However, they do not have a back. They are lightweight, easy to set up and pack compactly.

Setup Size

The setup size of the backpacking chair should offer comfort, sturdiness, and stability. The chair should have a load capacity that exceeds your body weight and should befit your height and body size.

Consider the following four aspects of your backpacking chair: back height, seat height, seat width, and weight capacity.

You don’t want a chair whose back height only reaches your lower back. If you are tall, pay attention to the chair’s back height to ensure it offers you adequate back support. The back of the seat should at least cover three-quarters of your back.

Seat height refers to the total height of the chair from the ground. The higher the seat, the longer the legs, and the more comfortable the chair. A seat with adjustable leg height allows you to adjust it to your preferred position.

Seat width refers to the chair’s allowance for your hips. If you have wider hips, most backpacking chairs may be too tight for you. In this case, do more detailed market research to find wider seats. If a certain backpacking chair model has options for sizes, opt for large or extra-large sizes.

Finally, most manufacturers indicate the load capacity for the camping chair. A majority of backpacking chairs have a load capacity of 240-320lb. If your weight is almost the same as the chair’s maximum weight capacity, check product reviews to determine if it really can handle the weight indicated. Some people find the chairs are too small for the indicated load capacity.

Stability

Does the chair stay in place even when you wiggle or move around? Some camping chair legs dig into the ground compromising the chair’s stability. Others may have a weak frame that gets shaky when used. The best camping chairs have a sturdy frame and non-slip rubber grips at the bottom of the legs.

Material

The materials used to make the chair determine its durability. Most foldable camping chairs have a design that constitutes a metallic frame and a seat cover. Aluminum alloy is the most common frame material. It is strong but also lightweight. Heavy-duty aluminum offers better stability and can withstand a higher load capacity.

A few have steel frames. Although steel is sturdier than aluminum, it is heavier and makes the chair heavier. Powder-coated steel is preferable to regular steel as it is more durable.

Foldable chairs usually have a nylon ripstop or polyester seat fabric. It is strong and can withstand harsh climatic conditions. Nylon is fast-drying but deteriorates fast with exposure to the sun. On the other hand, polyester is thick and withstands UV rays better. It is also more durable.

The thickness of the fabric is indicated in Denier (D). The higher the denier, the thicker the fabric, and the more durable it is. The ripstop design prevents the fabric from ripping apart.

On the other hand, ground pads and air pads are made of a polyester or nylon cover and a thick layer of foam on the inside. Most are also self-inflating. A few have a valve that enables you to regulate the chair’s firmness.

Ideally, the cover should be waterproof, but most are water-resistant. Therefore, while they may withstand a few water splashes, they should not be left out in the rain or wet conditions.

Portability

When determining if a backpacking chair is portable, consider its packed size and weight. The best backpacking chairs pack down small. They take minimal space in your backpack. Preferably, the chair should come with a carrier sac. The recommended weight of a backpacking chair is 2lbs or less.

Price

There is a wide range of backpacking chairs on the market at different price points. Generally, upright chairs are the most expensive. The price of the chairs decreases as the height of the chair decreases, with a ground seat pad being the most affordable. Camping chairs that have additional features such as shock-corded poles are pricier than their counterparts.

When determining your budget for a backpacking chair, consider the intended frequency of use, your body weight, and your preferred type of chair. If you are a seasoned backpacker and go on backpacking trips often, a premium-quality chair is the best option.

Otherwise, if you are trying out backpacking, you can start with cheaper options to establish whether you want to do backpacking long term.

Ease of Setup

A backpacking chair should be easy to set up in a few steps and a few minutes. It should come with all the necessary parts for setting up. The manufacturer should also provide clear assembly instructions.

Most folding chairs have a collapsible frame and a sewn ripstop seat. Pre-bent poles that are color corded are also quite easy to set up.

Additional Features

Although most backpacking chairs have a minimalistic design to minimize weight and bulkiness, a few have additional features. These include cup holders, pockets, headrest, armrest, and lumbar support. If you are keen on the additional features, note that they may contain additional weight and bulkiness.

Conclusion

A backpacking chair can make your backpacking trips much more comfortable. They are designed to be comfortable and supportive while being lightweight and compact. When choosing the right backpacking chair, consider your needs and compare them against the features of the specific chair.


Backpacking Chairs FAQs

Are Backpacking Chairs Comfortable?

Backpacking chairs may not be as cozy as the sofa or recliner in your living room, but they should be comfortable. Those that have mesh sections are soft, breathable, and quite comfortable. A high backrest provides adequate back support.

Must I Bring Along a Backpacking Chair?

You don’t have to bring along a backpacking chair for your backpacking trips. However, if you want comfort during your trip, they are a worthwhile addition to your other camping gear. If you buy the right one, it will have minimal impact on your packed space and weight. Otherwise, you can sit on the ground, on logs, rocks, or your sleeping mat.

Which Is the Best Backpacking Chair?

The best backpacking chair depends on your unique needs and factors such as:

  • Your height and weight
  • Where you will be using it
  • How often you will be using it
  • Your budget
  • If you have any health issues, e.g., back pain or achy knees
  • How much packing space do you have?
  • Ease of set up
  • Whether you are keen on the durability of the chair

Should I Buy Backpacking Chairs Online or in-Store?

You can buy online or in-store depending on your preference and the accessibility of each option. When buying in-store, you get to test out the chair before paying. On the other hand, online shopping offers you access to a wider range of products. Product reviews and ratings enable you to determine the reliability of the product before buying online.

How to Care, Maintain, and Store Your Backpacking Chair

First, ensure to set up your backpacking chair properly before sitting on it. Otherwise, some parts might break, or the frame might bend. Also, ensure that your weight does not exceed the load capacity of the chair.

Regularly clean it to get rid of dust and grime. You may spot clean or clean all the washable parts. Some have removable seat fabric that is machine washable. Others need to be hand-washed with soap and water and then air-dried.

Make sure the chair is completely dry before storing it. If it comes with a storage bag, store it in the storage bag or pouch. Put it away in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight until your next backpacking trip.

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.